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National Museum honours Snowy Hydro as a Defining Moment in Australian History

19 March 2017

Cooma receives commemorative plaque

The National Museum of Australia today presented the town of Cooma in southern New South Wales with a commemorative plaque, honouring the region’s Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme as a Defining Moment in Australian History.

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca presented the plaque to Snowy Monaro Regional Council LRC member, Craig Mitchell and Snowy Hydro General Manager Asset Management & Engineering, Darren Davis, at a ceremony at the Cooma Multicultural Festival, on Sunday 19 March 2017. The choice of the festival as a venue reflects Snowy Hydro’s multicultural workforce.

The presentation is part of the National Museum’s Defining Moments project, which explores key ‘moments’ in Australian history and asks Australians to contribute their own moments, with a view to inspiring a national debate around culture and identity.

The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme was officially opened by Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck in 1972. Work was completed in 1974.

The scheme was one of the initial 100 key moments chosen by a group of eminent Australians, to kick off the Defining Moments project.

The scheme is also one of 25 ‘moments’ which will feature on plaques to be installed in the National Museum’s Main Hall.

'The Snowy Hydro scheme was an extraordinary engineering feat and helped define Australia as a multicultural nation by attracting migrants from more than 30 countries,' said Dr Trinca.

'We are delighted to present the people of Cooma with a plaque to commemorate its contribution to Australia’s economic and social development,' said Dr Trinca.

The commemorative plaque will be placed in a prominent location in Cooma for all to see.

Snowy Hydro background

More than 100,000 people worked on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme from its launch in 1949. The project was officially opened by Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck in 1972. It was completed in 1974. Migrants from more than 30 nationalities made up about two-thirds of the workforce.

The scale of ‘the Snowy’ was enormous. Over the course of the project the workforce built seven power stations, 16 dams, 80 kilometres of aqueducts, 145 kilometres of tunnels and 1600 kilometres of roads and railway tracks.

The Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme remains an important source of power and irrigation water today.

Defining Moments project

The Defining Moments in Australian History project was launched with an initial list of 100 ‘moments’ developed by a group of eminent Australians, including co-patrons, the Hon. Michael Kirby, AC CMG and the late Michael Ball, AM.

The goal of the Defining Moments project is to explore key ‘moments’ in Australian history and to invite Australians to contribute their own moments, with a view to inspiring a national conversation around culture and identity.

Moments include events such as:

Through public input the list of ‘moments’ now includes over 250 events


For more information please contact Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au


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