Devils Gate Dam on spill

Hey, you all want to go down to Devils Gate Dam?

07 November 2019

If your first thought here is a leather-clad rock chick, well, you’re certainly not alone, even if it’s just the two of us.

One of us might even have trouble seeing the name Devils Gate Dam without bursting into a few bars of the song made famous by Suzi Quatro. But, there’s more to this than seventies nostalgia and ground-breaking female bass guitarists.


Just a few years before Suzi Q went down to the drive, Tasmania got its own devilish drawcard, with the construction of the Devils Gate Dam in 1969, which created the world-renowned Lake Barrington.


Devils Gate Dam on spill

The dam is 84 metres high and is one of the thinnest concrete arch dams in the world. It is part of the Mersey-Forth scheme that comprises eight hydroelectric power stations. Devils Gate Power Station is the sixth station in the scheme and was commissioned in 1969 with a generating capacity of 63 megawatts.


It houses a single Boving Francis turbine coupled to a Siemens generator. The machine features a unique bearing arrangement with separate thrust and guide bearings. The turbine has a partially embedded spiral casing with no relief valve or inlet valve.

Welcome to the dive

The site, with its stunning cliffs, eucalypt forest and local wildlife, attracts a variety of visitors.


The dam and Lake Barrington play host to a number of recreational activities, including rowing, water-skiing and fishing.


Lake Barrington won international acclaim when it hosted the World Rowing Championships in 1990 and remains the site of choice for Tasmania’s rowing regattas. And, the popular viewing platform offers spectacular views of the area.


But, approaching its half century, the Devils Gate Power Station – like some of us of the same vintage – was starting to show its age and was in need of some restorative work.


After more than four years of planning, design and physical preparations, modernisation work began in late 2018, upgrading the turbine and adding a digital governor, excitation and unit controller. Primary equipment was also rejuvenated, including a replacement circuit breaker.

She’s the star of the show

Completed over nine months, the upgrade increased generating capacity at Devils Gate to 67 megawatts.


The power station was out of action for the duration, the viewing platform was closed and the dam was on spill. This happens because any rainfall builds up in the lake and the water can’t be run through the power station while it’s not operational.


But, just in time for our annual power station open days, the work has been completed and the revitalised power station is one of two on show this November, along with Tarraleah Power Station.


The open days give our most important customers – the local community we were created to serve –the chance to see the inner workings of our generation assets, and learn about Tasmania’s clean energy history and future.

Let’s do it one more time for Suzi

Our generation assets are a source of fascination for many Tasmanians, especially those with a family history with ‘the Hydro’, as it’s still affectionately known around the state.


And, while some may be driven by nostalgia, much like certain 1970s music tragics, there is a real interest in the workings of our power stations.


As the transition to renewable energy gathers pace in Australia and around the world, that interest shows no signs of waning.


The last time Devils Gate opened its doors to the public, hundreds of people turned out to take a look behind the scenes and see how we use water to make electricity.


As Australia’s largest generator of clean, renewable energy and champions for a sustainable future, we hope to see hundreds more at our latest open day.


So, come on down to Devils Gate and see for yourself how we’re applying our traditional values to modern challenges and working towards a clean, reliable and affordable future for all Tasmanians.




Dam 2019
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