Guided tour of Rocket Technologies International (RTI) Helidon – Monday, 4 December 2023

We had a great roll up of forty-four for this last event for 2023 which included:

  • one new member (Greg Harvey),
  • and four visitors: (Roy Hall, Peter Mosedale, Paul Reynolds and Peter Weinthal).

Total number for lunch was 46 which included our fellow member and ‘old mate’ Phil Cash and our coach driver Dave Algate. Welcome Greg, Roy, Peter M, Paul, Peter W, and Phil.

On arrival at RTI Helidon we were met and welcomed by Jeromy, Carli, Martin, Scott and Alan.  We then broke up into two equal size groups with ‘Group A’ having smoko and listening to the RTI presentation while ‘Group B’ did the guided tour of the quarry and RTI Launching Pad with Scott and Martin.  We then swapped over and Jeromy provided us with a lot of history and gave an excellent overview of where the project was up to while Carli provided us with a very balanced and nutritious smoko – fruit and sandwiches.         

The tour of the quarry and RTI launch site was very interesting.  Scott  provided us with the history of the quarry & the methods used to extract the sandstone, from the early days through to the present.

We were in good hands as our bus driver (Martin) was the previous owner of the quarry and is an expert on sandstone.  Our Quarry Tour Guide (Scott) is the son of the owner (Alan) and is very enthusiastic about what they are doing.

Following are some examples of what we were shown and told during our guided tour. 

  • How they used to bench out the quarry – pyramid style.
  • Surprise, surprise –  early days quarrying was done with picks and crow bars.
  • Circular saws are used now.  The circular saws are connected to excavators to cut flat vertical walls instead of benching.
  • The sandstone is then cut up into rectangular blocks with circular saws. 
  • Quarry sales staff work with clients to make whatever they need.   The various colours and densities of sandstone make it architecturally attractive.
  • They use crushers, screens and sand washing plant in the quarry.
  • There is very little waste as the quarry utilises 98% of the product produced – for example, blocks, aggregates, road base and sand.   
  • Manufactured sand sales are increasing as less, and less river-sand is available.  They supply the major concrete producers and landscaping yards, etc.
  • Sandstone originated from around Winton and came in via river water completely clean and settled in Helidon – millions of years ago! 
  • In pouring the foundation slab for the footing pad, for vertical testing, they used 700 t /300 cubic meters of concrete and 12km of 16 mm reinforcing bar.  All done in one continuous pour to prevent cracking   –   AMAZING!!

To finish up, Alan gave us an insight into where the project (RTI) is heading, reminding us that this project was only in its infancy.  He invited us to return next year or in the future to see the progress made.  We may even be able to see a rocket launching test. 

Peter then thanked Alan and the team on behalf of our group, and we moved on to the Blue Mountain Hotel for lunch.

After lunch at the Hotel, we had our usual birthday cake, etc, and a brief meeting to discuss and agree on events for our 2024 “Calendar of Events”.

Birthdays of the following members in December were acknowledged and celebrated in our usual manner: Carl BETROS, Pat DWAN, Ron LEWIS, Dick NEAL, Rob RIMMER, Rod WEBB and Ted WORMWELL. 

MEETING DISCUSSION:

All the event suggestions put forward were read out and a show of hands was used to gauge the interest /support of members (in attendance).

FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF SUPPORTED EVENTS FOR CONSIDERATION AND POSSIBLE INCLUSION IN OUR 2024 CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES:

  • GUIDED TOUR OF TARONG POWER STATION – Graham RIETHMULLER
  • GUIDED TOUR OF THE REAFFORESTATION PROJECT AROUND MILLMERRAN POWER STATION –  Peter THOMPSON 
  •  Planting of One million trees around the coal mine supplying Millmerran Power Station.  
  • ROCKET TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL (RTI) HELIDON – Peter TAYLOR – Guided tour to view progress made since our visit in Dec 2023.
  • GUIDED TOUR OF KINGAROY FARM – Peter TAYLOR  – The farm grows and processes corn for a popcorn factory in   Toowoomba.  
  • GUIDED TOUR OF POPCORN FACTORY, TOOWOOMBA – Peter TAYLOR – The Factory manufactures Popcorn 
  • DOWNS STEAM RAILWAY DRAYTON – Evan FAIRLEY A train ride taking in Nobby and Rudd’s Pub etc.
  • FISHERIES EXPERIMENTAL STATION, BRIBIE ISLAND –  Peter TAYLOR
  • GUIDED TOUR OF THE GRAIN EXPORT TERMINAL AT FISHERMAN’S ISLAND – Pat SULLIVAN
  • GUIDED TOUR OF THE DOLPHINS RUGBY LEAGUE FACILITIES AT REDCLIFFE – Including watching the team train and interacting with the Coach and Team – Russell MAUCH
  • VISIT TO DARLING DOWNS ZOO (Pilton, QLD)
  • GUIDED TOUR OF BOGGO ROAD GAOL, Dutton Park, Bris. (H.M.Prison 1880’s to 1980’s).  –  Dick NEAL
  • GUIDED TOUR OF XXXX BREWERY and TASTINGS, Brisbane –  Dick NEAL
  • GUIDED TOUR OF KENT SADDLERY, Stanthorpe. – Includes whip cracking display
  • GUIDED TOUR OF TEXAS RABBIT WORKS and MUSEUM – Jon SCHWARTZ
  • GUIDED TOUR OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE, BRISBANE – Kerry SHINE

All supported prospective events that don’t make the cut will be included in our supplementary list attached to the 2024 calendar.

In closing, special thanks to those who contributed to making this another safe and enjoyable event for all attendees, including:

  • Peter Taylor for organising this event; 
  • Jeromy, Alan, Carli, Scott and Martin for hosting our visit, along with a great presentation and guided tour;
  • Russell Mauch and Warwick Dingle for looking after our finances and name badges including receipting and banking of surplus cash;
  • Tim Blades for ensuring we all got on and off the coach safely at each stop;
  • Ron Lewis and Lindsay Reis for looking after our hydration needs, along with ensuring the coach was loaded and unloaded as required;
  • Evan Fairley and Peter Mosedale for being on duty as our First Aid Officers;
  • The staff at the “Blue Mountain Hotel” for our great lunch;
  • Warwick Dingle for ensuring we were all accounted for before the coach departed again after each stop;
  • Jan Neal for making our much-appreciated Birthday Cake;
  • Warwick Dingle and Team (Russell Mauch, Sandy Fraser, Tim Blades, Mark Rowland, Alan Webb and Rowdy Reid) for cutting up and serving the cake and general assistance;  Denis McCarthy for assistance in a secretarial capacity, etc, during the meeting;  and finally our Coach Driver, Dave Algate, for transporting us to and from Helidon safely.

Dick
15 December 2023