Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow Part One The final years of construction of t



The final years of construction of the of the Kiewa Hydro-electric scheme 1953-1963




Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow, is based on my unpublished book, Working and Raising a Family On the Kiewa Scheme 1953-1963, which I wrote in 2008, about my work and family life on the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme (KHES). Some years later in 2013 I learned about the Smashwords Ebook format and decided to publish all of my books, including this one Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow, on this Ebook format, but because a Smashwords Ebook is restricted to 10Mb, this book of necessity is published in two parts.

The purpose and the subject of this book, Parts One and Two is to describe the plant, equipment and work practices of the various projects of the Scheme, on which I was employed. This together with the diverse, social and recreational activities of the wives and families of the men working on the Scheme, was an essential and intrinsic part of the life and history of the construction of the KHES. Mine no less, the events of which I have described in this book, began when I met, courted and married a lovely, Melbourne girl and brought her back to begin our married life in Mt Beauty, where we became the proud parents of a girl and two boys, before leaving the KHES and moving to Melbourne. I hope that this book will enable the reader to have some understanding of what the construction of such a hydro-electric scheme entails.

Two excellent books have been written about the KHES

The Kiewa Story, co-authored by Geoff Easdown and Graham Napier. Their book describes the chronology of the Scheme from its beginning to completion.

Kiewa Kids subtitled ‘School Days at Bogong and Mount Beauty’ by Graham Gardiner, fully documents the history of both the Mount Beauty and Bogong Schools, from their beginnings at the commencement of the Scheme in 1948, through to 1962. Both publications are of enormous value recording the past history of the Kiewa Scheme

Part One of this book is about the first six years, 1953-1959 that I spent on the (KHES), working at various localities and jobs, until in May 1959 when I was selected to work at Rocky Valley workshops on the Bogong High Plains (BHP) as a High Plains Patrolman, a multi skilled, raceline (aqueduct) patrolman, maintenance fitter and mechanic, for the last four years of my time on the KHES 1959-1963. This is the subject of Part Two of this book.

During those first six years, my principle jobs were as a mechanical fitter and operator of a concrete pump, pumping concrete for the Rocky Valley dam spillway tunnel, as a fitter on the rock crusher at the McKay headrace portal, crushing rock spoil excavated from the headrace tunnel, for use on the Rocky Valley dam, roads and many other areas, where crushed rock of various sizes was required and working on maintaining earth moving equipment at Rocky Valley and Langford’s Gap, where there was a crusher that crushed rock from Basalt Hill, but not during the winter months as it was above the snow line. My last job during those first six years was as a tunnel fitter on No 1 McKay Creek power station tailrace tunnel and power chamber. Remarkably, after working for some twelve months on the KHES, I was able to purchase a car, a Morris Minor, which made a great difference to my life.

Sadly many Victorians are completely unaware of the existence of the KHES. On some occasions after I began working on the Scheme and was asked where I worked and having replied: “On the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme,” I had been quite disappointed that sometimes the comment from my questioner has been: “Oh you mean the Snowy Scheme?” My questioner, many times a Victorian, was usually very surprised when I said: “No, we have our own hydro-electric scheme in the Victorian Alps.”

I would explain to my questioner that the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme, although not as grandiose as the Snowy Scheme, possesses all the essential elements necessary for such a scheme, power stations, dams, lakes, tunnels, race and penstock lines. All of which can be viewed in one day.

This book also describes some of the early history of the Falls Creek ski resort in which I played a part. Falls Creek flourished to become the premium ski resort in Victoria, with its wonderful downhill and ski touring terrain on the Bogong High Plains, together with its ease of access and plentiful supply of water for snow making, provided by the Rocky Valley Reservoir.

Included in this book are many maps, diagrams and photos. The sources of all of these where required, are acknowledged under the caption of each. When my father and mother visited us on the Scheme, my father took many Kodachrome photos, some of which I have enlarged and reproduced in greyscale and colour images. These are acknowledged under the captions with my father’s initials, ‘Photo GWS.’ At the request of my wife and children no images of them will appear in this book.

The manuscript also contains copies of my watercolours, which I painted in the first few years of my life on the Scheme. These illustrate a little of the beautiful alpine environment in which I worked. Copies of these in A4 size are available by contacting the author.









































The Orion began edging into the wharf at Port Melbourne around noon on the 13th of October 1953, my mother’s birthday. I was certainly not aware of this serendipitous possibility when I booked the passage, but was told in Naples when I boarded the Orion that if all went well, we should arrive in Melbourne on that date I kept my fingers crossed, as I knew it would be a great homecoming present for my mother and so it was. After an emotional homecoming I relaxed with my family for a few days telling them about my time overseas, showing them lots of photos I had taken and especially telling them about my mother’s relations in Scotland, with whom I stayed with for two weeks and

After things got back to a bit of normality, I decided it was about time I looked for a job. I found one without any trouble as a turner at the Cyclone Wire factory in Collingwood. My aim was to pay back the money I owed my father as quickly as possible and save enough to go skiing next winter. My father loaned me the money for the voyage back to Australia, instead of me staying in London until I had saved up the money, as my mother was anxious to have me back home.


My job at Cyclone Wire, a large company that made chain wire fencing and other wire products was not very satisfactory. Although the pay was good, my job at Cyclone was on a lathe, which had always been an enjoyable job for me as a fitter and turner. Operating other metal cutting machines such as shapers, milling machines and grinders, did not give me as much pleasure as seeing the metal cuttings spiralling away from the cutting tool as it cut into the revolving work piece. The worst turning process of all however, is turning cast iron. The cast iron chips flake off the cutting tool accompanied by dust particles of graphite, which became deeply ingrained into the pores of my hands and nasal passages. Cast iron was the metal I was turning on the lathe every day, which did not make me very happy. However, I decided to persist, so that I could earn money quickly and maybe when I had earned a little money, look for a better job.

Having just returned to Australia after two years abroad, I found that my powers of concentration were not as they should have been, ship-lag maybe and I made a few mistakes here and there. After about three weeks, not surprisingly, I was given the sack. I never argued with that decision because I was really relieved, no more turning graphite, impregnated cast iron, for me! Getting the sack from Cyclone Wire was in fact a blessing in disguise, as it changed irrevocably, the course my life was to take and to all the wonderful events that were to follow. I thought of applying for a job back in the Victorian Railways, (VR) but always in the back of my mind was the thought of being able to go skiing next winter and this led me to think of the mountains.

I of course knew of the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme (KHES), which the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SEC) was building in the alps, so I decided to see if I could get a job there. I realised that if I were successful in being hired by the SEC, it would mean leaving home again after being back home for only two months. My parents raised no objections, so I presented myself to the SEC employment office in Flinders Street.

I was asked: “Do you know anything about diesel engines?”

I replied: “Yes, I did a course on heat engines at college.”

After a very short interview I was hired as a mechanical fitter and was issued with a rail and bus pass and told to catch the train to Wangaratta and bus to Mt Beauty in two days’ time. I was overjoyed at this turn of events. I packed a big case of clothes and other gear and one afternoon in the first few days of December 1953, I caught the train to Wangaratta. It was really thrilling for me to be travelling in a train again through the Australian countryside. The train was hauled by an A2 locomotive, an elegant locomotive one of my favourites from my days as an apprentice in the VR.

Leaving the train at Wangaratta I caught the bus to Mt Beauty. I dozed on and off during the journey and wasn’t sure whether the bus went via Happy Valley or the Tawonga Gap, because most of the journey was in darkness.

Around midnight the bus arrived in Mt Beauty and I reported to the Camp Supervisor who showed me to my accommodation, a small room referred to as ‘a cube’. It contained a bed with blankets supplied, but no sheets, but that was no problem as I was told at the interview that I had to supply my own. There was a table in front of a window and a clothes cupboard. Although the ‘cubes’ were only about 5 m long and 3 m wide, for all the many happy days I was to spend living in one of these rooms at various camps, I felt they were quite large enough for comfort and I never once felt cramped. My cube was one of about twenty contained in a long, narrow, wooden building, with ‘cubes’ running along both sides of a central corridor.

The supervisor informed me that I was to report to the foreman Jack Omerod at base workshops in Mt Beauty at 8.30 a.m. in the morning and told me how to get there. He pointed to the canteen and suggested that I could go over there and get some supper if I wanted to. I said: “No thanks I am too tired.” He sold me a book of meal tickets for the canteen after which we said goodnight and I retired to my room. I unpacked and climbed into bed, quickly falling asleep, a very happy, young man, with a job in the Victorian Alps.

I woke up the next morning early to a fine day. It was wonderful to see the mountains all around me as I made my way to the canteen. When I saw the amount and variety of food on offer for breakfast, I was absolutely amazed. There was a wonderful choice of cereals, bacon, sausages, eggs, toast and best of all, a glass of milk for the taking. I had been brought up on milk. If milk was not available, I would drink coffee or weak tea, but without milk or sugar. The canteen was busy with many other workers having their breakfast. At 7.30 a.m. they all left as the sound of a whistle came from the direction of the workshops.

I had brought my overalls and a basic box of tools with me, but left the tools in my room and walked over to base workshops, a large galvanized iron, sheathed building, where I was introduced to the foreman, Jack Omerod, a short, pleasant faced man, about forty years of age. He asked me to sign a few papers and then he gave me a time card saying that I would be working here in base workshops.

I quickly asked him: “Is there any chance of me going up to the High Plains to work?” “Certainly, I will get you on the next bus,” he replied, but then he changed his mind saying: “No, you can work here repairing a concrete pump and when that is completed, you can go up to Rocky Valley with it.”

I was overjoyed, but said to him, incredulously: “You can’t pump concrete!” “Oh yes you can, you’ll see.” he quickly replied.


The Mt Beauty shopping centre

t was quite understandable that many SEC workers especially the married ones, didn’t want to work at the high camps such as Rocky Valley camp at an altitude of 5,000 feet (ft), 35 kilometres (km) away from their homes in Mt Beauty. There were a number of reasons for this reluctance, not only of married men, but single men also, to prefer to work in the lower camps and worksites. The weather up high was not as good as at Mt Beauty and there were no entertainment or recreation venues such as the movie theatre, tennis courts and golf links. There was also another attraction of Mt. Beauty. The Bogong Hotel was only 6 km away at Tawonga!
p<>{color:#000;}. I changed into my overalls and was introduced to a couple of fellow workers who gave me a quick description of the concrete pump and its operation. I was to work on the pump with a young bloke by the name of Peter Becker, who I discovered had much the same interests as myself, hiking and a love of the mountains. We would both be going up to Rocky Valley with the pump when the repairs were completed. At lunch time as I walked over to the canteen, I gazed up at Mt Bogong, wondering when I would get to climb to its summit again.

Back to work on the concrete pump, made by Blaw Knox in England, I quickly became familiar with the components of the pump, the valves, piston, crankshaft, cylinder and camshaft, all driven by a large electric motor. It was a sturdy machine, some 8 m long and 2 m wide with a large conical hopper mounted above. Working on the pump was very interesting. It involved turning some parts in a lathe, fitting new cylinder and valve liners of hardened steel and other maintenance tasks. The pump was not new and had already been used to pump many cubic yards of concrete in the construction of dams and tunnels on the Scheme.


The oil painting of Montmatre

n my last tour through France I spent five days in Paris. One day I visited the Montmartre district where I saw many paintings displayed for sale. I purchased a very good oil painting of Montmartre at night with the beautiful church of Sacre Coeur floodlit in the background. Looking at a lot of the paintings for sale on display, oils, watercolours and others, I was sure that I could paint better than some of those that I saw there, so I vowed that when I got back home I would see if I could! I decided straightway to take up the watercolouring challenge I had set myself. I purchased a good water colour set and brought it along with me to Mt Beauty.
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The single men’s camp at Mt Beauty with the township and Little Bogong in the background

he tradesmen at base workshops carried out virtually all the maintenance and repairs required on the Scheme’s plant and equipment, such as bulldozers, trucks, buses and other associated machines and vehicles. I particularly noticed that over on the far side of the workshops, there was a bright, orange, vehicle. On closer inspection I saw that it was a Sno-Cat with two large skis on the front and wide continuous steel tracks that enabled it to travel over the snow. I thought to myself, ‘I would love to ride in that over the snow up on the High Plains.’
p<>{color:#000;}. I was very contented living in my cube in the single men’s camp. The meals in the canteen were absolutely superb, great choices of soups, main courses and my favourite sweets. I thoroughly enjoyed working at the workshops the work was very interesting and clean, no turning of cast iron and my workmates were great blokes.

One evening after work I sat outside my room and started to make a watercolour painting of the view over base workshops and the mountains behind. It took me a few evenings to complete, but I was quite pleased with my first attempt, although I realised that I had a lot to learn about the technique of watercolouring.

My first watercolour looking across base workshops from the camp

Christmas came along and I was able to go to Melbourne and spend Christmas and Boxing Day with my mother and father and brothers Donald and Geoffrey. We never stopped talking, but sadly it was soon time for me to catch the train and bus back to Mt Beauty and the concrete pump.



On the UKVR on the way to the Rover Scout Chalet on the BHP in 1945

spent a quiet New Year’s Eve and the first day of 1954 in Mt Beauty and soon after, we finished the maintenance work on the concrete pump and it was sent up to Rocky Valley. A few days later Peter Becker and I followed the pump up to Rocky Valley in an SEC bus, through the top gate and on to the Upper Kiewa Valley Road (UKVR). The bus a grey Bedford, climbed slowly but steadily leaving a long trail of dust behind. It brought back memories of the first time I travelled up this road in the summer of 1945 in a 1927 Vauxhall, on the way to a work party at the Rover Scout Chalet on the southern side of Rocky Valley. After passing various construction camps and worksites the bus emerged on to the snow gum and snow grassed land of the BHP and came to a halt at the Rocky Valley camp. It was so great to be back again at Rocky Valley 5,000 ft up on the BHP, after my two years abroad. The last time I was there was in 1948, skiing with the Rover Scouts.
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The view from my cube he Rocky Valley camp was a large camp and the accommodation blocks were exactly the same as the layout of those at Mt Beauty, with cubes arranged along one side and toilets and showers on the opposite side. To enable them to withstand the rigours of the winter snows, their construction did not appear to be any different to those at Mt Beauty.
p<>{color:#000;}. I was allocated a cube room with a nice view overlooking a snow grassed slope, leading down to the Rocky Valley Branch of the East Kiewa River and Roper’s Lookout, a large rocky outcrop across the valley. I made myself comfortable and turned on the radio, which I was pleased to say provided me with better static free reception than at Mt Beauty. The food at the Rocky Valley camp was of the same excellent quality, quantity and variety as at Mt Beauty, so I decided that I would have to watch my weight.


The Rocky Valley camp and valley above the dam workings

arrived at Rocky Valley (Rocky) when the construction on the Rocky Valley dam was in the initial stages. A wide trench some 25 m deep had been excavated down to bedrock along the centre line of the dam and men on their hands and knees were locating cracks in the rock and meticulously cleaning them. They were then sealed with grout, a special, semi-liquid cement mixture. This was in preparation for the installation of 500 m long reinforced concrete cut-off curtain (core wall), directly over the bedrock, to provide a low, leak proof, seal across the dam, above which the earth and rock fill for the dam would be built up.
p<>{color:#000;}. Boring of the spillway tunnel was in progress and a diversion tunnel channel had been constructed to divert the Rocky Valley Creek past the dam, while it was being constructed. A bypass pipe had also been installed to divert this water during the closing stages of the construction of the dam. A concrete batching plant was in the final stages of building and the concrete pump was already installed in the pump house at the base of the building.

Peter and I worked out of the Rocky Valley workshops, a large building cut into a bench not far from the camp above the Rocky Valley dam workings below. We worked on opposite shifts, day and afternoon. The hours were 7.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 12.30 a.m., each shift lasting ten days. On the change from afternoon to day shift and vice versa, there was a three-day break. I found I was to receive three, additional pay allowances while I worked at Rocky Valley, shift, altitude and dirt, each worth about 2 shillings per hour extra. I thought how wonderful it was to be paid an allowance to work on my beloved BHP.

I had learned how to oxy-acetylene cut and weld in my apprenticeship in the VR, but for the work here I was required to know how to electric weld also. I quickly learned the technique, by practicing in my spare time in the workshop and in many respects electric arc welding is similar to oxy-welding, The first real job I had to test out my newfound welding skills, was to weld the retaining tie rods that anchored the batching plant in position. I admit that I made many more welding runs than necessary, just to make sure, but my first welding job was efficacious, because the batching plant stood tall and never fell over all the time it was in operation.

Sometimes inevitably, failure follows success and one of my next jobs, although not exactly a failure, certainly was an embarrassment for me. One evening on afternoon shift I was given the job of changing the sump oil in the diesel locomotive used to haul spoil from the spillway tunnel. The locomotive was parked in a shed over a maintenance pit between the rails, leaving just enough room for me to climb down and drain the oil.

After removing a dead rat from the pit, I positioned a bucket under the drain plug to catch the oil and began unscrewing the drain plug. When the plug came loose a stream of dirty black, warm oil, smelling of carbon shot out all over my chest and ran down my legs. I could not get out of the pit quickly enough and only a small portion of the oil found the bucket, the rest covering me from chest to feet! I had not realised that the capacity of the engine oil held in the sump of this locomotive was about 18 litres!

I quickly and uncomfortably walked back to the camp, took off all my clothes and had a long shower before changing into clean clothes and overalls. I returned to the loco shed, cleaned up the mess, filled the sump with new oil and returned to the workshops. The only person I told was Peter Becker who thought it was a great joke. I boiled my overalls and clothes, but none of them were ever the same articles of clothing again. The smell of the oil and carbon lingered for a long time. Carbon again was my problem, but not this time from cast iron lathe turnings at Cyclone, but with something of the same ingrained result!

The sealing of the bedrock of the dam foundation was complete and the installation of the core wall was in its first stages of construction. Trucks were beginning to bring rock across to the dam site from the crushing plant at Langford’s Gap and stock piling it ready to be used in building up the first levels of the dam wall. The rock was mined from a big outcrop called Basalt Hill directly above the above the crushing plant at Langford’s Gap on the eastern extremity of Rocky Valley, a couple of kilometers from the dam site.

My next job was again on a diesel engine, but it was not a disaster like my first. I was called to a Leyland Beaver tip truck that had stalled down on the dam site. The driver was a beaut bloke called Len Mann, who told me the cause of the trouble. I confessed to him that I did not know too much about diesel engines, so he said to me: “Don’t worry Gordon, I’ll show you what to do, the injector pipes need bleeding.” I followed his instructions and we soon had the engine going again. One of the first lessons I learnt in my trade was, never to be too proud to admit you don’t know something and be prepared to accept advice from anyone kind enough to help you.

On some occasions I went over to Basalt Hill to work on a mechanical shovel loading rock into the trucks. From the quarry at Basalt Hill I could see down the Middle Creek valley towards Fitzgerald’s homestead, which had become so familiar to me during my Rover Scout skiing trips. Further along the valley widened out to the country around Omeo, Swifts Creek and beyond. On the skyline I could see The Pilot, a mountain in the Great Dividing Range in Victoria near the border with NSW and Victoria. I also remembered with much pleasure, the night in December 1945 when our party of Rover Scouts trudged in single file in the dark around midnight, past Basalt Hill on our return to the rover chalet from an epic two-day hike to Mt Bogong and return.

On Australia day weekend I took the opportunity of the holiday, which coincided with a change of shift, to take the bus and train to visit my mother and father who were on holiday at Mordialloc, where they had rented a house there for two weeks.


One day I was told that I was to be stationed at the pump on afternoon shift to take over from Peter Becker on day shift. The following day in the afternoon when I went to take over from Peter at 4 p.m. to begin my first day of working afternoon shift, pumping was in progress. Peter gave me a few clues on the working of the pump before he knocked off and went back to camp.

The pump was pumping concrete for the spillway tunnel being bored beneath the dam site.

The spillway tunnel worksite and the diesel locomotive far left in the photo Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro


A civil construction foreman Bill McKew was in charge of the overall pumping process and I reported to him. For safety reasons I had been issued with gumboots with steel toecaps, a waterproof coat and trousers and a hard hat complete with a headlamp. I was required to wear the hard hat and steel capped gumboots when on the job, which was quite a new and exciting experience for me.
p<>{color:#000;}. My job was to oversee the mechanical operation of the pump, keep all the moving parts lubricated and greased, cams, cam shafts and gears as well as attending to any repair work that may be needed. While pumping was in progress, Bill McKew oversaw the operation of the pump and its output of concrete into the pipeline. The concrete pump operated continuously from the start of day shift to the end of afternoon shift. The ‘pours’ as they were termed, were planned around this two-shift window of 16 hours, actually 17 hours accounting for lunch breaks. At the change of shift another foreman took over the operation of the pump. It was vital that once a pour had been commenced, there must be no break in the concrete supply until the pour was complete.

The concrete pumping operation or ‘pour’, involved the batching plant delivering a pre-mixed batch of concrete by gravity to the pump’s hopper. The pump was driven by a large electric motor. A pair of rotary valves driven by cams controlled the flow of concrete from the hopper above, allowing the reciprocating piston on its forward stroke of 12 inches (30 cm), to force the concrete through the valves into a 6 inch (15 cm) outlet pipe and then into the pipeline with every forward stroke of the pump’s piston.

The pipeline was made up of 30 foot (10 m) lengths of Victaulic steel pipe, which have a steel ring, welded to the end of each pipe, The pipes were butted together and connected with rubber gaskets, held together by bolted semi-circular couplings, providing a leak proof seal, which could be quickly and easily disconnected if there was a blockage or at the end of a pour.

From where the pump was connected to the pipeline, the pipe ran downhill for about 200 m before it made a wide, right hand turn, disappearing into the tunnel where the concrete was being placed a further 80 m or so from the tunnel entrance. After my first change of shift from afternoon to day shift my foreman Bill McKew a short, middle aged bloke, with a bustling, but friendly nature that e

My foreman Bill McKew Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro arned him the affectionate nickname of ‘Bustling Billy’ asked me: “Do you reckon you can look after the pump up here by yourself now Gordon?” “I am sure I can.” I replied with confidence.
p<>{color:#000;}. So Bill left me in charge, directing his attention to the delivery end of the pipe in the tunnel and the preparing of the formwork for the next pour.


This photo shows the workshops above the batching plant and the concrete pipeline running down the hill with the camp on the right Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

ow and again the pump had to be stopped for a short time to allow the concrete to be placed in a different location in the tunnel, which usually required a pipe change at the end of the line and this was. communicated to me in the pump house by a telephone line. During these stoppages I would allow the pump to make a pumping stroke every minute or so, just to keep the concrete moving in the pipe to prevent it from blocking. There was much to learn about the art and technique of pumping concrete by the noisy, but very efficient, Blaw Knox concrete pump. Suffice to say I became very proficient in the process, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and learned that without any doubt *yes*, concrete could be pumped over a long distance in large and controlled quantities.
p<>{color:#000;}. I was not aware at the time that I was somewhat of a pioneer in the operation of a machine that pumped liquid concrete through a pipeline for use in the construction of a dam. The pumping of liquid concrete in later years evolved into a huge industry which with modern pumping equipment has literally taken concrete pumping to great heights and its use around the world in all forms of civil construction, is in great demand around the world.

I decided I would attempt my second watercolour and thought what better subject could there be than the construction work on the dam showing the trench excavated for the core wall. I painted in the mornings when I was on afternoon shift. The watercolour took about a week to complete and I was quite pleased with the result


The core wall workings looking towards Rocky Valley , Wallace’s Gap and Basalt Hill

The core wall excavation looking toward Rocky Valley, Wallace’s Gap and Basalt Hill

he subject matter for watercolours here in the alps at Rocky Valley and the surrounding mountains was in abundance, especially the gnarled snow gum trees with their branches twisted in grotesque shapes, where no two were alike. Many of these snow gums still had burnt branches from the 1939 bush fires, with new growth branching out, which added to their unique beauty.
p<>{color:#000;}. Part of the problem I had painting these watercolour scenes in the afternoons was that, just when I had got myself settled, a thunderstorm would send me scurrying back to camp. These mountain, thunderstorms are an integral part of the weather pattern in the alps in the summer months. They occurred in the afternoon on a fine day if the humidity and other conditions were favourable, while after sunset, the sky became clear of cloud and storms. I enjoyed this phenomenon immensely, but the down side was that the lightning strikes started many bushfires in the mountains.

One morning when I was on afternoon shift, I walked across Rocky Valley to have a look at Wallace’s Hut, surrounded by snow gums and decided that I would paint a watercolour of Wallace’s Hut from a small black and white photo I had taken some years earlier, which I had in my album with me.

Wallace’s hut



The derelict Pretty Valley camp Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro he Labour Day holiday came along and Peter and I decided we would go on a two-day hike to Mt Fainter, on the northwestern end of the BHP where neither of us had ever been. We left Rocky Valley camp and hiked up and across the Rocky Knobs into Pretty Valley an area of Pretty Valley was quite new to me.
p<>{color:#000;}. We made our way past the empty accommodation blocks toward and across a small stream, the Pretty Valley Creek, to where the abandoned dam wall abutment earthworks were plainly visible cut into the high sides of the valley on both sides, leaving unsightly scars.


The abandoned Pretty Valley Dam abutment works

n 1947, I skied with the Rover Scouts over Pretty Valley to Tawonga Gap, where we had a spectacular view across the deep valley of the West Kiewa River to spectacular Mt Feathertop and the Razorback under snow. We had kept well to the south of this, the northern reaches of Pretty Valley and I did not know that there had been a large SEC camp here. Peter, who had been here before in this area, told me it was called Damsite Hill. As we continued to walk in a westerly direction gradually climbing up a long rise covered with snow grass, wild flowers and a few snow gums here and there, Peter told me part of the story of this abandoned dam The reason for the abandonment of this planned integral part of the Kiewa Scheme, I have obtained from various documents courtesy of the SEC.
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Looking east across Pretty Valley towards Mt Cope he Pretty Valley dam was to be constructed to dam all the water from the creeks in Pretty Valley to make a large reservoir with a capacity many times larger than the Rocky Valley reservoir. The water from these two reservoirs were to be joined together by a system of tunnels and used to generate electric power in a power station further down the mountain. This area, comprising two dams, Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley, together with tunnels, pipeline, a power station and other associated works, were referred to as No. 1 Development.
p<>{color:#000;}. Work the Pretty Valley dam commenced in 1949. At the same time construction on the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme in NSW, The Snowy Mountains Authority (SMA) also commenced.

During the course of construction of the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme, funds for the project were being reduced and in 1952 it was decided that only those works already in progress would be allowed to continue to completion, but this did not include the Pretty Valley Dam. Another consideration was that the Snowy Scheme would be able to provide electricity for Victoria as well as NSW, so this became another factor in the demise of the dam and reservoir.

Over the years as I became intimately associated with the Rocky Valley Reservoir, I tried to envisage in my mind’s eye what the Pretty Valley reservoir would have looked like in both winter and summer. I came to the conclusion that it would have been a marvellous and beautiful sight to behold. On the other hand however, I am aware that many lovers of the Bogong High Plains were glad that the reservoir never eventuated, but I was definitely not one of them. At the time of writing this however, I am glad the dam was never built, especially as the revised construction works collects virtually all of the water from Pretty Valley for use in generating electricity without the need for the Pretty Valley dam and reservoir as will be described later in this book.


Mt Feathertop from near the Niggerheads e continued walking along the northern edge of Pretty Valley and as we climbed up the gentle slope before us, we saw some stunted snow gums standing out above the skyline. These were a group of knolls called The Niggerheads, the highest of these, Mt Niggerhead rising to 6,028 ft. Approaching them from the east as we were, they certainly looked like the heads of black men peering over the top of the ridge.
p<>{color:#000;}. I

View from Mt Fainter South towards Mt Hotham with the Niggerheads on the left skyline am not sure who named these knolls The Niggerheads, but I believe it was an early American pioneer or prospector who saw the resemblance to the heads of niggers on the skyline. At that time this word was in common use, but at the time of writing, the word is considered a pejorative term, banned from use in America. My hope is that this name is never replaced by one that is so called, ‘politically correct’. Maybe the name has survived because no suitable substitute has yet been found for this unique feature on the BHP!
p<>{color:#000;}. After admiring the superb view from this high point again, although not as awe inspiring as in the winter, we moved on northwards toward Tawonga Hut. The location of Tawonga Hut is very picturesque, surrounded as it is by beautiful, big snow gums that had not been victims of the 1939 fires. There were no other people in the hut so we left our rucksacks there and started the climb up the slopes to the summit of Mt Fainter South 6,157 ft about 5 km distant. Mt Fainter has two summits Mt Fainter South and Mt Fainter North 6,028 ft. We climbed up on to the summit of Mt Fainter South, from where we admired the spectacular view of the BHP and all the surrounding high peaks, especially Mt McKay. Across the deep valley of the Pretty Valley Creek, the Kiewa Valley to the north could also be seen clearly with the slopes of Mt Bogong dropping down into the Kiewa Valley. We also noted that in the distance to the south, small snowdrifts lingered on both Mt Hotham and Mt Feathertop.


A view back along the summit ridge to Mt Fainter South

eaving the South summit we walked towards the lower North summit a little over one kilometre away along an exposed but not sharp ridge. We passed a couple of small patches of snow on the ridge as we made our way to the North summit in brilliant sunshine. The view from Mt Fainter North was even more spectacular than from the South summit, especially to the west where the long, green, Ovens Valley was visible all the way to Wangaratta and the rocky ramparts of Mt Buffalo in the middle distance were an impressive sight.
p<>{color:#000;}. The view to the north was equally impressive with the Kiewa Valley and Mt Bogong away in the distance. Mt Feathertop from this angle presented itself in a very different aspect, because we were looking at its northern ridge. I hoped one day to be able to visit Mt Fainter on ski, to see what Mt Feathertop looks like in the winter time from this direction, but I never did.

It was late afternoon when we returned to the Tawonga Hut and put up our hike tents. We decided to cook over the hut fire, but sleep in our tents in preference to sleeping on the rough bunks in the hut. We soon had a big fire going to boil the billy and cook our steak and vegetables. We also had sausages, bacon and eggs, which we were keeping for breakfast. We had obtained all of this food from the Rocky Valley camp kitchen, in exchange for a couple of camp meal tickets!

We woke after a good night’s sleep to another fine day, but a very cold morning and after making a large breakfast, we decided we would return to the camp via Mt McKay and Falls Creek. Tawonga Hut is set in a lovely position with a view through the trees down the deep valley of the Tawonga Hut Creek and the Pretty Valley Creek, which as the name implied had its origin in Pretty Valley. The Terrible Hollow was the name given to the eastern flank of Mt Fainter South, where it dropped steeply down into the valley.

We packed up after a lovely big breakfast and made our way back past the impressive, but derelict earth works of the Pretty Valley dam and made our way up a gravel road leading away from the Pretty Valley camp, to a high saddle called McKay Gap.


Looking north from Mt McKay toward Mt Bogong eaving our rucksacks by the road we made the steep climb up to the summit of Mt McKay 6,045 ft. Although we had both visited Mt McKay previously, we felt it was worth the climb again, as the view from its summit is one of spectacular alpine grandeur. I have always considered that Mt McKay provided one of the best and most easily accessed viewpoints in the whole Bogong High Plains area, as well as being one of the most beautiful snow covered peaks viewed from many directions in winter.
p<>{color:#000;}. To the north we gazed down through the heavily timbered valley, to the open plain of the Kiewa Valley, and short distance away to the west, the now familiar bulk of Mt Fainter.


Looking south from Mt McKay towards Pretty Valley

he summits of Mt Bogong, Mt Arthur, the Spion Kopje as well as Mt Nelse on the north eastern skyline, were in full view. We noted that from this angle we could see that Mt Bogong was still holding some snowdrifts in many of its south facing gullies. Behind and below us to the south there was a large rock strewn valley, with a tributary of the Pretty Valley Creek, leading up to Pretty Valley. Mt Cope was also in our view as were Mt Feathertop and Mt Hotham.
p<>{color:#000;}. After admiring these wonderful scenic, alpine views, we picked up our rucksacks and continued along the rough gravel road towards Falls Creek, making a small detour to have a look down into Sun Valley to see if there was anything left of the big cornice and found that there was quite a large drift still hanging on the slope.

I told Peter that in the winter of 1947 when I skied over into the western end of Rocky Valley with the Rover Scouts, I thought it resembled Sun Valley Idaho, which I had just seen in a movie called Sun Valley Serenade. I decided there and then to call this end of Rocky Valley, Sun Valley! I told some of the rovers about the name I had chosen and why and most thought it very appropriate.

The name Sun Valley was thereafter used by the Rover Scouts when referring to this end of Rocky Valley and its use persisted until the present day when the name is now ‘officially recognised’. We continued along the Frying Pan Spur overlooking Falls Creek and descended into the village, which at that time comprised only a few ski lodges, but it was exciting for me to see that Skippy’s vision of a ski village in her Basin was now becoming a reality. One of these ski lodges was the Bogong Ski Club, which I vowed I would join. We trudged back up the road arriving back at the camp in the late afternoon. I thanked Peter for being my guide and for telling me a little about the demise of the Pretty Valley dam.

Continuing with my watercolouring, I decided to try my hand at a still life of the table in my cube, with an ashtray, clock, radio and book, resting on the tabletop and the reflection in the window behind. I was very happy with the result and realised that my style of painting was through the eyes of a technical person, as I painted with fine detail of both line and colour. Still life painting seemed to suit my style, but I was more interested in painting the alpine scenes.


My still life watercolour of objects on the table in my cube

After the Labour Day holiday we resumed pumping concrete again, except for a few days break every now and again. When the pump was not required, I worked on bulldozers, mechanical shovels and other items of plant and equipment, even doing work as a motor mechanic on trucks, buses and other vehicles. I was learning fast! I was by now really getting into the swing of being a mechanical fitter at Rocky Valley and was getting on well with all the other blokes, fitters, plant operators and engineers. One of the civil engineers in charge of the operations at Rocky Valley was a young engineer by the name of Bill Minty who later became a great friend.
p<>{color:#000;}. There were many lucrative ‘lurks’ that the men at Rocky Valley were involved in. One was collecting pieces of scrap copper wire and other bits of copper or brass left lying around here and there. These were gathered together and when there was enough to fill a hessian bag, it was taken to Albury or Melbourne and sold to a scrap metal dealer. Another lucrative occupation concerned a carpenter with a Ford utility, who drove down to the Tawonga Hotel and bought back cases of bottled beer and sold them at a profit to the men at the camp. One day on the way back he put his utility over the edge of the road. He had 24 dozen on board, but only five bottles were broken, because they were so tightly packed together!


