Push-Button Will Launch Snowy Scheme
10 October 1949 Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga)
When the Governor-General (Mr. W. J. McKell) presses a button on a hilltop near Adaminaby on the afternoon of Monday, October 17, a charge of explosive will inaugurate the largest public works undertaking ever planned in Australia.
The hilltop ceremony will be the equivalent of 'turning the sod' to begin the vast Irrigation and hydro-electric scheme to be carried out by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority.
The explosion will begin the excavation that will be necessary for the erection of the Adaminaby dam, with its 86 miles of tunnels, 500 miles of race-line, and 16 power stations will eventually provide over two million acre feet of irrigation water and 1,720,000 kilowatts of electric power - nearly as much as all the power stations in Australia are producing today.
Towns in the Monaro have declared the day a holiday, for the ceremony is an indication to the people of the district that a dream 70 years old is coming true, that the Snowy waters will at last be harnessed for the good of Australia.
Apart from the national importance of the work for defence and industry, its effect locally will be tremendous.
The town of Cooma, where headquarters of the Authority eye being established, will be doubled In size, for possibly 3000 people will move in round those headquarters, and plans are already under way for the building of a new section of the town.
Adaminaby itself (population 700) will also grow, because as the nearest town to the dam site it will have established near by a township of construction workers.
New Townships As the construction works proceed over the years other towns and townships will be established, building up the population of the whole district, bringing fresh prosperity, perhaps new industries.
'I believe that this scheme will be one of the greatest single factors that will make it possible for this country to carry a greatly Increased population,' said Mr. Nelson Lemmon, Commonwealth Minister for Works and Housing, when the bill setting up the authority went through Parliament.
'It will also be one of the greatest single factors to bring about a permanent and effective policy of decentralisation.
Because of the great quantity of water that will be made available for irrigation, and the cheap power that will be generated, there is no reason why we should not see in our time inland cities in the Murray Valley and the Murrumbidgee Valley that should carry a population of 1,000,000 people.'
To be Filmed The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), Commonwealth Ministers, State Governors and Premiers, Federal and State Members of Parliament, and visitors from several States will attend the opening ceremony, which will be broadcast over the national net-work by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and other radio stations.
Proceedings will be filmed by the newsreel companies and the Department of Information, photographed and reported in the newspapers. People in the surrounding districts are planning to make this a field day.
First function is an official luncheon given by the Mayor of Cooma (Alderman Frank Norris) to the Governor-General and visitors.
At the same time buffet luncheon will be provided for the big gathering of guests expected at the Adaminaby Show ground.
Ceremony at Site
These luncheons will be followed by the ceremony at the site, where Mr. Lemmon will preside, there will be speeches by the Governor - General, the Prime Minister, the Governor of New South Wales) Liet. General John Northcott), and the Premier (Mr. McGirr). The Federal Member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. A. Fraser) and the State Member for. Monaro (Mr. J. W. Seiffert) will also take part in the proceedings.
Those attending the ceremony will then be invited to afternoon tea at the Adaminaby show grounds, there will be a dance at Adaminaby at night, and a mayoral ball at Cooma.
Much preliminary work remains to be done before actual construction of the Adaminaby dam begins.
Roads leading to the area will be remodelled to carry the heavyweight traffic of machinery and materials.
A special access mad is being constructed from the existing highway to the dam site.
Space is being cleared for buildings at the site, drilling teams are in the field, engineers are taking up residence, stores and headquarters buildings are being prepared.
But it is estimated that it will take eight years to complete the first stage of the scheme - the Adaminaby dam and the tunnel which will take Eucumbene waters from the dam into the Tumut - and maybe 20 or 30 years before the whole scheme, is completed.