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Snowy Mountains

The Snowy Mountains (The "Snowies") are the tallest Australian mountain range and contain Australia's tallest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko at 2228 metres above sea level. They are part of the larger Great Dividing Range.

Explored in 1835 and feeding the Snowy, Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers, the mountain range is host to a low laying type of pine tree suspected of being the worlds oldest living organism. They are also thought to have had Aboriginal occupation for twenty thousand years; and are the one of the centres of the Australian snow industry during the winter months.

Yet the Snowy Mountains are perhaps best known for the Snowy Mountains Scheme—a project to dam the Snowy River, providing both water for irrigation and electricity for nearby Canberra.

The project began in 1949 employing a hundred thousand men, two-thirds of whom came from thirty other countries during the post-World War II years. Socially this project symbolises a period during which Australia became a "melting pot" of the twentieth century but which also changed Australia's character and increased its appreciation for a wide range of cultural diversity.

By 1974, 145 kilometres of underground tunnels and 80 kilometres of aqueducts connected the 16 dams, 7 power stations (2 underground), and one pumping station. By 1967 the American Society of Engineers rated the Snowy Scheme as one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world. Though the principles of hydroelectricity are simple, this project provided a cornerstone of Australian industry and cultural change during the second half of the twentieth centry.