The author on duty outside the pump house. here was still another profitable lurk undertaken by men with cars. This was taking passengers with them to Melbourne and return on long weekends, charging each man, usually three, ten pounds return. All of these money making ideas were of course illegal. I was also led to believe that on some nights during the summer months, a couple of car loads containing ‘ladies of the evening’ were smuggled into Rocky Valley camp! This too of course was highly illegal.
p<>{color:#000;}. I was by now quite expert in the concrete pumping process, able to deal with any problems that occurred during a pour. This was especially so, in being able to detect the first signs of the concrete blocking in the pipeline by the difference in the noise the pump made. When this occurred quick action was required to prevent a blockage by injecting small amounts of compressed air into the pipe at various locations, where air connections were welded into the pipeline for just this purpose.

After a pour was complete, the pipeline had to be quickly purged of all the concrete left in the pipe. This was accomplished by disconnecting the pipe at the pump and making a plug of wet, empty, cement bags rolled into a cylindrical shape, just slightly larger than the diameter of the pipe. This was called a ‘bunny’ and was made ready beforehand. The bunny was forced into the disconnected Victaulic pipe, sometimes with the aid of a sledging hammer, because the bunny had to be a tight fit in the pipe to be effective. The pipe was then sealed with a cap containing a compressed air fitting.

A compressed air pipe was then connected and turned on, which forced the bunny along the pipe ejecting all the concrete still in the pipe. When the bunny came through, it made a noise like a cannon as it left the pipe. It was a quite spectacular sight! One silly idiot decided to have a look to see the concrete being ejected from where he thought was a safe distance away. But it wasn’t! He was lucky he was not blinded, escaping with just a gravel rash on his face and clothes covered in concrete.

I enquired about becoming a member of the Bogong Ski Club and joined, which provided another great interest for me. I went down to Falls Creek on weekends to work on the lodge, which was erected by the SEC and consisted of two standard accommodation blocks joined back to back. It was modified to provide a kitchen, dining room and lounge in the centre of the building. A large bunkroom with toilets occupied one end of the building, while at the other end there was a woodshed, storeroom and a diesel generating set to supply electricity for lighting. There was no heating except for a double back to back fireplace, serving the lounge and dining room. It was really a great pleasure on weekends to go down to Falls Creek to work on maintaining the club building, as well as meeting people from other ski clubs in Falls Creek, from Albury, Myrtleford and Kiewa Valley, all of which had lodges at Falls Creek at that time.

The weather was now gradually becoming colder, so I wore a few jumpers under my overalls, especially on afternoon shift. I found to my dismay that my steel-toed, gumboots wore out the heels of my socks very quickly and I always seemed to be darning socks! Sometime later however, I found the solution to this problem. I purchased a pair of ankle length chamois leather ‘over slippers’ that went over the socks and prevented them wearing out. These were a great idea as they helped to keep my feet warm too, but to wear them, the gumboots had to be one size larger than normal.

I was still going to Melbourne about every two weeks by bus and train. The last time I went I brought back my skiing gear, as winter was drawing near and I couldn’t wait to get on my skis again. I spent Easter with my mother and father and thought it was time I got in touch with my YHA friend Roy, While I was living in London I had a letter from one of my YHA friends telling me about Roy’s car accident. He had driven his car over the side of the road on the way to Mt Buller. Although I had talked on the phone to him I thought I should pay him a visit. I did and found that he was very pleased to see me, but was having great trouble with his leg that had been broken in the accident. I also got in touch with Netta my attractive, Platonic, lady friend. We went to a show in the city together, which brought back many pleasant memories for us both of the many times we went together to shows in London, especially the ballet at Covent Garden

Back at Rocky Valley, early in May we received our first fall of snow for the winter of 10 cm, but that was all. The concreting of the tunnel was completed a

The batching plant after the first snowfall, showing the elevator which lifted the aggregate to the upper section where it was batched. bout two weeks later and the pump was taken back to Mt Beauty. I stayed on at Rocky carrying out maintenance and repairs on other equipment, as I was doing when the pump was not operating.
p<>{color:#000;}. As the weather grew colder the work gradually wound down on the various work sites at Rocky. I was not surprised when on the last week in May, I was told that Rocky Valley camp was closing down and Peter and I were being transferred to Howman’s Gap camp, 6 km down the road, next week.



Howman’s Gap with the forested slopes of the snow covered Spion Kopje behind bout the only similarity between the Rocky Valley camp and Howman’s Gap camp was the quality and quantity of the food and the accommodation, which was the same standard cube room as in all SEC accommodation blocks. Howman’s Gap camp at an altitude of 4,040 ft. was a little more than a thousand feet lower than Rocky Valley and was surrounded by a forest of trees. The tall timbers were interspersed with many bare, white, trunks of trees, still standing above the regrowth trees, witness to the severity of the 1939 bushfires in this area. Despite this the steep slopes of the Spion Kopje 6,085 ft, provided a majestic backdrop to the camp.
p<>{color:#000;}. Another difference between the two camps was that the majority of the men working at Rocky Valley were Australians, but this was not so at Howman’s. Many of the men were foreigners of different nationalities, so I was looking forward to getting to know some of them to find out where they came from. I hoped there would be some Austrians or Germans as they may be able to assist me in learning more of the German language.

Most of these men were working for the French company Societe Etudes et Enterprises (EEE) who were boring a 4.5 km long headrace tunnel under Mt McKay. This tunnel was being bored from the McKay Portal on the northern slopes of Mt McKay to emerge at the intake structure (sometimes also referred to as the offtake structure) on the western side of Rocky Valley (Sun Valley).

Although I was now living in Howman’s I was travelling by bus with other men up to Rocky Valley workshops each day to work. By then all the snow from the first snowfall had just about melted, but I was eagerly looking forward to the next fall. I mostly worked at Basalt Hill on bulldozers and shovels, as the crusher was still operating there. Trucks were taking the crushed rock to the dam site where work was still in progress. As I was no longer working shift work, that allowance ceased, but I was still receiving dirt and altitude allowance. My friend Peter Becker requested a shift to base workshops in Mt Beauty as he was courting a girl in Melbourne.


Jack Smith began to think that it was about time I examined my meagre finances to see if there was any way I could afford to purchase a car. On those long weekends when I travelled to Melbourne, I went by bus and train, although it took more time, but I preferred this to travelling as a paying passenger in a car of one of the men from the camp. I was still paying off my debt to my father who had loaned me the money for the voyage back to Australia. He decided to loan me the money, after I wrote a letter to him, saying that I wouldn’t be home for another year and would have to live a very, frugal life, to save up enough money for the voyage home and that didn’t appeal to me at all, Besides my mother wanted me home!
p<>{color:#000;}. About a week after I had been at Howman’s I saw a familiar face at one of the tables, a face I had not seen for quite some time. I went around behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He looked around with surprise and exclaimed with a loud chuckle: “Nanki Poo!” (My nickname in the Rover Scouts and YHA).

It was none other than my namesake, my jovial and good friend Jack Smith. We had much to talk about as we sat down to our meal. Jack had been working at Mt Beauty and had requested a shift to Howman’s Gap for the winter so he could be near the snow, so of course that request was granted straight away.


The ghostly batching plant and an HD19 bulldozers as seen after the snow fall ack was an electrician who I met for the first time at the Preston Technical School and afterwards we both joined the VR as apprentices. Here we were again reunited, simply because we both wanted to be near the snow to ski. Jack was a member of the Bogong Ski Club, but had not been to any of the weekend work parties, so we had missed meeting each other there.
p<>{color:#000;}. Just a week before Queen’s birthday weekend, the wonderful, white stuff, fell, not a great deal, but enough to make a white opening for the ski season on the weekend. Because of this snow fall, work at Rocky Valley was immediately abandoned.


A bulldozer and scraper working on the muddy McKay Creek bench for the power station

was transferred to the construction site at McKay Creek. The McKay Creek camp and work site were situated at the end of Road 21, which branched off from the main road at Turnback Creek, a couple of kilometres below Howman’s Gap camp. The camp at McKay Creek was built on land being formed by bulldozers on levelled terraces above a wide bench being cut into the mountainside, which was about 1,000 ft below the summit of Mt McKay. Below this there was another wide bench being cut out. This bench was to be the location for an above ground hydro-electric power station, powered by water from the Rocky Valley Reservoir. The water from the reservoir after flowing through the headrace tunnel, would then flow down the side of the mountain through a pressure pipeline (penstock) into the turbines in the power station.
p<>{color:#000;}. I travelled by bus from Howman’s to McKay Creek every day, and worked on the maintenance of the earth moving equipment operating there, as well as assisting in the fabrication of a new workshop on the site of the proposed power station. There was plenty of mud and slush around these workings making the work very dirty and wet, but that of course was normal for a construction site at this time of the year.

At last Queen’s Birthday weekend came along, the weekend which all skiers in Victoria as well as other states eagerly look forward to. It did not matter if snow had fallen on the alps or not, as it was the official opening of the ski season. This was the weekend when skiers got together at clubs, meeting club members who they had probably not seen since they skied on the last day around September of the previous year. It was a weekend of conviviality and if the Snow Gods had been kind it was the first chance to put on skis for the season.

Queen’s Birthday weekend (usually around the 12th June) developed over the years into a great party time at the principal ski resorts, Mt Buller, Falls Creek and Mt Hotham, snow or not, partying was the main activity for the whole of the three day weekend. To hell with the snow! Besides many of the revellers were too hung over to go skiing anyway.

The official opening of the ski season on Queen’s Birthday weekend from my own experience at the time of writing, as well as looking at the records of snowfall over the years, it is apparent that the probability of skiable snow on this weekend has diminished. On my personal observations since I started skiing in 1945, to the year I am writing this 70 years later, I contend that the snowline has risen by some 800 ft (244 m). If anyone doubts that the phenomenon of global warming or climate change is not occurring, they can attempt to explain to me the reason for my observation! It is indeed fortunate that the technique of snowmaking was soon to be developed, and non-too soon!

After work on the Thursday night of Queens Birthday weekend 1954, Jack Smith and I put our gear for the weekend in our rucksacks and went to the canteen where we presented the cook with a few meal tickets each. In return we were given steak, sausages, eggs, bacon, bread and some fruit. All of this went into our rucksacks, so we were going to eat well for the opening of the ski season, if nothing else.

It was dark when we left to walk up the road to Falls Creek a little over 3 km away, but we both had head torches we had made ourselves to light our way. Jack had to carry his skis, but I had much less to carry than Jack, as I had left my beautiful Kneisel skis, in a secure place in the club, together with my stocks and sleeping bag. I had purchased the skis in Salzburg, Austria and skied on them for a wonderful three weeks of skiing in Switzerland in Zermatt and Grindelwald.

I gave Jack a spell by carrying his skis now and again and as we got nearer to the club it started to snow lightly. When we arrived at the clubhouse there was about 10 cm on the ground.

There were only a couple of others there including Alf Robins the president of the club. After a welcome brew of tea, we talked for a while before we went off to climb into our sleeping bags in one of the bunks. Bob Hymans was building a new lodge called the Grande Coeur. I had met his beautiful new Belgian wife Murielle. She spoke French and I loved it when she called me by my Christian name Gordon ‘Goordo’ in her delightful French accent,

On Friday afternoon Murielle came up to the Bogong Ski Lodge to ask if some of us could go down and help Bob put the finishing touches to his lodge, as his first guests were due to arrive very soon. We said of course we would, so Alf Robins, Jack Smith, myself and a couple of others followed Murielle down to the Grande Coeur. All the rooms were complete, but they were full of building materials and other junk. We all got to work and tidied the rooms up and swept them clean in a short space of time, before any of Bob’s guests arrived. Bob and Murielle were forever grateful for our help, but that was what Falls Creek was like in those days.


Alvie, Peg and Steph Photo courtesy of Steph Martin uring the weekend other members arrived at the Bogong Ski Club, among them Ron Boyd, a civil engineer who was at Rocky Valley, Ian Barwick the transport manager and three charming ladies, Stephanie Martin (Steph), Alvie Wilmot and Peg Minty. There were introductions all round as each person arrived. We all sat around a roaring fire consuming cups of tea and coffee having a great ‘chin wag’ as the snow and the weather did not tempt anyone to put on their skis.
p<>{color:#000;}. Steph was the wife of the communication supervisor Eric Martin, Alvie, the wife of a civil engineer Paddy Wilmot and Peg, the wife of Bill Minty. I knew Bill Minty quite well, as he was the civil engineer in charge of earth works on the dam site, the batching plant and the concrete pumping operations.

Further up the slopes of the Frying Pan Spur (the Pan) above the Bogong Ski Lodge there was a yellow building with red trimmings. This was the Nissen Ski lodge which also served as the tow house for the Nissen ski tow, erected by members of the club, Toni and ‘Skippy’ St. Elmo. Jack Smith took me along with him when he went up to see Toni and Skippy, as they were great friends of his, introducing me by my nickname ‘Nanki Poo’.

I had met them both before when I went on a Rover Scout ski tour to Falls Creek with Rover Scout Commissioner Bill Waters, the second winter I stayed at the rover chalet. Toni and Skippy have always called me ‘Nanki’ ever since I was introduced to them that day, which was the beginning of a long and close friendship.

Although I was no longer working shift work, all employees of the Kiewa Scheme worked a nine-day fortnight of 72 hours, so every weekend especially the long ones, I walked up the road to Falls Creek with Jack to spend the weekend skiing. The long weekend was a great idea, as every second week there was a three day break, which allowed all the employees if they wished, to travel to Melbourne, Albury or Wodonga to shop or pursue other forms of recreation as they pleased, but for Jack and me this meant skiing at Falls Creek. Working in the Alps and skiing each weekend. What a life. “This was really living!”


The Nissen tow house and the Bogong Ski Club behind

he 1954 ski season was not one blessed with early large falls of snow, but later there were some good falls enough to be able use the Nissen ski tow of the Hamilton design, which used a nutcracker grip, the same as the Bourke St. tow on Mt Buller.
p<>{color:#000;}. On a Thursday night of a long weekend Jack and I would set out from Howman’s with a good supply of food for the weekend in our rucksacks. In 1954 the road was only kept clear of snow to Howman’s Gap, so everyone who wished to ski at Falls Creek, had to walk up the road. Although the road was not very steep, it was sometimes a hard trudge depending on the snow conditions covering the road, especially on a frosty night when the snow was icy. There were other nights when the walk up the road was just magical, such as a night when the sky was clear, except for a little cloud. A brilliant full moon had risen over the Spion Kopje and cast deep shadows on the moonlit snow. After reaching Falls Creek clear of the trees, and looking across to the Spion Kopje spur, it presented us with a truly unforgettable sight with its snowy flanks bathed in the ethereal light of the moon,

At the ski club we paused outside, to look up in awe at the huge and wonderful amphitheatre of Skippy’s ‘Basin’ enclosed by the Frying Pan and Ruined Castle Spurs, which were ghostly, white, in the moonlight. We went inside the club for a cup of tea, still marvelling at the beauty of a snowy, moonlit night.

The sight of the moonlit snow outside the clubhouse was such an attraction that a few of us decided after dinner the next night, to put on our skis and do some moonlight skiing. We herringboned up to the raceline in brilliant moonlight and skied up and down on the fast, icy, hard snow, but after a few runs, the cold penetrated through our parkas, so we all retreated to the warmth of the club h

Lunchtime in the Skippy’s Basin. A view from the Bogong Ski Club up to the Nissen tow house and the Frying Pan Spur

ouse fire and a hot drink. However, it was well worth the effort and novelty of skiing in the moonlight.
p<>{color:#000;}. I took a photo of Skippy’s Basin from outside the Bogong Ski Club, when everyone͟͟͟͟͟-believe it or not-stopped skiing for lunch, including the Nissen ski tow. I decided to make a watercolour of the black and white photo, which took me about a week. I was quite happy with the result, especially as it has some historical value, depicting Skippy’s Basin and Falls Creek as it was in 1954.

On some occasions I climbed up to the top of the Frying Pan Spur with my camera and took a few photos of snow gums in the snow, which I thought would make excellent watercolours I could paint some later time in my cube, at my leisure.


Ski lodges at Falls Creek in the 1954 season. The two storey Kiewa Valley Ski Club is right of centre y return to skiing after coming home from overseas was very exciting and rewarding. I had become a member of a good ski club, made many new friends, not only from the Bogong Ski Club, but also from other clubs on the mountain.
p<>{color:#000;}. Falls Creek fifty years ago was not the jam-packed conglomeration of mostly unattractive ski lodges as there are today. There were less than ten ski lodges then, Bogong, Nissen, Four Seasons, Albury, Kiewa Valley, Winterhaven and Diana.

The snow season of 1954 came to a rather abrupt and early end. There was not even enough snow cover left for worthwhile skiing on the usual or official end of the season, the last weekend in September, which also coincided with the Victorian Football League grand final weekend, the year Footscray won their one and only Grand Final. It was a very light year as the total recorded snow depth for the winter was only 60 cm., however I enjoyed my 1954 year of skiing to the full.

Back at the work site at McKay Creek I was given an interesting new responsibility, one that very soon earned me a new nickname! My job was to test the strength of the antifreeze mixture in all the items of equipment that were water cooled, such as bulldozers, mobile cranes, graders and portable welders. This involved being issued with a very, good looking, leather case, which held a thermometer, syringe, hydrometer and a long, glass jar. Every Monday morning with the case in hand, I would seek out all the items of water cooled equipment. To make the test I removed the radiator cap, took a sample of the coolant with the syringe and emptied it into the glass jar. I then recorded the temperature of the coolant and the specific gravity with the hydrometer.

With these two readings taken, I consulted a chart glued to the inside of the case to determine if the coolant was the desired strength to prevent freezing in the below freezing temperatures that existed at McKay Creek. If the coolant strength was low, I added pure ethylene glycol, retesting the coolant some time later after the unit’s radiator had been in operation for a short time. This took me all of Monday morning to complete and earned me the honourable nickname of Doctor Pox!

A very, significant event occurred at McKay Creek in 1954 while I was working there. One day we were informed that the engineers had discovered that the earth and rock below the site for the proposed, above ground, McKay Creek power station, was not suitable to provide a solid foundation for the station! A decision was quickly made to transfer the power station underground, directly below the original site, by tunnelling out a large power chamber and tailrace tunnel. In no time at all, plant and equipment, together with some of the workers, were r

The worksite where the boring of the tailrace tunnel began

elocated to the new workings down by the Pretty Valley Branch of the East Kiewa River. Here boring of a tailrace tunnel commenced together with the building of a new workshop further up the hill. The change from one construction site to the other lower down seemed to occur in a flash, without a minute’s delay, which I thought at the time it was quite unusual.
p<>{color:#000;}. A

A Map of No.1 Development as proposed on completion of the project in 1962, showing the Rocky Valley dam and reservoir, headrace tunnel, No 1 Power Station and aqueducts. Diagram courtesy of Southern Hydro ll of these works were a part of the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme called No 1 Development, made up of five principal elements. The Rocky Valley dam and reservoir, the headrace tunnel under Mt McKay, the penstock line down the side of the mountain and the underground power station.
p<>{color:#000;}. The bench now become the location for the control room of the underground, power station and new construction work began on the bench, that of boring a large, circular, lift shaft, for access into the power chamber below. So too was boring of an opening in the rock for the entry of water into the chamber from the pressure pipeline (penstock).

After much thought over the years about the enigma of the relocation of McKay Creek power station, I came to the conclusion that the problem must have been discovered some time earlier by the diamond drillers, but at the time the engineers decided that there was no need to stop the earth works creating the large bench on which the powerhouse was to be located, until such time as all the equipment and men required to begin boring the tail race tunnel for the power station had been brought together.

I only worked at McKay Creek for a week, before being transferred back to Rocky Valley. This was due to the early end of the snow season and the reopening of the Rocky Valley camp and works. The batching plant was back in operation and batches of concrete in skips were being conveyed in vehicles to various work sites where concreting was required. I was happy to be back in my cube and at work on the BHP.

After the snow season ended I was in the canteen having dinner one evening, when I saw a tall, lean, olive skinned, foreign looking gentleman, sitting at an adjacent table. I had seen him in the canteen on other occasions and was aware that he was employed by EEE as a hard rock miner, but he stood out from the others, because he had a touch of rough, elegance, about him.

Some nights later I decided to go and introduce myself to him as he looked as though he came from Germany and I thought maybe he could help me learn some more of the language. I went and sat down beside him, offered him my hand and said my name was Gordon Smith. He did not a

Orest Frueauf (Ore)

ppear to be offended by my introduction, saying his name was Orest (Ore) Frueauf.

In conversation I told him I had just returned from a two-year tour abroad and told him the countries I had visited on the Continent. He seemed quite interested so I asked him where he came from. He said he was born in Kharkov Russia in 1925 but his family later fled to Germany where he was educated.

I was surprised that he spoke such excellent English with very little accent. I was sure he did not learn his English from an Australian, because there was certainly no typically Aussie pronunciation, in his speech such as, ‘the rine in Spine stiys minely on the pline.’

I never did find out where, or from whom he learnt English, but I suspect it must have been from some educated Englishman. We talked for quite a while about ourselves. He told me he had fought in the German army, was captured and spent some time as a prisoner of war in France. He left Germany in 1951 and sailed to Tasmania, where he worked for the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Company. Leaving there he worked on the Snowy Scheme for a while before coming to Victoria in June this year of 1954, to work for EEE.

We had many further conversations together at the dinner table and I was surprised to discover that he had helped Toni and Skippy build the Nissen tow hut, as well as helping them run the tow on the weekends, but I had never seen him when I was skiing there nearly every weekend. In the next couple of weeks Ore and I became firm friends. He was very interested in the tales I told him of my two years in the UK and on the Continent and introduced me to another friend of his, George Keble a tall Dutchman, who also worked for EEE as a timekeeper. George had the typical Dutch accent that I was very familiar with, which is quite guttural and unattractive, so unlike German, even though the words were very similar. I became a good friend of George also.


I had only been once to the city to see my family during the snow season, but decided to go each fortnight for the next month or so, because I was sure my mother and father would be missing me, even though I wrote to them a few times. Catching public transport from Mount Beauty on the long weekends was beginning to get a little tiring, but I enjoyed the train ride from Wangaratta immensely. As I was no longer working shift work, the time I spent at home on long weekend breaks was really quite short, but greatly appreciated by my parents. When I was working on shift work however, the change from night to afternoon shift gave me a break of nearly four days, from Thursday morning at 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

This led me to speculate again whether I could afford to buy a car, so I sent away to three car dealers Austin, Morris and Standard, for their sales brochures. I had already seen the small Standard car, but was not impressed. A young bloke at Howman’s Gap owned one, but although it had nice lines it was quite austere with windows that slid up and down without winders, and a few other cost cutting features.

The brochures for the three cars soon arrived in the mail, so I sat down and had a close look at each of them. The brochures were for the Standard 9, Morris Minor and the Austin A30. I was immediately attracted to the Morris Minor because of its modern styling and features. The Austin A30 had virtually the same engine as the Morris Minor, but was like a little box on wheels. The Standard did not rate at all although it was a little cheaper, but very basic with windows that slid up and down with no winder and other such simple features.

I examined all the specifications of each of the cars closely and after comparing the three there was no doubt in my mind that the Morris Minor was the car for me.


The brochure photo of the Morris Minor

told Ore and Jack Smith that I was planning to buy a car, so they had a look at the brochures and agreed with me that the Morris Minor was the best choice. The cost of the Minor on the road was around £800, so I decided that the next time I went to Melbourne, I would raise my idea of buying a car with my mother and father. I had nearly paid off the money I owed my father for the voyage home from the UK and had managed to save a little, but did not have anywhere near enough money, even for the deposit on the car.
p<>{color:#000;}. I wrote to my father telling him my plans and said I would be down the next long weekend, to discuss buying a Morris Minor with him. When the long weekend came along, I went down to the city and put my proposal my father. I asked him if he would lend me the money for the purchase and told him that by taking passengers to Melbourne, I should be able to pay him back the amount of the monthly payments, which were about thirty pounds. My father looked at the brochures of the three cars, agreeing with me that the Morris Minor seemed to be the best choice. He said he would lend me the money to buy the car and I could pay him back by the monthly instalments of £30. Once again I was very grateful to my dear father for backing me up financially.


Boot and spare tyre below

Front seat layout n Saturday morning my father and I went to Monaro Motors, a Morris agent in North Melbourne, who my uncle had recommended as he knew the proprietor, so this would make sure we got a good deal. We had a good look at a Morris Minor in the showroom and then I took it for a drive around the block. It was so thrilling to be driving a car again, especially as this one might soon be mine. The last time was when I was in England and I shared the driving of an Aussie friend’s car, a Ford Consul. He was a dentist and I went with him looking for a new dental practice in a couple of English cities.
p<>{color:#000;}. After driving the Morris Minor there was no doubt that this Morris Minor Series 11 Four-Door Saloon, was the car for me. I lifted up the bonnet and had a good look at the engine and saw there was plenty of room to work there, as I expected be doing all the servicing and repairs myself.


Boot and spare tyre below

had a good look at the boot space, as this was important if I was to carry passengers, Another important feature of the car I was interested in was the ground clearance because I expected to be driving the car over the BHP every now and again looking for subjects to paint. It was quite good 6and 3/4 inches (17 cm).
p<>{color:#000;}. The sales brochure described the Morris Minor as: ‘A very well balanced car, a combination of functional body and chassis design, yet has character.’ Indeed it was all that as I was to discover over many years. The papers were signed there and then and I chose Austral Blue as the colour. My uncle had a radio shop at the time, called ‘Smith’s Radio’ in Smith Street Collingwood. I had saved enough to buy a car radio, so I arranged to have the radio fitted before I came down to pick up the car on the next long weekend.

I couldn’t believe that I was able to purchase the Morris Minor so quickly all in one weekend. One of the reasons was that I hadn’t bothered to go and have a look at the other two cars and of course having the financial backing from my father.

The next two weeks working at Rocky Valley seemed to pass by very slowly before I caught the bus and train to take me to Melbourne and home. On Saturday my father and I went into the city by train to Monaro Motors. There on the showroom floor was my car polished and resplendent in the colour I had chosen, Austral Blue. It actually looked more green than blue, however it was a nice colour. I signed all the papers, while my father paid the deposit and I took possession of my brand new Morris Minor, noting that my number plate was GEZ 215.

I forgot that I had ordered a car radio until I drove the car outside and my father turned it on. It sounded great, so after a drive around the block to make sure that everything was OK, I drove back home to Rosanna to show my mother and two brothers. I took them all for a drive in the afternoon, the five of us fitting in quite easily, my mother in the front with me, my father and two brothers in the back. I had insisted on buying a four-door model, which made getting three passengers (paying passengers I hoped), in and out of the back seat easily.

Donald suggested that I leave the car with him for the next fortnight to ‘run it in’, and after a lot of thought I agreed to his suggestion, as he had loaned me his car when he was in Tasmania. I imagined that ‘running the car in’ around the suburbs would be better than me taking it up the Hume Highway, over the Tawonga Gap and all the way up to the Rocky Valley camp so early in its life.

On the Sunday before I caught the train and bus for the last time back to Rocky Valley, I rang Netta and Roy and told them I had bought a car and would see them when I came down in a fortnight.

When the time came to take the train back to Wangaratta, I drove the family in to Spencer Street and after saying goodbye to the family Donald took over the car and I boarded the train with the wonderful thought that next fortnight I would be able to stay a few hours longer with my family, before driving the Minor back to Rocky Valley. Not of course that I was at all averse to riding in a train being hauled along by a stately A2 locomotive.


Lovely wildflowers bloom in Rocky Valley

ack at work in Rocky Valley, I couldn’t wait for the next fortnight to go by and go back home and pick up my new car. Spring was here, the wild flowers were blooming and grasshoppers of all shapes and sizes were jumping out of the grass, but this year there were only a few snowdrifts scattered here and there. The days were lengthening and the sun shone with some warmth, how fortunate I thought I was to have this as my workplace.
p<>{color:#000;}. A

Netta on Mt Baw Baw

t last I knocked off on the Thursday afternoon of the long weekend and early next morning I caught the bus and train to the city for what I hoped this time, would definitely be the last time. Night had just fallen when I walked up the driveway of our house and there was my car parked in my father’s garage. I straightaway went and sat in the driver’s seat, but I didn’t take it for a drive because it was too late.
p<>{color:#000;}. After the family told me about the drives that Donald had taken them in the Minor, up in the mountains around Warburton and Healesville, I was not sure if I had done the correct thing in leaving it with Donald to run in! Donald said he was very pleased with the way the car performed, so it seemed to me that the only experience the car had not been tested on, were alpine, gravel corrugated, roads and that experience for myself and the Minor was not too far away.

The next morning I rang Netta and took her for a drive around the Bay. She was thrilled with my car, especially the car radio, as we were able to listen to some good music as we drove along. During the drive I stopped the car and turned to Netta and said we should have a talk about our future together. After much thought we both realised that because of our religious differences, which were important in those years, she was a Catholic and I was brought up as a Baptist, so there was sadly no possibility of us being together, other than in our long, very enjoyable, exciting Platonic relationship. Next I took Roy with me up to Whittlesea and back through Yarra Glen, he too thought the Minor was a great buy.



The author ready to leave Rosanna for Rocky Valley in his new Minor t last the time came to take GEZ 215 to Rocky Valley. I had decided to leave early for my first drive back to Rocky Valley, so after breakfast on Sunday, I thanked my father for his help in buying the car. As I put my bags in the boot, I was pleasantly surprised how large the boot really was. I said goodbye to all the family and climbed in behind the wheel, as they all wished me a safe trip.
p<>{color:#000;}. What a great feeling it was as I sat behind the wheel and drove along Bell Street, a street that I knew so well, as I remembered how for three years, I had ridden my bike on this same road, there and back in all weathers to the Preston Technical School. There was much more traffic and buildings by the side of the road now and it had been widened here and there, since I rode my bike along it many years ago. I thought as I drove along that I had come a long way since those days.

I joined the Hume Highway at Sydney Road beside Pentridge Jail. Now I could relax and enjoy the long drive home in my own brand new, Morris Minor GEZ 215. There were not many cars or semi-trailers on the road and all went well until I reached the township of Euroa.

I had just passed through the main part of the town when I saw a semi-trailer pull over on the left hand side of the road in front of me. There had just been a change in the road laws with regard to turning to the right at an intersection. Previously a vehicle wishing to make a right hand turn, indicated this intention by pulling over to the left hand side of the road, before making the turn. Now the new law required a vehicle wishing to make the same turn, to pull over to the centre or right hand side of the road, before turning, which I believed was a much better method.

As I approached the semi-trailer, I thought the driver had slowed down before parking at the side of the road. There were no turn signals showing, so I went to pass him on his right and just as I was about to pass, the semi moved across in front of me turning to the right, with the result that the rear wheel just grazed my left hand mud guard leaving it askew and with a big dent in it! Without stopping, the driver turned on to the side road that went to Mansfield.

I was devastated, but quickly regained my composure and without getting out of the car to inspect the damage, I chased after him tooting the horn furiously, which made him come to a halt. I got out of my car as he climbed down from the cab, and yelled at him: “Look what you have done to my car. Don’t you know the right way to turn?” He looked at the damage and said: “Follow me just down the road and I will have it fixed up for you.”

By this time I had looked at the damage closely and saw that it was not as bad as I first thought, so I said: “No thanks, just give me your name and address and that will do.” After we exchanged names and numbers, I climbed back into the car to relax. His offer to have it fixed up by someone just down the road, seemed a bit suspicious and that was why I ignored his offer.

Realising the damage was not too bad and did not have any effect on driving the car, I returned to the highway very disappointed with the damage to my beautiful new car. Thinking about the incident as I drove along with the wind taken out of my sails, I realised that I had learnt a very good road rule! Don’t assume to know what another driver is going to do, assume the driver is going to do the opposite. I found out later that this was called ‘defensive driving.’


The driver’s view t was really wonderful to have the car radio playing beautiful music and listening to the news as I drove along, but as soon as I turned off the Hume Highway at Wangaratta and on to the Ovens Valley Highway, interference from the overhead transmission lines made the car radio hardly worth listening to, which was a great pity.
p<>{color:#000;}. I stopped to have some sandwiches and cake that my mother had packed for me, before I drove on through Myrtleford, Porpunkah and Bright. Leaving the picturesque town of Bright, I began the climb up the very steep, corrugated, winding, gravel road, to the top of the Tawonga Gap, which involved plenty of practice at gear changing. The Minor’s dash panel gauges did not include a temperature gauge, only a warning light so I kept an eye on this as the car climbed upwards, arriving at the top of the Tawonga Gap, a climb of 1,340 ft without any overheating problem.


Mt Bogong from the Tawonga Gap climbed out of the Minor and admired the wonderful view of Mt Bogong and the Kiewa valley from the top of the gap, a panorama I never tired of seeing on many occasions, in later years. There was no doubt I thought, that there could be no better test of the Minor’s brakes than driving down from the Tawonga Gap to Mt Beauty and my mind went back to the first time I had been driven up this road in Skipper Dudley’s old Vauxhall, which also had no problem on the climb.
p<>{color:#000;}. The descent from the gap into the Kiewa Valley was equally as steep, corrugated and winding as the other side, so I drove slowly down, eventually joining the sealed Kiewa Valley Highway, very pleased with the good braking power of the Minor. So far so good, everything about the Minor was to my liking, except of course the damaged front fender


The bottom gatehouse turned towards Mt Beauty, passing Tawonga South before arriving at the ‘bottom’ or first security gate at the entrance to Mt Beauty. I registered the car with the patrolman and drove into the town, where I had a late lunch before starting up the car for the next big test, the 3,800 ft climb from Mt Beauty to Rocky Valley.
p<>{color:#000;}. I wondered while I was here in Beauty if I should look for a panel beater, but decided to keep going. As soon as I left the township I had to pass through the ‘top’ security gate located before the first turn in the Upper Kiewa Valley Road (UKVR). This was the name given to this SEC controlled road between Mt Beauty and Rocky Valley.

Now that I was driving my own car I had to be aware that there was a 20 m.p.h. (32 km/h) speed limit on this road. There was another good safety rule peculiar to this road that operated at night. All down traffic was required to come to a halt and dim lights to all up traffic.

