I was perusing a map of the Snowy Mountains the other day, and located on the shores of the Tumut River I stumbled upon a rather interesting township name – Sue City. During my recent trip to the Snowy Mountains I drove past the site, which is now known as O’Hares Rest Area, but had no other leads to follow. My first stop in the search to find out more was Google, which turned up the following results.
All but one website of these search results was for some form of “cookie cutter” website – dedicated to some kind of theme, the website owners import a list of Australian postcodes and localities to their content management system, and out comes a webpage for each entry. So lets take a look at each website in more detail:
- ExplorOz: an atlas style website. Page content includes nearby towns, a map, weather and climate charts, and a large number of fields asking for user generated content.
- Bonzle: another atlas style website, just like ExplorOz but in a different order.
- okTravel: rephrased extracts of census data, and not much else.
- Plan Book Travel: a travel website, but their only content is a map.
- NSW Water Information: a NSW government website detailing the availability of water quality data. This is the first “real” content found so far.
- Care for Kids: a search engine for childcare providers, it displays results for the town of Cooma, which is over 100 km drive away!
- Another link for Care for Kids: this time for vacation care.
- FarmGuide: a business directory, listing a random selection of businesses located in nearby towns.
- A second FarmGuide link: with the same listings as their first page, but at a different URL.
- Commercial Real Estate: a real estate website, but with no properties in Sue City, it instead displays random listings from around NSW.
So why did the township of Sue City just disappear? The next page of links things got more useful, bringing up this auction listing for a 1959 Sue City postmark – once upon a time they had a post office.
A look at the Picture Australia was more fruitful, turning up a number of photos of Sue City from the National Archives. First off is an aerial view, showing a line of houses nestled in the river valley, with a road winding up the steep hillside.
The next two photos show a collection of timber houses lining dirt roads, underneath gum trees.
The photo captions have this to say:
Construction of Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme – Sue City housing, Tumut 2 contractors township
A major component of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, work started on the Tumut 2 hydroelectric power station in 1959. Located inside a massive cavern 224 metres below ground level, the energy of falling water is used to spin turbines, which then turn generators to produce electricity. Water is brought from the dam at Tumut 2 Pondage to the turbines via a long tunnel through the mountain, and is returned to the Tumut River by the tailrace tunnel.
The township of Sue City housed the power station construction workers and their families at the Tumut River outlet of the tailrace tunnel, while the main Tumut 2 power station entrance was located about 5 kilometres down the road.
On completion of the power station in 1962 there was no use for the township, so the buildings were carted away, leaving a piece of flat ground by the banks of the Tumut River, and a collection of useless websites mentioning the name Sue City.