Snowy Mountain Scheme
The construction of the Scheme began officially on 17 October 1949 with a blast of dynamite on the Eucumbene River at Adaminaby. During the next 25 years, the Snowy Mountains Scheme brought together over 100,000 people from more than 30 countries, including Australia, to work on the project. While migrants outnumbered Australians, Australians (including Indigenous Australians) made up one third of the workforce.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the commencement of the Scheme's construction, an Avenue of Flags was erected in Cooma in 1959, celebrating the diversity of nationalities that worked on the construction of the Scheme.
En route to the Snowys
"More than meets the eye"
Just 114 kms south from Canberra, Cooma is often looked upon as the "capital" of the Snowy Mountain region.
The town and the region both have Aboriginal names. It is thought that the area name of Monaro was an Aboriginal word meaning 'treeless plains' and that Cooma, originally spelt 'coombah', meant either 'big lake' or 'open country'.
Initially explored by Europeans in 1823 when an expedition led by Captain Currie and Major Ovens moved south from Lake George in the then seemingly eternal search for good grazing land, by 1827 the Monaro Plains had been settled as far south as Berridale and by 1847 there were enough settlers in the area for a Court of Petty Sessions to be established at the new settlement of Cooma.
Cooma was surveyed in 1849 and the first sales of village lands occurred the following year. It would probably have remained a small rural township had gold not been discovered near Kiandra in 1859. The discovery brought boom times to the area and for the next twelve months the town of Cooma, which was the only decent sized settlement in the area, was inundated by miners and prospectors. It has been estimated that over 15 000 people passed through the town in less than a year en route to the fields. It has one sort of advantage inasmuch as it rarely snows here so access to the area is year round.
In the 1880s the town had returned to its rural outlook with sheep and cattle to the fore.
This was to be altered slightly but eternally by the arrival of the railway in 1889 which allowed relatively easy access to the snowfields and made Cooma the centre of a winter tourist industry which boomed with the advent of better roads and cars after the Second World War.
The final process in the town's growth occurred in 1949 when Cooma became the headquarters for the massive (on a world scale) Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme which attracted workmen from 27 nations to the town.
Today the flags from these countries (mainly European) can be seen in Centennial Park, along with a statue reflecting the famous poem featuring horsemen, The Man From Snowy River, about which a movie was made.
Cooma ...The Heart of the Snowy Mountain Region
Cooma is the heart of the Snowy Mountains.
This pretty, vibrant town has much to offer visitors.
The grazing potential of the monaro grasslands first attracted settlers to the region 150 years ago.
Since then Cooma has welcomed gold miners, graziers and the many Australians, old and new, who built the Snowy Scheme