It was a nice sunny afternoon as GEZ 215 commenced the task of climbing the alps and conveying me to my cube at Rocky Valley. I found the car easy to drive except that the gearshift was a little tight, but otherwise it tackled the climb surely and steadily. The gravel road was quite rough and corrugated in places, especially around the insides of corners, but the suspension seemed to cope with this quite well. I stopped at Howman’s Gap to show Ore the car and explained to him how the mudguard was damaged. He was quite impressed with the Minor and of course sorry I had the accident. I said that we would go on a few drives together later on.

Having a car radio was a great advantage listening to music and other programs, but as soon as I had turned on to the Ovens Highway at Wangaratta, nearly all the way to Rocky Valley, electrical interference made listening virtually impossible, because of hash from power lines. The hash varied in intensity from place to place as I drove along with only a strong station being able to penetrate it. Leaving Howman’s Gap I drove past Falls Creek on to the roughest section of the whole road-Falls Creek to Rocky camp-arriving there just before dinner. After unloading the car, I had a shower and then went into the canteen for dinner. I told one of the blokes I knew there about my bad luck. He pointed to a chap at another table, telling me that his brother was a panel beater in Tawonga and that I should have a word to him.

After dinner I introduced myself to the bloke and told him about my problem, so he came out to have a look at the car. He said the damage was not too bad and could be easily repaired. He gave me the name and address of his brother in Tawonga and told me to tell his brother that he had sent me to him.


The quarry face at Basalt Hill Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro y main work at Rocky Valley was the maintenance and repair of a wide variety of plant and equipment in use at the quarry at Basalt Hill and on the dam site. The equipment ranged through bulldozers, graders and various types of rollers, so I was kept quite busy as well as learning a lot about diesel, engine driven, equipment.
p<>{color:#000;}. The concrete lining of the spillway tunnel had been completed before I left Rocky Valley last year and the pump was in use elsewhere on the Scheme, but the batching plant was still in use mixing concrete, which was loaded into bottom-opening skips. These were transported in trucks to various worksites around Rocky Valley where concrete was needed.

After work the next day I drove down to see the brother at Tawonga and left my car with him. He told me to come back next Friday afternoon when he would have my car repaired for me. I hitchhiked back to Rocky Valley, prepared to spend a lonely week without my new car. I had purchased a workshop manual and grease gun, important tools I needed for my intention of maintaining the car myself after the first free service. I studied the manual and learnt all about the various items that needed to be serviced and decided there was no problem at all for me to do it all.

On Friday, I went down the mountain to Tawonga and picked up the Minor. I thought the repair cost was quite reasonable and it was great to see my car looking like new again. I drove back to Rocky Valley, stopping off at Howman’s to show Ore the repair to the car, which he thought was well done. Getting to know GEZ215 was a new interest. It was so wonderful to have a car and work up at Rocky Valley.

I took the Minor for drives around the roads that were open on the High Plains, being very careful not to do any damage on large protruding rocks, even though the car had a good ground clearance. The car was also very handy driving around looking for scenes to watercolour. Besides I could set up my paints alongside the car and make a hasty withdrawal if it looked like rain. I had decided not to put antifreeze in the radiator until next winter, but when I look back I should have put it in as soon as I shifted to Howman’s camp, because the temperature could have dropped below freezing overnight at that altitude.

An invitation was sent out to all ski clubs affiliated with the North Eastern District Ski Association (NEDSA), Bogong, Myrtleford, Kiewa Valley, Albury and Wangaratta to attend a weekend barbecue. The barbecue was to be held on the property of a Wangaratta Ski Club member, in the Warby Ranges west of Wangaratta on the first weekend in December, so I was really looking forward to going there in the Minor.

CHAPTER 9[_:_] GEZ 215 THE MASTER OF THE HIGHWAYS AND ALPS October-November-December 1954

I embarked on my first, illegal, fare taking drive a couple of weeks or so after I brought the Minor back to Rocky Valley when I took Ore and Paul, an EEE friend of his to Melbourne. This was also of course my first drive to Melbourne in the Minor, a very new and exciting experience for me. Darkness fell as we joined the Hume Highway at Wangaratta with the beams of the headlights shining along the road ahead of me. It was great to be able to listen to the car radio without the hash of electrical interference from telephone and power lines along the side of the road. Now on the highway we could listen to many stations with little or no interference except when passing directly under high-tension lines.

At that time it was only possible to refuel and have something to eat at Winton and Seymour, so these were the only stops I made on the way. After refuelling at Winton I drove along keeping to the speed limit of 60 m.p.h. (96 km/h), only slowing down on hills here and there, many of which did not require changing down to a lower gear. We passed through the towns of Benalla, Violet Town, Euroa and Mangalore where every shop and service station was closed; even the pubs showed little signs of life. Traffic was not very heavy, only a few cars and semi-trailers going in both directions on the highway, which at that time only had one lane each way and no designated passing lanes at all! Not many vehicles passed us only Jaguars, which were capable of much higher speeds and acceleration than the Minor.

I had to be very careful passing cars and semi-trailers. I made sure I had plenty of space to pass safely, looking ahead to make sure there were no curves or low crests on the road and no lights of a vehicles approaching for a long way ahead, before I was confident to pass. I usually adopted the tactic of dropping back a little, selecting the trafficator, which emerged from a slot in the roof support between the front and rear seats, then winding up the Minor’s speed, so as I could pass quickly.

At Seymour the only welcome sign of light was the petrol station and cafe, where I refuelled and we all had something to eat before resuming our journey on the highway. From now on, the highway climbed gradually as we passed Broadford, becoming a little steeper after we passed through Kilmore, eventually arriving at the summit, where the Hume Highway crossed the Great Dividing Range, at around 1,000 ft altitude. Down below in the distance, we could see the welcoming lights of Melbourne and the suburbs. ‘Pretty Sally’ was the name given to this section of the Hume Highway where it crossed over the Great Dividing Range. However, it is the steep rise on the Melbourne side of the Divide, more so than the summit itself, that is referred to by this name. The name Pretty Sally, was the name given to a large woman called Pretty Sally Smith, who operated a sly grog shop nearby and was killed in 1847 when her dray horse bolted.

After stopping for a minute or so to admire the twinkling lights below us, I drove on down the highway that dropped steeply down Pretty Sally’s hill, passing the township of Wallan in darkness at the bottom. We soon reached the outer suburb of Craigieburn. Further on we were stopped by a red traffic light as we approached the inner suburbs

I had to keep driving on to the city, first to drop Ore off at the Savoy Plaza Hotel, a top class hotel, opposite Spencer Street Railway Station. I had become used to seeing Ore many times as a hard rock miner, in his working, tunnel miner’s attire, wet suit, hard hat and gumboots. It was quite a sartorial, metamorphous to behold, as this very elegant, tall figure, dressed in a very smart gray suit and tie and black shiny shoes, with a case in his hand climbed up the steps of the Savoy Plaza Hotel, a makeover from hard rock miner to an important man of the world. I let Paul off at a hotel in St Kilda Road, but that hotel and Paul’s attire were certainly not up to Ore’s standard!

After dropping them both off, I drove out to Rosanna arriving there about 1 a.m. to the great relief of my family, who were starting to worry. I was very tired, so after a drink and something to eat, we talked for a while before I retired to bed.

The next morning I rang Ore and we went for pleasant drive around the Bay and the next day I took my mother and father a drive around the nearby hills, which they thoroughly enjoyed. There was no doubt that having a car to drive really increased one’s enjoyment of life! Another of the many advantages of owning a car was that I did not have to leave Rosanna for the return journey to Rocky Valley until after lunch on the Sunday, which gave me time on Sunday morning to clean and grease the car and do other odd jobs. When I was travelling by train, I had to leave Rosanna soon after breakfast the next morning.

On Sunday morning I cleaned and greased the car and did other odd jobs. As I washed and polished the Minor, I noticed that the colour of the repaired mudguard was not a perfect match with the rest of the car’s colour. The difference could only be seen at certain angles and lighting, but I decided I wouldn’t take it back to get resprayed. I rang up a few friends and pottered around the house until after an meal of my favourite grilled chops and potatoes,

I said goodbye to the family and picked up Ore and Paul around 6.30 p.m.

I made my way out of the city by Sydney Road to the Hume Highway. The Minor drove along nicely at the speed limit until I commenced the climb up Pretty Sally, where I had to drop down into second gear. By now it was nearly dark and we had left the lights of Melbourne behind, as we crossed the Divide and started the long journey home. Although the highway was only two lane at the time it was well marked by double lines and broken lines, where passing was allowed, but I was very careful not to pass any vehicle, if there was the least doubt that I could not do so easily and safely. Ore lit my cigarettes for me as I drove along, talking about many interesting subjects, especially about my adventures overseas. We stopped at Seymour and Winton to refuel and the towns we passed seeming less alive than on the way down.

As soon as we turned off the Hume on to the Ovens Highway, I ran into a foggy haze that seemed to hang just at car roof level. This persisted until we passed Myrtleford, but from there on conditions were quite clear. After we passed through Bright I was feeling a little tired, so I decided I would stop the car and run up and down the road for about 100 yards to freshen me up, before driving over the Tawonga Gap.

It was great fun driving up the gap with the headlights directing me around all the curves as the Minor, with many gear changes, crossed over the top and we commenced the descent. There were no problems of brake fade, although I did change down to a lower gear a couple of times before finally arriving at Mt Beauty, which welcomed us with many more lights than any of the towns along the highway.

Driving through the bottom and top gates gave me a warm sense of security and belonging. Driving up the mountain only a couple of vehicles passed us on the way down, each stopping and dipping its lights as we passed. At last we came to Howman’s where Ore and Paul left me to drive by myself up to Rocky, arriving there around 1.30 a.m., very happy but tired after my first round, fare paying journey to the city of £10 each, which was the normal rate that was charged at the time by other car owners, taking men to the city and back.

I had checked my milometer when I dropped Ore off at the hotel and found that the distance from Rocky Valley was 246 miles (394 km), or 492 and 788 respectively for the round trip, which did not take into account the driving around during the weekend. The next time I went to Melbourne, I decided that I would check the fuel consumption.

A fortnight later I went to the city again, this time with three fare paying passengers, Ore and another two from Rocky Valley. The weekend went well as I was now becoming a little more familiar with the Hume Highway. I was getting to know where it was safe to pass, where the hills were and also where at that time, there were some large pot holes and rough sections of the road in the process of repair. The family was so glad to see me so soon again.

I brought Ore home to meet the family who said they liked him and after an enjoyable weekend with friends and family, I drove back along the highway in the rain for many miles, which added greatly to my learning experience of both the highway and car. Although the windscreen wipers were adequate for keeping the screen clear, I had to get used to the glare of the lights of approaching traffic, and not forget to dip my headlights. I also had to be extra careful passing cars and semi-trailers. The rain stopped by the time we reached Wangaratta and the drive from then on was straightforward, but I did stop just outside Bright again to have my 100 yard run.

I arrived back at Rocky Valley safely around 2 a.m., particularly pleased with the performance of the car with four aboard. I noticed however, the drop in acceleration and the extra time it took the Minor to wind up to top speed whenever I had to slow down, as well as the little extra effort required on the brake pedal. All this was most noticeable going over the Tawonga Gap in both directions, as I had to change down to a lower gear more often than with only three in the car.

Each time I filled up with petrol I filled the tank to the top and kept a note of the distances. I was too tired to work out the fuel consumption when I got back to Rocky Valley, but the next day I calculated the consumption, finding out to my delight that it was 28 m.p.g. (6.1 litres per 100 km). I thought this was very good considering the car had four aboard, together with all the mountain climbing, and city driving, as the handbook had quoted the fuel consumption as 36-40 m.p.g. (7.9-7.1 litres per 100 km).

The next task for the Minor was to take Ore and me to the NEDSA barbecue weekend in the Warby Ranges. We arrived there to find a few tents up already and people in groups having a drink sitting on the grass inside a large paddock. A big bonfire had been built ready to light when it was dark. Ore and I put up our tents and joined other skiers we knew having a drink, amid a general air of conviviality. We knew quite a few skiers from the clubs at Falls Creek as well as seeing members from our own club.

A barbecue was cooking a large sheep over a fire and as darkness fell, it quickly cooled down after a very hot day. We had all worked up a big appetite with the help of a few beers, so were very glad when non-too-soon, we all lined up to get a large plate of lamb, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables, which we washed down with more beer. After everyone had eaten, the bonfire was lit and we were welcomed by the president of NEDSA. Then a couple of ski clubs put on some comedy items in front of the huge bonfire. These acts were greatly appreciated and acknowledged with raucous cheers. The night finished off with a singsong, after which in dribs and drabs most retired to their tents, some like me with a little bit of a hangover.

The next morning Sunday, we woke up to a very hot morning and after breakfast bade everyone good bye. I heard a few ‘Ski Heils’ as we departed. The significance of this salutation, I was to learn some time later. Ore wanted to go back home via Brown Brother’s Winery, so I drove across the Highway and along the back road through Milawa where the large winery was located. We did some wine tasting and Ore purchased quite a few cases of wine, which was to be his winter supply. We loaded them into the car and I drove along the narrow, back road, toward Myrtleford.

Ore had fallen asleep and I was feeling very, very tired as the wine tasting together with the very hot and sultry day was not conducive to staying awake at the wheel. I pulled over and went to sleep too for some time, until the heat woke me. Feeling greatly refreshed I drove on to Myrtleford where we stopped for a cool drink before driving on.

I mentioned to Ore as I drove along that in a couple of weeks I would be knocking off work for my Christmas holidays. I was thinking I might look for work in Melbourne to help pay off the car. Ore said he had holidays due to him also, so he suggested that he could take his at the same time as me and we could look for work together. We thought that was a great idea, so I said I would write to my mother and father to see if Ore could stay at Rosanna.

On such a hot day I was once again very pleased that the car’s radiator ‘kept its cool’ all the way to Falls Creek, where Ore dropped off his wine at the Nissen Ski club. Toni and Skippy were still away on holiday, so I drove Ore back to Howman’s, returning to Rocky Valley to have a sleep before dinnertime. There was a sequel to this weekend. The wine Ore bought for his winter supply, was all drunk before Easter!

I wrote to my mother and father who replied saying that Ore could certainly stay at Rosanna. Ore was very thankful for the hospitality, so we both looked forward to having a good time over Christmas with the Morris Minor taking us everywhere we wanted to go.


The day had come for Ore and I to begin our Christmas holidays and early in the morning as work was still busily progressing at Rocky Valley and EEE, we took our leave and drove down the Hume Highway. It was a pleasant change to be driving all the way down the Hume Highway in daylight and we arrived at Rosanna just after 12 noon. We talked a while with my mother and father and told them we were both going to look for work, which they thought was a good idea. My parents had set up a spare bed in the sleep-out for Ore.

The next morning Ore and I went into the city to the employment office to see if we could find work. After parking the car, which was easy in those days we went to the Government Employment Office in Flinders Street. We were called into an office together to be interviewed. We explained where we came from and that we were looking for temporary work over the Christmas holidays.

The outcome was that we were both hired as fitter’s assistants and were asked if we could start the next day at the Glazebrooks Paints factory in Port Melbourne? “Yes,” we said. The officer gave us the address of Glazebrooks in Port Melbourne telling us to report there at 7.30 a.m. in the morning. Back at Rosanna we told my parents the good news about out new jobs and they were quite pleased especially for me, as it would help me pay the installments on the car until I began taking paying passengers to Melbourne again.

The next day on the way to Glazebrooks at Port Melbourne as I was driving along Upper Heidelberg Road near the paper mills, I got a hell of a fright when a motor cycle policeman, literally popped his head in my window and told me to pull over, which caused me to swerve and I nearly finished up on the footpath! He told me I was doing 40 m.p.h., 10 m.p.h. over the speed limit. After checking my license and writing me out a ticket, I said to him: “Come on, give me a break, it’s only two days to Christmas.” Handing me the ticket he replied; “Have a happy Christmas, you may not hear anything more about it.” Then with a wave he drove off leaving me with my ego rather deflated. Ore thought it was just a great joke.

We drove on down to the large paint factory in Port Melbourne and signed on. We were shown where the canteen was located, told about our lunch, tea breaks and knock off times and given a pair of overalls each and a cake of Solvol. With those formalities completed, we were taken and introduced to our workmates on the job, finding we were to be working at different localities in the large paint factory.

The fitter who I was assisting introduced himself as Harry. He was a middle-aged bloke, who I think suffered from high blood pressure by the look of his complexion. He never asked me too many questions, but in conversation I told him I was down from the bush and wanted to earn some money on my holidays. We then settled down to the job in hand for the rest of the day That night I got a phone call inviting us to a Christmas Eve YHA party at one of the lady member’s houses in Murrumbeena which we gratefully accepted.

There were only three working days that week for us at Glazebrooks before we knocked off. We did not have to return until Tuesday week, after the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s day holidays, so we looked forward to having a great time over the long break. On Christmas Eve, a Friday, the whole factory shut down at lunchtime. We could not believe it when we picked up our pay packets for the first few days we had worked, because it included a £10 Christmas bonus!

I rang Netta to see if she would come with me to the Christmas party, but I was told she was away on holidays. On Christmas eve I picked up my friend Roy and together with Ore we went to the party, where I introduced him to some more of my YHA friends, some of whom he had met at the NEDSA barbecue weekend in the Warby Ranges earlier in the year. It was a marvellous thrill for me when we arrived at the party because I saw so many YHA members, some I had not seen since I left for the UK two years ago. Later on at the party I met and talked to a beautiful, black haired, young, lady, Dilys and finished up taking her home to Elwood in the Minor, with Roy, Ore and another bloke.

Christmas Day at home with my family and with Ore as our house guest was a very happy occasion, exchanging presents, just being together as the family, as my parents had missed me, especially my mother when I was overseas and she relished these times together.

In the days before we returned to work at Glazebrooks, I decided I wanted to get to know Dilys the lovely lady I met at the party. I found her phone number and rang her and she agreed to come a drive in the Minor with me and Ore together with the young lady, he met at Falls creek earlier in the year. As a foursome we got on well together touring around the beaches in the Minor and going to a few shows in the city, but all too soon we had to return to work at Glazebrooks.

Harry’s job with me assisting him was to climb inside the barrel of a paint powder, rumbling machine and remove the worn out ceramic lining, using a hammer and chisel. Not an easy job, especially firstly to remove the key ceramic brick. It was a hot day and I stood outside the rumbling machine and sharpened the chisel when it blunted. Before long I saw that Harry was in trouble as his face had got very red. I was worried he might pass out on me, so I told him to come out and give me a go. He did not need to be told twice and quite exhausted, he gladly climbed out and I climbed in.

One of the skills that we apprentices at the VR had learned thoroughly was the use of a hammer and cold chisel and although it was no easy job, I quickly removed a lot more of the lining. I climbed out of the barrel for a rest and Harry looked at me quizzically saying: “You’re no fitter’s assistant are you? You’re a tradesman!” I turned toward him and with a smile replied: “Yes I am, how did you guess?” “No fitter’s assistant can use a hammer and chisel like you do!” he exclaimed. So I told him my story, which led to us having many interesting talks about our lives as tradesmen.

With only another week to work at Glazebrooks, we were still seeing our girl friends in the evenings and going to a few shows enjoying ourselves immensely. Our last workday at Glazebrooks came around and I said goodbye to Harry and we wished each other well. We collected our pays, leaving Glazebrooks with a rather smaller cake of Solvol, a good pair of overalls, both of which they said we could keep. For the short time that Ore and I worked at Glazebrooks, we came away with the belief that it was a very good firm to work for. The next day I said goodbye to my Dilys and we arranged to see each other when next I came down to Melbourne.

The following morning before we had lunch, with Ore’s help, I washed and greased the car and carried out a few other servicing tasks, Then around 1 p.m. we waved the family good bye and I drove out on to Bell Street and the Hume Highway, with the thought that I had just come to the end of a very profitable Christmas holiday, besides meeting Dilys who I really I wanted to get to know a lot better.


It was such a pleasure to be back at work at Rocky Valley. The day after I returned, the largest and most spectacular thunderstorm I had ever experienced while living at Rocky Valley occurred. This thunderstorm, which I was able to watch as I was working at the workshop above the dam, gradually built up from towering, cumulous clouds and finally into huge, grey and white cumuli nimbus clouds, at the top of which, large cirrus anvils formed and spread out. It was an awesome and exciting phenomenon to witness, especially when its energy was released in an orgasmic display of lightning and thunder, which echoed back and forth from the surrounding mountain peaks.


A view of the excavations prior to the construction of the core wall of the Rocky Valley dam Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

hat thunderstorm together with spasms of heavy rain, continued well after nightfall, the lightening lighting up the BHP like I had never seen before. Around 9 p.m. all was quiet, except for the muffled sound of thunder away to the east. I wondered if any bushfires had been started by the storm, but on listening to the radio there were no reports of any. Whenever there was a thunderstorm around any area where men were driving earth moving equipment or other large, metal items of plant, our workers sought shelter wherever they could, until the storm cell passed by.
p<>{color:#000;}. The excavation for the core wall had been completed, the bedrock had been exposed and the men had meticulously cleared out all the dirt between the cracks with small tools and compressed air guns. The cracks had been sealed with cement grouting to ensure a leak proof seal between the bedrock and the core wall so that there was no loss of water through the basalt bedrock below the rock and earth fill dam. Some rock from Langford’s quarry was already being stockpiled around the dam site ready to be placed when the core wall was complete.

I was enjoying my life on the BHP working on plant and equipment located around various Rocky Valley work sites. On some occasions I was called on to work at the Basalt Hill quarry on a mechanical shovel loading rock into Leyland Beaver tip trucks, which took the rock down to the crushing plant below Basalt Hill. On the journey along the rough road past Langford’s Gap and Watchbed Creek to the dam site, some rocks fell from the trucks on to the road. This was causing costly tyre damage to following trucks, so a couple of workers were equipped with bicycles to continually patrol the road between the quarry and the dam site and put the fallen rocks on the side of the road. Some trucks had a swinging bar suspended on a pivot between the truck’s dual wheels and if a rock got lodged in between the two tyres, the bar would eject the rock on the next revolution of the wheel.

On short weekends I drove or walked down to Falls Creek to work maintaining the clubhouse with the President Alf Robins and a few other members. This was also an opportunity to see Toni and Skippy and Ore who was there too, assisting Toni and Skippy on the maintenance of the ski tow.

Every long weekend without fail from then on I would knock off on a Thursday afternoon and with three paying passengers from Rocky, set out for the city along the Ovens and Hume Highways. On one of these weekends to Melbourne my father presented me with a letter from the police and I had to pay a fine, but I can’t remember how much it was. So much for the policeman saying I might not hear about it.

I was by now becoming familiar with many features of both highways, the hills, the long, straight stretches, where passing was no problem and sections where extreme care had to be taken when passing because of hidden crests or sudden curves in the road. Getting to know both the highways, including the road down the mountain and over the Tawonga Gap, had not only made for safer driving, but enabled me to reduce the journey time of around seven hours from Rocky Valley to the city by about thirty minutes! I was also very aware that I must drive safely to ensure my passengers were at ease with my driving. Although I had the radio switched on, I usually asked my passengers what programs they wanted to listen to and acceded to their wishes, after all I had to remember they were paying passengers.

My car radio was an Astor of very good quality. There was no question that the radio helped to keep me awake, but not necessarily my passengers, who slept most of the time. I assumed that was a sign that they had confidence in my driving, or of course maybe they were just dog-tired, but I liked to believe the former reason. At night I found it amazing how many interstate stations from SA, NSW and Tasmania the radio could pick up, that could not be tuned in during in the daytime. After I dropped off my passengers at various locations in the city, it was around 1.30 a.m. before I arrived home at Rosanna. My parents would get out of bed to greet me and after a short talk, I would have a glass of milk before I climbed into bed.

Usually the next morning I would drive over to Elwood to see my girlfriend Dilys where she lived with her mother and brother. We might go a drive and in the evening go to a show somewhere. As each long weekend passed by we got to know each other better. On many of the weekends Ore would come with me and I would drop him off at the Savoy Plaza and pick him up from there on the way back to Rocky. The days were still quite long, although there was no daylight saving in those days. Sometimes I toured around the BHP in the car after work, taking photographs of suitable subjects to watercolour. Some nights I drove down to Howman’s camp to see Ore and drank some Scotch with George Keble and his other friends that Ore had introduced me to.

I busied myself doing a little watercolouring in the weekend, as well as going down to the ski club at Falls Creek, which was a hive of activity with many new ski lodges being built. All the builders were using the good weather to complete their projects before the weather turned wintry. I attended the annual general meeting of the Bogong Ski Club in March and was very pleased to be elected on to the committee.



My father’s new FJ car GFS 000 Photo GFS y father wrote to me saying he had bought a new car and wrote that he and my mother would like to come up at Easter to see where I worked. I phoned him and said that would be really good. I would find a place for us to stay. I had introduced Dilys to my family and they liked her very much. They knew too that I was very keen on her and thought that she was just right for me. My father wrote again asking if I would like them to bring Dilys with them and of course I rang straight back and said that would be really wonderful.
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Mt Beauty from the top gatehouse Photo GFS

The house (centre) where we stayed Photo GFS

managed to find a house in Lakeside Drive in Mt Beauty that was vacant over the Easter period. An SEC foreman named Kelly Ziebell owned the house. The Easter holidays came along and my parents and Dilys arrived in my father’s new FJ Holden car and met me at Mt Beauty. We stayed in the house I had rented for three days and had a marvellous time as the weather was fine except for one day when we had a few showers. I drove my father’s new car GFS 000, showing them around the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme
p<>{color:#000;}. It was an immensely enjoyable Easter for me and my parents realised why I loved working up on the BHP amongst the mountains. They were impressed with all they had seen over Easter living in the SEC house in Mt Beauty, which they thought was a nice, clean, modern town, in magnificent surroundings. I was very thankful that my parents had thought to invite Dilys to come along with them, as I was sure that they were as keen as I was, to see our romance blossom.

I was particularly anxious for Dilys to see the countryside and the town of Mt Beauty. She really loved the mountains and thought the whole area was just fantastic. All too soon it was time for them to return to Melbourne and I told my parents how thrilled I was that they had come up to see me, with special thanks for bringing Dilys along with them. They said they had had a wonderful time.


*A *


The NCK shovel loading rock on to the Aveling Barford tip truck

fortnight after Easter I was transferred from Rocky Valley back to Howman’s Gap camp to live there and work on a crushing plant. Early in the New Year the crusher had been built on Road 26, just below the McKay headrace tunnel portal, at an altitude of 5,100 ft, well above the winter snowline. It was crushing rock excavated from the headrace tunnel, which was being bored by EEE and was to continue crushing throughout the winter months. I imagined that the reason that I had been selected to leave Rocky Valley and work on the crusher was because it was known that I was quite prepared to work in the snow!
p<>{color:#000;}. My foreman on the crusher was a jovial, bespectacled bloke, by the name of Kelly Ziebell. I had not met him before, but as luck would have it Kelly was the owner of the house we stayed in at Mt Beauty over the Easter holidays.


An Aveling Barford tip truck

he rock bored out from the headrace tunnel was dumped below the tunnel portal, where an NCK mechanical shovel loaded the rock of all shapes and sizes into a huge, Aveling Barford, tip truck. The tip truck was of a type I had not seen before. The driver’s cabin was set to one side so that he had a clear view in both directions and apart from being very large, it was fitted with two large, vertically mounted steering wheels like a ship’s helm, dual foot pedals for brake and accelerator and a driver’s seat that could be rotated so that the driver was always facing in the direction the truck was moving. This was a very important feature of this truck as there was no room to turn at either end of its short journey. The tip track took the rock to the crusher, about 200 m away along a rough track.
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The crusher. The jaw and gyratory crushers left, the elevators centre, bins and the loading bay right his truck was also my first experience of a diesel-hydraulic powered and controlled vehicle, the system details of which I had virtually no knowledge, but soon learnt enough to maintain it in operation. I also had no knowledge of the intimate workings of the crushing plant but I quickly learnt all I needed to know about that too.
p<>{color:#000;}. The rock was first reduced in size by a jaw crusher, then passed on to a Pegson Telsmith, gyratory crusher that could be adjusted to produce rock screenings or aggregate of various sizes, 6 mm through to 18 mm.

From there the aggregate was passed over vibrating screens, which separated it into various sizes where it was collected in bins, to be taken away by both SEC and private contractors trucks, Pyle’s and ‘Plugger’ Barret’s. Both of these contractors had garages, Pyles in Tawonga and Barrets in Mt Beauty. They carted the aggregate to the Rocky Valley dam site up Road 24 and down to the new underground power station site and other locations.


The crusher s seen from above and the Aveling Barford tip truck have been convinced that every job, no matter how menial, requires a certain level of skill. This was again shown to be true when I went up to the top of the crusher where the rock was unloaded from the Aveling Barford tip truck. There were labourers stationed there who broke up any large pieces of rock too big to go into the jaw crusher. The first time I ventured up there I watched the blokes breaking rock with large sledge hammers.
p<>{color:#000;}. After watching for a while it looked easy, so I asked one to let me have a go. He gave me his sledge hammer, but try as hard as I could, I could not break any of the large rocks, so admitted failure and gave the sledge hammer back! One of the blokes said he would show me how it was done. He picked up the hammer, looked at the surface of a large rock for a moment then, with a mighty swing broke the rock in two pieces! I was amazed, so he said he would show me how. After a brief examination of the rock surface of another large rock, he pointed out to me a faint line across the surface of the rock. This was a fault line that indicated to him where to aim the blow and without further ado, he told me to stand back. He took a big swing with the sledge hammer, which again resulted in the rock breaking in two, using a combination of brawn and brain to bring about the desired result. That was another example of a lesson I had already learnt in my working life. Never to be too proud to listen to advice given by someone who was not a tradesman.


View from the coach on the way up Road 26 to the crusher

travelling up and down Road 26 to the crusher from Howman’s Gap each day in the Bedford bus, but sometimes, instead of travelling in the bus, we rode in a grey International side loading coach. It was a similar model to the one that took our Rover Scout party from Bairnsdale to Fitzgerald’s property at Shannon Vale, from where we climbed up to the Rover Scout Chalet on Middle Creek to spend two weeks skiing on the High Plains.
p<>{color:#000;}. The (YHA) also bought a coach of this type, which we used to take us skiing to Mt Buller. Some years later however, all side loading coaches or buses of this type, were banned by the Transport Regulation Board, which deemed them to be unsafe, because they only had doors on one side. They were however, a very comfortable vehicle to ride in with their full width cross-seats. It was joy to work on the crusher as it was relatively clean and interesting work.

As the crusher was operating it grated and rattled in a rather a pleasant cacophony of noise, but not enough to drown out ones voice. I was kept busy greasing bearings, repairing buckets on the elevators, replacing worn out screens and fixing other problems that occurred from time to time.

One problem that occurred regularly was removing the head of a drill steel that became wedged between the spring loaded jaws (mantles) of the Pegson Telsmith crusher, preventing it from crushing the rock to the correct size. To remove the drill bit I had to lay nearly upside down over the top of the jaws with an oxy-acetylene torch and cut out the bit. Quick reflexes were required however, because as soon as the drill bit was cut out, I had to quickly withdraw the cutting torch or it would get caught between the spring loaded jaws as they reset, which then needed some effort to dislodge the torch. That was just one example of the job and challenges of working on the crusher.

Best of all the job of working on the crusher was the spectacular view down below to the forested East Kiewa Valley to the green Kiewa Valley below, with Mt Stanley at the far end of the valley. Mt Emu, Mt Tawonga and Mt Bogong rose up on the skyline on the eastern side of the valley. I thought to myself what a superb place to earn a living and decided that it would make a wonderful watercolour scene with the office hut in the foreground

A view from the crusher with the office and the Kiewa Valley below


Now that I was camped at Howman’s Gap I saw a lot of Ore, especially on Friday nights of the short weekends when I was invited to eat with him in his cube, together with George Keble the Dutchman, who I had met before, Lorenzo from Spain and a Frenchman, Jacques Becdelievre. All of the foreign men working for EEE and living in the camp, had many intriguing stories to tell about how they came to work here on the Kiewa Scheme. Jacques Becdelievre jumped ship in Melbourne and came to work on the Scheme in the early days, but he was arrested and sent back to France. He then came out legally to work here for EEE. George however, was not forthcoming with any of his reasons for coming to Australia and I never asked him, so to this day, I don’t know his history, except that he came from Amsterdam. I gradually learnt much more about Ore, how he was a prisoner of war for three years in France and was released in 1948.


A Friday night in Ore’s cube L to R George Kebl, Lorenzo (from Spain), the author and )Ore. Jacques was on afternoon shift that night Photo George Kebl re, George and Jacques put together a tasty meal on a portable stove in their cube. We drank wine and whisky and played records on my portable record player. I had also brought back many of the records I had purchased in London of shows I had seen in the West End and played some of these for the boys, which they enjoyed immensely.
p<>{color:#000;}. One of these was a 12 inch recording of a Romance for Harmonica and String Orchestra by Vaughan Williams, the soloist being Larry Adler the famous harmonica virtuoso, which they thought was a great, unique, piece of music. They were very interested to learn that I had been at the Royal Albert Hall, when the work was played, together with the first performance of the Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra by Arthur Benjamin, a work they had never heard. I still have the record of the Romance in my collection, as well as a program of that performance, which Larry Adler autographed for me, when I attended a concert he gave in Melbourne in 1998. I only found out about the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, a short time before I left London, but I managed to attend some wonderful orchestral concerts there before I left, London for home.

Together with the sound of a solo violin, I had a great dislike of cauliflower, until I tasted cauliflower topped with a very nice, white sauce, made by George. The sound of a solo violin to me was like cauliflower, without George’s sauce! However, thanks to George, I learnt to become a great admirer of the violin and violinists, after George played me his records of the violin concertos of Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and short violin compositions by Fritz Kreisler.

He thought that David Ostrich and Jascha Heifetz were brilliant violinists, but he did not think much of Yehudi Menuhin, but there was a certain Jewess violinist, whose name I can’t remember, who George thought played the violin beautifully, but he didn’t like her, but said she had beautiful fingers!”

Not satisfied with educating me with a love of the violin, he next introduced me to the contralto Kathleen Ferrier, who sang many religious songs, which I came to enjoy and who I later learnt, died tragically of cancer in her early forties.

I had become a lover of opera, especially Mozart’s, after seeing various wonderful opera productions in Vienna, Hamburg, Munich and Stockholm, and also a fan of the ballet, attending many ballet performances at Covent Garden in London, with Netta and my English friends from Stevenage. It was in Ore’s cube at Howman’s Gap camp in the company of those great blokes, from three different European countries that I was introduced to the violin, Kathleen Ferrier and cauliflower sauce, which I am forever grateful for and where on the Friday nights of the short week ends you would find me.

