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Snowy Hydro – Operation Adaminaby (1958)

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clip An old town dies, a new one born education content clip 2, 3

Original classification rating: not rated. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

The new Adaminaby takes shape as, one by one, buildings from the old town are transported to the new location.

Curator’s notes

Half way through the move of old Adaminaby to its new location in 1958, the weather has improved and the snows are vanishing. Picturesque shots show the new Adaminaby growing and the old Adaminaby looking more and more deserted. As buildings are moved from old town to new, the clip provides an evocative portrait of 1950s Australian country town life: the town clergyman, tousled children playing on the empty housing blocks and a wooden-crate go-cart of classic proportions.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows the relocation of the township of Adaminaby to make way for the new Eucumbene Reservoir, which would be part of the Snowy River Hydro-electric Scheme. In the clip, houses are moved one at a time by truck to the new township, and there are shots of the nearly deserted old town site. Two men, who appear to be administering the move, consult maps, while a clergyman is shown waving from the porch of his house as it is being transported out of town, and children play among the remnants of the old town. The clip is accompanied by cheerful music.

Educational value points

  • The construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, an aspect of which is shown here, was a major post-Second World War project completed between 1949 and 1974. The Scheme diverts water from the Snowy Mountains through seven power stations to turn hydro-electric turbines that generate electricity for New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. The water is then released into the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers for irrigation. Construction of the Scheme dramatically altered much of the landscape in the Snowy Mountains.
  • The clip shows the old township of Adaminaby before it was flooded by the Eucumbene Reservoir, the largest dam in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. The creation of the Reservoir resulted in thousands of hectares being flooded, including the original site of the Adaminaby township as well as numerous farms and homesteads. Adaminaby was the first of three towns to be moved to make way for reservoirs needed for the Scheme. Jindabyne and Talbingo were also relocated.
  • The Government began the huge task of moving the township in 1958 and the clip includes footage of houses being relocated. More than 100 buildings were moved by truck and in some cases were completely dismantled and reconstructed at the new site. The wettest season for 51 years meant that the first house took 6 days to move through mud and sludge but the removalists were eventually able to transport one house per day.
  • The clip portrays the relocation as progressive. The new township was represented to the residents of Adaminaby as modern and comfortable. Residents were compensated for the move and were also connected to electricity and water, amenities that had been unavailable in the old town. However, some residents, particularly those whose families had settled Adaminaby in the 1830s, experienced a profound sense of loss.
  • The relocation of the clergyman’s house is singled out in the clip. In 1958 a clergyman had considerable status in the community and the confidence shown by the Adaminaby clergyman in the process of 'moving house’ may have allayed audience concerns about the difficult move.
  • Emotive language is used to present the move as positive, with the narrator saying 'the heart of the new town began beating’ while the old town looks 'deserted’ as 'empty spaces grew’. He concludes with 'the scales of progress were tilting in favour of the new town’. This positive representation is reinforced by lively music and shots of residents waving as the houses are moved out. The film was made by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to promote the Scheme.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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