Tumut 3 Power Station Opened

23 October 1972 The Canberra Times 

Last Snowy Project

The Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, opened the Tumut 3 power station, near Talbingo, on Saturday, 23 years after the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme was opened officially.

The scheme was opened officially on October 17, 1949, by the then Governor-General, Sir William McKell, who was present on Saturday.

Also present was the first Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, Sir William Hudson.

The Tumut 3 project, scheduled for completion late next year or early 1974, cost $170 million. 

It comprises the first pump storage scheme in the southern hemisphere and is the largest and most complex project as well as the last, of the Snowy scheme.

The scheme has involved the construction of 16 large dams and some smaller ones, more than 90 miles of tunnels, seven power stations, a pumping station, and about 50 miles of aqueducts, at a total cost of about $800 million.

The Minister for National Development, Sir Reginald Swartz, said at Saturday's ceremony that two predominant aspects of the scheme were that it had been completed within its original time estimate, projected more than 20 years ago, and that it had been constructed within the costs estimated at that time.

About 1,500 guests watched Sir Paul close a switch which caused water from the Talbingo reservoir to flow down the high-pressure pipeline to the station, starting No 1 generator.

"Here in the Snowy Mountains workers have built a great monument to themselves and their industry", Sir Paul said. It was a truly national project which had been described as one of the world's great engineering achievements.

"The Snowy scheme stands as a monument to the foresight of those who conceived the scheme and those who made the political decisions and provided the funds for it, and to the fortitude, dedication and skill of those who executed the work and turned plans and decisions into facts", he said.

Sir Reginald Swartz said there would be few engineering concepts to compare with the scheme in terms of difficulties of terrain and climate, in size and complexity, and in the challenge to designer and worker.

"The Snowy scheme not only has captured the imagination of the engineering world, it is in itself a thing of functional beauty on the rooftop of our country", he said.

It was an excellent example of the ability of the Commonwealth and the States to "get together on projects of mutual interest, in the water resources development field".

Staff employed by the Authority reached a peak of 7,300 in 1959.

Most of the present workforce will be involved, after the completion of this last project, in the operation and maintenance of the works on behalf of the Snowy Mountains Council.