When I went to Melbourne I purchased records of some of the music I had heard and enjoyed in Ore’s cube. I also heard other classical works on the radio in my cube that I took a great liking to, such as Symphony No 1 of Brahms, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and others that I also added to my record collection, playing them over and over again on my record player.



On one of the trips I did to Melbourne Dilys and I decided to get engaged and we would not announce this until my birthday on 19th May, so on the weekend nearest to that date-a short weekend-as it turned out-I drove to Melbourne without passengers. I would be twenty six years old the same age as Dilys, but. her birthday was 30th June.

After we had been to the ballet on Saturday night, I drove down St. Kilda Road to the St. Kilda Esplanade, where I parked the car overlooking the Bay with the lights shimmering across the water. I shut off the engine and without wasting any time t asked Dilys the important question: “I love you will you be my wife? ”She turned to me, hesitating a little before she replied with that wonderful word that required no embellishment: “Yes.” We embraced and kissed each other, but it was a pity that I didn’t have a ring to slip on her finger, as we hadn’t decided on the ring we wanted, but we would do that the next weekend.

We decided then that we would get married next December, but we would not put a notice in the papers until the next weekend when we would have a celebration. I drove my fiancé home and then returned to Rosanna. My parents were overjoyed when I told them the great news. They thought I had made an excellent choice and maybe now I would settle down. I drove back to Howman’s on Sunday again enjoying my own company, but also enjoying my new status as a man with a lovely fiancé, all the while listening to the radio stations of my choice, until I began driving along the towards Bright when the static made the radio too hard to listen to.

Back to work again on the crusher and every morning when our coach dropped us off to start work, as usual Pyle’s and Barret’s trucks were there, ready and waiting under the bins to take away the first loads of aggregate. There was a friendly rivalry between these two local contractors, who were paid on the number of loads delivered. Pyle’s also ran a bus service to Albury and Wangaratta. The SEC trucks however, took a more leisurely attitude to the job of carting aggregate from the crusher.

I told Ore the good news that I was now an engaged man, but Ore was always dubious about my relationship with Dilys. I think he felt she was not sophisticated enough for me! However, he congratulated me, saying it would be his pleasure to take us to dinner the next weekend when he came to Melbourne with me. Jack Smith on the other hand really got a kick out of hearing of my engagement and smiled with that big, full faced, smile and chuckle of his. During the following week my mother went across to Elwood to meet my fiancé’s mother and together they decided on a notice to be put in the paper for the coming weekend.

I drove down to Melbourne the next weekend with Ore and two other passengers and when I got home it was a great thrill to see our names in print in the papers and receive many phone calls of congratulations. On Saturday morning my fiancé and I looked at engagement rings, but she had already looked around various jeweller’s shops and had picked out a beautiful ring that she liked at Dunklings, so without the need to look further, we decided to purchase that one. I was thrilled and of course my fiancé was too, when I slipped it on her finger in the shop, but it was too big so we would have to wait until the next weekend when I came down to pick it up and put it on her finger for good. A big disappointment.

On the Saturday night Ore and his girlfriend took us to a nightclub in St. Kilda, where we had a great night. On Sunday I took my fiancé to my parent’s place for dinner, but sadly, there was no ring to show them, however, they were happy that we had settled on the date we would be married December 10th

The next long weekend I drove to Melbourne with paying passengers and at last picked up the ring and slipped it on my fiancé’s finger and everyone we showed it to, although it wasn’t very big, thought it was lovely.


Before the first winter snow fell, North East Victoria had a long period of heavy rain, which caused the Ovens Highway to flood between Tarrawingee and Wangaratta, so that when I drove to Melbourne one weekend, I had to take a detour around the flooded, low lying, river flats, along the Wangaratta-Curran road. Some sections of the Hume highway were also flooded. A short section just where the Ovens Highway joined the Hume Highway at Wangaratta, an area near Euroa and a few short sections where the road dipped down just outside Benalla, although the water in these locations was not much deeper than about 15 cm. A long section near Euroa however, extended for nearly a kilometre, but all were negotiable by driving slowly through.

This year snow fell before the opening of the snow season on Queen’s Birthday weekend, but there was barely enough to ski on. Most of the local members came up to the club to celebrate the opening and it was great to renew friendships with many I had not seen since the close of the last ski season.

Although it was really good that we had early falls of snow this year, it posed problems crushing rock, because the crusher and the rock dump were above the snowline. The snow adhered to the rock as it was being crushed, which preventing the vibrating screens from operating effectively. To overcome this problem, high pressure water sprays were installed over the screens, which washed the snow from the aggregate allowing it to pass freely across and through the screens.

During July there were heavy falls of snow, but we managed to keep crushing rock as bulldozers and graders kept the road clear of snow to the crusher and tunnel portal. The trucks however, were not able to take aggregate up Road 24 over the Ruined Castle Spur to the dam site, only down to the power station site and other locations below the snowline. Working on the crusher never ceased to be enjoyable and challenging, producing crushed rock in the snowy conditions.

The winter of 1955 was a good year for snow cover on the BHP with an average depth of 1.5 m and I managed to get up to Falls Creek most short weekends, which kept me happy and in good form. On these short weekends I waited for Jack Smith who was based back in Mt Beauty to arrive, before we walked up the road together in the dark to Falls Creek.


Tuesday 30 cm snow

Wednesday 60 cm snow

Thursday 1 metre snow n the first week of August there was a big fall of snow, which lasted for three days. Rock crushing was abandoned because the bulldozers couldn’t clear the road to the crusher. We were told on Wednesday evening, to take time off and report for work the next Monday. It was hoped that by then, the snow would have ceased to fall in such large quantities, and the road to the crusher could be cleared.
p<>{color:#000;}. So what to do? I decided that if possible, I would go to Melbourne the next day Thursday and make it a long weekend. I watched my Minor gradually being covered with snow, as the snow kept falling heavily. I had filled the radiator with anti-freeze soon after I was shifted to Howman’s Gap so I had no worry about the radiator freezing


The Minor emerges from the snow t didn’t stop snowing and when I walked up to the bench on Friday morning after it had snowed continuously during the night and found that the Minor was completely buried in snow, with nearly a metre of snow above its roof!
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L to R Harry, Ernie and Peter digging out the Minor

hree of my workmates at Howman’s Gap who were working at McKay Creek, Harry, Ernie and Jack helped me dig the Minor out, being careful not to mark the car’s paint with their spades. Then soon after we were told that we didn’t need to return to work until next Monday, so my first thought of course was to take off for Melbourne as soon as possible and now that the Minor was beginning emerge from its blanket of snow there was nothing to stop me, but yes there was. I realised it was pay day and I hadn’t been paid and would have to wait for the pay car to come.
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Clearing away the snow from the Minor ready to take off for Melbourne. t last the Minor was free and it started up without any trouble. I thanked my mates for digging it out and waited for the pay car to come. In the meantime I found two EEE blokes plus Ore, who couldn’t get to work either. They said they would like to come to the city with me, so I told them that as soon as the pay car arrived we would leave. It was really good that I had collected two fare paying passengers plus Ore so quickly considering the problems with digging out the car. The pay car had been held up by the snow below Howman’s and it was nearly dark before I received my pay. It was still snowing as I quickly collected my passengers and after clearing the windscreen of the snow that had fallen while I was waiting for my pay, we started off down the mountain.
p<>{color:#000;}. The Olympic Wintertread tyres I had fitted to the rear wheels of my Minor certainly helped driving the car through the snow, because they had a very course tread pattern. I had ignored advice from many sources that said these tyres would cause damage to the car’s differential and this turned out not to be so. I filled up with petrol at Mt Beauty, which was a wise move as it transpired, because when we arrived at Myrtleford we were told we could not get to Wangaratta along the Ovens Highway as it was flooded. We were advised instead to go to Beechworth, so we branched off the Ovens Highway at Gapsted and drove through falling rain to Beechworth. There we were told that the Hume Highway was impassable at Wangaratta and were advised to drive to Chiltern, cross the Hume Highway there, and carry on through Rutherglen to Yarrawonga! What next we wondered?

Off I drove through the night along unfamiliar roads in falling rain to Yarrawonga, where I again filled up with petrol. Leaving Yarrawonga I joined the road to Benalla. My passengers were a great help in navigating along the way, consulting a map and looking for road signs to make sure we did not get lost, because that would have been the end.

I drove on towards Benalla until I came to a flooded stretch of the road that looked quite deep. I thought, is this the end? Not necessarily so I assured my passengers until I tried out my gumboot test. I knew that if I was able to walk slowly through this short flooded creek crossing without the water entering my gumboots the Minor could drive through! With the Minor’s headlights shining on the water, I slowly walked through the flooded section without the water entering my gumboots. I got back in the Minor and drove very slowly through the water without any trouble and emerged the other side with the Minor and my passengers intact and dry!

I had driven the Minor many miles with my big steel, capped gumboots on and found there was no problem as there was adequate distance between the accelerator, clutch and brake pedals for comfortable driving. I could have almost imagined that the layout had been designed so that gum booted farmers in England could easily drive a Morris Minor! After safely crossing the creek, I drove on without any more flood problems and joined the Hume Highway just outside Benalla. However, it was still not straight going, because I had to drive back the short distance to Winton for petrol, where we were glad to be able to get something to eat, as the time was now around 3 a.m.

The staff at the petrol station at Winton told us that although there was water over the road in many places, the road was still open to Melbourne. That was certainly good news to hear, so after filling up the Minor with petrol and ourselves with food, I drove on. The advice was correct, because except for flooding in the usual places past Benalla and around Euroa. I had expected the flooding on the highway to be much worse, but it appeared that the heavy and continuous rain over the last few days had been centred around the country and mountains to the north and east of Wangaratta. The rain had now stopped falling and after picking up petrol again at Seymour, we reached Melbourne about 8.30 a.m. on the Friday morning.

After I dropped off my passengers I decided to go to William Street to see if my fiancé Dilys, who worked at a customs office there was at work. I enquired at the office and she came out looking very beautiful. After giving me a quick kiss, she looked down at my feet and exclaimed: “Gumboots!” I explained to her about the long and circuitous route I had taken to get to the city and the reason for the gumboots. She accepted my explanation and we arranged to meet that night (without my gumboots), after I had been home and had a sleep.

As I drove away I wondered if The Sun newspaper might be interested in the photos I had taken, which were still in my camera. I drove around to The Sun office in Flinders Street, where I told the man on the news desk my story. He said yes, they may be interested, so I left the camera for them to develop the film and use them in any way they cared.

That done, I drove wearily home to my family, who did not expect me on this short weekend. After quickly telling them the story and having some breakfast, I retired to bed sleeping soundly until about 4 p.m., when I got up and had a doze in the sun on the front verandah. While I dozed my mother covered me over so I didn’t get sunburnt. After I woke up I drove over to Elwood to see Dilys and over the weekend we went to a show and a drive in the Minor.

On Sunday afternoon I picked up my three passengers and set off along the Hume Highway. The only detour I had to make was between Wangaratta and Tarrawingee, although there was still water across the Hume Highway.

In the morning it was great to be back working on the crusher. The next day it was very cold, freezing and everything you touched was just icy. Although the coach had got us up to the crusher without any trouble, in the afternoon the trucks were stopped carting aggregate because Road 26 was considered to be too icy and dangerous. At the end of our shift we had to walk back most of the way to Howman’s camp while the coach was driven back with only the driver in it!


The next weekend I went down to Melbourne, when I woke up in the morning my father showed me The Sun newspaper that had just been delivered, that morning, Friday August 12th 1955 and there on the centre page were two photographs of my Morris Minor covered in snow, with the heading in large print, together with a short report:


‘This is not Switzerland nor Canada nor even Siberia. It’s right here in Victoria, and was taken at Howman’s Gap camp, one of the S.E.C. bases in the Kiewa hydro-electric project. The pictures were sent to The Sun by Sun reader Mr. G. R. Smith, and show, above two mounds of snow which mark the positions of several cars. Just to show no one’s leg is being pulled, one of the men at the camp cleared the snow off one of the cars. The owner said that the snow on his car is only half that which has fallen in the past week. He cleared the snow daily-until there was nowhere to clear it to!’

The report was partly true. I suppose it was an example of today’s ‘spin’.

Later in the mail I was elated to receive in the mail from The Sun a checque for £5 and my roll of film.

I had a good weekend in Melbourne mainly with Dilys planning our wedding. On n the way back to Howman’s on Sunday afternoon, I drove across to Elwood to say goodbye to my Dilys and just as I was about to leave, I was scratched on my neck by her cat. He didn’t love me as much as his keeper it seemed! The scratch bled a little, causing my Dilys and her mother to be quite concerned, suggesting that when I had picked up my passengers, I should call in to the Royal Melbourne Hospital emergency ward to get the wound seen to. I followed their advice and was given an injection, and some ointment was put on the scratch. Then we were on our way back to Howman’s.

The next morning back at the crusher, I had to do some repair work on one of the crusher screens. Lying flat on the screen as I was working, I became aware that the area around my groin was becoming very hot and itchy. I completed the job and then had a look to see what the trouble was down there, discovering that I had come out in a raw, red, rash. I arranged for an SEC vehicle to take me to the doctor down at Bogong village. The doctor asked me what the trouble was, so I showed him my rash. After a quick look he asked me: “What have you been doing at the weekend, what women have you been in contact with?” “Only my fiancé, we have just become engaged, but there had been no contact of that kind,” I quickly replied. Realising what the doctor was hinting at, I quickly told him about the cat scratching me and going to the hospital, where I was given an injection.

He then had a look at the scratch saying: “The doctor at the Royal Melbourne must have given you a penicillin injection and you have an allergy to that drug. The rash and itchiness will disappear in a few day’s time.” He was correct it did, but from then on I have been unable to take penicillin.

Life on the crusher continued without the problem of operating in the snow. The winter was gradually coming to an end, the days were getting sunnier and the snow was beginning to melt Road 26 had been cleared of snow to enable all the trucks to operate normally, but Road 24 across to the dam site had not been cleared. The next watercolour scene I painted was a view from snow bound Road 24 just above the crusher with the northern end of the Frying pan Spur in the foreground and Mt Bogong in the background.

A view from snowbound Road 24 with Mt Bogong in the distance.

Mt Bogong from snowbound Road 24


One day on the crusher I was told by my foreman Kelly Ziebell that instead of going up on the coach to work on the crusher in the morning, I was to wait at Howman’s Gap, dressed in my skiing clothes with my skis, ready to be picked up by the transport supervisor Ian Barwick. I asked Kelly what it was all about. He said he was not sure, but very excited, the following morning I waited for Ian to arrive. Ian Barwick arrived about 8 a.m. in a Land Rover. I told him my skis were in the Bogong Ski Lodge. He said his were too, so he asked me to climb aboard. I knew Ian very well because he was a member of the Bogong Ski Club. He told me that we were going to ski over to near Pretty Valley where a Sno-Cat had broken down. My job was to find out the cause and if possible get it going again and drive it back to Rocky Valley. We drove up the road to Falls Creek, which had been cleared of snow and walked up to the Bogong Ski Club to retrieve our skis, where we had both left them in the rafters between weekends. We put our skis on and climbed up the steep slopes of the Basin across the raceline.


Looking back down into Falls Creek and across to the Spion Kopje and Mt Bogong

ith a lot of puffing and panting and traversing across the steep sides of the spur and with a few pauses for a rest as it was quite hot with the sun shining through the thin air, we finally reached the saddle on the Frying Pan Spur and stopped for a long rest to catch our breath and admire the snow clad scenery of Falls Creek and across to the Spion Kopje and Mt Bogong. I was sorry I did not have my skins with me, because it would have made the climb up a lot easier
p<>{color:#000;}. I commented to Ian on the beautiful day, lovely and sunny with little wind that we had for the job. Ian said it was not luck, he had studied the weather maps until a day such as this came along, because there was no rush to carry out the inspection.

It seemed that this was a time to utter an exclamation I used when abroad, for marvellous occasions such as this, and this time being paid for it as well!

“This is really living!” I exclaimed and Ian agreed, so I told him how this exclamation originated. During the voyage from Melbourne to Southampton on the Moreton Bay in 1951, there was a group of happy young Aussies on board, with whom I drank in the bar, played canasta and all the other pastimes, which we enjoyed together on the fabulous five-week voyage to the UK. In particular there was a group of young blokes and girls from Sydney, who were the life of the party and they yelled out loudly, together, with the rest of us joining in with gusto, when some event of particular joy occurred: “This is really living!” There were many joyous occasions on that wonderful voyage that this exclamation was cried out in unison.

Leaving the Frying Pan Spur, we skied down the slope toward Pretty Valley and saw ahead of us the orange painted Sno-Cat standing forlornly in the snow, facing down a steep slope above the snow covered road leading to the Pretty Valley camp. We skied to a halt by the Sno-Cat and surveyed its predicament.

Ian said that the driver told him that when he tried to reverse back up the incline, to enable him to turn the Sno-Cat around and drive out across the steep slope. The snow however, was too loose and the tracks could not get a grip. Finally it appeared the engine had stopped and could not be restarted, so the driver and his passengers had to abandon the vehicle and ski back to Falls Creek.

Ian Barwick and the Sno-Cat with Pretty Valley in the background

This was not the first time that I had seen the Sno-Cat, having had a good look at one stored in base workshops when I first joined the SEC. Ian thought the engine must have seized, but I first checked to make sure that there was plenty of petrol and that the petrol filter was not blocked, or any other obvious fault, before I got down to the job in earnest.
p<>{color:#000;}. Before I commenced work, Ian brought out some sandwiches he had brought, so we sat down in the Sno-Cat and had a nice lunch and a drink of water from a water bottle that Ian had also brought along with him.

I then got down to work, spreading a tarpaulin from the Sno-Cat under the engine. I checked the oil level in the sump. It was quite low but considering the angle the Sno-Cat was on this was not surprising. Using tools from a full tool kit carried in the Sno-Cat, I drained the oil from the sump into a big hole I dug in the snow, noticing as I did so that the oil contained small pieces of bearing metal. After covering the hole with a good filling of snow, hoping that the oil had not killed too much snow grass, I then proceeded to remove the sump.

I unscrewed all the screws holding the sump to the large Chrysler, straight eight, engine block and removed the sump carefully as it still contained a little oil. I saw there were many pieces of bearing metal lying in the bottom of the sump, so the trouble was obvious. The Sno-Cat had stopped because the big end bearings had seized! Ian’s assumption was correct. Looking a little closer I saw why. Because of the steep slope, all of the oil in the sump would have been down the far end of the sump away from the oil pick up strainer, starving the engine of lubricating oil, so there was no possibility of trying to get it going again.

After refitting the sump, we packed up and left the Sno-Cat to be recovered when the road was opened in the thaw and made our way back to Falls Creek. I said to Ian Barwick during the journey back down to Howman’s, Gap that I thought it was surprising that there was not an oil pick up at both ends of the sump, to overcome the problem that this one had suffered when operating on very steep slopes.

I suggested that when the vehicle was being repaired, the simple modification of moving the oil pick up and strainer to the centre of the sump should carried out at the same time. Ian thought that was a good idea and thanked me for a job well done, as we drove back down the mountain. I thought that Tucker, the manufacturers of the Sno-Cat were deficient in not ensuring that the engine’s lubrication system was designed in such a way as to prevent oil starvation on steep inclines.


The view across to Mt Bogong from Road 26

The view from Road 26 across to snow covered Mt Bogong

hat a great experience it was, a combination of skiing and working at my trade, although of course I was not a motor mechanic. It was not however to be the last time that I would work on the Sno-Cat.
p<>{color:#000;}. .


Driving down to Howman’s Gap from the crusher in the coach I could see most of the summit ridge of Mt Bogong with its heavy coating of snow shining in the sun., which was a great delight to behold, so I decided to make a watercolour of the scene.

Bulldozers and graders working from both ends of Road 24 didn’t take too long to clear it of snow and both SEC and the contractors trucks began to cart aggregate from the crusher down to McKay Creek power station and up and across on Road 24 to the Rocky Valley dam.

If I remember correctly Plugger Barret had a Ford and Pyles had a Chevrolet truck. The SEC trucks were beaut, aluminium, cab over, Leyland Beavers.

The crusher was now working hard to supply all the aggregate needed across at the dam site at Rocky Valley and down the mountain at McKay creek for the beginning of the boring of the tailrace tunnel for the underground power station, not to forget the roads.

My weekend trips down the highway to Melbourne were now clear of any flooding, except for one weekend, when there had been heavy rain during the week that melted a lot of snow and this combination resulted in the need to take the detour from Tarrawingee to Wangaratta again.

On this occasion the flooded sections of the highway after Benalla were there as usual. When I drove past there were many cars held up on the side of the road, so I thought that the water must be much deeper on this occasion than previously. I decided however, to take it slowly without trying my gumshoe test for depth this time, as I was sure it was no deeper than usual, simply because the level of the water came up to virtually the place as it had been on other flood times, so I drove on carefully past the line of cars and heard some of the drivers waiting by their cars shouting out: “You fool. You’ll sink!”

I ignored their warning and continued on driving the Minor through the water without any trouble, but just as I was near the top of the hill on the other side of the water, the engine began to miss. I prayed for it to keep going until I was over the top of the hill on the other side, hidden from the view of the cars waiting.

The Minor didn’t let me down and over the brow of the hill I stopped and opened the bonnet to see what the problem was. I searched around the engine and spark plug leads with a small torch, but there was no evidence of any water at all. I got back in the Minor and started it up again, but it still ran roughly so I had another look to see if I could find the trouble.

Luckily it was a very dark night, because out of the corner of my eye I saw a small, blue spark, near the coil, which was mounted on the bulkhead and I saw there was one, single drop, of water around the plug lead coming out from under the coil. After I dried this up the engine ran beautifully. While this was happening none of the cars that were held up passed me by, so I had no idea how long they were stopped there, before they were brave enough to follow me and drive through!

I was still meeting with Ore, George and Jacques in Ore’s room for a night of music, good food and drink and I was constantly being reminded that this sort of life as a single man was rapidly drawing to a close. I told them I had no regrets, but would enjoy the life of a single man as long as I could. I knew however that I would certainly miss those nights with my European friends.


Living at Howman’s Gap meant it was not possible for me to do much organizing for the wedding. We wrote letters backward and forward in between weekends, although this only meant two letters each way in that period, and this was not much help in planning a wedding, we needed to be together and on my weekends in Melbourne we set about planning for our wedding, although, my fiancé really did virtually all of the organising in a very capable and businesslike manner. Dilys asked her good friend Loris if she would be her bridesmaid and I asked Ore to be my best man. Both of these two people, especially Loris were responsible for us meeting at Loris’s Christmas Eve party, and Ore had been my constant friend since that time. They were both very pleased to be honoured with our choice and readily accepted our invitations.

After some thought, we decided to get married in the Presbyterian Church in Glenhuntly where my fiancé’s brother was married. We arranged for the reception to be held in the Oriental Hotel in Collins Street and Dilys actually made all the arrangements while I was at work on the crusher, but there was a steady stream of letters going in both directions, which kept us both in touch.

Before I met Dilys, she was studying singing with a prominent French teacher who said that Dilys had a very good soprano voice, but of course meeting me put an end to those studies. However my fiancé said that she had one very important wish for a wedding present, which was that we purchase a piano so she could continue to study singing after we were married, by accompanying herself on the piano.

We went to Thomas’s music shop on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition Streets, where I had on many occasions looked longingly in the window at the latest high fidelity audio gear for sale. Mr Thomas took us to his warehouse in the Eastern Market in Bourke Street, nearly opposite Cox Brothers where my father worked as a credit manager. Mr Thomas showed us some beautifully polished pianos, but after the third one, Dilys said to him: “It is the sound I want-not the polish!” “I know the one for you:” Mr Thomas said, as he took us to a corner where a grotty looking, Salon Grand Beale piano covered in glass ring marks stood. He opened up the lid and played a few chords. Dilys was delighted, saying: “That’s it!”


The Salon Grand Beale piano after it had been restored r Thomas told us that the piano was the one used by the Italian Opera Company for their Victorian season and that we would love it when we saw it cleaned and polished in a month’s time. We paid a deposit arranging to buy it on low monthly instalments. I.
p<>{color:#000;}. Although my fiancé was doing most of the organising for the wedding in Melbourne, I had some important organising to do in Mt Beauty. I had to find a house for us to live in. I wrote to the SEC in Mt beauty informing them I would be getting married on December 10th and asked to be allocated a house to rent in the town. My application was processed promptly and I was given a house at 9 Freeburgh Avenue Mt Beauty.


Freeburgh Avenue looking east from No. 9 drove down and had a look at the house situated about 500 m north of the Mt Beauty shops. Freeburgh Avenue was a gravel road and was one of the streets that loosely divided the housing area of Mt Beauty between houses occupied by SEC staff and wages personnel.
p<>{color:#000;}. Most of the houses closer to the township were occupied by families of staff personnel, shop keepers and the like. Nearly all of the SEC houses in Mt Beauty were of two basic designs, square in shape with variations of this design, and modified cube blocks.

The houses of square design were fitted with hot water services. Kelly Ziebell’s house, which we stayed in at Easter was an example of one of these square designs. Our house along with all the other houses north of Freeburgh Avenue were the same basic cube design that I was living in at Rocky Valley and Howman’s Gap camps.


The drive and front door of 9 Freeburgh Avenue

fter signing some papers, which allowed the SEC to take the modest rent from my pay each fortnight, I was issued with the keys. I drove along to 9 Freeburgh Avenue and unlocked the front door on the eastern side of the house. This opened up from a small porch, to a small entrance hall, which in turn joined the long central passage of a normal cube block.
p<>{color:#000;}. Exploring further I found that the cube rooms had been modified to provide a master bedroom at one end, while at the other end there was a large lounge room the full width of the house with an open fireplace.

The hall was only half the width of a normal cube room, the extra space being used to provide space for the kitchen and bathroom located on each side. The bathroom contained a toilet, wash basin and bath with a shower above. Hot water for the bath was supplied by a wood-fired bath heater, similar to the one in our house at Rosanna. The kitchen was fitted with an electric stove, sink and cupboards, but no hot water supply. A single cube room opposite the kitchen served as a dining room.


The floor plan of our house 9 Freeburgh Avenue

o complete the modification, three cubes had been joined to make a long spare room, to the right of the front door with large closet along one end wall.
p<>{color:#000;}. I found it amazing that a basic SEC cube block could be modified like this one to provide accommodation for a small family. Ours was only one of many that had been modified to the same design at this end of the town. To do the weekly clothes washing, a wood fired copper tub was installed outside in a wash house.

It was however, a great house for us to commence our married life in together, even with its limitation of the outside washhouse and no hot water service or garage. I was not however, very excited about having to wash the clothes in the washhouse outside, but I remembered that our house at Rosanna originally had a wood fired wash tub also, although that was inside the house, nor did my parents have a hot water service or an inside toilet until much later in my life at Rosanna. So if my mother and father could do without these luxuries during the first years of their married life, so could we. At least our toilet was inside!

There was a small garden in the front and the back yard looked as though there would be plenty of room to continue adding to the vegetable garden that was there already. Directly opposite our house the houses were of the larger ‘staff’ or square design. From our front garden the West Peak of Mt Bogong, Little Bogong and some of the summit ridge were visible, which would look really great covered with snow in the wintertime. I was sure my fiancé would really love that view.


ne important item missing from the house was a refrigerator, so I enquired at the SEC shop in Mt Beauty and ordered a basic refrigerator. The monthly payments for the refrigerator would also be deducted from my pay, together with the rent!
p<>{color:#000;}. I had jokingly said to Dilys that there would be no marriage licence without her first procuring a driver’s license. She of course realised it was important for her to be able to drive the Morris Minor after we were married, so she joined the Abbey Driving School in the city and one weekend when I was down, amongst her other organising surprises, she proudly showed me her driving license. I was thrilled. As the date for the wedding drew nearer, I called on Ore my best man to give me a hand staining the lounge floor, cleaning the windows and many other jobs that were required to have the house spic and span for the day when I carried Dilys over the doorstep!

CHAPTER 21: MY LAST WEEKS AS A SINGLE MAN November-December 1955

I thought it was time I organised my ‘buck’s’ party and after giving it some thought, I made a date and decided to hold it in the Bogong Ski Club. I invited Jack Smith, Ore, George, Jacques and Toni and Skippy, both of whom had become my very good friends as well as with Ore who was always helping them on the tow. Skippy on receiving their invitation said it would be their pleasure to have the party in the Nissen tow house, which I thought was a great idea. I thanked them for their hospitality and accepted their kind invitation.

When the night came round I was very disappointed when George and Jacques apologised, saying they could not come to my party, because they were both working on shift that night. I had bought a dozen beer and took it up to the Basin and stored it in the creek to keep it cool.

It was a great night; Skippy baked a couple of batches of her traditional and tasty scones and put on her records. Being the only lady present, she danced untiringly with all of us blokes. We all drank large quantities of beer, except Ore who brought along a bottle of vodka to drink. We drank and danced till late at night, everyone saying they couldn’t wait to meet Dilys, except for Ore of course, who told them that she was a very beautiful girl, but not sophisticated enough for his liking, but as I said to the others, he was not the lucky man who was going to marry her! After the party was over I said goodnight to everyone and thanked Toni and Skippy for their hospitality. I said that there was still half a case of beer in the creek, which they had better grab before anyone else did!

When I next went to Melbourne I told Dilys about my buck’s party. She said she was looking forward to meeting Toni and Skippy because I had talked so much about them. We made arrangements for a carrier to pick up Dilys’s furniture from Elwood and the piano from Thomas’s, together with many other items from my place. These were to be delivered to 9 Freeburgh Avenue on the first day of my annual leave, before I drove down to Melbourne.

I also arranged for the SEC shop to get a duplicate key from the office, so they could deliver and install the refrigerator in the house ready for use when we arrived back after our wedding.

My plans for my annual leave were first and foremost to get married, which however, was not exactly correct-because-I had set myself the task of first, overhauling the Morris Minor in the ten days before the wedding.

The Minor had about 14,000 miles (22,500 km) on the mileometer and was showing some signs of worn cylinder rings and big end bearings. That mileage was very low for the need to carry out a partial overhaul, compared to the long mileage today’s cars travel before an overhaul of this nature was required, but I wanted to make sure that the car would not give us any trouble for a long time after we were married.

The body was showing no signs of rust, but I had already had to reinforce the holes on the front suspension, where the diagonal rod braces were attached to the frame on both sides of the front of the car. This was the result of driving the car over many miles of rough, corrugated, mountain roads to Rocky Valley and over the Bright Gap, usually with a full complement of passengers aboard.

On the last day at work as a single man I said goodbye to all my mates and my very good boss, Kelly Zeibell on the crusher and they all wished me well. Back at Howman’s camp I said my farewells to my mates there, particularly my Friday night friends George and Jacque. They also wished me well and looked forward to seeing me back as a married man and meeting my wife. I wished the camp cooks farewell and thanked them for looking after Jack Smith and me by giving us plenty of beaut food in exchange for our meal tickets to take up to Falls Creek when we went skiing on the weekends.

The cooks wished me well, saying they hoped my fiancé was a good cook “I really don’t know, but I am sure she is. If not I will bring her up to get a few cooking lessons from all of you.”

In the morning after a big breakfast I packed and said goodbye to them all at the camp and on the first day of my holidays as arranged, I drove down to Mt Beauty to meet the furniture van to assist in getting the furniture into the correct locations in the house which, together with Dilys I had drawn up a plan of the approximate locations of each item. For many of the items there was no choice, but Dilys gave me strict instructions about the location of the piano, which I marked in large letters on the drawing of the lounge! I was to learn over our married life that pianos, to give the best sound and last a long time, were very particular as to where they were located with reference to the position of the sun, walls, fireplace and many other factors. The relative position of the planets in the sky however, were not included!

I mucked around in the house doing odd jobs here and there waiting for the van to arrive, but it was not until about 2 30 p.m. when it finally made an appearance in Freeburgh Avenue and came to a halt at number 9, I helped unload the van and directed where everything went, with particular attention to the location of the piano. It wasn’t until about 5 p.m. that the van was unloaded and all the furniture was in their designated places in the house. When the van left I tidied up a few odds and ends and locked up, with the wonderful thought that the next time I opened the door the door, it would be to carry my new wife over the doorstep.

It was getting late in the day and I was very tired so I decided to return to Howman’s Gap to sleep there and start out for Melbourne early the next morning, but before I did, I rang my fiancé and my family to expect me about lunch time the next day. I then drove back up to Howmans, where they got quite a surprise to see me and I had to put up with a bit of good natured ribbing.


Leaving the bottom gate at Mt Beauty in the Minor for the last time as a single man n the morning after breakfast I left Howman’s Gap camp, drove down the mountain and through the top and bottom gates as a single man for the last time. I told each gatekeeper that I was off to get married. They gave me their good wishes and said they were looking forward to meeting my wife.
p<>{color:#000;}. It was good to be driving down to Melbourne by myself during the daylight hours. It was quite a pleasant change, especially being able to see in the day time the places on the highway where flooding occurred.

I had three weeks holiday with two weeks to go before the wedding, during which time I had to overhaul the car, get married and take my wife back to our home in Mt Beauty, in that order.

The last time I was in Melbourne before the wedding, we were telling Ore of our arrangements for the wedding. When we told him we were booking into the Savoy Plaza for the first two nights, the hotel where Ore stayed when he came to the city, he said he would stay there too. Dilys put her foot down firmly and said he could go and stay at any other hotel, but certainly not the Savoy Plaza!

When I arrived in Melbourne, I assured Dilys that all the furniture had arrived safely without damage, in particular the piano and it was all in place waiting for us, complete with the new fridge that I had bought from the SEC. Dilys said that all the arrangements had been made for the reception.

I commenced working on the car being especially careful not to hurt myself in any way, scrubbing my hands clean at the end of each day. Dilys helped me a little and the overhaul went well. I hired a man to lightly grind the cylinder bores and grind in the valves. The Morris Minor was very easy to work on, with plenty of room around the engine. I worked on the brakes, fitting new linings, an important item to be in top order for our car operating in the mountains.

At last the overhaul was complete with a few days to spare, so now I could get down to helping with the wedding arrangements. While I was overhauling the Minor, my father went over to Elwood and brought Dilys back to Rosanna a number of times, but of course we were constantly on the phone to each other. Ore arrived and was staying with us at Rosanna until the night of the wedding. He had booked into the Menzies Hotel with a girl friend who lived in Melbourne. The Menzies and Savoy Plaza were the two top rated hotels in Melbourne at the time.

