Tours of the Snowy Mountains Scheme

A few years back I went on a road trip between Melbourne and Sydney, and took a detour via the Great Divide to check out the Snowy Mountains Scheme, where I toured the Murray 1 power station. So what is there to see?

Carpark at Murray 1 Power Station

Massive pressure pipelines carry water down the hill to the power station.

Trio of pressure pipelines at Murray 1 Power Station

Inside the water hits the turbines, which spin around and generate electricity.

The time is now 12:46

Which is then stepped up in voltage by transformers outside the turbine house.

Bank of 330 kV transformers at Murray 1 Power Station

And then sent to consumers by high voltage transmission lines that cross the steep hillsides.

Transmission lines behind the lake at Khancoban

Tour details

Tours of the Murray 1 power station are free – more details at the Snowy Hydro website:

Murray 1 Power Station is the second largest power station in the Snowy Mountains Scheme. There are 10 turbines at Murray 1, each capable of producing enough electricity to supply over 95,000 houses.

Next to the power station is the Murray 1 Visitors Centre. This centre offers an exciting interactive experience with a wide range of displays, “hands on” models and exhibits.

There are BBQ and picnic areas by the water that are open to the public. Light refreshments are available in the Cafe.

All power stations in the Snowy Mountains Scheme are working power stations. There are special requirements for visitors who participate in Murray 1 Power Station inspections. These requirements are in the interests of your safety and security of our facilities. These include:

  • Covered footwear must be worn (i.e thongs etc are not permitted in power stations).
  • Cameras are not permitted.
  • No backpacks or large bags are to be taken into power stations.
  • We reserve the right to inspect any hand luggage carried on a tour.

The “no cameras” line must be a new rule, since I was snapping away when I visited.

Defunct tours

On the VirtualTourist website I found what looks like an old copy of the Snowy Hydro website, as it mentions tour options that no longer exist.

Guided tours:

  • Murray 1 Power Station near Khancoban
  • Tumut 3 Power Station near Talbingo
  • Tumut 2 Power Station near Cabramurra

There is free access to the visitor’s gallery at Murray Group Control Centre near Khancoban, Guthega Power Station and Jindabyne Pumping Station daily between 8.30am and 4.00pm.

Inspections of the Guthega Power Station and Jindabyne Pumping Station may be arranged by contacting the authority’s information centre in Cooma.

Access at all times to viewing points and toilet facilities situated at various power stations, dams and other points of interest.

It is a pity those options no longer exist – Tumut 3 power station dwarfs that at Murray 1.

Tumut 3 hydroelectric power station

And Tumut 2 power station is located deep underground, with the tour taking visitors into the cavern that houses the turbines.

Not a secret underground bunker...

The lack of tours makes the visitors centre there rather redundant.

Tumut 2 Power Station visitors centre opening plaque

With privatisation of Snowy Hydro an on-again off-again possibility, presumably running public tours of power stations is no longer their top priority.

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4 Responses to “Tours of the Snowy Mountains Scheme”

  1. Graeme says:

    When I was a wee lad back in the sixties the Snowy Mountains Authority led motorcades in Morris 1800s with boards fixed to their roofs for those following on the tours .It was all very impressive then and I’m sure still is.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      For some reason I’ve got hazy recollections of the same tours being mentioned in old Snowy Mountains Authority publicity material – I’m just struggling to find it right now.

  2. andrew says:

    I’m sure the reason for the restrictions is the dreaded ‘security’.

    Notice, however, that it doesn’t say you can’t take photographs. Just that you can’t have a camera. It says nothing about mobile phones.

    Amusingly, back in the day the SMA was rather proud of the scheme and published at least one very detailed book on the first stage. This contained detailed plans of the dams, tunnels and power station. Presumably these days it is hoped that naughty people cannot use libraries or know about second hand book shops. Perhaps because it is not on the internet it doesn’t exist.

  3. Marcus Wong says:

    ‘Security theatre’ being the reason for many decisions these days. 🙁

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