The History of Tarraleah

The post-war central highlands of Tasmania was the site for the most ambitious infrastructure development in the state's history. Men came from all over the world to help construct the hydroelectric scheme. The town of Tarraleah was born.

The Early Days

From the beginning of the twentieth century, generating hydroelectric power was seen as a means to a plentiful supply for industry and the general public. It would ultimately provide the technology to drive this small state forward.  As early as 1910 the first sod of ground was turned.
One scheme, completed in 1947, involved building a canal from the Derwent River just below the Clark Dam (Butlers Gorge) across the Nive River to Tarraleah where a drop of 1000 feet would be utilised to drive the turbines in the Tarraleah Power Station. This largely inaccessible area was a summer cattle run known as California, and later became the village called Tarraleah.

History of Tarraleah

A 14 mile road was built from the west coast road to the site of the new camp (Tarraleah). Men were transported to the road junction at Bronte Park and walked with pack horses to the site. They were issued with a tent and it was here at Tarraleah that one of the earliest attempts to provide housing for workers took place. Workers were supplied with one hundred palings, at a cost of about 10 pounds, to build their own crude houses. The camp site was known as Tickleberry Flats and was the fore- runner to Tarraleah Village. In the 1920s the land was heavily forested. By the 1930s the forest was cleared and the Lodge (then known as the Chalet) and the first cottages were constructed to attract quality engineering staff to Tarraleah. More housing followed and by 1980 the town had a population of 1600 people.

The Lodge Building History

The Lodge was built in the 1930s by the Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) when money and craftsmanship were no object. It was the centrepiece of the Tarraleah settlement and was originally built for the visiting engineers and directors. Well built and with every modern convenience of the time (plus free unlimited electric heating), housing was provided to some of the world's elite hydro-electric engineers. At its peak in the 1980s the town boasted the cottages,  3 pubs, 2 churches, extensive workshops, sports ovals, a post office, a butcher, a police station,  a supermarket and a school. However, after 50 years construction work was complete and the need for staff rapidly declined.