History and Heritage: Engineering Landmarks

Tarraleah Power Station

Hydro Electricity Generation

The dams, powers stations and associated infrastructure of Tasmania's hydro eletricity generation schemes are the state's most significant engineering landmarks. Australia has few large rivers and there are limited sites available for hydro-power. Nevertheless close to 10% of the nation's electricity comes from this source. The Snowy Mountains hydro electric power scheme is the largest hydro electric system in Australia.

Tasmania's network of hydro electric dams and power stations generates the second largest amount of hydro electricity in Australia. Hydro Tasmania, a State-government enterprise, has been producing electricity from water-driven generators in Tasmania for nearly 100 years. Hydro Tasmania operates and maintains an integrated system of 29 hydro power stations and is Australia's largest dam owner, with over 50 large dams.

More than 80% of the water storage for Hydro Tasmania's power stations comes from two huge reservoirs - the great lake in the Midlands, Australia's largest natural freshwater lake, and from Lake Gordon in the South-West Wilderness region of Tasmania. There are four other main catchment areas.

Great Lake was the first source of water for Hydro Tasmania. In 1910 work on Waddamana Power Station was started by a private company, which Hydro Tasmania's original predecessor, the Hydro Electric Department, took over in 1914. There are three power stations operating in this catchment today. one of these - Waddamana Power Station in the Tasmanian central highlands - is now a museum which tells the story of Hydro Electricity generation in Tasmania.

Waddamana was the first major hydro-electric power station in Australia. The first stage of 7 megawatts was in service in 1916, increasing to 49 megawatts on completion in 1923. It was closed in 1965. The power station was part of an hydro-electric development recognised as being of international significance, and was the major engineering achievement of Sir John Butters FIEAust. He was responsible for the design, layout and construction of a masonry dam at the Great Lake, intake works on the Shannon River, a power-station and transmission line, and an electricity distribution and sub-station complex for Hobart.

Tasmania's Hydro Electric Schemes

Tasmania's Hydro Electric power Staions


Launceston Water Supply (1857)

This colonial water supply brings water 16 km from the St Patricks River near Nunamara via tunnel and race, and is still operating. Director of Public Works W R Falconer designed the gravity scheme, consisting of a weir, water race and tunnel diverting flow from the St Patricks River into a dam on Distillery Creek. Cast iron pipes delivered the water to brick reservoirs in the town. This fountain was erected to celebrate the opening. By 1860 the town had public drinking fountains, fire brigades and work on a sewerage scheme had begun. A plaque commemorating the scheme is located at the fountain in Prince's Square, Launceston.


Boyer Newsprint Mill (1938)

The Boyer Mill, on the River Derwent near New Norfolk, was the first mill in the world to make newsprint from hardwood fibre and is now the only newsprint mill in the southern hemisphere. Construction commenced in 1938 and the mill started operation in 1941, using 75% eucalyptus hardwood fibre and 25% imported softwood fibre. Backed by Australia's major newspaper publishers, the mill averted a shortage of newsprint during World War II.

The mill pioneered the use of low grade high ash Tasmanian coal and transferred the technoloy ton other industries. The Mill produced 20,000 tons of paper in the first year. The output reached 300,000 tonnes/year in 2009 when the use of hardwood fibre ceased, and newsprint was produced entirely from plantation softwood.

Formerly the Australian Newsprint Mill, the Norske Skog paper mill has been recognised by Engineering Heritage Tasmania as a national engineering landmark.


Bridges

Tasmania has numerous historic bridges - including Australia's oldest bridge, many of which are recognised as landmarks of their day. These include Kings Bridge, Launceston (1864), Richmond Bridge (1825) and Ross Bridge (1836).

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McNaught Beam Engine (1854)

The world's oldest McNaught Beam Engine takes pride of place at the entrance to the Hobart institute of TAFE, Bathurst Street, Hobart. This compound steam engine incorporates high and low pressure cylinders placed on opposite sides of the central column in accordance with the 1845 patent of William McNaught. The engine was manufactured in 1854 in Paisley, Scotland, and was probably imported by local engineer, Henry Clark. It was removed from Risby's sawmill in Collins Street, Hobart, and placed in its present location in 1990.


Tasmania Gold Mine (1877-1914)

Underground mining began at Beaconsfield in 1878. The reef is located in an aquifer so that ever-increasing pumping capacity was required as the workings went deeper. Eventually three extremely large Hathorn Davey compound steam pumping engines were installed, which were three of the largest mine dewatering steam pumping engines in the world. The mine supported a thriving town but became uneconomic and closed in 1914; it re-opened in 1999 using electric pumps. When the Hart shaft was re-opened for the new mine, some of the Cornish pit work was recovered and is on display in the Grubb Shaft Gold and Heritage Museum, together with working models.

