THE GRAND SCHEME (2016-2022)

The Snowy Hydro Scheme is widely regarded as the most ambitious industrial project in Australia’s history. Constructed between 1949 and 1974 in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, the system diverts water from the Snowy, Eucumbene and Murrumbidgee Rivers westward via a series of tunnels, aqueducts and reservoirs, through the Great Dividing Range for use in irrigation throughout inland Australia. In the process the water is used by power stations to create hydroelectricity for New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. 

The Scheme is often referred to as an engineering wonder of the world and its construction generated enormous prosperity for the region. It also became a defining moment in Australia’s modern cultural history, with over 30,000 immigrant workers arriving from post-war Europe to help with the construction. Many of them stayed on to settle permanently and create new lives in their adopted country, changing the face of the country’s cultural make-up.

In the context of today’s changing climate and renewable energy needs, the Scheme was undoubtedly a visionary idea. It is still the largest renewable energy generator in Australia, creating approximately 67% of all renewable energy in the mainland National Electricity Market (as of 2022). 

But, on the driest continent on Earth, the story of The Snowy Hydro Scheme is ultimately one about humans re-shaping the environment to solve one of our most basic needs – that of water preservation. A post-WW2 nation needed the vital resources in order to grow and to survive. Because the Scheme is situated within the pristine Kosciuszko National Park, such influence upon the environment couldn’t come without impact – river flows were greatly reduced affecting riparian ecosystems downstream, and natural habitats, sacred lands, and townships were inundated by the flooding of valleys for the creation of reservoirs. Therefore, this series is primarily an exploration of the balance between nature and our intervention upon it – the vast structures amongst epic landscapes, the re-shaped waterways, and newly created ones. It’s worth noting that my approach is non-partisan and I do not try to politicise any environmental or energy messages, nor do I glorify the altering of the landscape.

In addition to exploring The Scheme's impact on the environment, this series also serves as a window into various aspects of life in the Snowy Mountains region. During the Scheme’s creation hundreds of kilometres of new road were constructed, allowing unprecedented access to ski resorts, the new reservoirs, and walking tracks, turning the region into a major tourist destination. Throughout this project I have documented popular recreational activities like snow-sports in winter and walking, boating, camping, and fishing in the warmer months - all made possible by the Scheme’s creation. I’ve explored the local towns and villages. And I’ve connected with locals, tourists, and people who were involved in The Scheme’s construction.

Over the course of six years (2016-2022) I photographed the infrastructure, landscapes, people and recreational activities through changing seasons, extreme local weather events, and record drought and flood conditions. It’s my hope I have given the Snowy Hydro Scheme and the wider Snowy Mountains region a new visual perspective that adds to its rich history and national importance - a contemporary portrait of a landscape and region that changed in order for a nation to change.


I acknowledge the Ngarigo and Walgal people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which these photographs were taken. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present, and future. 



































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