Is restoring Lake Pedder Tasmania’s Next Big Idea?

Members of the public are invited to attend a panel discussion about draining and restoring Lake Pedder, to be held at Wild Island at 5-7 pm on Thursday 1 December. Wild Island is located at Shop 8, The Galleria, 33 Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania.

The event will be recorded for broadcast on ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program in January 2017.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Natasha Cica – Director of, author of Pedder Dreaming: Olegas Truchanas and a Lost Tasmanian Wilderness and co-editor of GriffithREVIEW39: Tasmania – The Tipping Point?

Other participants are:

  • Peter Thompson – Broadcast journalist and educator
  • Saul Eslake – Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Tasmania, member of the board of directors, Hydro Tasmania and former chief economist of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia and the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group
  • Ruth Langford – Yorta Yorta woman and member of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community
  • Richard Eccleston – Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of Tasmania
  • Emma Anglesey – Tasmanian musician
  • Luke Wagner – Landscape painter

Places are limited and tickets can be purchased online. For full details and bookings, click here.

Lake Pedder Restoration community remembers Barbara Ditcham

Barbara Ditcham, who passed away earlier this year in Hobart in her 94th year, was a long-time supporter of the Lake Pedder restoration cause. She wished, like so many others, for Lake Pedder to be restored to its unique, original state.

Barbara and her family’s involvement in the Lake Pedder story began through the passionate work of her activist sister Brenda Hean. Brenda was a founding member of the United Tasmania Group (UTG), the precursor of the Australian Greens political party. The UTG was initially formed as a voice to represent Conservationists.

Brenda died in September 1972 during the campaign to save Lake Pedder from inundation, when the Tiger Moth aircraft in which she and pilot Max Price were flying, disappeared on its mission to Canberra.

The purpose of the flight was to protest the flooding of Lake Pedder. Max and Brenda planned to sky write “SAVE LAKE PEDDER” above Parliament House, then meet with Federal Politicians to voice worldwide profound concerns for the loss of Pedder and the South West Wilderness.

Barbara and Brenda were both known for their outstanding musical abilities – Brenda as an acclaimed organist and concert pianist, and Barbara as a Philharmonic Choir member renowned for her beautiful singing voice.

Barbara and husband Stan’s families were sea-farers. Stan was well known for his engineering, and boat building for both work and pleasure. Weekends and summers were spent sailing on Tasmania’s beautiful estuaries and exploring the varied coastline, nurturing a sense of adventure, intrigue and respect for nature.

Throughout Barbara’s married life there were the various challenges that confront us all one way or another! But 1972 saw her world shattered when Stan drowned tragically whilst away boating down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Bruny Island.

Brenda was lost in September that year.

Then 2 years later, Barbara’s eldest son, David, an engineer, died in The Mount Saint Canice Laundry boiler explosion in Hobart.

But Barbara’s amazing inner strength, gentle courage, resilience and sense of humour led her to continuing her busy, involved life! Family was her absolute love, as was she to us and an absolute inspiration!

She involved herself wholeheartedly in The National Trust, Red Cross, Hobart Walking Club, Heritage Tours, Orpheus and Warblers Choirs and hosted many a Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania lunch for her various groups! Her involvement with the Lake Pedder 2000 Restoration Group was greatly valued for her support and considered opinions and she was a valuable link to her family, continuing the passion of Brenda!

When in Grade 5, granddaughter Indi and her mother (Barbara’s daughter Celia) created a model of Lake Pedder for a school project. The model has a perspex water level depicting the flooded depth over the original lake. It was titled ‘Pull the Plug’, being fitted with a little Huon Pine plug, which was eventually pulled by Barbara at a reunion at the Waterworks Reserve in March 2015. “Sooner the better!” echoed from the gathering! The occasion was a commemoration of the declaration of the Lake Pedder National Park 60 years earlier in 1955.

Barbara and Green’s Senator, Nick McKim, 60th Anniversary of Lake Pedder National Park gathering; “Pull The Plug” model in the background.

Barbara and Green’s Senator, Nick McKim, 60th Anniversary of Lake Pedder National Park gathering.
“Pull The Plug” model in the background.

Barbara’s friends and admirers in the Lake Pedder restoration cause will long remember this wise, gracious, resilient and supportive lady.