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Tasmanian Transport Museum

The museum at Anfield Street, Glenorchy and its collection of trains, trams, buses and fire engines has been recognised by Engineering Heritage Tasmania and been given a heritage marker. Significant heritage items in the collection include the only vertical boiler locomotive preserved in Australia, the first main line diesel electric locomotive operated in Australia, the only Hobart electric tram preserved in original operating condition, and the first production bus to be built with a Hino chassis in Australia.


Lake Margaret Power Scheme

The Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company built this hydro- electric scheme to replace its voracious wood-fired steam- driven station. Commissioned in 1914 and expanded in 1918 and 1931, it was the sole supplier to the West Coast mining communities until 1937. The Lower and Upper Stations operated continuously until closure by Hydro Tasmania in 1994 and 2006. It was the last private scheme to be built in Tasmania, and it displays rare and intact early 20th century machinery and equipment. The Upper Station was refurbished and reopened in 2009, the lower station was reopened a year later.


Since 1984 Engineers Australia has been recognising important historic engineering works with the award of distinctive markers.There are two levels of awards: National Landmarks and Heritage Markers.

National Landmarks

Boyer Newsprint Mill (1941) - On the Derwent River near New Norfolk, the Mill was the first in the world to make newsprint from eucalypt hardwood, a process which continued for 68 years.

Plaque

Cethana Dam (completed in 1971) - On the Forth River south of Devonport is a 110 m high concrete faced rockfill dam which overcame the problems suffered by similar dams in other countries.

Plaque

Gordon Dam (1974) - On the Gordon River near Strathgordon in South-West is a 140 m high double-curvature arch dam, the highest arch dam in Australia and the largest storage.

Plaque

Ross Bridge (1836) - Over the Macquarie River at Ross is a three-span masonry arch bridge with unique ornamental carvings on the arches.

Plaque

Waddamana A Power Station (1916) - In central Tasmania, now a museum, began the development of the state-wide electricity grid.

Plaque


Heritage Markers

Catagunya Dam (1962) - On the Derwent River near Wayatinah is a 49 m high concrete gravity dam anchored to its foundations with steel cables, the highest of this type in Australia when built.

Plaque

Crotty Dam (1991) - On the King River near Queenstown is an 80 m high concrete faced gravel & rockfill dam with a service spillway chute resting on its downstream face.

Plaque

Devils Gate Dam (1969) - On the Forth River south of Devonport is an 84 m high double-curvature arch dam, one of the thinnest in the world.

Plaque

Duck Reach Power Scheme (1895-1956) - Is a hydro-electric scheme on the South Esk River built by Launceston City Council to light the city streets.

Plaque

Evandale to Launceston Water Supply Scheme (1836) - While never completed, was designed to convey water from the South Esk River to Launceston by tunnel and canal.

Plaque

Kings Bridge (1864) - Across the Gorge in Launceston is a beautiful wrought iron arch bridge fabricated in England. It carries Trevallyn Road over the South Esk River.

Plaque

Lake Margaret Power Scheme (1914) - On the Yolande River near Queenstown was built by the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company, and operated until 2006.

Plaque

Laughing Jack Dam (1957) - On Powers Rivulet near Bronte Park is a rockfill dam which allows flood water to flow through the embankment to avoid the cost of a separate spillway.

Plaque

Launceston Water Supply (1857) - Brings water 16 km from the St Patricks River via tunnel and race, and is still operating.

Plaque

Miena Dam No. 2 (1922) - On the Shannon River at the southern end of the Great Lake was the second longest multiple arch dam in the world when built. It is periodically submerged by a later dam.

Plaque

McNaught Beam Engine (1854) - At the Hobart Institute of TAFE in Bathurst Street is the world's oldest beam engine of the McNaught type.

Plaque

Richmond Bridge (1825) - Over the Coal River in Richmond is a six-span masonry arch bridge, the oldest bridge in Australia.

Plaque

Scotts Peak Dam (1973) - In the South-West helped to flood the original Lake Pedder, thereby initiating the conservation movement in Tasmania.

Plaque

Tarraleah Hydro-Electric Development (1938) - Which utilises the headwaters of the Derwent River near Tarraleah began the State's 110 kV transmission system.

Plaque

Tasmania Gold Mine (1877-1914) - Beaconsfield had three of the largest mine dewatering steam pumping engines in the world.

Plaque

Tasmanian Transport Museum (1972) at Glenorchy has a collection of important trains, trams, buses and fire engines, many in operating condition or being restored.

Plaque

Vincents Rivulet Bridge (1932) - On Proctors Road 9 km south of Hobart demonstrated the additional strength of composite steel beam and concrete deck construction.

Plaque

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