1949, when I was but a very tiny tot, construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric
Scheme began. Such a grandiose and techo title couldn't last for long, and it
was soon universally referred to (except on their letterhead) as "The Snowy".
Children who lived in its construction camps and towns consequently became known
as "Snowy kids".
To be a Snowy kid meant you were uniquely placed in Australian
geography and history. Few other towns in Australia had regular and long-lasting
snow cover. Nowhere else in Australia had the same dynamic mix of cultures and
money and sense of destiny as these towns and camps during the construction phase.
kids were aware they were in a privileged, if isolated and temporary, position.
They went flat out to enjoy their experience, joining in every possible social
and sporting activity on offer. They had excellent school facilities (at least
from the Sixties onwards), funded by strong community support and (with exceptions
such as myself) excellent teachers.
1st Cabramurra Cubs
near Three Mile Dam, Kiandra (1968)
Skiing was a major winter activity. At one school in the Sixties we had most
of the Australian age champions in a single classroom. Cubs, Brownies and the
like were also popular. Leaders such as John de Majnik adapted the rather boring
standard approach of scouting in those days to the exciting environment in which
the Snowy kids were living. Like the construction teams, it seemed to them that
there wasn't much that wasn't possible. Island Bend, and later Talbingo, had large
archery clubs with lots of junior members. There were regular films, occasionally
acceptable TV reception, but not so good that much seemed worth watching (unless
you were in Cabramurra which, because of its elevated position, seemed to have
more TV stations available than New York).
The photos in this album have been
scanned from 35 mm slides taken between 1967 and 1969 in Island Bend and Cabramurra.
Island Bend has gone, like most of the Snowy camps and towns. The Cabramurra that
existed then has also disappeared, replaced in the Eighties by a collection of
almost equally indifferent but permanent structures on the next hill.
was a very moving experience to meet up with quite a few ex-students at the
1999 Snowy Reunion at Jindabyne.
Thank you, those ex-students who have found this small collection and contacted
me. It's been great to hear from you. However, I can't remember most of the names
of the kids in the pictures. If your memory is better than mine, please email