STEWARTS VISITOR INFORMATION & GALLERY
3 Denison Street, Adaminaby 2630 AUSTRALIA
Phn/Fax: +61[0]2 6454 2285 - After/Hrs: +61 [0]2 6454 2351
Email: adaminabystewart@yahoo.com.au

HISTORY OF ADAMINABY - A MOVING STORY


The original township of Adaminaby was the centre of attraction, 17 October 1949 where just three miles away on the banks of the Eucumbene River the first shot was fired by the then Governor-General, Mr William Mc Kell, later to become Sir William Mc Kell, to commence the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme.

The town of Adaminaby began to grow when sheep were first brought to the area during the 1830's to graze the pasture on the Adaminaby plain and surrounding areas.

Eventually cattle were brought to the area as well. A township was settled in 1860 bearing the name of "Seymour", but this was changed to Adaminaby 25 years later, when proclaimed, to avoid confusion with the town of Seymour in Victoria. During the goldrush days of Kiandra in the 1860's, Adaminaby became established and at the turn of the century, rivalled Cooma in size. Kyloe Coppermine came into being during the early 1900's and this no doubt added to the economy of the township, as did the Brickworks, 2 butter factories and several dairies.

A railway link from Cooma to Adaminaby was surveyed and pegged during the 1930's, but never constructed. The advent of the Snowy Scheme meant that with the construction of Eucumbene dam at the first site chosen, the backed-up waters of the Eucumbene river would flood half the township of Adaminaby as well as many farms. At that stage it was intended to simply just move the town 'up the hill'. However, following a further survey, a new dam-site was found five miles downstream, which would give an additional 100 feet of water storage, meaning that just about the whole of the town would be flooded plus many more thousands of acres of farmland.

In view of this, a decision was made to re-locate the town to a new site, 5 miles away, which was carried out during 1956-57. Strangely though, not long after the town was re-located we had to make way for the rising waters of lake Eucumbene. The then NSW Department of Lands created a residential subdivision on Crown Land at old Adaminaby on the shores of lake Eucumbene. When the above subdivision was created, a covenant was placed in the contract of sale of the blocks which stated that purchasers must reside outside a radius of thirty miles of the subdivision. This was specifically aimed at residents of the new town. Former residents of the old town who had owned property above the high water level of lake Eucumbene were forced to move.

Soon after the creation of the residential subdivision at old Adaminaby, the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority created a residential subdivision, also on the shores of lake Eucumbene, originally known as Illawong and later named Angler's Reach.

It is rather amazing that after one settlement was moved away from the rising waters of lake Eucumbene that two new settlements were established on its shores.

Adaminaby, after being re-located to a new site by the authority was forgotten, as opposed to the other towns that have been connected with the scheme, Adaminaby was completely ignored by the Authority during the Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations held in 1989. Additionally, during the Fiftieth Anniversary, there was not mention in any of the programs of where the 'scheme' actually began. At least Adaminaby was given some recognition during the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebrations by way of the community assisting in organising some of the special activities that were held at Adaminaby as part of the overall 'celebrations'.

In the very early years of the Snowy Scheme, it had been the intention of the Authority to build Jindabyne Dam first with the site chosen for a new town being the present location of the sports and recreation camp; as time went by it was decided to build Eucumbene dam first, thus Adaminaby then being the first town to be re-located. The result being that a lesson had been learnt, and when Jindabyne Dam was built, the new township was built on the shores of Lake Jindabyne. An extract taken from the booklet "facts about historic Adaminaby" reads:- "Siobhan McHugh wrote in her book (released 1989): "the snowy: the people behind the power, page 214 "land acquisition was a difficult problem for the authority, having been set up as a Commonwealth body under the Defence Act. It was not empowered to compulsorily acquire land until 1959, when its constitutional position was ratified by the Snowy Mountains agreement between the states.

Based on the above, it would appear that the mountain of properties that were to be flooded by the waters of lake Eucumbene was carried out by the authority illegally.

The creating of Lake Eucumbene meant that the greater number of people were going to be dispossessed of their properties during the construction of the scheme. Lake Eucumbene was just one of the many water storages created during the construction of the scheme, there is never any compassion shown by either politicians or bureaucrats alike towards those who were dispossessed of their properties to make way for the Scheme.

In a media statement released 19 June 1997 by Peter Cochran whilst state member for Monaro, and now Mayor of Cooma Monaro Shire Council.: "Peter Cochran calls for compensation for Adaminaby" Member for Monaro, Peter Cochran has used the Snowy Mountains Corporation debate in the New South Wales parliament to call on Federal and State Governments to compensate the community of Adaminaby for their loss of facilities and lifestyles following re-location of the town in the 1950's. "The people of Adaminaby were abysmally treated by the Federal Government of the day. Public facilities such as the School of Arts and shopping centre were provided at minimum cost, with old wooden houses being transported by road and re-erected on the new site. Many of the buildings in new Adaminaby including the School of Arts are in a condition bordering on condemnation by the local council" Mr Cochran said.

Corporatisation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme will provide the federal government with a multi-million dollar windfall thereby presenting the opportunity to finally pay some justifiable compensation to the community and modern facilities to allow the residents to sustain a reasonably lifestyle into the next century".

I call on the Federal and State Governments to enter into immediate negotiation with the community to establish a priority list of improvements including a new School of Arts and new school. The community of Adaminaby were significantly disadvantaged by the inundation of their former town. Lessons learned with the re-location of Adaminaby benefited Jindabyne, Tallangatta, and Talbingo. Residents of old Adaminaby were basically taken out of town by a certain time otherwise they would have wet feet". The governments now have a chance to recompense the community not on an individual basis but on the basis of providing services of an acceptable standard denied to them at the time of the re-location' Mr Cochran claimed.

Whether Federal or State, irrespective of political faith of past or present, Peter Cochran is the only politician who has expressed his concern publicly in relation to those who were dispossessed.


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