Sue City – the downfall of auto-generated website content

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.

Google search results for "Sue City, NSW"

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.

1959 postmark from Sue City 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
Date: 1959


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.

Entry to the Tumut 2 underground hydroelectric power station

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.

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15 Responses to “Sue City – the downfall of auto-generated website content”

  1. Adrian says:

    You’d love visiting Bogong Village!
    You can hire one of the original houses too, great place to stay.

    If they haven’t demolished it, can check out the ruins of the original school house.

  2. Alice Boyde says:

    As a very small child I lived in Sue City while my father, George Boyde worked as an electrician on the Tulmut tunnel and power stations. He has also worked on the Adaminaby Dam.
    I remember starting school, going to the movie theatre to see Mickey Mouse, the parrots or birds we watched the young American boys trying to trap and playing Cowboys abd Indians.
    Thank you for the article and the photos; have enjoyed reflecting and tripping down memory lane.

  3. […] Having previous dealt with the perils of auto-generated website content in my post about the former township of ‘Sue City’, my recent random Google Maps wanderings around the greater Sydney area have found another […]

  4. Dave Ironside says:

    Thanks for the pics. Remember going to the site of Sue City in the late 70’s as a kid on day trips from Batlow – swimming in the freezing river which would suddenly rise if water was released from the T2 pondage. At that stage the foundations of the old houses were still visible and a number of exotic garden plants (mainly roses) were still growing in what would’ve been people’s gardens. A fantastic place. I remember thinking – as an 8 year old boy – that this would have been my ideal place to live had it still been a going community.

  5. Michael Coppedge says:

    I lived in Sue City from 1958 to 1961, dad was master mechanic on the project. Had great fun those years, I was one of those young American boys trapping parrots, playing cowboys and indians and exploring the countryside.


  6. Lawrie says:

    Sue City, an American construction village on the Snowy Mountain Scheme, was named after Edgar Kaisers daughter, and is reputed to be where the first supermarket in Australia was established in 1957, ( The Snowy : The People Behind the Power, p. 199).

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Thanks for that – Edgar Kaiser was the head of Kaiser Engineers who built the Tumut 2 power station and dam. Just one nitpick – other sources say Sue Kaiser was Edgar’s wife, not daughter:

      • Kbessw says:

        Hi Marcus,

        You are right that Sue was Edgar Kaiser’s wife. I lived in Sue City about 1957-1960. My mom is Sue and Edgar’s daughter and our family moved there from the states because my dad was working on the project. Thanks for sharing the info on Sue City. I had googled it to see if there was anything about Sue City online and your article was the only thing of interest I found.

  7. Bob Piper says:

    Fascinating story. Have visited by trail bike and car. From the top the scent is down, down, down.

    In the 1930s an old fellow called Con Donohue lived there and had a small market garden, hut and a few horses. He use to ride thru to Ravine/Lobbs Hole and do his banking there. Later when the Post Office closed there he rode to Kiandra. Extra 12 miles.

    There should be a few articles on him on Google with a photo. We are getting him published.

    Does anybody know about the two foot rail line at Sue City. Bob Piper. Canberra.

  8. Dave'n'Bron says:

    We went in search of information for Sue City and found a book at Cabramurra called Homes On The Range by Frank Rodwell – but not much else. We live in a house that supposedly came from Sue City (??Dr’s Surgery??)and were hoping to find some pictures of the houses to shed light on its history but it seems that the town and it’s past really have disappeared.

  9. Andrew says:

    Thanks for compiling this info. I was searching for ‘Sue City’ to Show my father as it’s a great road to drive when heading over the top of the Snowys… and you have s photo of it! Thanks.

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