clifftop excavation

Cliffhanger: A complex excavation on New Farm cliff edge

The Challenge

GROUNDBREAKER was engaged to excavate a property at Moray St, New Farm for a large residential single unit dwelling development. Whilst the frontage was level with the street and had gentle fall to the rear, it was located on the edge of the New Farm Cliffs.  

Good view The 20 metre sheer drop was protected only by a barbed wire fence before we commenced construction, and excavating into the cliff rock would require expert skill and specialised attachments to ensure we could excavate neatly to the required depths.

To add to the challenge of working close to the cliff face, the block also presented:

  • Complex solid rock excavation
  • Tight access from the street
  • Limited room for the large machines required for rock excavation
  • Large machines were still required onsite as access became even more limited due to dug footings and installed plumbing.
  • Dust control requirements - dust control is essential when working in the city and using concrete rock saws and grinders
  • Wet weather risks - we dug the footings so much that they would drain if it rained prior to concrete being poured
  • Adjustments to engineering details throughout the construction due to the rock

The Approach

GROUNDBREAKER Operations Manager, Aaron Wakelin, and the builder, Bespoke Constructions, met onsite to plan the earthworks months prior to the arrival of machines. Aaron provided expert input to ensure the block was well-prepared for excavation and that there was a clear understanding of the specialist machinery and operators required to execute the earthworks.

As excavation work commenced, a carefully planned process was rolled out to ensure GROUNDBREAKER delivered all excavations services at a cost-effective hourly rate.

  • Delivered one 20 tonne and one 14 tonne excavator
  • Stripped grass and topsoil
  • Loaded cart and disposed of grass and topsoil off site
  • Bulk excavation of two different pad levels
  • Continuously loaded out spoil from excavation
  • Grinded off encroaching footings from next door
  • Created access to dig and grind pad footings for rock anchors on the edge of the cliff face
  • Dug retaining wall footings and pad footings
  • Dug Plumbing trenches for sewer and stormwater
  • Dug for underground water tank installation and lift well
  • Machines are allocated by GROUNDBREAKER as required and work is carried out

The GROUNDBREAKER team continued to work closely with the site foreman throughout the excavation works to overcome onsite challenges, and make adjustments as required.

Excavation Machines

limited machinery space

The job required the use of:

  1. 20, 14, 8, 6 & 4 tonne excavators
  2. Excavator attachments included:
  3. Rock Breakers
  4. Rock Saw
  5. Rock Grinder
  6. 10m3 Tippers for waste removal and tipping


The Result

Our years of earthmoving experience, onsite expertise, skilled operators and appropriate machinery, meant we successfully completed complex Moray St excavations the fastest way possible given the task at hand.

Bespoke Building Managing Directors, Fred & Bill Dubois, commented, “Groundbreaker’s work on our large excavation at Moray St in New Farm didn’t disappoint. They really have proven their expertise in the industry with this project!”

Call GROUNDBREAKER today for expert earthmoving advice and to book your next excavation project.