on air now

70 years since the Snowy Hydro

Michael talks to Darren Davis, Snowy Hydro Engineer, about the construction of the Snowy Hydro scheme which commenced 70 years ago this week.

As a means of offsetting the disastrous effects of droughts, the concept of diverting water from some of Australia’s best-known rivers – the Murray, Murrumbidgee, Snowy and Tumut Rivers – dates back as far as the 1880s.  

However, it was not until 1944 that a committee of Commonwealth and State representatives was formed to examine, from a broad, national viewpoint, the development of the water resources of the Snowy Mountains area.

On July 7 1949, the Commonwealth Parliament passed The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949, which established the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, the operating body of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Construction started on the Scheme on 17 October 1949, when the Governor-General, Sir William McKell, Prime Minister Ben Chifley and William Hudson fired the first blast at Adaminaby.

Construction was completed in 1974, for a total historical cost (funded by Commonwealth Government advances) of $820 million.

Download this podcast here.