S is for Snowy Mountains Scheme

Snowy River Roll

Give me a man who’s man amongst men

Who’ll stow his white collar and put down his pen.

We’ll blow down a mountain and build you a dam

Much bigger and better than Old Uncle Sam.

By William Lovelock

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Construction of the Eucumbene-Tumut tunnel, 1958 multiculturalaustralia.edu.au

The Snowy Mountains Scheme was the largest engineering project ever undertaken in Australia.  Begun in 1949 it employed men from thirty countries and is an integrated water and hydro-electric power scheme diverting the snow fuelled waters of the Snowy River to the Murray/Darling Basin.

 

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Oh what fun, Oh what fuss, in our Pioneer bus, on the road to Eucumbene! busaustralia.com

On one of his business trips to Cooma my father had a few days to kill.  He booked a three day Pioneer Bus Tour of the Snowy Mountains for us both and so at the age of eight I was able to see tunnels, dams and power stations of this great post war enterprise.  It was not yet complete and so the huts used by the workers were still on site.  We visited Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia, and Khancoban, another town constructed especially for the scheme.  What captured my imagination were the towns inundated by the rising dam waters, Jindabyne and Adaminaby.  Some buildings, mainly  churches, were moved brick by numbered brick to the new town sites.  Others like the hotels, sank below the waters and could be glimpsed from above at  times of low water.

StJohns
St Johns, Adaminaby, moved in 1956/57 homenetspeed.com.au

Our driver taught us all four verses of Snowy River Roll as well as The Pioneer Bus Song which followed the tune of The Road to Gundagai.  Instead it was the “Road to Eucumbene”.

The most exciting thing about the tour, however, was the presence of another girl on board.  She was a couple of years older than me and we sat together on the bus talking non-stop.  I think my father was a little jealous as he commented that I wasn’t observing the surrounding scenery as closely as I should.

I kept in touch with Jennifer by mail until she finished university, married and moved to America.

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