Vast Changes Seen in Rapidly Developing Snowy River Scheme

8 May 1951 The Murrumbidgee Irrigator (Leeton)

Adaminaby and Tumut Ponds areas inspected by Murrumbidgee and Murray delegates.

During the recent tour of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric and Diversion Scheme, representatives from the Murrumbidgee and Murray Valleys, saw many vast changes in this rapidly developing national undertaking, which have only taken place during the past 17 months, following the official opening of the scheme by the Governor-General, His Excellency the Right Hon; W. McKell.

Leaving the Hotel Kosciusko the   party of delegates drove to the Adaminaby Dam site, where the waters of the Eucumbene, a Snowy tributary, will be stored for diversion to Tumut Ponds.         

Here the changes were particularly noticeable to those delegates, who had attended the official opening in November, 1949, when a few iron sheds and a temporary speaker' dais, on the spur above the dam site, represented the entire settlement, while, two white pegs on either side of the valley, indicated the crest of the propose dam. 

New Camp At Portal Of Tunnel

The pegs are still there, clearly visible on the upstream edge of a stretch of bare ground, cleared, across the valley from one spur to the other, in preparation for the major task ahead - the erection of the dam. Further upstream a new camp has sprung up at the point where the 15 mile tunnel to Tumut Ponds will enter the hillside. Here the portal of the tunnel has been marked on the hillside preparatory to the drilling of the tunnel. 

Forest Gives Way To Rapidly Growing Township

 But it is on the hill below the actual dam site that the change is most noticeable. Where previously the virgin forest of snow gums and scrub wattle flourished, a township is rapidly growing.

Not however, by the wholesale destruction of the natural greenery, but by careful planning, which will enable the settlement to develop as part of the existing bush- land and retain much, of the natural growth, as park lands.   

Prefabricated Cottages For Workmen

 A large area has, however, been completely cleared and here cottages are being erected, the design being the same as those prefabricated at the Cooma workshops.

This gave the delegates the opportunity of inspecting some of the completed cottages and they were surprised at the neat appearance of these houses, when erected as a single unit.

The cottages are for the married men's quarters, the single workmen being accommodated in barracks on the opposite side of the township site.

Streets Formed In Readiness For Houses

 Across this cleared area, streets have been constructed to facilitate the rapid establishment of the township, once the houses are available.

The planning has developed to the extent of the street names, indicated by small white posts on each corner. This will be one of the few towns in the country which have, adopted a plan similar to Leeton - that of using the names of trees for the streets.

On the opposite side of the site; dozers are still it work constructing streets and clearing away the scrub.   

Natural Bushland Retained As Park

 In a green belt, stretching along   the main entrance road, between the township and the dam site, man has improved on nature - by the clearing of the dense undergrowth, from the base of - the snow gums.

This will allow the rapid growth of grasses and in a short while will produce a true bushland park, with few equals.

This policy is being carried out in other green belts around the township site.

Earthen Material Located Nearby

 The dam which will be used purely for storage; the nearest generator being at Tumut Ponds, will be of earth core with rock facing. The material for the filling is located in the near proximity of the site on a neighbouring spur, while rock for the facing is obtainable within 1 miles of the site. 

Huge Storage Capacity

  This type of dam will necessitate a thousand foot base, while the crest at an altitude of 3770 feet, will rise 200 feet from the bed of the river. It is anticipated that the storage capacity will be in the vicinity of 1,400,000 acre feet, most of which will be stored in the Frying Pan Creek valley, a tributary of the Eucumbene, which joins the parent stream just above the dam site. 

Divert River Through Tunnel

 Before the Department of Public Works, who have undertaken the en- tire construction of the Adaminaby Dam, commence on the wall itself, a 33 foot tunnel will have, to be drilled through the spur, with an outlet, a thousand feet downstream.

This tunnel which will be constructed of sufficient width to handle any flood waters, will divert the river during the construction period, and thus eliminate any danger of the flood waters washing away the partly constructed wall. 

Dam Will Be Completed Before Main Tunnel

 This tunnelling operation will take eighteen months and it is hoped that, a start will be made on the construction of the wall in two years.

Even then the dam will be completed long before the tunnel is drilled to Tumut Ponds; because, as in the Snowy section of the scheme, the tunnel presents a far greater task than the dam construction.

Mr. Harper, engineer of the Department of Public Works, who guided the party of delegates through this section of the scheme, explained that the Adaminaby-Tumut Ponds tunnel would be almost level, the Tumut Ponds outlet being slightly higher than the portal at Adaminaby.

Tumut Waters May Be Stored At Adaminaby

 In the event of severe flooding in the Tumut catchment area, excess water can be diverted through the tunnel for storage in the Adaminaby reservoir.

This will only necessitate the reversal of the pumps, while the power station at the Tumut Ponds outlet will not be generating power   during the reversal operation. In this way any water which cannot be controlled by reservoirs on the Tumut River, will not be lost, but will be stored at Adaminaby until needed. 

Following morning tea at the Adaminaby township, the party drove along the Monaro Highway to Kiandra, where the road to Tumut Ponds branches off.

This road follows the valley into the Three Mile Camp, which forms a stores and maintenance centre for the Tumut Ponds area, and climbing over a sharp spur, drops steeply to the Ponds camp, in the valley a thousand feet below.

This section of the road from the Three Mile Camp, was commenced in October and completed by December and is one of the steepest roads being used by cars   in the project. 