In the few days prior to the wedding, the Minor was transporting us everywhere with its overhauled engine performing well, so I must have put all the parts together correctly with no parts left over. Because the car had to be run in with the speed limited to 30 mph (48 km/h) for the first 500 miles (800 km), I had said to Dilys that it would be good driving practice if we shared the driving on the way back to Mt Beauty. She agreed and said she would be looking forward to the experience.


I had been watching the weather charts anxiously for the last week, and had come to the happy conclusion that our wedding day was going to be a sunny day and so it was. Saturday morning December 10th 1955 dawned clear and fine.

As the time approached for the wedding ceremony at 4 p.m. Ore and I both dressed in our blue suits, mine the single breasted navy blue suit I had bought in London and after we were dressed, we sat down for a moment to relax before leaving. My brothers Donald and Geoff joked saying: “Gordon, there is still time to pull out. Are you sure you want to give up the life of a single man?” Looking at Donald, who was married to Val and was not complaining about his married life at that point in time, I assured them that I did not. I had polished the car and filled it with petrol and for lunch my mother cooked my last meal as a single man, which of course was my favourite meal of grilled chops and potatoes


The Presbyterian Church in Grange Road Carnegie Photo GFS

nd so it was that the time came to leave the house and as I was about to get into my father’s car with my mother, Geoff and Ore, our next door neighbours and those across the street, all gathered around to wish us a very happy marriage. With those good wishes and with toots from the horns of both cars, off we went to the Presbyterian Church in Grange Road
p<>{color:#000;}. We all climbed out of the car saying hallo to a number of our friends who were waiting outside the church. I introduced my mother and father, Geoff and Ore to some of those who had not met them, and then Ore and I went inside the church where we were was welcomed by the Vicar. I turned around and glanced at our relatives and friends in the church, including a few YHA friends of mine and friends of Dilys, who all gave us a big smile.

We stood at the altar waiting for the arrival of the bride, but we did not have too long to wait before the tune of ‘Here comes the bride’ rang out. I glanced around and there was Dilys on the arm of her youngest brother Jeff, coming down the aisle followed by her bridesmaid Loris. Dilys looked beautiful in her pink wedding dress, with a small veil down over her face.

As Dilys stopped at my side, we smiled at each other and the Vicar motioned to us to turn to the front, and straight away he commenced the ceremony. Jeff gave the bride away and we recited our vows and the wedding ring was passed across from Ore. I slipped it on the third finger of Dilys’s left hand and the Vicar said those wonderful words: “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” “You may kiss the bride.”

I lifted Dilys’s veil to reveal her lovely smiling face and we kissed. We then turned to face the people in the church, before being escorted to the vestry to sign the register. Photos were taken of us signing the register with the Vicar, before returning to the front of the pews and walking down the aisle out into the beautiful sunshine. It was very hot 95o F (35o C), but it couldn’t have been better weather.

Dilys’s mother, my mother and father and our brothers and their wives, congratulated us, then everyone came around to give us a hug and a kiss, throw confetti and take photos at the front of the church. After all the photos were taken, with a few waves and farewells, I helped my wife into the back of a taxi and we were driven away to the reception at the Oriental Hotel.

We arrived at the Oriental hotel at the top of Collins Street, where we both tidied ourselves up, before being escorted into the reception room to a burst of clapping. The reception was a small private affair, with only our relatives and the bridal party present and a few close friends. We sat down at the dinner table and relaxed for the first time that day. More photos were taken and Ore read out the congratulatory telegrams after which dinner was served.

After the dinner we held hands on the knife as we cut the wedding cake. Dilys and I made a short speech, each of us thanking everyone for their support and help in making our wedding day a success, especially as I pointed out, I was only able to provide some input for the wedding arrangements in the weekends, when I came down to the city.

We dined until it was time to change and after we had both changed into our going away clothes we were informed that the Minor had been brought around to the front of the hotel ready for our getaway, so we again thanked everyone for supporting us during the day.

After everyone had wished us well with hugs and kisses, we waved goodbye and

I started up the Minor and off we went. I was waiting to hear the sound of tin cans rattling behind the car as we drove down Collins Street, but there were none of those pranks for us. As we crossed over Exhibition Street, I suddenly saw a red light ahead at the corner of Russel Street. I braked hard, which made the parcels and all the other goods that had been piled high above the back seat of the Minor, roll down over us both.

Turning to Dilys I asked her: “Should we stop, what should we do now?” While she was still holding everything back behind her, she replied with some amusement: “I know just the spot, keep going, I’ll tell you when to stop!” So we didn’t stop, just pushed the parcels back as best we could as I drove along, following her directions around the Botanic Gardens until I could go no further, because we had come to the gates of Government House!

Here, with the lights of the guardhouse and the protection of the sentry on duty, we had a great giggle as we proceeded to repack all the goods so that it wouldn’t happen again. When everything had been repacked, we drove off being very careful to make sure I braked more gently, until we arrived at the Savoy Plaza,

Where we took a couple of cases from the car, before the Minor was taken by a porter, around to the car park below the hotel.

We climbed the stairs into the foyer and I went up to the registration desk and said: “I am Mr Smith and have booked a room here. The man behind the desk replied: “Yes the room for Mr and Mrs Smith is ready, congratulations. The porter will take your luggage. Just follow him to your room.”

For a moment I didn’t recognise that we were Mr and Mrs Smith, then all of a sudden I woke up to our new state. That was us, so we dutifully followed the porter to our room on the top floor, where the porter opened the door and waved us in, to behold a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bowl of fruit on the table.

How wonderful it was for us both to be here in this lovely room for the first night of our honeymoon. After a few kisses we unpacked our bags, sat down and discussed the events of our wedding day.

The next morning I went down to the car and brought up my record player and some records. Most of the day we lazed around playing records and once we looked out of the window across to the Menzies Hotel and waved to Ore, but of course he couldn’t see us, but we hoped that Ore and his girl friend were having as good a time over there as we were in the Savoy Plaza.

I brought back a map from the car and showed Dilys the route we would be taking on the drive back to Mt Beauty. Because we were ‘running in the car’ we were limited to driving at a speed no greater than 30 mph, (48 km/h) for the first 500 miles, so I suggested to Dilys that she should see if she could drive all the way back to Mt Beauty. By then I said she would have had plenty of experience driving along winding, rough, mountain roads. She was quite happy with that idea, so we looked at the map again as I pointed out the various stretches of road that would be much the same as she would be driving on, in and around Mt Beauty.

We finished up the day having dinner in the restaurant to the sounds of a very good band. Sadly, we had not yet had our first dance as a married couple, but we rectified that omission right there and then. We enjoyed our first days of married life in the Savoy Plaza, which together with the Menzies and the Windsor were the top rated hotels in Melbourne. The Savoy Plaza I read later, together with its restaurant was described as the ‘Ritziest Hotel’ in Melbourne.

On the last morning of our first days of our honeymoon in the Savoy Plaza, which could not have been better, I paid the bill and we had the car brought around to the front of the hotel. “Hop in honey, you drive from now on!” I said to her as I handed her the keys of the car.

Dilys learnt to drive in the city and was quite happy to take the wheel, so off we went into Flinders Street, turning into St. Kilda Road to take us to Dandenong Road. The traffic in the city and on the main outlets were nothing like it is at the time of writing and before long we had passed through Dandenong and on to the Princess Highway. Dilys was driving the car very well, gear changing at the appropriate speeds. This was really amazing, as she had only driven the Minor a short distance before she took the wheel after leaving the Savoy Plaza. I was very proud of her as well as being in very much in love with her.

We stopped at Moe for lunch and then as we passed through Yallourn, I explained how this coal fired electricity generating station supplied normal, daily electrical power, for Victoria, whereas the Kiewa Scheme, I was helping to build, supplied short duration peak power electricity. The Minor was performing well and the weather was perfect for driving, sunny and warm as we made our way along the flat country towards Bairnsdale, which we reached in the early afternoon. We had made good time for the 173 miles (277 km) allowing for our 30 mph, and the stop we had for our lunch.


The Open Door Hotel fter booking into a hotel, ‘The Open Door’, we took a walk around the town before we returned to have dinner in the hotel dining room. We were both tired, so soon after dinner we retired to our room ready for the next stage of our journey back to our home in Mt Beauty.
p<>{color:#000;}. The next morning proved to be another fine day, so straight away after a filling breakfast we said goodbye to The Open Door Hotel and got back into our wonderful Morris Minor and off we went with Dilys still at the wheel. We soon branched off from the Princes Highway and joined the road that led to Omeo. Leaving Bairnsdale the road passed through Bruthen and then followed the rugged, but beautiful, Tambo River valley. It was a very winding road, with steep drops down to the Tambo River below. The road moved away from the side of the river every now and again, sometimes crossing wooden bridges over the Tambo’s tributaries.

As we went along I kept a lookout on the road ahead for timber jinkers. There was some forewarning of their approach, because of the dust they threw up from their wheels. A couple of times I told Dilys to stop and pull to the side to let a timber jinker pass, which she was quite happy to do, as the road was not very wide. We passed a couple of timber mills around Swift’s Creek, which Dilys found very interesting having never seen one before. As we drove along I mentioned to her that we were following the same route that I had taken twice in a coach with the Rover Scouts on our way to ski on the Bogong High Plains.

She handled the winding, gravel road, very well, but I think it must have been a relief to her when the road left the forested, river valley and entered the rolling, upland plains, between Tongio and Omeo. Because she was so intent on watching the road ahead, Dilys missed a lot of the scenery, so after we left Bairnsdale, I asked her to stop the car every now and again when we came to a good viewpoint or interesting sight along the way. It gave her a rest and she was able pick a few wildflowers at the side of the road.

On one of these stops just after passing Tongio and crossing the Divide, I could see the BHP in the distance and strained my eyes to see the white scar of a snowdrift to point out to her, but sadly could see none.


Hilltop Hotel his type of country was new and exciting for Dilys, just as it had been for me when I first came through here in 1947 with the Rover Scouts. We descended from the plains into Omeo and stopped outside the Hilltop Hotel, aptly named because it is located on the highest point in Omeo and is the hotel where we Rovers Scouts stayed overnight on the way to the BHP. It was time for lunch, so we drove down the hill and had lunch at a small cafe, after which we went a short walk around the historic town.
p<>{color:#000;}. Leaving Omeo the road took us along the side of the Cobungra River back into the tall timber country. The winding road crossed many bridges over tributaries of the Cobungra until suddenly we came to the Blue Duck Hotel at Anglers Rest, where we stopped for a while for a drink. I told Dilys that this was where we R

The Blue Duck Hotel at Angler’s Rest over Scouts stopped for dinner on our return from the BHP and where I had consumed my first alcoholic drink, an after dinner glass of port.
p<>{color:#000;}. After an interesting talk with the proprietor, we looked at the stuffed trout trophies and historic photographs of life around the Blue Duck Hotel in days gone by. The Blue Duck Hotel got its name from a term used to describe a goldmine that did not produce any gold, or was a ‘white elephant’ in today’s terminology.

Leaving the hotel we climbed back into our trusty (and dusty) Minor, ready to tackle the next part of our journey to Glen Wills. We drove-or I should say-Dilys drove- along the side of the Big River, which joined the Cobungra River near the Blue Duck. A little further along we passed the vehicle track that led to Fitzgerald’s homestead at Shannon Vale, so I told Dilys all about the Fitzgerald’s and their connection with the BHP and the Rover Scouts.

I was really looking forward to driving along this road to Glen Wills. On the many occasions when I stood on Mt Nelse and Mt Bogong and looked to the east across to Mt Wills, I wondered what the country was like down there and this was an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. The road entered Glen Valley populated with a forest of eucalypt trees, bounded on its western side by Mt Wills (5,740 ft) and The Knocker (4,940 ft) to the east, but there were no views to be seen through the dense forest. The road became quite rough, corrugated and steep, as it climbed to the head of the valley around many hairpin bends, finally levelling out a little as we came to the top of the ridge. All of a sudden I called out: “Stop the car!”

In the distance I was sure I had spied a snowdrift through a gap in the trees. We drove along a little further to give us a clearer view through the trees and there it was. It certainly was a snowdrift, or what was left of it on the side of Mt Nelse. Dilys was quite excited to see the snow so I said to her: “Wait till it is winter and we are living in Mt Beauty, you are going to love it!”

After a time away from the alps I was always thrilled when I caught my first glimpse of the snow grassed, heights of the BHP in the distance, so seeing this snowdrift was a big thrill for me too, especially having my lovely wife at my side. We drove on until we could no longer see the drift, because the trees and the big bulk of Mt Wills obscured it from view. We both felt that it was lovely to smell the eucalypts as we drove along with the windows wide open.

I said to Dilys: “I don’t think that this road had seen a grader for many months and it is not much different from the Tawonga Gap or the road up to Rocky Valley that you will soon be driving on.” However, she did not in any way seem to be having any problem, but said she was enjoying the experience!

In the early afternoon we arrived at the old gold mining town of Glen Wills, which was well past the town’s boom days. The houses were mainly rough, timber paling buildings, just as they were in the heyday of this town and now that the gold has gone, timber milling was the main industry in the district

Stopping the Minor outside the Glen Wills Hotel, an old but sturdy looking building, we went inside to enquire if we could book in for the night. The proprietor looked a little surprised at our request, but nodded and said he would show us to our room.

We followed him along a dark passage at the end of which, he opened a door and motioned us to move inside. T

The Glen Wills Hotel, a 1940’s photograph Photo courtesy of the Omeo Historical Society his was our bedroom, which certainly did not have the opulence of the Savoy Plaza. There was an iron bedstead surrounded by old style furniture, with a jug and basin on a table. He then showed us the dining room and said he would ask his wife to make us a cup of tea. He then led us outside to show us the toilet and then the rather Spartan bathroom where we sponged off the dust of the day’s drive. The Glen Wills Hotel was certainly a lot different to the Savoy Plaza, quite a challenge for a honeymooning couple on the fourth night of their married life!
p<>{color:#000;}. The proprietor’s wife made us a cup of tea with some lovely scones and jam and while we waited for dinner we went for a short walk along the street outside, trying to imagine the kind of life that the people who lived here would have led in days long ago?

Although the Glen Wills Hotel was not of the high luxurious standard of the Savoy Plaza, the dinner certainly was! A succulent, roast with vegetables and a big plate of stewed apples and custard for desert. After dinner we talked with the proprietor and his wife, telling them we had just been married and were on our way to our new SEC home in Mt Beauty.

I mentioned to the proprietor about the Cleve Cole tragedy and told him that I knew Bill Waters very well, but although he said he had taken part in the rescue, he did not seem to want to carry on the conversation any further, so we said goodnight and retired to our room.

Dilys wanted to know all about Cleve Cole, so that was her bed time story, of how Cleve Cole and his two companions, Mick hull and Howard Mitchell, became lost in a snowstorm on Mt Bogong. Howard Mitchell walked out along the Big River to near Glen Wills, where the local villagers and miners, formed a search and stretcher bearing party and brought Cleve Cole and Mick Hull out to the road, where they were taken to the Omeo hospital. Cleve Cole died, but the other two, although suffering badly from frostbite survived.

We survived the night too in our iron bedstead, waking the next morning to another fine day. We had a huge breakfast, payed the very reasonable bill and then with good wishes from the proprietor and his wife we resumed our journey along the road.

I wondered to myself as we drove along, if any other honeymoon couple in the space of only four days, could have stayed in such a variety of hotels, the very best-a typical country hotel-a gold rush, vintage hotel, worthy of heritage listing.

After driving along for about 10 km we came to Sunnyside, a sister, gold mining town similar to Glen Wills.


A view from the Glen Wills road with the snowdrifts on Mt Bogong just showing on the left skyline.

riving between Glen Wills and Sunnyside we had crossed the highest point in the road, which is sometimes closed during the winter, after a heavy fall of snow. As we drove along, I kept looking over my shoulder to see if I could see Mt Bogong and was rewarded at last when Mt Wills disappeared from our line of sight, I saw Mt Bogong high and bare of trees. I could just see a glimpse of snow on the ridge on the far distant skyline, so we stopped and I took a photo.
p<>{color:#000;}. The little we saw of Mt Bogong disappeared from view as we drove along toward the township of Mitta Mitta where we stopped for a drink and an ice cream. Continuing on along the river flats, we came to Tallandoon where we took the road across to Kiewa. We had lunch there looking across the road at a large building that advertised Kiewa Milk, on its side.

The gravel roads were now behind us, but we still kept to a steady 30 mph. I reckoned that by the time we reached Mt Beauty, the car should be nearly run in. More importantly however, was that Dilys was now a very, qualified driver of our Morris Minor GEZ 215, able to drive with confidence over all types of road surfaces and countryside It was one of the most intensive, driving, learning curve, that any first time driver of an unfamililar car could have experienced and my lovely wife came through with flying colours. After we passed through Dederang about halfway along the Kiewa Valley on the way to Mt Beauty, we could see the alps in the distance. This was ‘our valley’ the Kiewa Valley and now we couldn’t wait to get to our home in Mt Beauty at the southern end of the valley. As we drove along getting closer and closer to Mt Beauty, Mt Bogong together with Mt Arthur, the High Plains and Mt Fainter formed the background skyline.

Around 4 p.m. in the afternoon, we drove through the small town of Tawonga and passed the Bogong Hotel and the Tawonga Hospital on opposite sides of the road. Driving on up the long hill we came to the viewing point at the top of the hill where we stopped to admire the view of Mt Bogong and The Staircase Spur, but the summit and the top section of the Staircase was covered in cloud, which was a bit of a disappointment, so we only stopped there for a few moments, before we climbed back in the car and in no time at all, GEZ 215 approached the bottom gate at the entrance to Mt Beauty.

The gatekeeper lifted the boom and after he had waved us through, I asked Dilys to pull to the side and stop the car. I wanted to introduce her to the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper with a big smile welcomed her to the area and congratulated us both. I said to Dilys: ‘I am well known and the Minor too by most of the gatekeepers and am usually waved straight through. Before long you will be waved through too!” It was really good to be living in a gated community under the benevolent protection of the SEC, some rich people pay a lot of money to live in a secure, gated community, such as Mt Beauty!


9 Freeburgh Avenue front entrance and drive

directed Dilys to drive along Lakeside Drive and turn into Freeburgh Avenue, counting out the numbers until we came to a stop at number 9 in the early afternoon. Dilys drove the car into the drive and we both climbed wearily from the Minor. We had arrived at our new home on Wednesday 13th December, after driving 394 miles (630 km) from Melbourne. Dilys had driven the whole distance very well and I told her so, giving her a big hug and kiss and welcomed her to our new home.
p<>{color:#000;}. We got out of the Minor and I gave it a kindly pat for a job well done, as we walked hand in hand up the ramp to the front door.

I took the front door key from my pocket and opened the door with my wife at my side. I picked Dilys up and carried her across the doorstep, but she was a little heavier than I thought, so I put her gently down when I entered the passage!

Dilys quickly gave the house a good look over, especially her prized piano, which she said had been placed in the correct position, thank Heavens! We pulled up the blinds (no curtains as yet) and opened the windows.

We inspected the kitchen and our brand new, but empty fridge, which I turned on. We unpacked the car with everything still just as we had repacked it outside government house. We had a quick look around outside and then climbed back in the car and drove down to the shops to buy milk, bread and numerous other items to keep us going for the next few days.

Back from our shopping, I lit up the bath heater and we both had a lovely bath (not together) ridding ourselves of all the grime we had collected on the journey from Melbourne. After we were all clean and changed into clean clothes we relaxed in our new home for the rest of the day. I didn’t have to return to work until Monday, so as we still had four days of our honeymoon left, I suggested that after we had got the house organised, we should go a drive up the mountain to Rocky Valley. I decided to leave visiting falls Creek for a later date.

The next day after lunch we drove up the Upper Kiewa Valley Road (UKVR) past Falls Creek and Rocky Valley, where I stopped for a while to have a look at the progress on the building of the Rocky Valley dam.

The concrete core wall was c

The western end of the completed core wall Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro omplete, ready for the first level of the rock and earth fill to be put in place. This was wonderful to see, because I had not been to Rocky Valley since I left there last year to work on the crusher.
p<>{color:#000;}. We then continued on up the rough road, which led to Pretty Valley and leaving the main road, we took the alternate route around the side of the Ruined Castle Spur to the highest point of the road, where we stopped and climbed out of the Minor. There directly below us a short distance down the slope into Sun Valley was a snowdrift, all that was left of the big cornice that always formed there during the winter. Dilys was surprised that this snow drift was still there after the winter, so I told her that there were some place on the BHP where snow drifts lingered well into the autumn months, some even last until the next winter snows such as on Mt Nelse.


Looking down the partially completed penstock line

e returned to Mt Beauty down Road 24 being careful not to get in the way of trucks that were carting aggregate from the crusher up to Rocky Valley. Stopping at the headrace portal we admired the spectacular view of the penstock line: “It’s so steep and it is really wonderful to be able to lay a pipeline on such a steep slope,” Dilys commented in awe.”
p<>{color:#000;}. I said that the angle of the penstock line looks much steeper than it actually is. The slope varies in steepness as the pipeline descends. It is 30 degrees at its steepest at the top, and in some short sections it is nearly horizontal. Leaving the portal and penstock, we drove down Road 26 a short distance until we reached the crusher, where I got out of the car and said hallo to the blokes, telling them that I would be back on Monday.

Returning from our first tour ‘up top,’ I stoked up the wash house fire and did our first big wash in the copper; a job not greatly to my liking, but it had to be done. It was part of the responsibilities of married life. As an SEC employee the house was supplied with a free ration of firewood and briquettes, which was a great bonus.


December-January 1955

We met our next door neighbours, Eve and Bob Andreson, an SEC linesman and they welcomed us with open arms. Their house was on the side where the two front porches faced each other. They were great neighbours and helped us in many small ways to settle in.

We had a good look at the back garden and planted some vegetables in plots, including, carrots, potatoes, and silver beet. There was a crop of radish growing, which neither of us ate, left over from the last tenants. Up against our bedroom window however, there was a big bed of lovely strawberries, just coming into flower, so we looked forward to having them with ice cream when they ripened.

We had bought a cheap second hand lawn mower, which came up with the furniture, so I cut the small back and front lawns while Dilys tided up the front garden and planted some flowers. She urged me to return to my water colouring, so I set myself up in the lounge and played records while I painted and we soon settled into the life of a new, happily married couple in our home, with a view of Mt Bogong.

In 1947 took a black and white photo of the SEC cottage located between Wallace’s Hut and the Rover Scout Chalet and decided that I should make this my next watercolour, the first one as a married man.

The SEC cottage is part of the history of the KHES. It was built in 1933 for the snow research programme manager of the KHES The cottage even had a rough tennis court behind it! When I took the photo it was occupied by the Trimble family. Stan Trimble was an SEC meteorological observer, who lived there with his wife and two children. In 1946 the cottage was completely covered by snow and the pressure of the snow moved the cottage on its foundations. The Trimbles moved out in 1947 and the cottage was sold to Ski Club of Victoria (SCV) for £1. The SCV renamed it the Wilkinson Lodge after an early ski pioneer of the BHP and president of the SCV.


The SEC cottage (later named Wilkinson Lodge)

returned to work on the crusher on Monday, catching the bus from Mt Beauty to Howman’s Gap. During the summer months the bus continued on to Rocky Valley, but I, together with a few other blokes transferred into the side loading coach, which took us up Road 26, to the crusher and other worksites. I asked Dilys if she would like to pick me up in the Minor after work at Howman’s Gap, driving up the Upper Kiewa Valley Road for the first time by herself. She asked me: “Why can’t I do it every day?” I said it would cost too much, wear out the car and it was not necessary as I was happy going by bus each day for free. Besides she could have the car all to herself, during the day.
p<>{color:#000;}. She saw the logic in that, so when I got off the coach after work at Howman’s Gap, the next day, there she was, all smiles, waiting for me. I gave her a big hug and kiss to the amusement of some of the blokes nearby and climbed into the Minor for the journey home. The drive up the mountain was not only a big confidence test for her, but also for me, knowing that she had ability to drive on the road, not the smooth, bitumen surface, as it is today, but a rough, badly corrugated, winding road, sometimes laced with windrows, if a grader had been operating.

I enjoyed the bus journey, going up and down the mountain each day to work, with the other married men like myself who lived in Mt Beauty. The return journey back to Mt beauty at the end of the day was at times quite thrilling. There were usually two buses in convoy one behind the other, one with men from Rocky Valley and the other bus with men including myself who worked on the crusher, the headrace portal and McKay Creek.


A Bedford SB bus the same model as the SEC buses but they were painted grey Photo courtesy of Alan Maddock author of the book The People Movers he drivers kept to the 20 mph speed limit, the second bus following in the dusty wake of the bus in front. There were a couple of places, where it was possible for the following bus to catch up and pass the one in front, which made for an exciting journey but was never dangerous.
p<>{color:#000;}. The buses were driven by a team of wonderfully skilled drivers, Tommy O’Brien, Lennie Mann and the irascible ‘angry ant’, Rod McDowell, the transport workers union representative. The buses were ‘cab over’ SB Bedfords with CAC bodies, equipped with cross seating. I was amazed that I never saw one case of travel sickness during our daily bus journeys. We were like sailors on ships, immune to the movement of our conveyances, which in our case were the twists and turns of the UKVR, coupled with rapid braking and the sometimes violent shaking of the bus going over the many, bone and bus shaking, corrugations. It said much about the excellent design of these Bedford buses that they survived the daily journeys up and down the road without any structural or body defects. The engines and transmissions were also very sturdy and reliable, although it must be said that the buses were expertly serviced by SEC motor mechanics. During the time I travelled up and down the mountain the bus never broke down or even had a puncture.

Just before the Christmas break, I was transferred to base workshops in Mt Beauty where I worked on arrange of interesting jobs. I was not sure why I had been transferred. I never asked if this was the usual practice for newly married employees, but it could not have been better, but it was in fact because the crusher was closing down for the Christmas holidays. It couldn’t have been better, because I rode my bike the short distance to the workshops each day, and then back home for lunch.

We had Ore down to dinner before Christmas. He said he was not sure how long he would be in the area, as the headrace tunnel was nearly complete. He thought that he might go up to Falls Creek to look for permanent work there. I knew of course that he had already been helping Toni and Skippy on the ski-tow, so I told him that he should find plenty of work there, as Falls Creek was growing steadily as a ski resort. I didn’t of course have any holidays due over Christmas, so we decided to spend our first Christmas together in our new home quietly as a newly married couple still in honeymoon mode.

I played a few of my records and Dilys played a few tunes on her beautiful piano, which thankfully seemed to be in key. She had a drink of her favourite alcoholic drink, Pimms No. 1 Cup and I had a Scotch whisky, which was one of the Christmas presents we gave to each other each year from then on.

A few days after New Year’s Day, which we also celebrated quietly, Dilys remained in bed with stomach pains. The next day she saw the doctor in the medical centre in the township, while I waited outside. When she came out, I asked her what the doctor said and was very surprised to see her laugh and say: “The doctor told me I had caught the local disease!” She said when she asked the doctor what that was? He said: “You are going to have a baby!”

He suggested she should attend the pre-natal classes his wife was running for his patients. I did not know what to think or say, except that it was a wonderful surprise. After giving Dilys a great big hug and a big kiss, we got back in the car all excited and before we returned to our house, then drove back to the post office where we phoned our parents. They were very surprised, but were delighted with the news.

Mt Beauty had a basic range of shops, butcher, chemist, grocery store, post office, milk bar and news agency, but the prices were not cheap. We purchased most of our fruit and vegetables in a fruit and confectionary shop, just outside the bottom gate. The proprietor was a great bloke who seemed to take great joy in looking after the fruit and vegetable needs of a young married couple like us.

Many people in Mt Beauty went to Albury especially on long weekends to shop, so we decided to do the same.

On one Friday of a long weekend we drove along the beautiful Kiewa Valley Highway, a new driving experience for both of us except for driving along part of the Highway on our way to Mt Beauty on our honeymoon. I had been along the valley in a coach to and from Albury on previous occasions when I had hiked and skied on Mt Bogong.

After passing through the Victorian border town of Wodonga we crossed the Murray and arrived in the big New South Wales city of Albury. We shopped there at the first supermarket we had ever seen, Jacobs in Dean Street, which was quite a new experience. The prices were quite cheap, so we stocked up on a few essentials. We liked Albury, a big city with a great variety of shops.


Albury’s main street Dean Street drove the car up to the railway station where I watched steam locomotives from the VR and NSW standard gauge railways, chuffing around in the yards and afterwards we drove out to have a look at the Hume Weir, which neither of us had seen before and were impressed with the size of Lake Hume behind the dam. On the way home through Wodonga we visited a butcher we had been told about by our next door neighbours and purchased a side of two-tooth mutton. We enjoyed our drive and shopping excursion into Albury and resolved to shop there again.
p<>{color:#000;}. After spending three weeks working at base workshops and just before the Australia Day holiday I was moved back to the crusher, so it was off the bike and lunch at home and back on the bus. On the Australia Day I took my wife up to Falls Creek to attend a work party at the ski club. I don’t think I did much work that day, as I was too busy introducing Dilys to all the club members, especially Steph Martin, Alvie Wilmot and Peg Minty and then to all the male members of the club, Jack Smith who smiled broadly as only Jack Smith could.

When we told the ladies that we were going to have a baby, they were very surprised and happy for us both, wanting to know when the blessed event would be? We then walked up to the Nissen tow hut, where I introduced Dilys to Toni and Skippy, who were delighted to meet her. Ore was there too, busy doing odd jobs working for Toni and Skippy. Toni and Skippy were quite excited when we told them we were expecting. Ore was incredulous!


Peg Minty invited Dilys to come up to Bogong to play tennis on Saturday with the Bogong Tennis Club. I must admit that at first I was a little uneasy with the invitation, as Dilys would be playing with SEC staff wives and their husbands. I knew some of the SEC engineers through the ski club and now Dilys had met some of them there, so I overcame my doubts, and was happy for her to go and play there.


The Bogong tennis courts and club house beside the East Kiewa River

he next Saturday I drove my Dilys looking lovely in her tennis whites up to Bogong to play tennis and then I went on up to Falls Creek to work on the ski club. The tennis courts at Bogong were in a delightful setting, cut into the hillside beside the East Kiewa River, just below where the Pretty and Rocky Valley branches of the river joined the main stream, before entering Lake Guy.
p<>{color:#000;}. The tennis court was covered in a fine, local gravel that made a very good playing surface similar to an en tout cas court.

When I returned to pick Dilys up in the late afternoon, I asked her how she got on, not so much with her tennis prowess, but with the members. She said she had a lovely time, all the members of the club were very friendly towards her, so that made me very happy too.

She told me she talked to a dear, old lady, tennis player, who asked her about her husband: “What did he do in the SEC?” “He was an artist,” Dilys answered, because she really didn’t know what a fitter and turner was! We discovered later that the dear, old lady, was non-other than the wife of H.H.C. Williams the construction engineer in charge of the whole Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme!

The next Saturday and for some Saturdays thereafter, I drove the Minor up to Bogong and dropped Dilys off there, then drove around taking photos of possible scenes to watercolour, or going up to the ski club to help at work parties. At the end of the day I picked Dilys up and we drove home together both having had enjoyable Saturday afternoons.

The school at Bogong was a one-teacher school, the teacher being a brilliant man by the name of Bob Wingrave. I believe that anyone who could look after a whole school single handed, had to be brilliant, however Bob Wingrave was brilliant in other ways also. He was a photographer, who specialised in 35 mm Kodachrome colour photos. His beautiful photos of mountain scenery and wildflowers were used on postcards of the time, which had a wide circulation well beyond the Kiewa Valley.

The first time I met Bob, was when Peg and Bill Minty invited Dilys and me up for a slide night to view some of Bob’s photographs at their house. All the slides were magnificent examples of colour and subject. Bob told us how he would wait a long time to get the ideal light, before he actually snapped the shot. There was no doubt that Bob was a perfectionist, but like most slide nights I had been to, they invariably went on for too long with the result that when we left and drove back down to Mt Beauty late that night, I had one of the worst headaches I had ever had!


The Kiewa Valley from above Mt Beauty with Mt Stanley in the distance

he second watercolour I completed, as a married man was quite appropriately I thought, a view along the Kiewa Valley, our valley.
p<>{color:#000;}. Dilys was attending the medical centre at Mt Beauty and was told that her pregnancy was progressing very well. Betty Napier, who she met at the medical centre and was now her close friend, would be having her baby about three months ahead of ours. Later I met Betty’s husband Graham, a nice bloke who was a draftsman with the SEC. They lived in a larger house than ours, nearer to the centre of the town. Quite apart from the fact that both our wives were having babies, Graham and I had many interests in common, trains, hiking, the scouting movement and of course our wives who were about to become mothers.

As well as making friends with Betty and Graham Napier, our social life was improving all the time. We went to the SEC ball held in the large multi-purpose recreation hall beside the shopping centre in Mt Beauty. It was a grand occasion and we met many SEC couples, both staff and wages. We were sitting at a table with Charlie Jervis and his wife. Charlie was a brusque mannered, construction foreman, who called me ’Smitho’ on the job, however, I got on very well with Charlie, maybe because he was once a locomotive fireman, so we had a railway background in common. We also met a charming Englishman Lew Horne, and his wife Dorothy, who were later to become great friends too. I was pleased also when Dilys decided to join the Country Womens Association (CWA), which helped her to get to know more women in Mt Beauty and the Valley.


I was still working on the crusher, but was later transferred to a gang made up of two fitters and a boilermaker led by Alan Greenlees, a tall, amiable, mechanical foreman, who were working on the headrace portal bench.


A photo of our gang at the headrace portal after the first big snow fall L to R Alan, our foreman, Harry, Ernie and Peter ur gang consisted of myself, Ernie Henshaw a short, middle aged bloke, who wore a felt hat and horn rimmed glasses, Peter Nielsen a wiry bloke, of Norwegian ancestry and Harry Bell, a young tough boilermaker who played in the local football team. Ernie, Peter and Harry, were the same three blokes who helped me to dig my car out of the snow at Howman’s Gap, after the big snowfall.
p<>{color:#000;}. T

The headrace tunnel portal and the building of the valve house Photo GFS hey were a great gang to work with and we all got on very well together. We had a small workshop and mess room on portal bench and we were kept quite busy. I had joined this gang because it had been deemed unnecessary to have a permanent fitter stationed on the crusher, which was now only working on day shift. The crusher was not in need of too much maintenance except periodic lubrication and if anything did go wrong, anyone of our gang who was free would attend to the trouble.
p<>{color:#000;}. There was a lot of work going on around the headrace portal bench, construction was in progress on the pressure pipeline (penstock line) and its connection to the headrace tunnel portal by a system of valves to be housed in a large building.

