The coolest workplace around the Goulburn Valley

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Even on the hottest summer days, you will find 32 rooms at less than 0°C in Mooroopna.

The forklift drivers and coolstore workers at Valley Pack Cold Storage are some of the luckiest staff in the Goulburn Valley this week, as they work to keep local and national produce at quality-controlled temperatures for export across the world.

When The News visited Valley Pack Cold Storage yesterday, the team was moving white nectarines from Cobram into a -1°C coolroom, where they will be kept until they make their way into a container in Melbourne and journey on to China, arriving on a ship in 20 days.

Valley Pack Cold Storage transport manager Taylor Hall said in a day, the company loaded 520 pallets headed to China.

‘‘We have the largest facility in Victoria for exporting fruit to Asia,’’ he said.

Family-owned and operated for three generations, Mr Hall said the business did quality and pest inspections as well as making sure the temperature was uniform.

As well as nectarines, other popular items at Valley Pack Cold Storage include table grapes, citrus fruits, cheese and meat — travelling from places such as Griffith, Mildura and in the Goulburn Valley.

Work in the coolstores will be ‘‘full speed’’ next month, as staff work 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand.

‘‘The 32 coolrooms can hold 400tonnes each,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘Because of our location, it makes it busy.’’

Mr Hall agreed Valley Pack Cold Storage was one of the coolest places to be during the summer months, but warned about the nine freezers on site, reaching temperatures of -27°C.

‘‘You don’t want to stay in there for too long,’’ he said.

Heat warps steel tracks

Shepparton trains have also been feeling the heat recently, forced to slow due to the intense temperatures.

When the mercury hits 36°C, trains must slow as the steel tracks expand and trains place greater pressure on the rail when travelling at higher speeds.

Trains in the area have run at slower speeds on 11 days so far this year.

A V/Line spokesperson said it was important for passengers to check the V/Line website before travelling on hot days and download the temporary timetable to plan their journey.

‘‘To provide greater certainty for passengers, V/Line implements temporary hot weather timetables when extreme heat is forecast,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘We monitor weather forecasts and track condition very closely so if we need to, we can make service changes and get passengers where they need to go as quickly, safely and comfortably as possible.’’

This week, coaches have replaced some trains between Seymour and Shepparton.

Extreme heat timetables are in place via the V/Line website, the V/Line App and Twitter.

Alternatively, passengers can check with their local station staff, conductor or by phone 1800800007 for more information.

Resh loves his fans

Kialla’s Harvey Norman store has noticed a significant increase in cooling appliance sales in the past few days. After 25 years in the business, senior salesperson in kitchens Resh Qemal is a cooling connoisseur, with expert knowledge in fans and air-conditioning.

Selling a large number of units in the past few days, Mr Qemal said he had a noticed a pattern over the years.

‘‘The moment the weather is hot for three or four days in a row, there is a big increase in sales,’’ he said.

Mr Qemal said the most common units sold had been portable air-conditioners due to the high number of rentals.

Although efficient, he said these can take a while to cool down and work best in a small space.

‘‘The best thing to do is set the portable at 25 degrees, and then try 22 and bring it down that way,’’ Mr Qemal said.

‘‘They can’t get too cold too quickly.’’

When it comes to wall units, Mr Qemal said it was important to plan early for a fast installation process.

‘‘This time of year you’ve got to be organised,’’ he said.

‘‘Don’t think too much about it.’’

Mr Qemal said he expected sales to continue to be busy over the next few days with more heat expected.