A unique history

A unique history

As you tour the Highlands Power Trail, through the Great Lake Power Scheme, you will uncover fascinating tales of a hardy and dedicated community, working in a challenging landscape and forming bonds that have lasted a lifetime. This unique example of Tasmanian industrial heritage is inextricably linked to the local landscape and people.

The developments in the Central Highlands were founded on a dream and a vision, and put in place by people who worked to deliver something the impact of which they could barely imagine.

The commissioning of Waddamana Power Station in 1916, and the surrounding Great Lake Power Scheme, paved the way for eight decades of hydro-electricity developments in Tasmania. From its birthplace at Waddamana, Hydro Tasmania went on to become a leader in renewable energy.

Challenging times create a sense of community

In 1912 there were no roads. The prospect of a trip into Waddamana was daunting – walk or ride a horse into remote and wild country.

The Red Gate Tramway was built, running almost 29 kilometres, and provided a return trip every two days. It carried everything needed – massive transformers, turbines, generators imported from England, pipes and electrical equipment. The tramway was also loaded with food and supplies for workers, and for the horses and bullocks.

Families joined the workers in houses from 1918 and a true village community was created including cook houses, a bakery, butcher shop, piggery and school house.

Despite the many challenges of living in such a remote location, life at Waddamana was very social. Power station staff could be seen on the tennis courts as the sun came up after a long nightshift. There were dances in the school hall, movie nights, picnics and cricket competitions.

The workers and their families forged connections at Waddamana to last a lifetime.

Redgate Tramway 1914, photo Redgate Tramway 1914, photo Ticklebelly Tales and other stories from the people of the Hydro
Tennis at Waddamana, 1920s