The Colo-I-Suva Rainforest Eco Resort’s “Raintree Lake”
It’s thought that the original owner of the Colo-I-Suva quarry was the Public Works Department, whose operations at the site spanned the ten years from 1948 to 1958, and provided rock for road building between Suva and Nausori.
It was then shut down, apparently in the belief that all available rock had been recovered. In fact, there was plenty more to be had.
Around 1957 Serge Tetzner, of the Fiji Government Survey Department, go together with Bill Bygrave of Lautoka to set up a company called Road Builders Limited and get the quarry going again. With New Zealander Ray Paton and long man Ning (Bill) Sellars aboard, it continued to supply rock from about 1958 to 1962. This was used as road improvements between the Suva Cemetery and Lami.
After Road Builders Limited wound up it operations at the quarry, it was eventually taken over by Nieder Pacific ( a subsidiary of Nieder Pacific Machinery New Zealand). In 1973 the company had just ended two or three years of operations at the Mau quarry, freeing its staff to move to Colo-I-Suva. Excavation was performed using Fiji’s first Hydraulic Excavator, a Hymac. Hasmukh Ali, who had large 6 wheeler trucks, was contracted to handle cartage. The Venture lasted just two years.
Ownership then passed equally briefly to Armstrong Ashfield, and in 1977 to Jafir Ali, whose operation came to an abrupt halt the following year. This was because a single pump broke down and the pit started quickly filling with water from the numerous underground springs, with the loss of equipment including two trucks and a bulldozer which lie at the bottom of the lake to this day
Early in 1999, when the resort was still in the process of being built, two retired Australian
Navy Officers gave fascinating insight into the fern-fringed lake that today forms the centrepiece of the resort.
As specialist military diving instructors the pair, quite literally, had in-depth knowledge of it.
They explained that in 1985 they had been called in to train Fiji Navy divers in “dark diving”. Unintentionally flooded in 1978 to a depth in excess of 30 metres and with rumours of hastily abandoned equipment resting on its bed, the old Colo-i-Suva quarry provided an ideal classroom.
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