3. The Stick Shed Construction

In 1941, the Grain Elevators Board commissioned the sheds based on earlier designs in Western Australia for the protection of bulk wheat stored at ground level, using iron roofing and outwardly sloped walls. 

The shed as designed was approximately 265 metres long, 60 metres wide, 19 metres high at the hip and held 3.5 million bushels or about 92,500 tonnes of wheat. Green Bros contractors of Bendigo undertook construction on this site in September 1941. Much of the building was constructed with little mechanical aid and a limited workforce due to the war. 

A steel shortage meant the shed was built largely from readily available timber, some 560 (56 rows of 10) unmilled mountain ash poles erected into the auger-dug footings in the ground. Concrete was manually poured around the footings. Galvanised hoop-iron was used in most structural joints. This adapted solution was due to problems with differing pole sizes and the expected shrinkage, warping and twisting of unseasoned hardwood. This contributed to the building’s capacity to survive for more than 75 years, as it gave the structure the ability to move and shift due to internal usage stresses, and high winds without collapsing.

There is over 150 tonnes of corrugated iron on the roof, which covers 16,000m2 of land. The roof angle was sloped to reflect the same angle a pile of wheat forms naturally. This has a rainfall run-off of about 35 megalitres of water per annum. 

Stick Sheds built after Murtoa in Victoria had tin floors which was the main variation from this first shed built with 16,000m2 of concrete flooring.

Incredibly, the massive Stick Shed was constructed in only four months: a real display of persistence and dogged determination by a Government who wanted a valuable commodity protected as soon as possible.