Quarters Insulated Against Extreme Cold

At the Ponds camp, weatherboard and fibro barracks are being erected for the workmen's accommodation, fully lined with insulating material against the extreme winter cold. These provide accommodation for the 250   men in the camp at present. Further downstream, stores and workshops   have been erected.

Following lunch in the workmen's mess rooms, the party transferred to Land Rovers for the remainder of the inspection and continued onto the   dam site some miles downstream, under the guidance of Mr. Healy, regional engineer of the Tumut Ponds area.

Mr. Healy at the age of 23 years is already recognised as one of the foremost civil engineers in Australia, and is a striking example of the youthful technicians associated with the authority in key positions. 

Continued Inspection In Land Rovers

 The road to the dam site climbs sharply along the cliff face of the valley, which narrows further downstream to a deep rocky gorge. The only vehicles used on this road to date have been jeeps and Land Rovers, but it was found that only the Land Rovers have the necessary clearance, to negotiate some of the sharp rises and ruts along the road, and now these are the sole means of transport. 

This road was first drilled out from the solid rock and then levelled out with dozers, the disposal of the rubble made easy by a 180 foot sheer drop to 'the river bed.   

Road To Continue Through Tumut Valley

 As the scheme develops this road will continue along the Tumut River and will probably leave the valley near Blowering Dam, linking with an existing road between Batlow and Tumut.

This will form another excellent tourist road in years to come, and will be known as the Tumut Valley High way. *   

A halt was made just past the dam   site and Mr. Healy pointed out a grassy flat a few hundred yards downstream, where the main stores will be located for that area.

Drilling operations are at present in progress on the gorge side at the dam site, in preparation for the construction work. 

Meeting Point Of Three Tunnels 

This will be the meeting point of three tunnels, two diverting water   into the pondage, and the third releasing the waters of the three rivers   down the Tumut Valley.

The Adaminaby tunnel, with an annual diversion capacity of 235,000 acre feet, enters the pondage alongside the Tooma tunnel, which will divert   330,000 acre feet a year from the Murray catchment.

The diversion of the Tooma river involves the construction of a large capacity race line from the Tooma to Deep Creek, where the water will enter the five mile tunnel.   

Fall In River Utilised For Power

This water from the Eucumbene and Tooma, together with the Tumut waters, pass through a short tunnel, drilled into the wall of the gorge opposite the Adaminaby and Tooma tunnels, and a thousand foot vertical shaft and power station and is released into the Tumut River again.

The water is immediately diverted through a nine mile tunnel and sent down a vertical shaft in the vicinity of 800 feet, to a second power station.

The capacity of these two stations total 660,000 kilowatts. 

The water is then released into the Lobbs Hole Reservoir where a dam 180 feet high, will retain 50,000 acre feet of water. The settlement at Lobbs Hole will be the regional head quarters of this section of the scheme when established.   

Murrumbidgee Waters, (Diverted to Lobbs Hole Reservoir

 The third major diversion tunnel in the northern section of the scheme, diverting the waters from the upper Murrumbidgee to the Tumut, River, enters the valley at this point.

Water is stored at the Tantangara dam on the upper Murrumbidgee, by a 150 foot dam, with a storage capacity of 300,000 acre feet.

This water is conveyed by a tunnel 8 miles in length to a 1000 foot shaft and power station at Yarangobilly Ponds.

Here the water is  retained in a small capacity pond, and diverted through a second tunnel five miles long, to another thousand foot   shaft and power station, finally being   released into Lobbs Hole Reservoir.   

The two power stations between Tantangara and Lobbs Hole have a total capacity of 265,000 kilowatts, generated, by the fall of 300,000 acre feet per annum, the total diversion from the Murrumbidgee to the Tumut. 

Stored At Blowering For Irrigation

 From Lobbs Hole Reservoir, the combined flow of water from the four rivers is passed through the Lobbs Hole power station, with a capacity of 115,000 kilowatts and released into a 15 mile canal.

Another short shaft directs the water through the Talbingo power station, with a capacity of 90,000 kilowatts, in the Blowering Reservoir, where it is stored for irrigation along the Murrumbidgee valley. 

Upper Tumut Reservoirs   Facilitate Flood Control

When the Tumut Ponds dam and other regulating reservoirs on the upper Tumut River are completed, they will be able to control the flood waters and this will greatly facilitate the construction of the Blowering Dam.

 Leaving Tumut Ponds, the party continued along the Monaro Highway, the next halt being made between Yarrangobilly Village, and the Cumberland Range, where Mr. Monroe pointed out the grassy flats of Lobbs Hole, far below in the Tumut valley.

Hydro Electricity Of Secondary Importance At Blowering

The final inspection of the tour was made at the Blowering Dam site, where a 250 foot wall will store 800,000   acre feet of water. Although this reservoir is primarily a storage for irrigation, the fall of water will be utilised for hydro power, the capacity of the power station here being 50,000 kilowatts.

Vitally Important For Production Of Food

 However the main purpose of the dam is the storage and regulation of   water for the specific use of irrigation in the Murrumbidgee valley and the turbines will only be brought into operation while water is being released for irrigation.   

This reservoir will prove of vital importance in the development and extension of Irrigation areas along the Murrumbidgee and will enable a greater production of primary food stuffs, which Industry is becoming increasingly important to the welfare of Australia.    

         This road, the Lobbs Hole Reservoir, and the power station at Yarangobilly Ponds were not built instead, a major dam and power station were built above the Talbingo township. Ed.