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VIDEO: ‘Divine intervention’ as church travels along the highway

Originally due to be demolished, this historic 115-year-old church and church hall was transported along the Flinders Highway on a 390km journey from Hughenden to Townsville.

Doing the removal was Townsville based Renewable Homes, with owner Jo Veneman saying the unusual load turned heads as it set off on Friday June 9.

It took nine days in total for the company to load the church and church hall, which was transported in three sections – the main building was split in two, with the roof separated. These sections were pulled by three Mack Tridents.

Renewable Homes shared this footage of the roof being loaded onto the truck.

This was a precarious job which required extreme care, as the church and church hall were built way back in 1908, originally serving as a Presbyterian church.

It also survived a tornado in 1942 which wiped out half of Hughenden and soon after that became the Hughenden United Church.

The maximum width of the loads was 7.5m. The church load was 30m long, with a height of 5.2m. This meant the convoy didn’t need any energy workers along the way.

The church convoy left Hughenden at about 7am, with the trucks accompanied by three police escorts and three industry pilots.

The lead Mack was a 2009 model driven by Kevin Nolan. Behind it was a 2015 Mack driven by Veneman and the third was another 2009 model driven by Matt Forrest.

The average speed along the journey was around 70km/h but Veneman said that decreased when they crossed the many narrow bridges on the journey. “It got down to about 5km/h at times,” she revealed.

Of course, there were some holdups along the way including just outside Hughenden, when had to stop for a considerable time at a level crossing for a train.

Then between Torrens Creek and Pentland there were two flat tyres which resulted in a 30-minute stop.

And one of the trucks blew a header tank and required stoppages to top up the water.

Veneman said that some sections of the Flinders Highway were up and down. “The church and church hall was rocking and weaving on the trailers at certain times.”

The motto of her company is “saving history” and Renewable Homes specialises in saving iconic Queenslander buildings from being demolished, along with saving other perfectly good homes from heading to landfill.

“Australia is facing a housing crisis and it makes no sense in throwing them into the dump,” Veneman said.

Many spectators turned out to watch the move of the church and its hall, with residents in towns along the Hughenden to Charters Towers stretch – including at Prairie, Torres Creek, Pentland, Homestead and Balfe’s Creek – at the roadside waving to the crew.

“This included lots of school kids which we were delighted with,” added Veneman.

At Charters Towers, which is 260km from Hughenden, the team had a welcome break at the Gold City Roadhouse.

“We were bloody hungry and had a much needed steak sandwich,” said Veneman.

Then it was off towards Townsville (approx. 130km from Charters Towers).

Veneman also appealed to authorities to provide some special areas for wide loads to stop along the Flinders Highway. “There just wasn’t enough,” she said.

The final destination was the Renewable Homes depot at Roseneath on the outskirts of Townsville.

Big Rigs stopped at the strategic location of the pull over area on both sides of the highway between Calcium and Woodstock to snap some pics.

It’s located about 50km from Townsville and there is plenty of space for parking.

Lead pilot driver Lionel Tappenden arrived and did an excellent job stopping traffic heading towards the convoy as it pulled over.

Then just after 4pm the flashing lights of the police escorts appeared and soon after the Macks and the church cruised past.

Veneman tooted her horn and I managed to follow the convoy until the turnoff to the depot.

Along the way hundreds of vehicles, including scores of trucks, stopped.

The journey was completed just after 4.30pm, as the convoy headed into the depot.

As for the fate of the church and church hall, it will stay at the depot before being put up for sale after Veneman can tally the considerable costs incurred.

“These included having to hire a crane at Hughenden to lift the church roof,” she said.

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