Illuminating the magic of Morpeth

Morpeth Bridge, Morpeth, NSW

  • Completed2022
  • ClientMaitland City Council
  • Sales PartnerStramac Lighting
  • Electrical EngineerElectrical Projects Australia
  • Electrical ContractorSKE Electrical
  • Other stakeholdersHeritage NSW and Transport NSW
  • PhotographyIP Media for WE-EF, Stramac Lighting, Maitland City Council
  • Drone photography & videographyIP Media for WE-EF

Morpeth is a river port township in the city of Maitland in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, originally known by its Aboriginal name ‘Illalaung’ and land of the Wonnarua people, founded by Lieutenant Edward Charles Close over 200 years ago.

There in Morpeth, exists a historical wooden bridge that is a centrepiece to the township; Morpeth Bridge. The Maitland City Council wished to bring some magic to Morpeth via illuminating its historic bridge as a ‘gift to the town’, to celebrate the bicentenary of the township in November 2021.

Tight deadlines, with the 200-year commemoration celebrations earmarked as the bridge’s “Opening Day”, together with the prohibition of fixing screws or any mounts directly to the timber structure, presented some unique challenges to those involved in the project.


There were several considerations and pressure points for this project that needed to be carefully managed. These included;

– Quality luminaires that are fit for purpose, able to withstand environmental conditions requiring minimal maintenance and provide longevity
– A solution within which the structure of the bridge remains untouched and the heritage ambience preserved
– Discreteness of luminaires; integrating in an invisible way to the architecture
– Luminaires with precise optical control to highlight the architectural features of the bridge and create a majestic visual experience for onlookers and passers-by
– Ensuring the council would be able to change the lighting on demand as they need to – Maitland City Council wanted to have the flexibility to be able to illuminate the bridge in different colours to mark different occasions and celebrations in the future
– A comprehensive warranty
– A short lead time with a firm deadline being the bicentenary celebrations
– Strong service support both on installation and for any post-commissioning issues

The Project

After an extensive tender process, Geoff Wilton, Senior Coordinator Services in the Infrastructure and Works Department of Maitland City Council worked closely with the engaged team which consisted of Gavin Macrae of Stramac Lighting in Newcastle, Paul Malinchuk, Director of Electrical Engineering firm Electrical Projects Australia and Scott Kelly of SKE Electrical (Electrical Contractor), among many other important stakeholders such as Heritage NSW and Transport NSW, both with whom were consulted significantly throughout the project to ensure requirements were well met.

Gavin Macrae and his team from Stramac Lighting set out to quickly find the best solution for the application and requirements, this involved great collaboration with Paul Malinchuk (electrical engineering consultant), Scott Kelly (electrical contractor) and then subsequently the luminaire supplier, WE-EF LIGHTING.

WE-EF FLC220-CC Colour Changing Projectors in DMX were recommended, for their robustness, quality, warranty, optical control and ability to provide a warm white preserving ambience and also colour changing versatility ‘dance, flash and inspire’ with the simple easy-to-use DMX control system that would allow the council to customise the lighting to suit events and occasions, whenever they want to.

The electrical engineer and contractor worked to have custom steel fabricated brackets made by Jason Barnes (McKanna Fabrications). A clip type system was developed for holding cabling and monorail cabling was used underneath the bridge. Tony Duong of the Technical team at WE-EF LIGHTING also collaborated closely with the electrical contractor and engineer to provide a custom solution with cable gland entry due to the need to use different types of cables. Tony engineered a mounting fixture that would ensure the luminaires could be mounted to the bridge without penetrating the heritage-listed timber beams and that no wires would be out of place.

Andrew Richardson, Lighting Designer for WE-EF LIGHTING, supported the project by providing the lighting design and 3D models simulating what the project would look like upon illumination of the 48 x FLC220 Colour Changing DMX Projectors.

Portland CBD, street and area ASP530
Portland CBD, street and area ASP530

The Result

Despite tight time pressures, the collaborative team that worked on this project did so in a seamless way with great enthusiasm. Of working on the project, Electrical Engineering Consultant Paul Malinchuk says that it was “really collaborative – everyone had a final vision of wanting to achieve something really special, and we achieved just that”.

The day before the installation was scheduled, Gavin Macrae advised the WE-EF team by email of the following; “My sincere thanks and congratulations to each and everyone one of you at WE-EF LIGHTING who played a part in helping me design and deliver this project with the unusual procurement requirements and the very strict deadline.”

Clever project management saw a programmer involved in de-risking with a control system and supporting the commissioning of the DMX wireless programming. On the commissioning evening there was much delight from the Maitland City Council delegates in attendance and the commissioning team including the programmer of the DMX wireless system, electrical contractor, engineering consultant and Gavin Macrae.

When speaking of the project, Gavin Macrae explains that “in my 35 years+ of lighting, this has to be one of the nicest projects I’ve ever worked on, because of the brilliant teamwork! Everyone was happy and worked well as a team. Despite the tight deadlines and unique application challenges, everyone involved was excited about the project and worked together with a can-do attitude to make it happen – and the results were outstanding”.

In addition, Gav recalls that on the opening night of the bridge, after the DMX commissioning was completed and all the magical colour scenes tested, the commissioning group made their way to the pub that overlooks the bridge. Upon entering the premises, “we were greeted by the pub community with a round of applause and thanked for what we had done for the community”, what an honour!

“In my 35 years+ of lighting, this has to be one of the nicest projects I’ve ever worked on, because of the brilliant teamwork!”

Gavin Macrae, Stramac Lighting
October, 2022