Experience some of Tasmania’s most important industrial heritage and learn about the history of hydropower in Tasmania.

Upgrades to Waddamana Power Station

Waddamana Power Station Heritage Site is currently undergoing a refurbishment that will see the installation of new interpretation signage, and the turbine hall and offices restored to how they looked in the 1950s.

During this time there may be some areas that are temporarily inaccessible to visitors while exhibitions are being further developed.

We apologise for any inconvenience and hope you have a wonderful and informative visit to Waddamana.

 

A bold vision brought to life

Located in Tasmania’s rugged Central Highlands, Waddamana is the site of Hydro Tasmania’s first power station and the centre-piece of the Great Lake Power Scheme.

Development of Waddamana Power Station and the scheme commenced in 1910 through a private company, however financial struggles forced a sale to the Tasmanian government in 1914. Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Department was formed to continue the ambitious development.

Construction in this isolated region was difficult, with limited access in for workers, supplies and equipment. However the resilience and determination of the Central Highlands' people prevailed, with Waddamana A Power Station commissioned in 1916 with two operational generators.

This visionary development deep in the centre of Tasmania was officially opened with great ceremony by Governor General Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson on 6 May 1916, and heralded Tasmania’s move into the industrial age.


Bringing power to Tasmania

Waddamana initially powered some 300 homes in the Hobart region. However demand for electricity grew in the residential and business sectors, and ‘the Hydro’ responded to meet this.  

An additional seven generators were added to Waddamana A Power Station, a dam was constructed at Miena, and a new station was built at Shannon to harness the water from yingina / Great Lake. A second station, Waddamana B, was added between 1939 and 1949. This stage of development saw an influx of migrant workers, particularly immigrants from Poland who settled in well to the Highlands community and brought along many customs and traditions from their home country. The Waddamana and Shannon power stations formed the hub of the Great Lake Power Scheme.

The three stations operated together until 1964, when Waddamana A and Shannon were decommissioned, and Shannon demolished. Waddamana B continued to operate until 1995.


Experience the development of hydropower in Tasmania

While their generating days are over, the Waddamana Power Stations still have an important role to play. The site, along with other elements of the Great Lake Power Scheme, was added to the Tasmanian Heritage Register in 2014 in recognition of the important part this development played in shaping the Tasmania that we know today.

Waddamana Power Station heritage site is now open to visitors, and provides a unique look at the history and development of hydropower in Tasmania.

You can tour through the turbine hall, with hands-on exposure to the mighty pelton wheel turbines that first began generating electricity over a century ago. The view looking up the penstocks – the steep pipes that transported the water downhill and into the station – is striking, and conjures images of the determined workers who built these in the early 1900s. 

The original machinery at Waddamana has been faithfully restored, along with some of the equipment from the old Shannon Power Scheme. And historical photographs and memories give an insight into what life was like in the early days of this small but social village deep in the Central Highlands.


Where to find Waddamana

Waddamana is located very close to the geographical centre of Tasmania, with the closest nearby town being the charming historic Bothwell. Visit our interactive map for directions.

Waddamana Power Station is at the half way point of the Highlands Power Trail, a self-drive journey through the Great Lake Power Scheme. We recommend you allow approximately 1 hour to spend at the heritage site. There is no catering facility at Waddamana, however you may wish to bring supplies and relax at the picnic area or use the gas barbecue. 

Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson, official opening ceremony 1916
Waddamana Power Station heritage site - our first power station
The pelton wheel turbines are no longer in operation but you can see the process used to generate electricity from water
The turbine hall, Station A, commenced operation in 1916 bringing power to Tasmanians and the start of the industrial age for the state
Waddamana Village, a bustling area when the station was being constructed, is no close to empty but fond memories remain. Image, Harry Gilbert

Contact details


Address icon  Main Road, Waddamana, TAS 7030

Phone  03 6259 6120 or 1300 360 441
 
Email icon-dark  waddamana@bigpond.com 

Opening hours


Open daily between 10am and 4pm 
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday

Admission to Waddamana Power Station heritage site is free.

Download a copy of the self guided tour here
© Hydro-Electric Corporation 2018