ir William Hudson, a New Zealand born engineer, headed the scheme with construction beginning in 1949. In Government circles in Canberra he was known as 'The Lion of Cooma'.
Prime Minister Ben Chifley said that the scheme was the greatest single project in our history.
The scheme was completed in 1972 and officially opened the same year by the Governor General, Sir Paul Hasluck.
It had taken 25 years to build 16 major dams, 7 power stations (2 of them underground). 145km of interconnected tunnels and 80km of aqueducts. Final completion was 1974.
The scheme covered an area the size of Switzerland.
Over 100,000 workers from 30 nations worked on the scheme. 121 workers were killed during construction with half of the deaths attributed to tunnelling accidents.
Despite the deaths many safety requirements were'born' in Australia e.g. the need to wear seat belts in all vehicles.
The scheme was built to divert water to the Murray and Murrumbidgee (Aboriginal for Big Water) river systems and to produce electricity for the southeast of Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and South Australia.
The scheme helped transform Australia's economy from one driven by agriculture to one including heavy industry.
The scheme cost over $1billion and today would cost 5 times as much.
The three main rivers feeding the scheme are the Upper Snowy, Upper Murrumbidgee and the Upper Murray. The main reservoir is Lake Eucumbene. Try fishing for rainbow trout at Anglers Reach near Adaminaby on Lake Eucumbene. Some of the workers on the scheme caught trout in a novel way - explosives into the water and collect the stunned fish.
One quarter of the scheme was built by Thiess and they also built the largest dam in the southern hemisphere at Talbingo.
Visit Thiess at www.thiess.com.au
The scheme is environment friendly with the generation of electricity displacing about 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year - the equivalent of the exhaust emission of about 1 million motor cars.
The Snowy documentary is narrated by Bryan Brown.
This doco was sponsored by Great Southern Energy. Visit them at www.gsenergy.com.au
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Snowy Mountain Scheme - visit www.snowyhydro.com.au
Read the book for all the gen on the scheme -