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Snowy Hydro - Where Men and Mountains Meet (1963)


Produced in 1963 by the SMHEA photographic unit (Harry Malcolm et al.), the film looks at the spectrum of male work involved in the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Curator’s notes

The Snowy Mountains Scheme instituted a broad scale national and international recruitment program, to meet its needs in scientific and engineering skills, as well as hard physical labour. Australian-born recruits, making up one-third of the workforce, were joined by migrants from over 30 countries. Some of these newcomers had skills in surveying, tunneling, geology, hydrology, and electrical work, but many came to Australia as unassisted migrants.

The film looks at these workers in the broad spectrum of roles they performed during construction of the scheme. It’s a fascinating depiction of the national ideal of postwar masculinity. Work opportunities for men were shifting rapidly from outdoor, physical employment to indoor white-collar desk work. Social anxiety about progress and its effects on healthy masculinity grew in the process. – The 'Snowy men’ represented a perfect alternative. From the unskilled migrant workers, who’d left lands and lives destroyed by the Second World War, to the highly-trained earth scientists and engineers, who combined intellectual proficiency with the physical adeptness required for work in the field, the film portrays them as new, ideal men. Or, as Prime Minister Menzies put it when he opened Tumut Pond Dam in September 1958, 'big men’.