The Snowy Mountains Scheme has today been honoured with inclusion on the National Heritage List. As the biggest industrial development Australia has ever attempted, the Snowy Mountains Scheme changed the face of Australia.
Constructed between 1949 and 1974, the Snowy Mountains Scheme is the largest public works engineering scheme ever undertaken in Australia. Made up of 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts, sixteen major dams, nine power stations and a pumping station, the entire Scheme covers a mountainous area of 5124 square kilometres in southern New South Wales. Only two per cent of the entire construction is visible above the ground.
The Scheme’s dams, tunnels, aqueducts and power stations, including some buried deep underground, are some of the most complex and technical engineering and construction feats in the country and the world. Significant engineering advancements were achieved during the construction of the Scheme, including rockbolting and the use of 330 kV transmission lines. Remarkably, the Scheme was completed on time and on budget.
Over 100,000 people from more than 30 countries worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Seventy per cent of these were migrants displaced from their homes in Europe during the Second World War. These workers and their children lived in towns and camps across the Snowy Mountains during construction. While many of these people moved on after completing their work, the Scheme still holds a special significance for workers, their descendants and the wider community as a symbol of multicultural Australia. Cooma’s annual multicultural festival continues to showcase the diversity of cultures in the region.
“The Scheme’s inclusion on the National Heritage List formalises the important chapter the Snowy Scheme has in the Australian story and cements our place in the nation’s history,” said Snowy Hydro Limited Chief Executive Officer Paul Broad.
“Snowy Hydro continues to be an important part of the social fabric of the communities we operate in and we continue to be linked with the Snowy Mountains communities that we helped build. While we have evolved to become a dynamic and growing energy company, the heart of our operations continues to be the Snowy Mountains region.”
The Snowy Mountains Scheme is an audacious and brilliant example of modern Australia—a bold idea brought to life by the hard-work of thousands of people coming to Australia from all over the world.
The Snowy Mountains Scheme remains one of Australia’s largest producers of renewable energy, including nearly a third of renewable energy fed into the eastern mainland grid, and manages water flows for over $3 billion in agricultural produce.
The Snowy Mountains Scheme is the 107th place added to Australia’s National Heritage List. For more details see www.environment.gov.au/ heritage/places/national/snowy-mountains-scheme