Waddamana Power Station: Tasmania’s Fascinating Hydro-Electric Museum

Waddamana Power Station is a step back in time to the creation of Tasmania’s first hydro-electric power plant.

Waddamana Power Station was a pioneering effort to build Tasmania’s first hydro-electric power plant. Since its decommissioning in 1994, Waddamana, named after the Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning noisy water, has become a museum open to the public.

The unique hydro museum takes you back to the beginning of the hydro-electric scheme in Tasmania which has now grown to supply around 90% of Tasmania’s power.

Waddamana Township

The town of Waddamana is located in a valley at the base of the Central Plateau, close to the geographical centre of Tasmania, around 1 hour 40 minutes from Hobart or Launceston.

The once-thriving town which spreads across the valley floor was originally established to house families of the workers employed to construct and operate the power stations.

A small museum located on the mezzanine above Station A gives an insight into the self-sufficient lifestyle of the Waddamana residents by displaying household items and information on how the town grew, prospered and survived in such an isolated location.

Collection of old style ovens
Vintage ovens

Administration Offices

Climbing the grand flight of stairs to the top level of the power station you’ll encounter a collection of administration offices once used by Waddama employees.

The offices include the general office, the engineer in charges office and the engineer’s lookout. While the rooms are partitioned off to preserve them, they do give a good reference to what working life was like and the items used during the stations operational period.

The General Office was the domain of the secretary who was the only female staff member at Wadammana. The secretaries duties included handling the filing, bookkeeping, typing and operating the switchboard.

Old wooden desk and chair with dial phone, typewriter and switchboard
General Office

The Superintendents Office was the domain of the engineer in charge. The superintendent’s duties were vast and included control of daily operations at the plant and township, including overseeing the power plant, the staff village, as well as infrastructure.

Old wooden desk with lamps and dial phones in the Superintendents Office at Waddamana Power Station
Superintendents Office

The Engineers Lookout is a glass-enclosed balcony overlooking the generator room floor which offered a great vantage point for the superintendant to check staff and machinery operations.

Green hydro electricity turbines at Waddamana Power Station as seen through a glass window
Engineers Lookout

Graphical information boards placed throughout the administration offices are one of the real highlights of the museum. These information boards detail the usage of each room, interesting biographical information on former employees, as well as a fascinating timeline showing the complete lifecycle of the Waddamana Power Station beginning with the diversion of the Great Lake in 1910 until the decommissioning of Station B in 1994.

Waddamana Power Station

A short set of yellow stairs downward delivers you to Station A, the once beating heart of the Waddamana Power Station.

Although Station A was an operating power station, it was built with a level of beauty and craftsmanship that’s rarely found in modern buildings. The black and white checkered tiled floors, the rows and rows of towering machinery and the beautiful wood craftsmanship all combine to create a remarkably graceful building.

Waddamana Power Station floor filled with Pelton turbines and alternating generators
Station A

Hunkering Pelton turbines and alternating generators dominate the space, but machinery and tools of varying size and shape can be found throughout the museum and display the amazing level of detail and craftsmanship of the period.

We enjoyed our time wandering through all the massive pieces of equipment and admiring many of the small intricate components.

Orange Pelton Turbine used in hydroelectricity generation
Pelton Turbine
Old and cracked pressure gauge from Waddamana Power Station, Tasmania
Beautiful old gauge

Connected to Station A you’ll also find some interesting rooms including the history room, tool store and the equipment museum.

The History Room displays documentary videos of former employees and residents to give further personal insight into life and times at Waddamana.

The Tool Store displays the wide array of tools and equipment used to operate and maintain the station’s machinery. And some of them are huge!

Giant spanner
You’d need a few people to even move this spanner

While the Equipment Museum houses some early model machinery such as pneumatic rock drills, fire fighting equipment and more.

Old firefighting hose and cart
Old firefighting equipment
Old pneumatic rock drill
Pneumatic rock drill

Overlooking all of this is the massive crane used to maintain the machinery and the controlling station which once controlled the electrical loads of both stations during peak times.

Massive metal overhead industrial crane at Waddamana Power Station, Tasmania
The massive industrial crane used for maintenance
Hydroelectric controlling station filled with electronic equipment to control electrical loads
The Controlling Station

The controlling station is filled with all sorts of dials, knobs and a large array of electrical equipment I can’t even fathom the use for. Plus some truly monstrous industrial circuit breakers.

Row of large red industrial circuit breakers in a wooden case
Industrial circuit breakers

Hidden below all this machinery is a series of tunnels used to channel water to the turbines and supply cool air and remove hot air from the hard-working machinery.

Underground piping feeding water to the turbines at Waddamana Power Station, Tasmania
Some of the underground piping feeding water to the turbines

Waddamana Courtyard

The courtyard at Waddamana shows off some of the larger construction projects built at the site.

Adjacent the main doors is the remnants of a large electrical switchyard. The switchyard is filled with now rusty transformers poles and other electrical equipment once used to increase the voltage of the generated electricity before it was sent to Hobart via high voltage transmission wires.

Electrical switchyard at Waddamana Power Station, Tasmania
Waddamana Switchyard

Visible in the background of the switchyard are a series of large water pipes known as the penstocks plunging down the hillside. These pipes were used to feed large volumes of water into the turbines to generate power.

Large diameter water pipes running down a hill towards the Waddamana Hydro power station
Water pipes used to feed the power station

All that water needed somewhere to escape, and hidden around the side of the station is the deep trench of the water sluice which was used to remove the water from the power station.

Large concrete water channel surrounded by grass
Water channel used to remove water from the power station

Entry Price

Entry to Waddamana Power Station is free.

Opening Hours

Waddamana Power Station is open daily from 10:00-16:00.

Exceptions: Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday

Check the official website for up to date information.

Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Barbeques
  • Seating
  • Car park

Location

Address: Main Road, Waddamana. Tasmania, Australia.

Click to view map to Waddamana Power Station.

Recommended Equipment

  • Warm clothing
  • Water
  • Food

Safety Advice

  • Tasmania’s highland regions can experience heavy rainfall and snow during the winter months creating dangerous driving conditions

Conclusion

Much like the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre, Waddamana Power Station is a fascinating step back in time to Tasmania’s industrial era.

The beautifully maintained machinery and facilities are a pleasure to explore and the history of the site is both educational and intriguing.

The only negative to Waddamana is its remote location, but we still highly recommend a visit as it’s packed with so many interesting and unique displays.

Nearby Attractions

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