Waddamana Power Station Museum is a step back in time to the creation of Tasmania’s first hydro-electric power plant.
Waddamana Power Station was a pioneering effort to build Tasmania’s first hydroelectric power plant. Since its decommissioning in 1994, Waddamana, named after the Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning noisy water, has become a museum open to the public.
The unique hydro museum takes you back to the beginning of the hydro-electric scheme in Tasmania which has now grown to supply around 90% of Tasmania’s power.
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The town of Waddamana is located in a valley at the base of the Central Plateau, close to the geographical centre of Tasmania, around 1 hour 40 minutes from Hobart or Launceston.
The once-thriving town which spreads across the valley floor was originally established to house families of the workers employed to construct and operate the power stations.
A small museum located on the mezzanine above Station A gives an insight into the self-sufficient lifestyle of the Waddamana residents by displaying household items and information on how the town grew, prospered and survived in such an isolated location.
Climbing the grand flight of stairs to the top level of the power station you’ll encounter a collection of administration offices once used by Waddama employees.
The offices include the general office, the engineer in charges office and the engineer’s lookout. While the rooms are partitioned off to preserve them, they do give a good reference to what working life was like and the items used during the station’s operational period.
The General Office was the domain of the secretary who was the only female staff member at Wadammana. The secretaries duties included handling the filing, bookkeeping, typing and operating the switchboard.
The Superintendents Office was the domain of the engineer in charge. The superintendent’s duties were vast and included control of daily operations at the plant and township, including overseeing the power plant, the staff village, as well as infrastructure.
The Engineers Lookout is a glass-enclosed balcony overlooking the generator room floor which offered a great vantage point for the superintendent to check staff and machinery operations.
Graphical information boards placed throughout the administration offices are one of the real highlights of the museum. These information boards detail the usage of each room, interesting biographical information on former employees, as well as a fascinating timeline showing the complete lifecycle of the Waddamana Power Station beginning with the diversion of the Great Lake in 1910 until the decommissioning of Station B in 1994.
Waddamana Power Station
A short set of yellow stairs downward delivers you to Station A, the once beating heart of the Waddamana Power Station.
Although Station A was an operating power station, it was built with a level of beauty and craftsmanship that’s rarely found in modern buildings. The black and white checkered tiled floors, the rows and rows of towering machinery and the beautiful wood craftsmanship all combine to create a remarkably graceful building.
Hunkering Pelton turbines and alternating generators dominate the space, but machinery and tools of varying size and shape can be found throughout the museum and display the amazing level of detail and craftsmanship of the period.
We enjoyed our time wandering through all the massive pieces of equipment and admiring many of the small intricate components.
Connected to Station A you’ll also find some interesting rooms including the history room, tool store and the equipment museum.
The History Room displays documentary videos of former employees and residents to give a personal insight into life and times at Waddamana.
The Tool Store displays a wide array of tools and equipment used to operate and maintain the station’s machinery. And some of them are huge!
While the Equipment Museum houses some early model machinery such as pneumatic rock drills, fire fighting equipment and more.
Overlooking all of this is the massive crane used to maintain the machinery and the controlling station which once controlled the electrical loads of both stations during peak times.
The controlling station is filled with all sorts of dials, knobs and a large array of electrical equipment I can’t even fathom the use for. Plus some truly monstrous industrial circuit breakers.
Hidden below all this machinery is a series of tunnels used to channel water to the turbines and supply cool air and remove hot air from the hard-working machinery.
The courtyard at Waddamana shows off some of the larger construction projects built at the site.
Adjacent to the main doors is the remnants of a large electrical switchyard. The switchyard is filled with now rusty transformers poles and other electrical equipment once used to increase the voltage of the generated electricity before it was sent to Hobart via high voltage transmission wires.
Visible in the background of the switchyard is a series of large water pipes known as the penstocks plunging down the hillside. These pipes were used to feed large volumes of water into the turbines to generate power.
All that water needed somewhere to escape, and hidden around the side of the station is the deep trench of the water sluice which was used to remove the water from the power station.
Much like the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre, Waddamana Power Station is a fascinating step back in time to Tasmania’s industrial era.
The beautifully maintained machinery and facilities are a pleasure to explore and the history of the site is both educational and intriguing.
The only negative to Waddamana is its remote location, but we still highly recommend a visit as it’s packed with so many interesting and unique displays.
- 1-2 hours
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- Great Lakes
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