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Snowy Mountain Scheme

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A major engineering feat began in Australia in 1949. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme took 25 years to complete and is one of the seven engineering wonders of the world. It was designed to harness the fast flowing water in the Snowy River (the result of snow melting in the Australian Alps) and divert it to the arid interior so that it could be used for food production.

The men who undertook the challenge of this great feat came from more than 30 different countries and many had been enemies at war only a few years earlier. Tens of thousands of immigrants were brought to Australia for the task and many of Australians today are related to these courageous men. Over 120 men lost their lives during construction but this is only the official death toll. The toll wasn't compiled until 1981 and doesn't include the deaths that occured in several multiple-fatality accidents or those killed on the steep access roads.

        The massive Scheme involved building 16 dams, 7 power stations, and 12 massive tunnels that travel deep under the mountains. Two of the power stations are also deep underground which was quite a feat for its day.

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The man chosen as head of the construction was New Zealand born, William Hudson. Hudson studied civil engineering at London University and was appointed New South Wales Chief Civil Engineer in 1948. Hudson expected hard work and perfection and was known to push workers so that deadlines were kept and budgets remained in tact. He expected 100% commitment and this got results. Sir William Hudson was knighted in 1955 and was awarded many other accolades for his achievements and the sucess of the project.

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The Scheme was completed in 1974. It was completed before the deadline and was within budget. It retains its importance and remains a major human and engineering achievement.

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