The penstock line was making a long, ugly scar, down the side of Mt McKay that would remain there well after the penstock line had been completed, albeit to a lesser degree, but that does not worry or offend me. It is the visual sign of progress as are railway lines, roads and electrical transmission lines


Cross section diagrams of the penstock line and cross sections from L to R of the Valve house, Anchor block and Pressure shaft

he penstock line is formed from a series pipes welded together. The pipes are 2.74 m diameter at the top, branching into six smaller pipes, which enter No 1 Power Station and connect to the turbines. The pipeline is supported along its 1,635 m length, by ten concrete anchor blocks, as it descended steeply down the side of Mt McKay, a total fall (or head) of 1,500 ft (457 m). p<>{color:#000;}. While I was working at the portal a large, hydraulically actuated excavator, was brought up from base workshops to assist the NCK mechanical shovel load up the Barford tip truck to take the rock to the crusher. It arrived just before we had the first fall of snow and although a mechanic had come with it, he found that he could not get it started, although it had been driven off the low loader without any problem!

Our gang went down to offer help and suggestions, but to no avail. The excavator’s large diesel engine was started up with high pressure, compressed air, the usual method of starting large engines like this one, other than by a battery. There appeared to be a fault with the on board compressor, driven by a small auxiliary engine. The result was that the excavator remained where it was all winter, being gradually covered with snow!

I had not been elected as a committee member of the Bogong Ski Club this year, but that really did not disappoint me, as I had plenty of things to do to occupy my time. Falls Creek was a hive of activity with new lodges being built and the existing ones being maintained. Cecil Dobson, a carpenter who originally worked for the SEC, was building a store at Falls Creek, from which he expected to be able to supply some of the needs of the ski village.

During this Olympic year of 1956 there was great activity occurring in Melbourne, especially at the MCG, in preparation for the Olympic Games, commencing on the 22nd November, by which time we should have our new baby. As well as going to Albury to shop sometime each long weekend, we also went to Melbourne each month to see our families. We were quite unaware of all the work that was going on in Melbourne for this great period of Melbourne’s history. My father said that he would be purchasing a television set in time to see the games, so I thought that maybe we might go down to Melbourne when the games were on.


May was a very wet period in the north-east districts. We went to Melbourne during this wet period, just the two of us as we no longer took passengers. Due to flooding we had to take the Tarrawingee detour to get to Wangaratta, as well as having to be towed by a tractor through the short, deep flooded section, where the Ovens Highway met the Hume Highway on the north side of the city. This was all new and exciting for my wife who got a little scared at times as we travelled through the other flooded sections of the highway beyond Benalla.

We had a lovely view of Bogong from our house and could not wait to see Mt Bogong covered in snow in winter, but Mt Bogong took a long time to shake itself free of clouds after the first snow fall. When the cloud finally cleared away, Dilys was elated to see the snow on the summit for the first time.

The snow came early with the wet and cold weather and. there was plenty of snow for the Queen’s Birthday opening. I went up for the opening party, but Dilys stayed home because she was beginning to show real signs of our new baby.

Ore by this time had been to Tasmania for a short time with Utah Construction, but had returned and worked for the SEC at West Kiewa. He left there when the snow fell and the work finished, to join Cecil Dobson in his new venture at Winterhaven. Cecil and Ore were a strange combination, but a successful one. Cecil was by no means a handsome looking bloke, but he was a very hard worker and skilled carpenter. Ore on the other hand was a tall, elegant figure, whose appearance belied the fact that he was a hard rock miner and was not averse to hard work and getting his hands dirty. They decided to purchase a small Oliver crawler tractor, with the intention of providing an over snow transport service from Howman’s Gap to Falls Creek and around the village.


Cecil Dobson with the Oliver tractor he tractor was in good working order. They painted it bright green and added the name ‘Falls Creek Transport Service’ in clear white lettering to each side of the engine bonnet. Their tractor was the first over-snow vehicle to be operated in the Falls Creek ski village and it looked great.
p<>{color:#000;}. Cecil and Ore decided that the tracks needed widening to spread its weight more evenly over the snow and they asked me if I would do the welding for them, (no charge of course). Of course I was only too pleased to take on the job, so Cecil and Ore arranged to purchase the welding rods, all the plates and have them cut to size, ready to arc-weld to each grouser (track) plate. Fred Griffith and his charming secretary, Lorna Dunkley, arranged for the tractor to be transported to Fred‘s large property Toonaluck, on the other side of Albury. Fred was an Albury Ski Club member who played a big part in the initial development of Falls Creek, serving on many committees.

The first long weekend after the tractor arrived at the farm, Dilys, Ore, and I drove out to Fred Griffith’s property and with Ore’s help, I proceeded with the welding of around 70 or more extension plates to each grouser plate of the tracks. This was really the first time that Dilys had seen me at my trade and it upset her a little. This was not surprising because for anyone not knowing about the process of arc welding, it could be rather alarming. We slept in the shearer’s accommodation block and were fed lovely meals by Fred and Lorna. It took me the whole weekend to complete the welding, which was a little hard on my back, working along the tracks stretched out on the ground.

The winter of 1956 was a very heavy one, but our gang kept working at the portal all through the winter as Road 26 was kept clear of snow to the headrace bench. At times however, as before, it was considered too icy and dangerous for the coach to take us back to Howman’s Gap, so we had to walk the first part of the way down the road to meet the coach. The water supply to the screens worked better than last year as some improvements had been made to the supply that prevented the pipes freezing.

I had not been up to Falls Creek to ski during the season, except for the opening day, but I really didn’t mind, because I was expecting. One day I met Ore down at the shops in Mt Beauty and he told me the tractor was a great success, busily earning money conveying goods and people up the road from Howman’s Gap and around the village. He said the tractor had been nicknamed Leaping Lena, because of its tendency to buck a little. Ore suggested to me that next weekend if I drove up to Howman’s Gap with Dilys, he would take us up to Falls Creek for the day, so I arranged a time on the Saturday to meet him.


The Bogong Ski Club t was a cold overcast day when we drove up the mountain to Howman’s Gap with my skis on top of the Minor and my wife all rugged up against the cold. Cecil was there to meet us with the tractor. We climbed aboard the trailer sled and proceeded to be towed up the road by Leaping Lena, to the Bogong Ski Club.
p<>{color:#000;}. While I went for a ski on the Nissen tow, Dilys stayed by the fire. Because of the depth of snow, the guide pulleys of the were at the top of the masts, while in some places a furrow had to be dug under the tow rope where the snow had drifted.

We brought a cut lunch with us, which we ate in the Bogong Ski Club, after which it was time to return to Howman’s Gap, with Dilys towed behind Leaping Lena on the sled and me skiing on ahead.

It was a great day for us both and I was pleased to see that my welding had been efficacious, as I observed no bent or missing extension plates on the tracks!

As the time came near to the birth date that we had been told would be in late September, I wondered what being a father would be like, and what affect it would have on our lives. We did not care if it was a boy or a girl, we had no preference, except for it to be healthy. Of course, if it was a girl I hoped she would be beautiful like her mother and if a boy, handsome. Dilys’s friend Betty Napier had a son Barton born on the 4th July.

My father and mother came up to visit us for a short stay before the baby was due. It was the first time they had seen snow on the alps. They were really impressed by the beauty of the snow covered mountains above Mt Beauty and of course my father took many photos. We decided it would be wise to have the phone connected before the birth of our baby, so it was duly installed quickly and at no great cost, allowing us to relax as we could now phone the hospital for advice when the time came.

The lounge was where we relaxed at this time of the year, with a big briquette fire burning brightly in the fireplace, which made it lovely and comfortable. I did all my watercolouring set up on one side of the lounge, while my wife knitted for the baby. We had a small radio, but the reception was not very good, being plagued by interference from the power lines, so we played records a lot of the time.

I continued on with my watercolouring, which was a great joy to Dilys, who encouraged me to keep painting, although I wondered if I would get much opportunity to paint when our new baby came along, but I certainly hoped I would be able to find the time.


The Quarts Knob Spur on Mt Bogong from the UKVR

just managed to complete a watercolour of Mt Bogong and the Quarts Knob Spur from the UKVR, before the baby was born. The snow covered Quarts Knob Spur shown in the watercolour below, descends from the West Peak of Bogong. Bill Waters the leader of our hike, referred to this Spur as the ‘Divide Spur,’ when I descended it with him and our party of Rover Scouts in 1945. It is an apt name because the Spur descends to the Bogong Creek Saddle, then rises again to Timm’s Lookout, and is the watershed or divide between waters that flow into the Mitta Mitta River in the east, and the Kiewa River in the west.
p<>{color:#000;}. A few weeks before our baby was born, I drove down one afternoon to the Tawonga Hotel to buy some beer. On the way home, as I drove down the hill past the South Tawonga School, I was stopped by a policeman, just as I was about to pass Pyle’s garage. He said I had exceeded the 30 m.p.h. speed limit coming down and on to the flat. There wasn’t any speed cameras at that time, so it was only an estimation of my speed by the policeman, so. I said to him: “There’s no 30 m.p.h. speed limit sign back there!”

“Oh yes there is,” he said and although and I thought he was correct that I was doing more than 30 m.p.h., I was sure that if there had been one there it was certainly not there now, so I confidently said to him: “I’ll got back with you and you can show me where it is!” At that challenge he looked both sternly and then sheepishly at me, saying: “The sign has been removed for painting.”

Not to be outdone, he asked me for my licence, which I didn’t have with me, (which was not an offence at the time). He then instructed me to bring my licence and a £5 donation for the Tawonga Hospital to the police station and that would be the end of the matter.

I drove back home and told Dilys what had happened, so she said I had better go back straightaway and do as he asked. Five pounds was quite a lot of money out of our budget, but it was for a very good cause, especially at that time, so off I went back to the station where I showed my licence and passed over the five pounds.

I was in the clear, but as I was leaving, I turned to the policeman and asked him?

“When are you going to put back the sign?”

He looked straight at me and with great emphasis replied: “Don’t YOU worry about the sign, young man. I have TOLD YOU it is 30 m.p.h. OK!?” So suitably chastised I drove back home.

I was working at the head race portal as the last days of September came around and I wondered if this was really the month when our baby would be born, or if there was a miscalculation. However, I arrived home from work on Monday 24th and during the night Dilys thought things were beginning to happen, so about 3.30 a.m. in the morning I phoned the hospital.
They told me to bring her down right away, so I got Dilys together with her prepacked case into the car and off we went to the Tawonga hospital. I kissed her goodbye as the nurses took her away and drove back home after giving the hospital my phone number. The nurse told me to ring in the morning to see how she was getting on.

CHAPTER 27: I BECOME THE FATHER OF A LOVELY BABY GIRL Tuesday September 25th October1956

There was no word from the hospital before the morning, so I rang. The matron said that she did not think my baby would be born until the afternoon. As soon as I arrived home in the afternoon, I phoned the hospital to find out that I was the proud father of a girl, born about 3 p.m. that afternoon Tuesday 25th September. I climbed quickly into the car and sped off to the hospital. I was taken into the ward to see my wife and gave her a big kiss, then to the nursery where I held our little, black haired, baby in my arms and was sure, just with one look that she was beautiful. I must admit that many times when I have seen a newborn baby and everyone says, Isn’t he or she beautiful? More times than not I couldn’t agree, however mine was beautiful.

Back on the job the next day everyone congratulated me on becoming a father and when I arrived home, I went immediately to the hospital to see the two most wonderful and beautiful girls in my life, Dilys and Virginia.

In the background the snow covered summit of Mt Bogong looked magnificent rising up on the eastern skyline. I could not think of a better place for my first born to be brought into the world. My sister-in-law Val came up to give us a hand, and after about five days in hospital Dilys was back home with our new baby Virginia to look after. We installed the baby in our bedroom in a cot we had been given. My brother came and took Val home and we were back to coping on our own.

It was a great thrill to be with our baby, who at times screamed her head off, which Dilys said was mostly during the daytime while I was at work. Peg Minty came down from Bogong and did some ironing, which we were very grateful for. Our baby girl was a good baby. She really didn’t cry too much, because we never lost too much sleep, but those dirty nappies really kept us busy. Every weekend and many times during the week I stoked up the fire under the copper to clean our clothes and boil the nappies.

We took our baby girl to Albury to shop, a training trip for the long journey to Melbourne, when we first go down there to show the baby to all our relations. For the journey we put her in the cot on the back seat, or sometimes Dilys cuddled her in her arms in the front bucket seat. No safety harnesses in those days, safety was in the hands of us alone!

Later in the month, we made the first trip to Melbourne with Virginia, but unlike the Albury shopping trip we had to stop every now and again to attend to the her, so the journey took much longer than usual, however we all survived the drive down, arriving early the next morning. We travelled around on Friday and Saturday, showing off our lovely baby girl to all our relatives and friends, all of whom of course thought she was beautiful. The drive back home to Mt Beauty was without incident, as we were learning quickly how to travel comfortably with a baby in the Minor. Meanwhile back up the mountain the snow was melting quickly and fine sunny weather was beginning to take over.


My three weeks annual leave commenced in November, which coincided with the Olympic Games. We drove down to Melbourne staying there for about ten days at Rosanna with my parents, which was very enjoyable as we were able to see all of our relations again and show off our lovely baby daughter. All of our relations especially the grandparents were delighted to be with us and see how happy we were with our new baby girl. Being able to watch some of the Olympic Games on my father’s new TV, was quite a thrill for us both. My parents had a Stampco washing machine that was a boon for washing the nappies and this helped to make our holidays very enjoyable too, especially as I got a holiday from stoking up the copper.

When we returned to Mt beauty we spent the remaining days of my leave doing innumerable tasks around the house and in the garden, tending to the baby and of course being a slave to the copper, washing nappies and clothes.

I learned (probably from my parents), that a watercolour exhibition was being held by the Yorick Club in Melbourne, so I decided to mail two of my watercolours of snow scenes down to Melbourne to exhibit, to see if I could sell them. This I thought would also give me an idea if my paintings were of any value in the art world of Melbourne. The Yorick Club was a club for men interested in art, science and literature and was named after the court jester in Hamlet.


A burnt snow gum and the Spion Kopje

Burnt snow gums on the Frying Pan Spur

he paintings I sent down to the Yorick Club were two of three winter scenes that I had painted before I was married. I used as subjects for the watercolours, black and white photos I had taken from the top of the Frying Pan Spur during the winter. We would have gone to Melbourne to see the exhibition, but I only found out about the art show a short time beforehand and it did not fall on a long weekend. I put a price of 7 guineas (7 pounds 7 shillings) on them both and waited to see the result. One sold at the exhibition and I sold the other locally with the result that I have no copy of either of these, except the black and white photos, shown above, but one day I hoped to make watercolours of them both together with a few more snow and snow gum scenes like those.
p<>{color:#000;}. Our ‘parental learning curve’ suffered a severe jolt a few weeks before Christmas when we went shopping in Albury. It was a very hot day and stupidly, we left Virginia in the car with the windows closed to keep the flies away, while we shopped. When we returned to the car, parked just outside the shop and opened up the car door, we saw that our baby was in real trouble. She was suffering and screaming from heat stress and her face was all red! I ran back into the shop to get some water after quickly opening all the doors and windows while Dilys tried to sooth, fan and comfort her. After a drink of water, Virginia calmed down enough for us to drive to the top of the monument on the hill above Dean street, where Dilys breast fed her. We drove home suitably chastised, a little further up the parental learning curve.

There were occasions when we went a drive over the Bright Gap to Bright for the day there to do a little shopping, as prices there were a bit cheaper than Mt Beauty, but not as cheap as Albury or Wodonga. When we made the journey over the very rough, corrugated, dirt road, with its multitude of sharp bends, Dilys held the baby in her arms, as the cot would not have been very stable on the back seat, quite unlike when we went to Melbourne when we had cases helping to keep the cot in place.

My parents came up to spend a fortnight with us after Christmas for my father’s annual leave. My mother was a great help to Dilys, and my father took many photos of the baby and us for the record, as well as touring around the area in the car with my mother.



A mechanical shovel operated by wire ropes Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

arly in the New Year our gang at the McKay portal was transferred to Rocky Valley. I had not driven up there on many occasions since I last worked there and was surprised to see how quickly the work on the dam was proceeding. The core wall had been installed; and. the earth and rock fill was just beginning to be placed in the excavation.
p<>{color:#000;}. Many other construction projects connected with the dam were proceeding well too, the offtake structure where the water from the dam would enter the headrace tunnel, the spillway shaft as well as other smaller items. Our gang and others at Rocky Valley were kept busy attending to the maintenance and repair of bulldozers, mechanical shovels and many other items of plant and equipment.

These were the days before oil hydraulics became an integral design component of every type of earth moving equipment, as well as many other mechanical machines. The operation of bulldozers, mechanical shovels, front end loaders and other items of earth moving equipment were by means of over-centre clutches, which controlled the various movements by wire ropes.

This involved the seemingly never ending job of adjusting clutches, replacing or repairing the wire ropes, although it was all interesting and rewarding work.

It was a big, heavy and time consuming job to alter the tilt or angle of an Allis Chalmers HD19 bulldozer blade, the largest and most common bulldozer on the KHES. A large modern day bulldozer of the same size fitted with oil hydraulics, can adjust the tilt, angle and height of the blade instantly and variably by hydraulic cylinders (rams) controlled by small hand levers.


An HD19 wire operated bulldozer clearing snow at Rocky Valley The wires are carried in the A-frame above the bulldozer Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

had been told that the SEC did have a couple of bulldozers with a hydraulically operated blade, but all other adjustments had to be done manually, but I didn’t see one of these while I worked at Kiewa.
p<>{color:#000;}. The Aveling Barford tip truck at the crusher and the excavator, which was brought up to the portal to help load rock for the crusher, were the first examples of hydraulic power and control I had seen at Kiewa, but sadly I never saw the excavator operate, because it could not be started! Hydraulic rams, were fitted to most tip trucks of the day to raise and lower the truck’s tray.

Some years after I left the SEC, many types of earth moving equipment, which were hydraulically operated began to make an appearance, not only on earth moving sites but also in many other areas of civil construction. Except for very large mechanical shovels, the wire rope operated mechanical shovels were replaced by fully, hydraulically actuated and controlled machines, called ‘excavators’, similar to the one that we couldn’t start up at the headrace. The modern, ubiquitous, excavator and its many derivatives such as back hoes, front end loaders and the like, are manufactured in a range of sizes and are without doubt, some of the most versatile items of earth moving equipment at the time of writing.

Many years later before I retired, I taught hydraulics and pneumatics (Fluid Power) at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne

I made a point of telling my hydraulics classes about the operation of bulldozers and other items of earth moving equipment before the advent of hydraulics, which revolutionised the whole industry. Most of my students had never seen, nor could they imagine, a large bulldozer with its blade being raised and lowered by a wire rope! These and other examples of industry without the aid of hydraulics served to give my students a greater appreciation of the subject they were studying.


Snowdrifts in Rocky Valley here were still a few snowdrifts left after the heavy winter dotting the slopes, with wild flowers in bloom amongst the snow grass. We operated from the large workshop on a bench above the dam and batching plant. During my lunch hour and other spare moments I commenced building a heater for the Minor, which I hoped to have completed before next winter. It was a very simple design, which I copied from an English car magazine. It consisted of a funnel attached tightly against the top of the radiator core clear of the fan. A large hose connected this to a hole I cut in the firewall of the car above the brake, clutch and throttle pedals. The flow of hot air was controlled by a butterfly valve inside the pipe attached to the hole in the firewall.
p<>{color:#000;}. To make a little extra cash, I had decided to follow the illegal example of many of the other men and commence collecting scrap copper in all sizes and lengths, left lying around the various construction sites. When I had collected enough to fill a hessian bag, I intended to sell this to scrap merchants when we went to Melbourne or Albury.

Virginia was developing into a black haired, brown eyed, lovely little, baby, girl and with her, we made monthly journeys to Melbourne and the usual shopping trips to Albury, once a month too. We had become skilled (or I should say Dilys had) in looking after and tending to Virginia in the car when we went on these journeys and Virginia seemed to enjoy travelling in the Minor.


We acquired new neighbours on the opposite side of our house to the Andresons, a nice young foreign couple, Jutta and Rudi Korne. Jutta came from Austria and her husband Rudi from Germany. Jutta and my wife got on very well together. Jutta really loved Virginia and I was very happy to have an Austrian so close, especially as Jutta was not only Austrian, but also lived near Vienna. We talked a lot together about the wonderful time I had spent in Austria, including the fortnight I lived in Vienna, backpacking in 1952. I was able to practice my German on both Jutta and Rudi. My wife didn’t speak any German, but she helped Jutta learn English, through French, which each of them had some knowledge.

I loved to listen to Jutta when she spoke her own language with her beguiling Viennese, waltz time, accent, the best accent in my opinion of spoken Deutsch.

Rudi was a welder and boasted that he was the best welder on the Kiewa Scheme. He was also a hunter, hunting up along Mountain Creek and Trapper’s Gap near the bottom of the Staircase Spur. One day he came in to our house very excited and asked me to come in and identify an animal he had shot, because he had never seen one like it before. I followed him into his yard where he pointed to his wash house door. There, nailed to the door, was the skin of a platypus drying in the sun!

I nearly died, especially when he said he was going to take it down the street to show to his mates and ask them what it was. We told him it was a platypus, a protected animal-and in no uncertain terms-I told him to take the skin off the door right away and hide it until he could get a chance to burn it. Furthermore on no account, was he to tell anyone what he had caught, or he could be in trouble.

He still did not appear to understand what he had done wrong and that he could be fined or jailed for shooting a platypus!

At last with all our help and with Jutta translating from Australian to German, Rudi realised what the problem was. I myself was not sure which native animals were protected at that time, but I certainly knew that the platypus and wombat were two of them. He was very lucky that I was the first person to view the evidence of his shooting skill!

My wife and I were on a steep parental learning curve so it was important that Rudi embarked on an ‘Australian fauna learning curve’ very quickly! Sometime later I was able to find a book on Australian animals with a photo of a platypus including its wonderful scientific name, ornithorhynchus paradoxis. The book however, did not show which animals were protected, but I left Rudi to find that out for himself. We became great friends with Rudi and Jutta, and corresponded with them for many years, after we had all left the SEC.


I was transferred from Rocky Valley to McKay Creek workshop in early May, just prior to the first light falls of snow. Although the dam site looked a bit of a mess, the work on the dam wall was progressing well. The rock and earth fill for the base of the dam was complete, above which successive layers of compacted earth and rock fill would be placed to form the dam wall

In some ways I was sorry to leave Rocky Valley for a number of reasons. I loved working on the BHP with its wide variety of jobs and of course the High Plains scenery. I would also lose my altitude allowance, although small, it certainly helped our budget. One of the advantages for me as a mechanical fitter on the Scheme, was that I enjoyed being shifted around to different worksites to work on various construction projects The McKay Creek workshop where I was transferred to was situated on a bench above the tailrace tunnel that had so far, only been bored a short way into the mountainside.


The McKay Creek camp and the power station workings below Photo GFS ur gang together with other fitters and tradesmen were responsible for servicing all the mechanical equipment used in the construction work going on around the workshop, which included a lift shaft being sunk on the top bench, to provide access to the underground power station.
p<>{color:#000;}. One day I while I was working in the workshop, I felt a tap on the shoulder and a voice said: “Hi Nank.” Nanki Poo was the nickname that I had acquired and which I was known by in the Rover Scouts and YHA. Without turning around I knew the voice, There was my old smiling friend Jack Smith who had come into the workshop. He was working on the bench above and said he would only be there about ten days before he was going back to the Dederang switchyard to work. I had not seen Jack since he called in to see me just after Virginia was born. He said he did not get to Falls Creek many times last winter, neither did I, I told him.

Jack said that the Dederang switchyard was being built to connect the power from the Snowy Scheme and the Kiewa Schemes together. He also said that his father had retired and been ill, but he was now better. I knew Jack’s father Alec very well, he was a boilermaker at the Newport workshops while I was working there.


A T model Ford similar to Jack’s father’s T model

ack told me his father had driven his T Model Ford from Melbourne up to Mt Beauty where he was staying. Jack invited me to have a ride in the Ford, which he said he was going to drive up the mountain to McKay Creek, in the morning, so I was sure I was not going to miss out on that experience. I told Dilys all about the T Model Ford and meeting Jack Smith again and said I would be leaving early and coming home late. She thought it would be a great experience for me.
p<>{color:#000;}. So the next morning, instead of taking the bus I met Jack and his father, who greeted me warmly: “How are you going Smithy? Gunna take a ride in my old girl eh? She won’t let you down!”

Jack and I climbed into the T Model and with a wave we were off up the mountain. I was intrigued by the Ford’s system of epicyclic, semi-automatic, gear changes. It was a very cold morning as we sat high up under the T Model’s high canvas hood. Going through the top gate, we got a great salutation from the patrolman as he opened the gate and waved us through. “ Good luck to you,” he yelled out. It had snowed overnight so that when we were about 3 km below Turnback Creek we were driving through about 8 cm of snow.

I thought to myself, this is really going to be interesting, but the ‘old girl’ T Model Ford with its very thin tyres, just cut through the soft snow down to the dirt road with no fuss. We reached work safely and on time, because we had started out about an hour earlier than the buses. I told Jack that the ride reminded me of the first time I had come to the BHP in an old Chevrolet with the Rover Scouts in 1945.

The ride home after work was equally as unique and thrilling as the drive up the mountain. We had to take it very slowly, as the braking system on the car was not really designed for a 3,000 ft descent on a rough, gravel road. Every vehicle which passed us going both up and down, pulled over to the side and tooted their horns loudly, but we did not have to contend with the buses, as we had waited until well after they had all left. We arrived safely back at Jack’s father’s place, where I had a cup of tea. I agreed most whole heartedly with his father, ‘that she was a great car.’

I had only worked about a week or so in the workshop when I was approached by our senior foreman ‘Snow’ White, who asked me if I would be prepared to take on a rotating shift job of tunnel fitting on the tailrace tunnel. He told me the shifts were each of ten days duration, day, afternoon and night (‘doggy), with four days off at the change of shift.

I said that yes, I would take on the job, but would like to ask my wife first, to see if she was agreeable. Dilys was quite happy for me to take it on as it had certain advantages for us both. I would be at home a lot in the daytime, plus the change of shift from day to afternoon would give me a break of nearly five days. I would also get a tunnel allowance, which would replace the altitude allowance that I had lost when I moved from Rocky Valley. The altitude allowance of two shillings an hour was paid to any worker who worked above 5,000 ft in the summer and 4,000 ft in the winter.

Then I learned that there was a catch to the proposition. Except for the commencement and completion of a ten-day shift, no daily transport was provided to Mt Beauty for shift workers, I would be expected to sleep and eat at the McKay Creek camp! Of course I was not prepared to do this, so I would have to drive up and down in the Minor each day. The reason a bus was provided for transport to Rocky Valley, was that many married men, like me who lived at Mt Beauty, did not want to live in the camp. T

Lew Horne my tunnel foreman Photo GFS

hey wanted to go home each night, and at the time there was only day shift working at Rocky Valley.
p<>{color:#000;}. I drove the Minor up on Monday to commence work on day shift at the tailrace tunnel and reported to my new boss, tunnel foreman Lew Horne, a tall Englishman with a moustache and a great sense of humour, who I had met at the SEC ball.

Lew introduced me to our senior foreman Harry Zieball, who shook my hand warmly. He was a large, strongly built bloke, who I thought had a kindly countenance, quite different from the type of man he was reputed to be.


Senior foreman Harry Ziebell Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro arry Zieball was Kelly’s brother, my boss when I first worked on the crusher. I had heard so many unflattering tales about Harry, how he was a very hard bloke with a loud voice, who tolerated no nonsense on the job.
p<>{color:#000;}. In all the time I worked under Harry we got on well together and I found him to be a very likeable bloke. He referred to me as ‘Smitho.’ Yes, he had a loud voice, but that was a necessity for a senior foreman on a tunnel boring project.

Harry was another example of my philosophy of not prejudging a person on other people’s perceptions of good or bad, but to make up my own mind about a person’s character when I met them.

I was outfitted with tunnel clothing, which consisted of a pair of cream coloured, rubberised, waterproof trousers and coat, a pair of gumboots with steel toe caps and a hard hat, with a bracket on the front to hold a head lamp when I worked in the tunnel.

I already had waterproof trousers and coat and a pair of steel capped gumboots from the time I worked on the concrete pump, but they were nearly due for replacement, so I was thankful for the new set. The gumboots were always replaced without any fuss when they were worn out, but now I had a spare pair to use at home.

The bracket on the front of the hard hat held a headlamp, which was connected to a steel lined, battery box, by a wire that ran down the wearer’s back. The battery box was strapped around the waist by a strong leather belt. Safety glasses were provided, but no ear muffs! That together with the time I spent in the railways, is why in my old age I have hearing aids for both ears. I had a small but adequate workshop outside the tailrace portal and next to my workshop, there was a building staffed by a battery attendant, who was responsible for recharging the head lamp batteries.

When I started work at the tailrace tunnel it had only been bored in about the length of a cricket pitch. A set of rails had been layed from the tunnel to a bench above the bank of the Pretty Valley Branch of the East Kiewa River, which was quite a sizeable stream at that point.

The rock bored and blasted from the tunnel was loaded into side tipping trucks by a compressed air operated Emco loader (or mucker). This machine had a bucket that could be rotated sideways in a limited arc, to scoop up the rock spoil, and load it into a dump truck behind, where it was hauled away by the battery l

A battery loco

ocomotive and the spoil unloaded down the bank of the river. The battery driven locomotive, which hauled the dump trucks in and out of the tunnel, had its battery sets charged and changed in the same building as the head lamp batteries.
p<>{color:#000;}. The first ten days of the shift passed very quickly. I knocked off work at 4 p.m. at the end of day shift and did not have to return until 4 p.m. on afternoon shift in four day’s time. We went shopping at Albury during the long break as well as a doing a lot of work around the house, which of course included boiling up the copper, a never ending job.

Back on the job on afternoon shift I was thoroughly enjoying working as a tunnel fitter. Every day, the result of each day’s shift work could be seen, as the tunnel was bored further and further into the mountain.

The operational plan for each shift consisted of boring a number of holes in the face with rock drills, to a depth of a drill steel (about 2 metres). Just prior to the half shift, meal break, everyone was moved out of the tunnel and well clear of the tunnel portal.

The drill holes in the face were then loaded with gelignite and detonators, which were wired together with small fuse wire and brought out to a safe location, where they were connected to the firing box. A whistle was blown and the charge was ignited, which exploded with a great roar.


A cartoon showing how an air leg supports a rock drill as it drills into the rock face Courtesy of Atlas Copco

fter the meal break the face was inspected to ensure that all the charges had been detonated. Any loose rock was barred down, before the broken out rock was loaded on to the dump trucks As soon as enough of the rock spoil had been removed to allow access to the face, drilling of the face commenced again. Just prior to the end of each shift, the face was loaded and fired, ready for the next shift to take over, and remove the rock spoil.
p<>{color:#000;}. So the boring of the tailrace tunnel proceeded continuously from shift to shift. It was a very exciting time for me in my trade. My job as a tunnel fitter was looking after a large air compressor, which supplied compressed air to all the tools used in the tunnel. My main job however, was the repair and maintenance of the rock drills, jack hammers, and their associated equipment such as lubricators, air hoses and air legs, a pneumatic device for supporting the weight of a rock drill as it drilled into the tunnel face.

There were about ten men on our shift, a mixture of Italian, Irish and German, plus a couple of Englishmen. I got on famously with my tunnel foreman Lew Horne. The purpose of the tailrace tunnel was to carry the water back into the river after its energy has been spent spinning the turbines in the underground power station. It was very disappointing that this 1,000 foot head of water would then flow down the Pretty Valley Branch of the East Kiewa River, completely wasted as a source of hydro-electric power, not being put to use again until it entered No. 3 power station below Lake Guy.

The tailrace tunnel when complete, would also provide access to the power chamber to bring in the turbines and other equipment that would not fit down the lift shaft. The slightly concave floor of the tailrace tunnel when completed, would be 5 3m high, 5 2m wide and measure 233m long, from the portal to where the tunnel entered the power chamber 60 m below the ground level of the bench above.

Lew Horne my foreman approached me with a proposition. He asked me if I would consider taking himself and the two Englishmen Charlie and John, who were on our shift up and down from Mt Beauty each day in the Minor. Lew said that they would all put in for the petrol expenses plus a little for me to make a profit. Lew and the other two blokes all had wives in Mt Beauty, but were staying in the camp at McKay Creek, only returning home at the end of the ten-day shift. They saw this as an opportunity to go home each day for little cost. I thought it over and told Lew that I was happy with his proposition, so we came to an agreement about how much each would pay.

So each day the fully loaded Minor, climbed up the mountain in all sorts of winter weather. Sometimes there was a little snow on the road, but we got through OK, and if I was late for work so was my boss! I discovered later that actually I was not really making a profit on the deal, as I was sure that with the extra load on the car I used more petrol, wore the tyres out faster, as well as the Minor!


A view of Mt McKay Portal and the pipeline from Clover Flat on the UKVR

Mt Mckay and the penstock line from Clover Flat on the UKVR

t was always exciting driving up the road in the daylight and rounding the corner where you got the first wonderful view of Mt McKay and the penstock line in the distance, so I decided it was worth a watercolour.
p<>{color:#000;}. Despite the fact that I was sure I was not making a profit on the arrangement, I enjoyed the company and we had great fun on the way up and down. Every now and again when we got a puncture, we had a very quick and efficient method of changing the tyre. The jack was already wound out to the correct height, so while I held it in place, the other three simply lifted the car up and placed it on the jack. While I was taking off the wheel they would get the spare out, and the process was reversed as I put the spare on. When I got home, I of course was the one who had to repair the tube ready for taking the car to work the next day! I should have considered contacting the Morris Minor agents and suggesting an advertisement be made about our daily trip up the mountain in the Minor, but once again I never put my thoughts into action.

Dilys and I adjusted quite quickly to the rotating three shift life. Night shift was the only shift where there was really a change from the normal sleeping time. As soon as I arrived home about 8.45 a.m., I would have my breakfast, and if there was nothing that needed doing around the house, I would climb into bed, usually going straight off to sleep. Afternoon shift was just like having a late night for ten days at a time, I would go straight to bed after I arrived home at 12.45 a.m.

