Power for the People
60 Years of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme

These photographs are just a very small selection of the 1000s of images taken over the 25 years of the development of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. They showcase the people, the landscape and the technology of the Scheme.

The Scheme officially started with the first blast being set off on 17 October 1949 and on completion in 1974, seven power stations, 16 dams and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts had been constructed.

The first dam to be completed was Guthega Dam. It was constructed by a Norwegian firm Selmer Engineering. The team arrived before Christmas 1951 and the first power flowed from the Snowy in February 1955.

In 1958 Thiess Brothers became the first Australian company to win a major contract on the Snowy. By the time construction was completed in 1974, Thiess had built a quarter of the entire Scheme.

An estimated 100,000 people worked on the Snowy between 1949 and 1974. Migrants, representing over 30 nationalities, made up approximately 65 per cent of the workforce. They had travelled across the world seeking work and a new life after the turmoil of World War II. These migrants, known as New Australians, provided the skills and manpower to build the Snowy.

The images come from the National Archives of Australia.

Each image should be cited as NAA: image reference number eg NAA: A1200, L36209

You may save or print the images for research and study. If you wish to use them for any other purpose you must contact the National Archives of Australia to request permission.
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