Snowy Waters

Australian Workers Film Guide


This government short documentary shows the planning and commencement of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme in the early 1950s. This beautifully shot film begins with some stunning black and white footage of the Snowy Mountains, high country settlements such as Berridale, Adaminaby and Jindabyne, ranches and working stockmen. Shots of snowmelt feeding mountain rivers transitions into the need for more power and water to meet the demand of growing industry.

A federal cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Ben Chifley is seen deciding on the need for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, followed by project diagrams and an opening ceremony held by the Prime Minister on the site.  Surveyors are seen walking into the landscape, followed by timber cutters clearing a way for access roads, which the narrator describes as rough working conditions. Men haul equipment and materials over a wild river, camps and buildings are constructed, heavy machinery is brought in and commences opening up the inaccessible area with the construction of all weather roads.

Labour arrives from overseas and men are seen working on the site of future dams and power stations. Workers are seen battling poor weather and snow. Australians and immigrants work and live together on the job and are seen enjoying a meal. Diamond drilling crews test the ground, followed by scenes of engineers evaluating the data for site suitability.  Footage is shown of men working on the early stages of the Guthega Dam, the first of 20 dams, which when completed will double Australia’s electric power.

Special Notes/Achievements

Produced by the Department of the Interior and an Australian National Film Board Production.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 10 mins 33 secs

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