I saw a lot more of Virginia growing up too, as she quickly passed through the crawling to the walking stage. There was another benefit too, if I could call it that. When I was on afternoon or nightshift (‘doggie’), I was able to light the copper and do a wash in daylight hours.


Dilys went to the doctor one day early in July while I was on day shift. When I arrived home, she told me she had something important to tell me. I noticed that she had a lovely glint in her eyes and a special look on her lovely face that I had seen once before. I asked her what was the important news? I think I knew what her answer was going to be, before she looked up at me and said: “Guess what?”

“What?” “We’re going to have another baby!”

I gave her a big hug and a kiss and asked her when our next one was due?

“Sometime in January, but when, the doctor wasn’t sure.””

We decided not to tell anyone because in a couple of days it was the end of day shift and we had already planned to go to Melbourne and we would break the happy news to everyone in Melbourne then. On the drive down to Melbourne, Dilys said that now we were going to have another baby, we should see if we could get another house, one with a hot water service. We decided that as soon as we got back home, we would write a letter to apply for a house with a hot water service at Mt Beauty.

I had at last finished the car heater I was making and on this trip to Melbourne it was the first time I could really try it out on a cold night drive. Just after we left Wangaratta I turned on the heater by pulling a little lever on the dash that allowed hot air flowing through the radiator to come into the car. The problem was that the air was cold, not even a little warm! Dilys called out to me to turn it off and I certainly did, because, my heater was a complete failure! ‘Back to the drawing board,’ but it was a big disappointment for me.

When we arrived at my parent’s place late that night, we told them the news (not of the failure of my heater), but that we were expecting again, so they were very happy for us and of course wanted to know when? During the weekend we did a lot of ringing around to tell all our relations and friends the news.

Virginia enjoyed the trips to Melbourne, seeing her cousins and her grandparents was a great source of pleasure for her. Watching the television at night was most enjoyable for us all.

On the drive home I never attempted to try out the heater again. I realised that short of buying one, I would have to make another heater Mark 2, to a different design. Back at Mt Beauty after the weekend, we told the Napiers that we were expecting, and they too were thrilled with the news. We also told Peg Minty and our next door neighbours on both sides that we were going to have another baby. They too were very happy for us.

At work after the weekend, when I told Lew the news he looked at me with a great smile on his face and with a `twitch of his moustache, uttered his favourite phrase: “Well there you go.” I also told Lew that we were looking for a larger house with a hot water service, so he said he would ‘keep his ear to the ground’ and let us know if he knew of anyone who was leaving Mt Beauty.

Lew and his wife Dorothy and their three children were great friends, and we visited each other’s houses regularly. Lew was a wonderful character, with an infectious sense of humour, which he put to a good cause by running Punch and Judy shows around the area. On one occasion when his wife Dorothy was unable to do Judy, Dilys took over the role with Lew, amid much laughter behind the scenes.

On our return from Melbourne, we composed a letter requesting a shift to a larger house in Mt Beauty with a hot water service, saying that we were expecting another baby in January. Some weeks passed before we were contacted and asked to collect the keys and inspect two houses that were vacant.

Lew said he would come along with us to give us his opinion, for which we were very grateful. The outcome of our inspection was that they were both unsuitable. We asked to be notified when any others houses became vacant.

Meanwhile back at McKay Creek, the tailrace tunnel was advancing steadily, which brought extra items of equipment for me to look after, such as compressed air rotary water pumps (‘whirlies’). The railway line for the dump trucks also had to be lengthened as the tunnel was bored deeper.

I was asked to go up to the workshop to have a look at a machine that was to be used in the tailrace tunnel, after the tunnel was bored out a little further. I walked up the hill to the workshop and there inside was a large machine looking like a prehistoric monster. It was in fact a Conway Loader or ‘jumbo’ as it was called. A large electric motor, powered the Conway and my task was to learn all about how it operated! The Conway loader’s powerful electric motor derived its power from a large diameter, armoured cable connected to a power supply at the entrance to the tunnel. The Conway Loader was fitted with flanged wheels and had a conveyor mounted high above the rear end, which extended two dump truck lengths behind the machine.


The Conway loader on display in Mt Beauty Photo Donald Smith

A full length view of The Conway on display at Mt Beauty Photo Donald Smith

o enable the Conway to scoop up the rock spoil, the bucket could be swivelled sideways in an arc, while the Conway moved forward and backwards on the rails. The loaded bucket could then be rotated vertically above and behind, to empty its contents on to the conveyer belt, which discharged the rock spoil into the dump trucks.
p<>{color:#000;}. All of these movements were controlled by a series of clutches. Maintenance was required to keep the clutches properly adjusted and periodic greasing of the moving parts of which there were many. These were the main items which were to keep me well occupied when the Conway was brought down to the tailrace tunnel after it had been overhauled.

As it was being overhauled at the workshop, I was asked to walk up to the workshop every now and again and familiarise myself with the machine, so that I learnt most of what I needed to know about it, before it was installed on the rails in the tailrace. This however was not planned to take place for at least a month.

My work as a tunnel fitter at the tailrace was quite absorbing, watching the tunnel being bored deeper into the mountain. I had to go into the tunnel only when some item needed to be repaired, which could not be brought outside to the workshop. Much of the work was on the repair and maintenance of jackhammers, (rock drills) which I carried out in the workshop. I would always have on hand a number of replacement rock drills, to take into the tunnel to replace a faulty drill. The drills were quite heavy so the idea was to load a couple on the loco to take them into the tunnel and leave them there on standby.

One maintenance task that I was not required to do, was the sharpening of the very hard, tungsten carbide, inserts in the end of the drill steels. These were sent away to the workshops be resharpened on a special grinding machine, which s

A tungsten carbide insert in a drill steel Diagram courtesy of Atlas Copco harpened and reformed the shape of the worn insert, or replaced the insert if necessary.
p<>{color:#000;}. At times I would have nothing to do, so I would read or work on jobs for myself such as the heater I was making for the car. When I was idle this meant that there were no problems in the tunnel, but when there was a hold up due to a faulty item of equipment in the tunnel, I had to move quickly to repair the fault to keep the boring of the tunnel advancing non stop

Virginia’s first birthday came around and she was walking and saying many words. My parents came up to spend this significant date with us. After Virginia’s birthday, my parents returned home, having had a very enjoyable two weeks with us, but during this time there were no more offers of vacant houses.

One Saturday, when Dilys began playing tennis at Bogong again, Peg Minty told her that very soon a nice house was becoming vacant at Bogong and we should apply for it. So straight away we wrote a letter saying that we had been told that a house was becoming vacant at Bogong and could we have it? Simple as that!

The reply came very quickly and the answer was yes. It would be allocated to us, but we would have to wait for three weeks, until the present tenants moved out. The house was designated as House 44 Bogong, but later was renumbered 8. It was the last house on the top bench.

We were very excited with the good news and also the location of the house in the village. Dilys and I both knew Graham and Pat Teese who were living in the house. Graham was a civil engineer. They told us they were shifting further along the bench, to a larger house that was becoming vacant. They kindly invited us to have a look at the house they were vacating, which was the one we had applied for. We were very happy with what we saw and could not wait for the day to come when we could move in. We couldn’t wait to tell all our friends about our luck in getting a house at Bogong. Lew Horne was very happy for our good fortune, saying he would organise a furniture remover for us when the time came to shift and to get ready for the move. To get ready to make the shift to Bogong, we commenced packing all our things in tea chests, some of which were left over from the time when the goods were brought up from Melbourne.

Moving up the mountain to Bogong meant that we would not be just around the corner from our best friends Graham and Betty Napier. However, as both Dilys and Betty drove cars, trips up and down the mountain to see each other would still be possible. Later after we shifted to Bogong it became a bit of a joke, because Dilys would use any excuse to drive down the mountain to see Betty, such as the need to buy half a pound of butter in Mt Beauty, instead of in the shop at Bogong where it was a little dearer. Of course the cost of petrol was not taken into account!

CHAPTER 33: MOVING UP THE MOUNTAIN TO BOGONG October-November-December 1957

When the OK for our move up the mountain to Bogong was approved in early October, the shift could not have happened at a better time, with regard to my future working life on the Kiewa Scheme. We were certainly going to miss our next door neighbours on both sides of us who had been so very good to us. anything, sometimes people just don’t take good advice.


A view of Little Bogong and Mt Bogong from across the golf course

efore we made the shift to Bogong I managed to paint a watercolour of snow covered Mt Bogong from across the golf course
p<>{color:#000;}. Going back to the episode of the platypus skin, when Dilys went in to see Rudi and Jutta one day just before we move up to Bogong, she came back from with the surprising news that, far from burning the skin, they had it spread out on the floor of their passage! I decided not to say anything, sometimes people just don’t take good advice.

At last in early October, the Teeses finally shifted to their new house along the bench, and we were notified that we could move in. We knew beforehand exactly when that was going to be, because the Teeses had kept us informed! Lew Horne organised an SEC transport driver Doug Pigram a mate of his who had a truck to move all our furniture up to Bogong. I had met Doug before on the job and so it was all arranged. Lew helped Doug with the shift telling Dilys and me to drive up to Bogong and open up the house ready for the truck when it arrived.

We said goodbye to 9 Freeburgh Avenue, which held very happy memories for us and got Virginia to wave a last goodbye as we climbed into the Minor for the journey up the mountain to our new home. And so it was that neither of us saw our goods and furniture being loaded on the truck, until the truck arrived at our new house, when we got a bit of a shock to see it was just a tip truck piled high with our furniture! More surprising and concerning, especially from Dilys’s point of view, was that her precious piano, was standing on its side, lashed with rope. Dilys, now eight months pregnant, went inside the house and turned her back, as she didn’t want to watch the piano being unloaded.


The top bench, our house is the last house Photo GFS watched Lew and Doug unload the piano, becoming a little concerned myself, as they turned the piano over a couple of times, before bringing it into the house and placing it where Dilys directed them. At last when it was all unloaded and the large furniture pieces were placed in their correct positions, Dilys made a cup of tea for us all. After we had paid Lew and Doug and thanked them for shifting us so quickly and cheaply, they left us with some sorting to do before we could relax in our new home.
p<>{color:#000;}. The iron-framed piano was eventually retuned when the tuner came up for the official tuning of all the pianos at Bogong.

House 8 Bogong, our new number, was built on a bench cut into the mountainside. Directly behind the house a steep batter rose up, well above roof level to the UKVR further up. All the houses on our bench were cut deeply into the side of the mountain, as were most of the houses in Bogong, although none on such a steep slope as our top bench.

Access to the top bench was by means of a gravel drive to the front of our house. The drive branched off from the UKVR where the road down into Bogong village left the UKVR, which continued on to Falls Creek and Rocky Valley.

The gravel drive ran along past the first few houses, to a large turning area in front of four garages, then continued on past the last four houses on the top bench to come to an end at a double garage.

Our House 8 was the last house on the bench and the garage next to o

The front door of our House 8 Photo GFS ur house became the home for the Minor, under cover at last. We drove the Minor forwards coming in, then going out we had to back out about 100 m to get to the turning area. On the far side of the access road opposite our house, the ground dropped away very steeply down a batter to the gravel road leading to the tennis courts.
p<>{color:#000;}. O

Floor plan of House 8 (not to scale)

ur new home at Bogong was 14 km from Mt Beauty and just over 2,000 ft above sea level and roughly half way to Falls Creek and Rocky Valley. Bogong developed from a tented camp down by the river prior to 1940, when the benches or terraces for the placing of the houses were bulldozed from the mountain above the river. By the close of 1940 the nucleus of the town had been established.
p<>{color:#000;}. When completed Bogong had 32 houses, mainly intended for occupation by staff personnel, because Bogong was the head- quarters of the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme, for which a large administration building was constructed in the town.

House 8 was rectangular in shape, our bedroom and the lounge faced toward the east. Another bedroom led off the hallway at the front door. The lounge was heated by a briquette slow burning fireplace, for which briquettes and wood were supplied free by the SEC. Through the large lounge windows and across the access road, we had a superb view over the river valley to the forested slopes leading up to Mt Arthur.

A door from the lounge led to the kitchen, which had no view at all, because the batter rose up so sharply, just two metres outside the kitchen window, all the way to the UKVR above. A large covered verandah and a laundry were adjacent to the kitchen. Best of all next to the kitchen there was a bathroom with a toilet, bath and shower connected to the hot water service! Between our bedroom and the bathroom there was another bedroom which became a nursery for Virginia.


The view from our front gate. The ‘Grey Hills’ on the centre skyline and the Spion Kopje right Photo GFS he narrow garden in front of the house, extended around towards the garages where there was a rotary clothesline and a small work shed.
p<>{color:#000;}. Looking up and across the drive from the clothesline the Little Spion Kopje rose up with many tall, white, dead tree trunks, , sticking up above a forest of smaller eucalypts, a stark reminder of the 1939 bushfires. A long high valley ascended between the steep forested slopes of the Spion Kopje Spur and Mt Arthur, while at the head of the valley on the skyline, bare high cliffs, could be seen dropping steeply off to the timbered valley below.


The general store at Bogong Photo GFS was not sure exactly where on the High Plains I was looking, some called it the Grey Hills, so I vowed that some day I would take a hike up there and find out. House 8 was a really wonderful improvement over 9 Freeburgh Avenue, not only the house itself, but also the location of our home in the beautiful Victorian Alps. Never the less we loved our first house where Virginia came into our married life, the first stepping stone to a wonderful and eventful life that was to follow.
p<>{color:#000;}. When we moved to Bogong, it was already well served by a general store, with a post office and petrol pump. There was also a police station and one spare residence, which was used as a medical centre for the weekly visit of the local and only doctor. Above Lake Guy there was a large recreation hall, which served many purposes, movie theatre, Sunday school, church and meeting place.

There was another great advantage of living in Bogong especially for me, because along the bench toward the first few houses, one of the earlier residents had built an excellent car maintenance platform, which consisted of two wooden extensions jutting out over the lower edge of the bench. I could drive the Minor out over these horizontal ramps, which gave me tons of space to work under the front end of the car. It would certainly be a great help, because I was doing all of my own maintenance.

We quickly settled into our new home. Not only were the nappies cleaner, but so was I, being able to have a hot shower every day. Gone also was the daily driving from Mt Beauty up to McKay Creek with my three passengers Lew, Charlie and John, who reverted back to living in the camp, but I still drove up to work in the Minor each day. As it had been at Mt Beauty, Dilys had the use of the Minor in the morning when I was on afternoon shift and during the day when I was asleep after night shift.

Living at Bogong was in many respects, quite different from that at Mt Beauty as can be imagined. We were a 14 km further away from Albury and Melbourne, and the small store at Bogong, although very convenient, the prices of groceries and petrol were a little higher than at Mt Beauty and certainly Albury. This was quite important to us as we were on a tight budget. This meant we had to think further ahead when buying groceries and other essentials, so we never bought anything much at all at Bogong if we could help it, not even ice cream as Dilys made our own. The only real reason we had to go to the store was to pick up our mail.


The double garage at the end of the drive and the clothes line Photo GFS ilys knew many of the people living in Bogong having met many of them when she played tennis there. Neither of us had met our next door neighbours, a lovely couple, Irena and Mick Milovanavic, Irena was a White Russian (the same as Ore) and Mick was Jugoslavian. He worked for the SEC at Bogong as a laboratory technician, testing soils, concrete and the like. The Milovanavics had two children, a boy John and a girl Tanya, both a little older than Virginia. I shared the double garage with Mick who had an FJ Holden. They soon became very good neighbours and our friends
p<>{color:#000;}. The daily temperatures at Bogong were a little cooler than at Mt Beauty. This was not only because we were higher up in the mountains, but also because our house, being tucked away on the top bench, only received restricted sunlight during the day. The sun rose over Mt Arthur (5,576 ft) directly opposite our house and set again behind the Big Hill Spur 4,000 ft high above our house.

Although Virginia never passed any comment about leaving Mt Beauty and coming to live in Bogong I tended to think she liked her new house and surroundings, as she got to know the other children from the top bench. Virginia had also made friends with a ‘Mr Corfan,’ said with a French accent ‘who lived down the batter.’ Where he came from in her mind, we never knew, but where he lived was certain. ‘He lived down the batter!’

I took my holidays in November not long after we shifted up to Bogong. Most of the holidays were spent around the house except for going a couple of trips to Albury. I took the opportunity of changing the crankshaft bearings on the Minor, because just before we moved up to Bogong, I realised that I would need to put in new ones soon. However, I put the job off until my holidays as I had plenty of other tasks to carry out in our new house. Changing the bearings I found to be a relatively easy job with the car above me on the ramp. It would certainly have been a very awkward job, if I had replaced the bearings at Mt Beauty, running the car up on a pair of ramps, besides, the ramps at Bogong were horizontal, which made the task much easier.


Work progressing on the first level of the dam. Note the flood lighting wires above Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro uring the holidays we took a drive up to Falls Creek and called in to see Ore, Cecil and Toni and Skippy. We hadn’t seen any of them for some time, so they were all very surprised at the news that we were going to have another baby. Falls Creek again was a hive of activity with many new ski lodges under construction. When we left Falls Creek we drove up to Rocky Valley to have a look and see how construction was progressing on the Rocky Valley dam.
p<>{color:#000;}. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first level of the rock and earth fill was in place. Floodlighting had been installed above the dam site to allow shift work to be used to speed up construction in the summer months.

When I returned from my holidays I found that during my absence, quite a lot of progress had also occurred on the tailrace tunnel. The tunnel had been bored deep enough for the Conway to be brought down from the workshop and installed on the rails in the tunnel and it was hard at work when I started back on afternoon shift.

The Conway was doing a wonderful job, shovelling up the rock spoil from the face and delivering it to the dump trucks behind. It made a nice whirring sound from the motor and a clanking sound from the operation of the bucket. Best of all it did not need as much maintenance as I thought ‘the beast’ would, adjusting clutches and periodic greasing were mostly all that was required.

Christmas came along and we three had a lovely Christmas by ourselves, especially because Virginia was old enough to realise that something special was happening on Christmas morning and Dilys was by now showing unmistakable signs of the proximity of the birth of our new baby.


As the date drew nearer for the birth of our baby, I was in contact with Dilys by phone from the tunnel, ready if she rang, to tear off down the mountain to the hospital. January dragged on with no signs of any movement and I went on to afternoon shift. I arrived home about 12.30 a.m. on Saturday morning the 25th January and walked into the lounge, where Dilys was sitting in her rocking chair. I gave her a kiss and she looked up at me and said: “Go quickly and have your shower, because we are then going off to the hospital!”

While I had my shower Dilys made Virginia ready and rang the hospital to tell them we were on our way down the mountain from Bogong. She also rang Betty and Graham Napier to tell them we were on our way to the hospital and would be calling in on the way. Betty had kindly offered to look after Virginia until my parents arrived as soon as the baby was born.

We drove down the mountain in the dead of night and stopped off at Mt Beauty to leave Virginia with Betty and we had a quick cup of tea with them before we went on to the hospital. I left Dilys there after ensuring that she was quite comfortable in the hospital’s care and returned to Bogong. After a couple of hour’s sleep, I rang up my parents and Dilys’s mother to tell them that the baby was on the way. My parents said they would be coming up the next day, so I arranged to meet them at the Napiers.

The next morning I rang the hospital but there was no news of our new baby, so after lunch I drove down to Mt Beauty and called in to see Betty and Graham and Virginia, who was happily playing with Barton. Virginia asked me where her mummy was, so I told her that mummy had gone to the hospital to get a new baby and Virginia seemed to be quite satisfied with that short statement.

I returned to the hospital and stayed with Dilys. We talked and I read a book until I noticed that Dilys’s breathing had changed. I called the nurse, who promptly rushed Dilys into the delivery ward, and sent me scurrying off down to the pool for the Matron, who she said, was swimming at a popular swimming hole I knew, on the Kiewa River. I quickly got into the Minor. This was one time when I could forget the speed limit, police or no police and I sped down past Tawonga township to the water hole, where it took me a few minutes to find the Matron.

When I found her, I told her that the Sister wanted her back at the hospital quickly, as my baby was on the way. Without further ado I bundled her into the car, where she dried herself off as I drove quickly back to the hospital.

I went outside while I waited for our baby to be born on a very hot Australia Day. I looked up at Mt Bogong and the Staircase Spur, just as I had on the day Virginia was born, 16 months ago, but on that day it was a vastly different scene because Mt Bogong was covered in snow.

My mind went back to the time in January 1947 when our small party of four Rover Scouts came down off the mountain at the end of a nine day hike across the BHP, which began in Harrietville, arriving at the Bogong Hotel after a gruelling hike from the bottom of the Staircase Spur in sweltering heat. I had come a long and exciting way since that day on January 19th 1947, certainly never thinking that one day I would be waiting at the hospital just across the road from the hotel for the birth of my second baby!

Just on 4 p.m. on Sunday 26th January 1958 Australia Day, the nurse came out and told me I was the proud father of a baby boy. I was so happy because we now had one of each, but I was told that I could not see Dilys or my boy at the moment. The nurse said there was no cause to worry and to come back about 6 p.m.

I drove back to Betty and Graham and told them the great news. They were delighted. I told Virginia that she now had a little baby brother, but I don’t think that she quite understood. Then I rang my parents and Dilys’s mother. Of course they were all happy with the result, my parents saying that they would be leaving first thing in the morning. We had already agreed on both a boy and girl’s name and Graham was the name for our new boy.

After Betty and Graham had made an early dinner for me, I went back to the hospital. Virginia wanted me to take her to see her mother, but I said I would take her the next day. When I arrived at the hospital I was able to see Dilys and baby Graham. Dilys looked beautiful, but I couldn’t really say the same of Graham, as he was asleep, I only saw his nearly bald, little head.

We were not aware that if our baby happened to be the first baby born on Australia Day in Victoria, he would receive a gold cup and if not a silver spoon. However, we learned from the Matron that we had to be content with a silver spoon, because the first baby was born at 2 a.m., but this was a lovely surprise a

The letter of congratulations from the Australia Day Council

p<>{color:#000;}. My parents came up to look after myself and Virginia, until Dilys came home from the hospital. My father once again, taking many wonderful photos, around the area. After around five days in hospital I picked up Dilys and baby Graham and brought them back to Bogong..

Some days later, I

The silver spoon that came with the letter

picked up a big letter from the post office addressed to Mrs G Smith. Dilys opened the letter and inside there was the letter of congratulations and a lovely silver spoon from the Australia Day Council.

It was very exciting to receive this valuable souvenir to mark the birth of our first boy and it was especially nice to have my mother and father there when we received it.


.Looking east across the partially completed dam wall Photo GFS y parents stayed with us until they were sure we were OK to cope on our own and just before they left to go back to Melbourne I took them for a quick drive up top. I had not been up above Falls Creek since November, so I was looking forward to seeing the progress on the Rocky Valley dam.
p<>{color:#000;}. Another bench of earth and rock fill had been placed since I saw the dam. It was evident that the placing and compacting of the earth and rock fill for the final benches of the dam wall would not take too much longer to complete, because less material was required for the top bench where it tapered off.

Leaving the dam we drove down Road 24 to the headrace portal and the penstock line and then back down Road 26. The penstock line also was nearing completion with the final top pipes yet to be placed. It was very interesting for my parents to be able to observe the various stages in the construction of the KHES, which they had seen each time they came up to visit us.


The penstock line nearing completion with some of the upper pipe sections in position Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

hen they left to return to Rosanna we four were back together as a family, which was really quite exciting and challenging and I was back to nappy washing, but this time much less arduous with an inside copper and hot water service, which made it a lot easier.
p<>{color:#000;}. After talking it over we agreed that we should think of buying a washing machine, so we looked in the papers to see what was available. There were many washing machines like my parent’s Stampco that had a powered wringer on top, but in an advertisement we saw two that were completely automatic, which spin dried the clothes during the automatic cycle. I discovered however, that there were only two of this type manufactured at the time, the Astor and the Malleys. Talking it over we decided that as soon as we could we would drive to Albury to see about buying one, when the next change of shift came along

And so it was that we made the drive into Albury, for our first long drive in the car, with all of us together. I had made up a collapsible wooden trestle that fitted between the front and back seats of the Minor, which was the same height as the back seat. On this we spread a blanket so that the cot for Graham could be placed with Virginia beside him.

We went straight to Homecrafts the largest electrical store in Albury, where we looked at both machines, finally deciding on the Malleys, simply because it had a larger capacity than the Astor, although the Astor was a little cheaper. I myself felt that the Malleys would be much easier for me to repair if anything went wrong when it was out of warrantee. Without too many doubts about our ability to pay the instalments on the machine, we purchased the Malleys on hire purchase, which just added to the other things we were paying off at the time.

Homecrafts said a serviceman would come up to Bogong, to deliver and install the machine for no extra charge, so we arranged this for the next change of shift. When the serviceman arrived, he had a look around and said there was a problem!

The machine had to be anchored to a concrete block to prevent it moving during the spin dry cycle if it got out of balance, but there was no concrete block in this house where a copper was usually mounted. We should have been told this when we bought it because if we had known we would have opted for the Astor, which I discovered later did not require a concrete block, but at the time I thought it was too late to change! It never crossed our minds to refuse delivery and demand that the Malleys be returned and exchanged for the Astor washing machine. Would Homecrafts have agreed to the change over? We’ll never know!

The serviceman said not to worry, he could anchor the washing machine to the large wooden bearers under the floor, so we left him to do the job. After it was bolted down and connected to the hot and cold water supplies, he said it was ready to try out. We loaded it with dirty nappies, connected it to the power supply and turned it on. When the spin dry part of the cycle came on, it shook the house a little but other than that it did a great job, so we signed the papers for the washer a Malleys Automatic 12 model, and the serviceman went on his way.

The Malleys was a top loading machine. Opening the lid at the top gave access to a large diameter aluminium basket that rotated in a horizontal plane. Spring loaded lids in the basket allowed the washing to be placed in the basket together with a measure of soap. The lid was then closed, the wash time selected, the water turned on, hot, cold or both and with a push of a button the wash cycle commenced which lasted about 20 minutes. The wash was then ready to be hung on the line for the final drying.

How marvellous it was, although we discovered that when we had a big wash on, if the machine got badly out of balance, it shook the whole house, so much so, that our next door neighbours, Irena and Mick Milovanavic, usually knew when we were doing a wash, plus we had to straighten the pictures we had in the lounge!

Virginia was growing up quickly. She was fascinated by her new brother and was looking after him as best she could. Virginia had a mop of black hair, while Graham was not endowed with much hair at all and what little there was tended to be fair. Our two, new, acquisitions Graham and the Malleys clothes washer, were both going along very well. They were a good combination, Graham dirtied the nappies and the Malleys cleaned them!

We went to Melbourne about once every six weeks usually after afternoon shift so we could drive down in the day time. The cot with Graham was on the back seat, with Virginia beside him. We made a bed for her with blankets spread out on the top of my collapsible bench. We stopped every now and again for Dilys to attend to Graham. Sometimes she took Graham out of the cot and cradled him in her arms to breast feed him. The drive there and back was most enjoyable especially when the weather was fine and sunny.

We had been given a present of a car bottle warmer, just large enough to fit a baby’s bottle. The warmer consisted of a white canvas bag with a heating element sewn into the sides and closed with a zip fastener. A cord plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter. It took about 15 minutes to heat the bottle and its contents to the required temperature.

We discovered also that two small tins of Heinz baby food would also fit into the warmer, so this was an added bonus for the bottle warmer, which I wondered if the inventors were aware of. We used the superb bottle warmer whenever we went on a car journey. Dilys always cradled Graham in her arms when went over the Bright Gap in both directions and it was very pleasing that Virginia and Graham travelled well without any hint of car sickness. Virginia was by now used to travelling up and down winding, rough mountain roads and Graham was now in the process of getting used to that experience too.

We loved living in Bogong for many reasons. It was a joy living surrounded by forests and high mountains and in the summer, if the day had been at all humid, crashing, thunderstorms, usually occurred in the late afternoon, the thunder echoing around the mountains. After all was peaceful again.



The Conway at work in the tailrace tunnel Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

ummer was in its final month and work on the tailrace tunnel was progressing steadily. Lew Horne went on holiday and Bill McKew came to take his place on our shift. I had worked for ‘Bustling Billy’ McKew before when he was my foreman on the concrete pump at Rocky Valley and it was a pleasure to have him as my foreman again. The Conway was doing a tremendous job in the tunnel, scooping up the rock and conveying it into the side tipping dump trucks behind. When full, they were hauled out of the tunnel by the battery locomotive and unloaded down the side of the river.
p<>{color:#000;}. While Lew was on holiday a disturbing and potentially serious incident occurred in the tunnel. One night, I was walking into the tunnel to carry out a maintenance task and as I approached the face, I saw fists flying, one of the Italian tunnellers was trying to punch Bill! I stepped in between them and with the help of a few of the other tunnellers we stopped the fight.

Bill was shaken and upset and made everyone move out of the tunnel. Even though the Italian concerned was still ranting off in his own tongue, his Italian mate who spoke quite passable English, managed to get him outside. With the help of the English speaking Italian we all collected in Bill’s office and managed to discover the source of the altercation. It appeared that the Italian started the fight because he thought Bill had insulted him. After his Italian mate translated what was said by Bill, and what his attacker thought he had said-but mistook the meaning-they shook hands and everyone returned back to work again.

Thankfully the incident was resolved amicably, but the Italian tunneller was very lucky he was not sacked on the spot, no matter what he thought Bill had said to him. Attacking a foreman was a very serious act.

I thought afterwards that foreigners who don’t have a good understanding of English and work in dangerous and noisy places such as tunnels, pose a safety risk to everyone including myself, who work alongside them. I was sorry for Bill as he was a great foreman and except for that incident, he got on very well with his men.

There were no more dramas in the tunnel before Lew returned from his holiday and took over from Bill. By the middle of the year, as the tunnelling crews continued to drive the tailrace tunnel forward, we reached a position where the end wall of the McKay Creek power station would be located. At this point a series of shafts 4 m above the tailrace tunnel, and roughly 4 m square were to be driven, which would define the extremities of the power station end wall and both sidewalls of the power chamber. The shafts would then be gradually enlarged to form part of the ‘power chamber’ the term we used as the excavation progressed.

When complete, and the six turbines were installed in the power chamber, or using the technical term ‘machine hall’, the McKay Creek Power Station would have a generating capacity of 96,000 kW. It will be 21.3 m high, 13.7 m wide, 74.4 m long, and 61 m below ground level. The volume of rock needed to be removed by our tunnelling crews to complete the chamber was 21,800 cubic metres, a massive volume of rock.

While our crews were working from the tailrace end of the power chamber, other tunnelling crews were descending the 5 m diameter lift shaft, which had already been bored. This lift shaft had not been bored down to its full depth yet, to allow a large shaft to be driven at right angles into the rock.

This shaft would be the starting point for the excavation of the first section of a shallow ‘cavern’, another term used in the excavation of the power chamber. The cavern will be excavated the full width of the chamber, 10-20 m deep and about 20 m long from the base of the lift shaft. The purpose of this shallow cavern was to provide a working space and a solid rock, platform, or foundation.

On this b

Plan of No. 1 Power Station Diagram courtesy of Southern Hydro

ase the formwork will be constructed for the concreting of the first and subsequent sections of the arched roof of the chamber. Formwork for the reinforced concrete beams along which a travelling crane will run will also be constructed at the same time. When these are in place, one continuous concrete pour will be made to form the roof arch and crane beams, in one integral section.
p<>{color:#000;}. The concrete pump will be lowered down the lift shaft, ready to pump concrete for this and the following sections of the roof and crane beams. The concrete will be mixed in the batching plant located close by the lift shaft. The batching plant together with the concrete pump had been brought down from Rocky Valley where they were no longer required. To deliver the mixed concrete from the batching plant to the cavern below, it will be dropped down the lift shaft to the pump! To prevent the concrete drying out on its 60 m fall, an additive will be been included in the mix.

As soon as the first 20 m, concreted section of the roof arch and crane beam have been completed, the excavation will be recommenced to extend the cavern another 20 m, ready for the next section of the roof and crane beam to be concreted. As the excavation of the power chamber, the concreting of the roof arch and crane beams advance toward the tailrace tunnel, the shafts which were being bored and enlarged on the level below the power chamber excavations will meet. A break through shaft will then bored between the two.


The compressed air operated Emco loader Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

he small Emco compressed air driven front end loader, no longer required in the tailrace tunnel had also been lowered down the lift shaft, to load the rock spoil into skips to be hauled up the lift shaft for disposal.
p<>{color:#000;}. At base workshops in Mt Beauty, in anticipation of the boring out of the cavern, an Allis Chalmers HD19 bulldozer was partially dismantled by removing its blade assembly, A-frame and tracks. This was to make it small enough to be lowered down the 5 m diameter lift shaft. The bulldozer will then be brought up to McKay Creek, lowered down the lift shaft and reassembled on the floor of the power chamber cavern.


A sketch showing the method of excavating the power chamber and disposing of the rock spoil

he purpose of this rather ingenious procedure, was to use the bulldozer to push the rock spoil generated from the excavation of the roof cavern, down into diagonal shafts, to be bored from the floor of the cavern down through the roof of the tailrace tunnel. The rock spoil will then be loaded into the dump trucks by the Conway, to be taken out of the tunnel.
p<>{color:#000;}. This overcame the need to remove the rock spoil through the lift shaft, so speeding up the excavation of the power chamber. As the cavern was being advanced, more diagonal shafts will be bored from the floor of the cavern, to enable the bulldozer to push the rock spoil from both sides of the floor of the cavity, down into the diagonal shafts.

There was a very likeable, leading hand Irish tunneller, called Paddy Harrigan in our crew, who took great delight in teasing me. I did not mind this in the least, trying to give as much back as he gave.

Once when I was working in one of the cross shafts, the face was being loaded in one of the other shafts at right angles. Before being fired, we all came back to the centre of the cross shaft, to be clear of any rock that could be blown out from the face when it was fired. If there was one thing that I hated, it was waiting for the charge to go off. Even when I knew more or less when to expect the charge to fire, it would still make me jump. While I was waiting in anticipation of the blast, Paddy, who was standing beside me, said to me quietly: “It will be another 30 seconds yet before it goes off, Smitho.”

Then unbeknown to me, he slowly went around behind me and put his big Irish hands up behind my head and clapped them together loudly. I jumped a mile in the air with Paddy laughing his head off. Then I got another fright when the real charge went off. I don’t think I ever got even with Paddy for that one! We were however, a great tunnelling crew.

