Monday, 16 March 2015

The Snowy Mountain Scheme

c1962
In about 1962 Phil was a teenager when the Phelan family joined a guided tour of the Snowy Mountain Scheme. The scheme was a work in progress so they were able to explore power stations and walk into one of the huge tunnels that now carry water from one of the dams to power stations downstream. I'm not sure which power station this was, possibly Tumut 1.

Today we travelled along the Alpine Way from Jindabyne and visited Murray 2 at Khancoban. We went into the power station with a guide but could only see the top section of each of the turbine generators that are about four storeys high. None was actually generating power while we were there.

Murray 2 Power Station east of Khancoban.
Murray 2 Power Station east of Khancoban.
On the way to Khancoban we crossed over Dead Horse Gap, the highest point on the road - on one side is the Murray River watershed and on the north side the Snowy watershed.

Dead Horse Gap, Alpine Way.
Dead Horse Gap, Snowy watershed.
Dead Horse Gap, Murray watershed.
The dams that comprise the Snowy Mountain Scheme have euphonious names - Gheehi, Khancoban, Tooma, Jindabyne, Eucumbene and Blowering - and they look beautiful tucked away in the valleys below the mountains. And the engineering of the scheme itself is a marvel. But...it's easy to forget the environmental damage that was done, the fact that two towns had to bemoved, and the damage continues in the effect the reduced flow of water has on the rivers like the Murray and the Snowy today.

Jindabyne dam.
Jindabyne Dam
Finally. just a little bit of the macro life around the dams. I think this beautifully spotted creature is a Cunningham's Skink sunning itself on a rocky outcrop at Jindabyne.

Cunningham's Skink (maybe)

2 comments:

Ken said...

I agree a Cunninghams Skink.

The good news is that the Snowy Mountains Scheme stopped the grazing of the NSW high country. For what is said about the cattlemen knowing what they were doing, they didn't, and were causing huge erosion problems especially on the main range area. What are boulder fields today, were originally grass fields that have had the topsoil removed.

A lot of the land that was drowned was farmland so it hasn't been that big a loss as far as the environment is concerned.

macmsue said...

I remember the noise and rumble of those big turbines. You're so right about the impact of the dams on places further downstream. Dredging was needed again this year to clear the Murray mouth.

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