Waddamana Hydro-Electric power station was Tasmania’s first hydroelectric power plant, operating 1916 through to 1995. In fact, there were two stations in Waddamana: A (decommissioned in 1965) and B (built between 1939 and 1949).
Waddamana A is now a museum and holds a well-preserved collection of antiquated technology. The museum is filled with original equipment and other displays, including the control room switchboard, general offices restored to as they were in 1950, tool rooms, and stores. Keep an eye out for the massive hand-made spanners that workers had to strike with 10-kilogram hammers to shift the bolts!
The turbine hall itself is a thing of beauty, containing nine Pelton wheel turbines connected to powerful alternators that at one time generated the energy that started Tasmania’s industrial activity. Be sure to stop by the control room, with all the panels constructed from marble. It’s quiet today, but you can easily imagine the noise of all turbines running. The view looking up to the steep pipes that transported the water downhill and into the station—the “penstocks”—is striking.
Building an advanced station in an isolated region of an island at the bottom of the globe proved difficult, with incredibly limited access in for workers, supplies, and equipment in a hostile climate. There’s a wonderful series of photographs that capture the effort, and the frigid temperature gives a sharp insight to what those early workers must have felt.
Bonus fact: “Waddamana” is a Palawa kani word meaning “noisy water,” only proper for a hydroelectric station!
Know Before You Go
Waddamana is located deep in a valley close to the geographical centre of Tasmania, 26 miles (42 kilometers) northwest of the town of Bothwell, and 74 miles (119 kilometers) from the State capital, Hobart.
Waddamana Power Station is at the halfway point of the Highlands Power Trail, a self-drive journey through the Great Lake Power Scheme.