Except for the very strict rules about the storing of gelignite and detonators and the safety procedures for their use in tunnelling, such as switching off all portable ‘walkie talkies’ and the like, there were very few other safety rules. I had read many years later that the Snowy Scheme sent out memos to their workers, regarding safety rules to be observed by men operating machines and the firing of faces, during a thunderstorm, or when one was nearby. On our Scheme during thunderstorms, where earth moving operations were being carried out in the open such as on the dam, the operators of earth moving and other metal related equipment, simply abandoned their machines and sought shelter, until after the storm had passed by.

During the summer months, when afternoon thunderstorms were quite common in the alps, to my knowledge no official safety rules concerning work practices in thunderstorms was ever issued. During virtually all of my working life there was no ‘Duty of Care’ work philosophy, or the many safety regulations that employers are required to enforce at the time of writing. A person was largely responsible for his own safety, whether at work, in the home, on the road, or recreation. Up to this time too, I had never used safety bindings when skiing, simply because they were not available, but I had been taught how to fall when I knew that a fall from my skis was inevitable.

The only real legacy I have of my working life is that I am partially deaf, with the need to wear hearing aids in both ears. This was the result of working underground with the SEC and five years working for the VR in the erecting shop, without ear protection. I have no regrets about this, as I consider that the experience of working for both the SEC and VR were well worth the loss of hearing in my later life.

I am sure that present day safe working regulations would not have allowed the bulldozer to work in the power chamber cavern without exhaust gas scrubbing. When the bulldozer was pushing the rock spoil down the diagonal shafts, the cavern was filled with a blue haze from the diesel exhaust fumes. As the cavity and tailrace shaft grew in size, this was not such a problem, as a natural draft from the tailrace to the lift shaft helped to disperse the fumes. Neither the operators of the bulldozer, nor the men working in the cavern, deemed it harmful enough to complain. Maybe they were overawed by the temerity of the engineers for their ingenuity in using a bulldozer in this manner!

During the time when I was working as a tunnel fitter, an unfortunate occurrence arose as the result of another curtailment of government funding for the Kiewa Scheme. Without warning, a number of senior foremen were given written notices of termination of their employment. Harry Zieball our senior foreman was one of these. What were they to do I wondered? They had their houses and family in Mt Beauty. I still had a job, but for how long?


The Recreation Hall at Mt Beauty where the protest meeting was held Photo GFS his, as can be imagined, caused some consternation among the staff. A mass meeting of all employees (and residents) was called soon after, to be held in the Mt Beauty Recreation Hall. I drove down from Bogong to the meeting and was not surprised to find the hall filled to capacity.
p<>{color:#000;}. I

Tom Mitchell in farming garb Photo courtesy of Upper Murray Library was however, very surprised to see none other than Tom Mitchell MLA on the platform as one of the speakers. I should not have been, surprised, because the Kiewa Scheme was in Tom’s electorate. Tom Mitchell was also a skier who over the years in many ways, was responsible for the growth of skiing in Falls Creek. I had seen him often at Falls Creek and had become familiar with his loud ‘Ski Heil’ salutation to skiers. Tom Mitchell was a descendent of a famous, pioneering, grazing family, from Corryong and the Country Party member for Benambra. He was married to Elyne Mitchell who was an author of many excellent books about the NSW Alps and life on their Towong Hill property.
p<>{color:#000;}. Finally, when Tom Mitchell’s turn soon came to speak, red faced behind his horn rimmed glasses and in his usual booming voice, he soundly condemned the action that the government and the SEC had taken in terminating the services of many SEC staff. The meeting closed and everyone left with the hope that the protest meeting was not in vain. Whether as a result of the meeting or otherwise, a few days after the meeting, the termination notices were rescinded. The reason for this about turn, I never discovered, but I liked to believe that Tom Mitchell had a lot to do with it.

Although work went on as usual, this was not exactly the case, as the SEC lost much of the good will and the loyalty of some senior foremen, some of whom I overheard discussing their feelings with other staff members. It was possible that if the ‘about face’ had not occurred my job with the SEC may have been affected and who knows, I may have lost my job.

CHAPTER 36: WINTER AND SPRING LIVING IN BOGONG May-June-July-August-September October 1958

Family life at Bogong was being enjoyed to the full, baby Graham was growing steadily and Virginia was becoming a lovely little girl. The summer thunderstorms were mostly gone, the deciduous trees were ablaze in colour, making Bogong look very beautiful. The days were becoming shorter and the hours of sunshine on the top bench were diminishing markedly.

I decided that we would all go for a drive up top before it became too cold and winter set in. I hadn’t been above Howman’s Gap for some time and was keen to see how the work on the Rocky Valley dam had progressed. It was a nice sunny day, but a cold one as we all rugged up and climbed into the Minor.


The last bench of the dam and the spillway shaft, left nearing completion Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro ff we went, calling in to Falls Creek which as usual was a hive of activity, getting buildings finished or renovated ready for the winter. We called in to see Cecil, Ore and Tony and Skippy who were pleased to see us, especially Virginia and our new baby Graham.
p<>{color:#000;}. Driving on up the road around Windy Corner as we approached Rocky Valley, we saw that the dam wall had increased in height and now obscured the view down into Rocky Valley, which was usually first visible from the road as it climbed past Windy Corner.

Continuing on we parked above the wall, but I was the only one to get out of the car because it was freezing cold. Work was in progress on the last bench of the wall, and the spillway shaft had nearly reached its full height. It was obvious that the wall would not be completed before the winter snows came along, but as soon as the winter was over I thought that it would not take long before the construction of the Rocky Valley dam would be complete.


Cross sections diagrams of the Rocky Valley Dam Courtesy of Southern Hydro

he dam consists of an impervious core of decomposed granodiorite and schist flanked on each side by a basalt rock-fill zone. Within the earth core itself the more impervious material, the granodiorite, was placed upstream. There are graded filters of crushed rock between the earth and rock fill zones.
p<>{color:#000;}. The material for the dam wall was taken from three, borrow areas near the dam.

After spreading by a grader it was compacted by a minimum of 14 passes of a heavy roller to obtain the specified 96% compaction.

The dam is1750 ft (533 m) long at its crest100 ft (30 m) high and contains 600,000 cu.yd (458.729 cu.m) of earth and rock fill. A reinforced concrete cut-off (core wall) 800 ft (244 m) in length, poured on sound rock, extends almost half the length of the dam from the west abutment.

We drove back down the road to Howman’s Gap and called into McKay Creek on the way home to show Dilys McKay Creek Camp and the penstock line, before returning home to Bogong to the lovely hot briquette fire.

The tomatoes that I had planted in the spring were growing larger, but were a big disappointment, because just as they looked like they were ripening they remained green. The strawberries that we brought up from Mt Beauty where they did so well there in the sunshine, were a failure too. It was very discouraging however, we determined to try again next year.

We were about to experience our first winter in Bogong. Outside the house it was certainly colder than Mt Beauty, but inside the house, because the briquette fire was more central than at Mt Beauty the house kept nice and warm. The briquette fire backed on to our bedroom, which warmed it a little as a bonus.

We hung most of the washing in front of the fire to dry, for the same reason that the tomatoes and strawberries were a failure–not enough sunshine because of our location in between the mountains.

The Malleys was doing a great job with the washing. Having hot water on tap, rivalled having beer on tap! Sometimes when the Malleys got out of balance, it shook the house so much, that Dilys had to switch it off and rearrange the clothes inside the machine basket, before starting it up again. Then she went around and straightened the pictures on the wall! We also had a clothes horse that had a heating element in its base, which we put in Virginia’s bedroom, not only to dry the clothes, but also to take the chill from the room. By hanging the clothes in front of the fire, after they were spin dried in the Malleys, together with the heated clothes horse, there was not too much of a problem drying clothes and nappies.

We were invited to join a syndicate, not for a lottery, but to join in with a number of families, who took it in turns to go down the Kiewa Valley to Higginson’s farm, to purchase lovely, large, cheap, fresh eggs. In the syndicate there were the Martins, Milovanavics, Smiths, Teeses, Deans and the other Smiths, us. Our turn came around every six weeks when we obtained a large, wooden box, from the family who had collected the eggs the week before.

The box was large enough to hold six dozen eggs in separately lined compartments. Then off we went to see Mrs Higginson, about a kilometre past Tawonga. She was one of the family of Higginsons, a pioneer grazing family of the district. Sometimes we combined our turn with a trip to Albury. On our return to Bogong we distributed the eggs to the others. I don’t think an egg was ever broken by any of the participants.

I was still serving on the Bogong Ski Club committee, which I enjoyed very much as Falls Creek was rapidly developing into a significant ski resort, fulfilling Skippy’s vision for her Basin. Cecil Dobson and Ore had joined forces and were running a primitive general store and ski hire, together with their transport business with Leaping Lena.

One day, when we were driving up the road from Mt Beauty we came upon a black Morris A 40 stopped by the side of the road. I had seen the car around Bogong before and did not know to whom it belonged.

I stopped the Minor to see if the car had a problem and if I could help. A big bloke with a moustache and black, horn rimmed glasses got out of the car and we introduced ourselves. He said his name was Charlie Gannon.

I asked him if there was a problem and he said the car’s brakes had jammed. He was not very happy, he said, as he had just picked the car up from ‘Plugger’ Barret’s garage in Mt Beauty, after having the brakes repaired! I got my tool kit, which I always carried and managed to release the brakes enough for him to carry on to Bogong. We followed on behind, escorting him down towards the Police Station in Bogong just above the shop.


First Constable Charles Gannon Photo courtesy of the Victorian Police Archives harlie, and his wife Doris, thanked me and invited us into the police station for a cup of tea. I had not noticed when I was working on the car that Charlie was wearing a policeman’s uniform, because he did not have his hat on.
p<>{color:#000;}. That meeting was the beginning of a wonderful, long friendship, between our two families and our first encounter with our resident policeman in Bogong, First Constable Charles Gannon, who soon became Uncle Charlie to Virginia and Graham.

Since Virginia was born, I was not getting up to Falls Creek very often to ski, but I consoled myself with the thought that I should look forward more to the time, when I could teach Virginia, Graham and Dilys to ski and we could all enjoy skiing together at Falls Creek.

We had been told that it snowed in Bogong sometimes during the winter, so we were looking forward to that possibility, especially Virginia. However, it didn’t snow in Bogong in 1958, but there were reasonable falls on the BHP, which recorded a total of 75 cm for the year.

I had no trouble getting to work when there was an occasional fall of snow covering the road below Turnback Creek, I just kept in the wheel tracks of the other traffic that was continually going up and down the road.

From our clothesline at the back of the house, if the weather was clear, when Dilys hung out the clothes, she could look straight up the valley beside the Little Spion Kopje, to where the snow clad Spion Kopje Spur and some part of the High Plains, formed the skyline. Sometimes as the sun went down in the evening we could watch a beautiful sight, as the snow changed in colour from pure white through orange to purple.

Pearce’s grocery store in Mt Beauty was selling post cards, many of them Bob Wingrove’s Kodachromes as well as other tourist souvenirs of the area so I decided to ask Mr Pearce if he would be interested in displaying my watercolours for sale for a small commission. He agreed to my proposition, s

The author’s watercolours displayed in Pearce’s shop window etting up a display board to show off some of the watercolours remaining in my collection. I was very pleased in the manner in which he displayed the paintings and was successful in selling a couple of the snow scenes.
p<>{color:#000;}. Afterwards I regretted having put two of my best snow scenes in the exhibition in the shop window. Although I was very pleased at first that they had been sold, however, I wish I still had them to pass on to my children, together with the other paintings I still have, most of which I have reproduced in this book.


Mt Feathertop

Snow gum on the frying Pan Spur

lthough I have no copy of these two watercolours I have the small black and white photos, which I copied them from, shown below.
p<>{color:#000;}. Whether it was driving down the mountain visiting the Napiers in Mt Beauty, getting the eggs, or going to Albury, there were always thrilling sights and places to point out to the children and for us to admire. The magnificent ever changing vista of the southern cliffs and spurs of Mt. Bogong, were a joy to behold, especially during the winter months, as the snow built up at the start of winter, until winter’s end, when the snow gradually disappeared.

We drove to down to Melbourne nearly every month during the year and my parents came up every now and again, the last occasion being for Virginia’s second birthday when we had a big party of kids from Bogong and Mt beauty. Dilys was also enjoying playing tennis again, with the two babies looking on. She was also a member of the Country Womens Association, (CWA) having joined in Mt Beauty, before we shifted up to Bogong, but most of all Dilys enjoyed looking after Virginia and Graham and of course me.


‘Cranky Charlie’ on the UKVR and Mt Bogong Photo GFS

he car ramp was very helpful for carrying out all the maintenance required to keep the Minor on the road for the journey each day, up and back to work at McKay Creek. Once again the thought crossed my mind that I supposed I could have made some money making an advertisement for Morris Minors showing mine climbing the road in the Alps, but I never put the thought into action.
p<>{color:#000;}. A favourite spot on the UKVR for the children, from which there was an excellent view of Mt Bogong, was the semi-roundabout a few kilometres above Mt Beauty, where the road branched off from the UKVR to the West Kiewa power station. As we drew nearer Virginia would excitedly cry out: “Cranky Charlie, Cranky Charlie!”

Cranky Charlie was the name given to the location of this roundabout. It derived its name from an old man named Charlie who lived in a hut nearby. The story goes that young lads would tease him, which made him angry hence the name.

Charlie Gannon and his wife Dorothy often visited us for a beer and a singsong. Charlie would sing his favourite song for us, ‘On the Hills of Glocamora’ in his very melodious baritone voice. He also had another song he liked to sing to us every now and again, which was about country trains of old.

It went like this:

Please refrain from urination

When the train is in the station

Standing at the platform all in view

People passing underneath

May cop it in the eyes and teeth

And they won’t like it, nor would you!

If you must make water

Kindly ask the porter

He will place a vessel in the vestibule

The song and words that Charlie sang refer to the 40s and 50s travelling by train on the VR. The toilets in the carriages didn’t have storage tanks and the contents of the toilets were simply flushed down a pipe on to the track while the train was moving! Another interesting occurrence of those times was when passengers bought a n in Flinders or Spencer Street stations prior to a long country train journey one might hear the cry of: “Paper, paper” from lineside workers or gangers and a passenger who had finished reading his paper would throw it out the window, as the newspaper delivery to country towns was not delivered early morning as they are today.


Harold H C Williams Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro lthough First Constable Gannon was a really good mate, he was not averse to telling me off on a couple of occasions, when I sped down past his house to the shop in the Minor. We did however, have another very good ‘policeman’ in the person of H.H.C. Williams the construction engineer of the Kiewa Scheme, or ‘Horace Horsecollar’, as he was nicknamed. There was a 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit in force on the UKVR. H.H.C. Williams drove a two tone, green Vauxhall and anyone he thought who was exceeding the speed limit driving down the mountain to Mt Beauty, when he passed by in his Vauxhall, driving up to Bogong, would have H.H.C.’s finger pointed at the car. Then at the next telephone box, which were spaced at mile intervals along the side of the road, H.H.C. would stop his car and ring the top gatehouse to tell the patrolman on duty to stop the car and inform the driver of his transgression.
p<>{color:#000;}. Arriving at the top gate, the patrolman, usually with a smile, would tell the driver that he or she ‘had the finger pointed!’

Later the driver would find a ‘Please Explain’ in the mailbox, necessitating that an apologetic letter be forwarded, ‘apologising for speeding and vowing to observe the speed limit in future.’ That however, was usually as far as it went.

In Mr Williams’s defence, it must be said that the road for all its sharp turns, rough gravel surface, and very steep drops down the side, was a very safe road on which to drive. There were cars and trucks that went over the side, but in all the time we lived on the Scheme there were no fatalities. I must say I never had the finger pointed at me and neither did Dilys!

On the first month of Spring, September I decided I would have another go at planting some tomatoes. I picked the sunniest position in the garden near the clothes line to plant them and waited. Time would tell! Dilys had a nice little garden with lupins, Christmas lilies and dahlias brought up from our first garden at Mt Beauty, together with some planted by the Teeses. By our front door there was a lovely big, pink rhododendron, many of which were also to be seen in m

The rhododendron at our front door Photo GFS any gardens of other residents of Bogong. They seemed to thrive in mountain localities and in nearly every mountaineering book I had read, the rhododendron was the flower every writer invariably mentioned, growing in Nepal and Tibet.
p<>{color:#000;}. Driving up to McKay Creek each day was a great pleasure in the daylight hours, as spring turned into summer. All leaves of the eucalypt trees took on a reddish colour, which looked beautiful, lit up by the sun as they shimmered in the wind against a background of green and wild flowers that sprang up on the batters by the side of the road. I thought how wonderful it was to travel to work amid such beauty, certainly much better than catching a train to the city, much as I loved trains.

At McKay Creek in daylight hours, I always took note of the progress of the placing of the pipes on the penstock line, which was not far from completion. The control building adjacent to the lift shaft was nearing completion also and work had begun on building the switchyard.

On December 5th the first test match between England and Australia commenced in Brisbane. It so happened that our crew was on day shift for most of the match. Lew and the two Englishmen, Charlie and John on our shift, were of course very interested in the scores. Lew had a radio in his office going all the time. Every now and again Lew went into the tunnel not only to supervise the work, but also to deliver the not very encouraging cricket scores to Charlie and John. In fact Australia won that test by 8 wickets!


Just before I went on holiday, which I elected to take during the Christmas and the New Year period, I went along one of the shafts to have a real good look at the workings in the roof cavern. I was amazed at what I saw through a little smoke haze from the diesel, engine exhaust, of the bulldozer pushing the rock spoil down the diagonal shafts. It was an exciting scene as I watched the bulldozer, and gazed up at the graceful, white curve, of the roof and crane beams that were complete, making quite a contrast to the grey, black, rough, rock floor and end walls. I wondered what it would look like after I returned from my holidays.

Then we were off on our holidays. We had a lovely drive down to Melbourne in the daylight, which allowed us to point out various items of interest to Virginia and Graham, even though Graham was just a baby at the time. Usually we reached the bottom of the Bright Gap just on dusk, where we were treated to the sight of kangaroos hopping along the road ahead of us before they disappeared into the bush, but this time there were none, because it was broad daylight. As we went along the Ovens Highway, I pointed out the hops, the tobacco kilns and Mt Buffalo to Virginia.

On the Hume Highway, where it climbed up just before Glenrowan, we stopped the car and we all turned our eyes towards the east to gaze at the magnificent panorama back down and along the Ovens Valley. We could easily see Mt Bogong in the far distance, while Mt Buffalo dominated the middle distance. I explained to Virginia (Graham was still too young to understand) how the explorers Hume and Hovel in 1824 gave Mt Buffalo its name, attempting to point out to her how the mountain resembled the shape of a buffalo. I don’t think she understood, but Dilys did of course and was very interested. To this day I still get a great thrill marvelling at that glorious panorama, especially in winter if the sky is clear, being able to see the snow on Mt Bogong, but there was no snow to be seen on that day.

Then we passed Glenrowan, but I made no attempt to tell the story of the Kelly gang. One explanation was quite sufficient for that trip, the Kelly story could wait for a later time, after I had learned a little more about the events of that time in Victoria’s history. A couple of kilometres past Glenrowan, the highway crossed the Melbourne-Sydney railway line. I always hoped not only for the children’s sake, but for mine as well, that we would be held up to let a train pass, but there was none that day. Continuing on our way we kept a lookout for trains where the road crossed or ran parallel to the train line, which it did at that time, much more so than at the time of writing.

We played various games to keep Virginia and Graham amused such as ‘number plate spotting’, ‘I spy with my little eye’ and the like, but they slept most of the time. The last place of interest before we came to the first set of traffic lights and trams, was crossing over Pretty Sally with its extensive view of Melbourne in the distance. On long weekends travelling to Melbourne, we usually crossed over Pretty Sally in darkness and seeing Melbourne all lit up in the distance, was I thought, more spectacular than in the daytime.

With the re-routing of the Hume Highway that wonderful view of Melbourne is no longer possible, which is a great pity. More so, because first time travellers to Melbourne, along the Hume Highway from the north, are no longer able to get their first view of our great city, from that high vantage point, now complete with many, high skyscrapers. Where the Hume Highway now crosses The Great Dividing Range near Heathcote, only a small, hardly noticeable sign indicates the significance of that point in Australia’s geography and history. In fact after the Highway gradually ascends to that point where the sign is located, the Highway wanders on around the countryside until it at last descends near Wandong. There is really no discernible feeling of having crossed over Australia’s most important topographical feature, the Great Australian Dividing Range. Conversely there is no doubt where the railway line crosses the Divide at Heathcote Junction.

My family was so happy to see us all and the next day we drove across to see Dilly’s mother who was delighted to see Dilys and the children. On Christmas Day we had Christmas dinner with all of my family and during the following days we visited many of our relations and friends. Once again at day’s end, it was great to relax at night in front of my father’s television.

We drove down to Rye to see Dilly’s brother Dan and his family. I always enjoyed seeing Dan, as we had lots of interests in common, audio gear, our cars and of course our wives and children. His home brew was a good drop too. Virginia and Graham of course loved the beach, and this time it was hot enough for them to paddle and really have fun in the water and on the sand.

We really had a very, joyful Christmas and a very busy one, seeing all our relations and friends. Just before we returned home in after the New Year in January, I saw some of the second test in Melbourne on the TV. When we arrived back home we heard that Australia had won again by 8 wickets, so Lew and the two Englishmen, Charlie and John, I thought would not be very happy.

CHAPTER 34: MY LAST MONTHS WORKING UNDERGROUND January-February-March-April-May 1959

A few days after we returned from Melbourne we welcomed in the New Year, having a few beers with Charlie and Doris. When I returned to work in the tunnel the next day I said to Lew: “Isn’t it a great pity that the Englishmen have lost another cricket match?” He replied with his usual stock phrase: “Well there you go, Smithy.”

During the three weeks that I had been away on holiday, the excavation of the power chamber had proceeded a long way toward the tailrace end wall. Now, as there was no need for the shallow cavern to act as a working space to place the form work for the roof and crane beams, the cavern was being excavated all the way along and down to the power chamber floor.

I was now spending much more of my time inside the power chamber, attending to various items of equipment. Only when I couldn’t rectify the problem with an item of equipment underground, would I have to take it outside to the workshop to be repaired there. I was also working in conjunction with other fitters from the lift shaft end of the chamber. Each day when I entered the power chamber, I could see where rock had been removed by the previous two shifts working from both ends. Although it was wet, noisy and murky, it was an exciting workplace.

As January and February went by, Lew, Charlie and John became more depressed at the test scores. They were taking quite a bit of ‘stick’, to use their own slang from we Australians and others. When the 5th and last test ended in Melbourne on the 18th February, which Australia again won by 8 wickets, the final tally for the test series was Australia 4, England nil, with one drawn game. Lew’s favourite comment at the result was as usual; “Well there you go, Smithy.” Charlie and John were not happy tuneless either.

Rock was now being removed from above the tailrace tunnel, to connect the tailrace to the power chamber where the turbines would discharge water. The turbines, which would be installed, were six vertical Pelton turbines supplied by Boing and Co. Ltd., coupled to Metropolitan-Vickers generators. The Conway was still doing a marvellous job loading up the rock spoil with the assistance of the bulldozer, pushing the rock spoil into the entrance of the tailrace tunnel where the Conway could shovel it up into the dump trucks.

One of the most difficult jobs I had working on the tailrace, was electric welding reinforce, wiring matts together, prior to the floor of the tailrace being concreted. Not only was water dripping down continually from the roof of the tunnel, but the welding rods became quite damp and besides every now and again, I would get a mild electric shock.

I suppose however I had come a long way with my electric welding prowess since the first time I had to use an electric welder, welding the retaining rods that held the wires that kept the batching plant Rocky Valley from falling over, which I must say it did not!

Later the Conway and the railway lines were removed and the floor of the tailrace tunnel was made into a relatively smooth surface to allow Leyland Beaver tip trucks and other vehicles, to gain easy access into the power chamber as it was being enlarged. The tip trucks after being loaded by a front-end loader, took the rock spoil outside to be dumped

My parents came up to spend Easter with us and one day over the Easter holiday and we all crowded into my father’s new FC Holden and went for a drive up to Falls Creek. I saw that Bob Hymans, who ran the Four Seasons Ski Club was about to commence building another lodge called Grande Coeur and he had just finished installing Falls Creek’s first chair lift that ran from the road up to the Basin.

Leaving Falls Creek we drove up to Rocky Valley, where all work on the dam wall had ceased for Easter. The dam was nearly complete with only the benches of the dam’s north wall needing to be formed and is saw that the spillway shaft was complete. There was no doubt in my mind that it would all be completed before the first snow fell.

We then drove up on to the Ruined Castle Spur taking the alternate route to the highest point on the UKVR at just over 5,800 ft., where we all got out of the car.

I pointed down into Sun Valley and across Rocky Valley to Langford’s Gap away on the skyline, saying: “Take a good look, because the next time you look at this view, Rocky Valley will probably be covered with w

Looking down and across Rocky Valley towards Langford’s Gap Photo GFS

p<>{color:#000;}. A short time after Easter, I was reunited with my old friend the concrete pump. It was stationed adjacent to the lift shaft to pump concrete to the foundations for the turbines and other locations, which needed concreting.


Looking along the excavated power chamber towards the tailrace tunnel and the completed roof arch and crane above Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro took over from the fitter who had had gone on holiday and had been looking after the pump. As well as looking after the mechanical operation of the pump, I was also controlling the concrete flow from the pump, the same as I had done at Rocky Valley.
p<>{color:#000;}. Here however the manner in which the concrete was delivered to the concrete pump was totally different from Rocky Valley. Instead of the batched concrete being unloaded from the mixer into the conical pump hopper, here in the power chamber it was not that simple!

The concrete slurry from the mixer of the batching plant located above the lift shaft, was dropped 60 m down the lift shaft, being guided along the first part of its descent by piping. It emerged from the shaft splashing against a large, 20 cm thick, block of steel, enclosed in a rough, steel box, which was canted at an angle allowing the concrete to flow down a steel ramp into the pump hopper to be pumped through Victaulic piping to the point of use. I spent three weeks working on the pump and one of my constant jobs was to weld pieces of steel on to the 20 cm thick, steel block, where it had been eroded away by the falling concrete.

The concrete used in this process, as well as having the usual additives included in the mix to make it flow easily in the pipes, also had an additive to ensure it remained in a homogeneous condition, to prevent it drying out as it was dropping down the lift shaft. After his three week holiday the fitter returned and I finished on the pump.


The power chamber as it looked when I was transferred, looking from the tailrace with the overhead crane installed, visible behind the piping, Photo courtesy of Southern Hydro

was somewhat of a pioneer in the technique of pumping concrete, using a reciprocating piston, concrete pump. Pumping concrete in the power chamber where the concrete slurry was dropped 60 m down the lift shaft, was in stark contrast to some examples of concrete pumping used at the time of writing in the construction of very high, skyscrapers, around the world. To construct these and other types of high buildings, concrete is pumped up to heights of 1,000 ft. (300 m) and over. The same type of concrete pump is used, reciprocating piston, driven by a high horsepower motor. The proliferation of truck mounted, concrete pumps, with flexible booms to place the concrete mix, is in use every day and locality in the construction industry around the world.
p<>{color:#000;}. Very soon afterward, when I went back working in the tailrace, Snow White the mechanical foreman at Mt Beauty, contacted me to tell me I was to be transferred to Rocky Valley for the winter with Wally Deans.

Working on the boring of the tailrace tunnel and the excavation of the power chamber, from the time when it was first determined that No. 1 Power Station was to be located underground and not above ground was a very rewarding and immensely, interesting period, of my working life, which I was privileged to experience. Furthermore I considered I was extremely fortunate to have had that experience, which was to be of c

A perfect combination, tunnel foreman Lew Horne and the author, outside the tailrace portal Photo GFS onsiderable assistance to my working life, at Australian General Electric and later teaching Fluid Power (Pneumatics and Hydraulics) at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
p<>{color:#000;}. Snow White gave me the news of my transfer two days after my 32nd birthday on the 19th May. On my last shift day, with some sadness I said goodbye to Lew, Harry and all the tuneless in our crew.

Our tunnelling crew had been a great crew to work with under foremanship of Lew Horne and his boss Harry Izabal, both wonderful blokes, and of course Bill McKee, when he was relieving Lew. Lew and his wife Dot were now our firm friends, so I would be seeing him and his family quite a lot in the future away from the tunnel.

Being transferred to work on the BHP for the winter was beyond my wildest dreams and a great birthday present for me.

Snow White said that I should go along and see Wally Deans in Bogong, as I was to report to him at the Rocky Valley workshops on Monday. When I arrived home and told Dilys the exciting news she was very pleased for me, especially if it meant I would be doing some skiing.

Wally Deans lived on the top bench five houses away from us. I had not had much to do with Wally, as I had never worked with him, only having a word or two when we met here and there at Bogong, but Dilys knew Wally and his wife Margaret well, through the Bogong Tennis Club and the Country Women’s Association. (CWA).

The next morning I walked down to Wally’s house and introduced myself and said I was coming to work with him on Monday. We shook hands and sat down together, while he gave me a brief description of the work. Wally told me that we would be working together on the BHP as High Plains patrolmen overseeing, maintaining and reporting on the various installations at Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley, using skis, the Sno-Cat and his SEC Land Rover to travel around. I could hardly contain myself, especially when he said he would take me to work with him each day in the Land Rover, which was more great news. I left Wally’s house walking on air, with his parting words ringing in my ears; “I’ll see you here on Monday morning at 7 o’clock.”

I walked quickly back along the bench to tell Dilys the wonderful news about my new job. I told Dilys that this would mean the end of shift work and driving the Minor up and down to work each day, so she could have the full use of the car. This would be a great help to her, as she could take Graham and Virginia down to the health centre and clinic, do the shopping, as well as being able to visit Betty Napier and their second new baby son Eric, whenever she liked.

And so a new adventure in my and my family’s life was about to begin and I couldn’t wait for Monday to come around.

The story of my new job as a High Plains Patrolman with Wally Deans is the subject of Part Two of this book Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow, which I will publish on Smashwords in due course..



The author age 24 ordon James Robert Smith was born in 1927 in Victoria. He served an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner with the Victorian Railways (VR) and qualified as a tradesman in 1949. He was a member of the Boy Scouts, Rover Scouts and the Youth Hostels Association (YHA). Together with another YHA member he left Australia in 1951 to travel by ship to the UK on a working and backpacking holiday for two years. He returned to Australia in 1953. Soon after, in December 1953, he joined the SEC Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme. In 1954 he married Dilys Terry. He worked for nine years on the Scheme, raising a family of a girl and two boys, Virginia, Graham and Donald.
p<>{color:#000;}. I

The author age 87 n 1963 he and his family left the SEC and shifted to Melbourne where he worked for Australian General Electric (AGE) and as a part time teacher of pneumatics at the Royal Melbourne Technical College (RMIT) until AGE closed down in 1983. He retired in 1993 as a full time teacher of Fluid Power at RMIT. In 1999 he suffered a stroke and small heart bypass after which his son Graham set him up with a computer system. He began writing books about his life. He is now 88 and lives with his wife in Box Hill North.


He co-authored a technical book, Pneumatic Control for Industrial Automation, published by John Wily and has written four other books all unpublished; Aussie Backpacking Abroad The Beginning 1951-1953, Mountains of My Youth, Working and Raising a Family On The Kiewa Scheme and Learning a Trade 1944 to 1949 (self published). He has published the following Ebooks on Smashwords. Two Voyages—My Journey Through Occupied Austria 1952—To the Swiss Alps via Venice—The Assimilation Of An Aussie Backpacker—Backpacking in 1952—An Aussie Backpacking Londoner—Back to Australia via France and Italy—Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow Part One

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Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow Part One The final years of construction of t

Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow, Part One is about my work and family life on the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme (KHES). The purpose and main theme of this book, is to describe the plant, equipment and work practices of the various projects of the Scheme, on which I was employed, together with the diverse, social and recreational activities of the wives and families of the men working on the Scheme, which was an essential and intrinsic part of the life and history of the construction of the KHES. Mine no less, the events of which I have described in this book, began when I met, courted and married a lovely, Melbourne girl and brought her back to begin our married life in Mt Beauty, where we became the proud parents of a girl and two boys, before leaving the KHES and moving to Melbourne. Part One of this book is about the first six years, 1953-1959 that I spent on the (KHES), working at various localities and jobs, until in May 1959 when I was selected to work at Rocky Valley workshops on the Bogong High Plains (BHP) as a High Plains Patrolman, a multi skilled, raceline (aqueduct) patrolman, maintenance fitter and mechanic, for the last four years of my time on the KHES 1959-1963. This is the subject of Part Two of this book. During those first six years, my principle jobs were as a mechanical fitter and operator of a concrete pump, pumping concrete for the Rocky Valley dam spillway tunnel, as a fitter on the rock crusher at the McKay headrace portal, crushing rock spoil excavated from the headrace tunnel, for use on the Rocky Valley dam, roads and many other areas, where crushed rock of various sizes was required and working on maintaining earth moving equipment at Rocky Valley and Langford’s Gap, where there was a crusher that crushed rock from Basalt Hill, but not during the winter months as it was above the snow line. My last job during those first six years was as a tunnel fitter on No 1 McKay Creek power station tailrace tunnel and power chamber. Remarkably, after working for some twelve months on the KHES, I was able to purchase a car, a Morris Minor, which made a great difference to my life This book also describes some of the early history of the Falls Creek ski resort in which I played a part. Falls Creek flourished to become the premium ski resort in Victoria, with its wonderful downhill and ski touring terrain on the Bogong High Plains, together with its ease of access and plentiful supply of water for snow making, provided by the Rocky Valley Reservoir. Included in this book are many maps, diagrams and photos. The sources of all of these where required, are acknowledged under the caption of each. When my father and mother visited us on the Scheme, my father took many Kodachrome photos, some of which I have enlarged and reproduced in greyscale and colour images. These are acknowledged under the captions with my father’s initials, ‘Photo GWS.’ At the request of my wife and children no images of them will appear in this book. The manuscript also contains copies of my watercolours, which I painted in the first few years of my life on the Scheme. These illustrate a little of the beautiful alpine environment in which I worked. Copies of these in A4 size are available by contacting the author.

  • ISBN: 9781310231001
  • Author: GORDON J R SMITH
  • Published: 2015-09-20 23:21:11
  • Words: 65159
Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow Part One  The final years of construction of t Concrete Hard Rock Earth and Snow Part One  The final years of construction of t