Celia Watchorn and Melva Truchanas

Daring to dream – TasWeekend article on Lake Pedder restoration

The cover story and feature article in the Hobart Mercury’s TasWeekend magazine on 14 May 2016 was entitled Daring to dream – what would it take to restore Lake Pedder?

see article here


As part of her extensive research for the article, TasWeekend staff writer Sally Glaetzer travelled to Strathgordon on a very wet 1 May, with Lake Pedder Restoration members Peter Fagan, Adam Beeson, Stephen Curtain and Chris Holliday when they took LPRI’s engineering consultant Richard Prince to the region for a site visit.

LPRI is delighted with the article, which provided fair coverage of our point of view as well as seeking other opinions and obtaining comments from Hydro Tasmania and Premier Will Hodgman.

LPRI is pleased to learn that Will Hodgman’s “door is open to the Lake Pedder Restoration group” and we hope to arrange a meeting with the Premier soon.

We are also pleased that Sally and TasWeekend’s superbly produced article included in full colour some of the marvellous images that we have been gathering for our new web site from lovers of Lake Pedder.

Also of great value in terms of public understanding are the before and after maps, skilfully created by The Mercury’s graphic artists, that demonstrate how a reconfiguration of the Middle Gordon power scheme would allow Lake Pedder to be restored while the power scheme continued to operate.

Please take time to read this highly informative and superbly presented article.

Invitation to contribute content for Lake Pedder website

As part of a new-look Lake Pedder restoration website, we invite you to contribute content that will share the magic of Pedder, especially to a new, younger audience.

Our wish is to inspire and reignite people’s imagination about the original Lake Pedder.

For more information, please visit our page your story

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Todd Jenkins to exhibit paintings of Lake Pedder

Todd Jenkins is a Tasmanian painter whose current work – a body of paintings about the story of Lake Pedder – is to be exhibited at Despard Gallery in Hobart in December.

The paintings embody a historical narrative, for example: the movement of Aboriginal people who frequented the lake; their use of fire that has contributed to the landscape we see today; the splendid button grasses; native fauna scattered around the lake; the tannin stained shallows; and the magnificent beach that lies some 13 metres beneath the waters of a hydro-electric scheme.

The paintings are multi-layered reflections of Lake Pedder today, in the past and hopefully the future. Dr Bob Brown will open the exhibition at Despard Gallery, 15 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point at 6pm, 4 December 2015. The exhibition concludes 24 December 2015.

Lake Pedder Todd Jenkins2

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Senator Nick McKim urges business case for restoring Lake Pedder

Tasmania’s new Senator Nick McKim, who replaces former Greens leader Christine Milne, devoted a paragraph of his first speech to The Senate to Lake Pedder:

We should also start work on a business case for draining Lake Pedder, that absolute jewel of a wilderness lake in the south-west wilderness with its spectacular quartzite beach. Pedder was flooded in the 1970s, breaking the hearts of so many Tasmanians. But it also became the crucible of the environment movement in this country and led to the formation of the United Tasmania Group, the world’s first Green political party. Restoring Lake Pedder could be achieved with a loss of just two per cent to Hydro Tasmania’s system energy output in a state that is forecast to have an electricity glut until 2027 at the very earliest. It would put Tasmania on the front page of every newspaper in the world and establish us as a global leader in environmental remediation, one of the industries that will boom, and is booming, in the 21st century. I have in my office a bag of sand that belongs on the Lake Pedder beach. I do look forward to the day that I can pour that little bag of sand back onto that magnificent, one-kilometre-wide Lake Pedder beach.

Senator McKim delivered the speech on Wednesday, 9 September 2015. For the full text of the speech, click here.

Lake Pedder Restoration is currently planning the development of a business case for a reconfiguration of the Middle Gordon power scheme and the restoration of Lake Pedder. We greatly appreciate Senator McKim’s support of our efforts, his advice and his advocacy in the Commonwealth Parliament for this important national project.

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Commemorating 60th anniversary of Lake Pedder National Park

The Lake Pedder National Park was proclaimed in March 1955 – 60 years ago.

To commemorate and celebrate this event, the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee have organised a picnic / barbecue to be held at the Waterworks Reserve South Hobart on Sunday 8 March from 11 AM.

All interested persons are invited to this event. It is expected that many who knew Lake Pedder and were involved in the campaign to save it from inundation will attend, and share their memories of the Lake and the campaign. Younger Tasmanians, who have been denied the opportunity to know Lake Pedder, are particularly encouraged to join us for what will be a fascinating afternoon of historical recollection.

To view the invitation, click here.

The following quote from Lake Pedder: Why A National Park Must be Saved (Dick Johnson (ed.) 1972) provides a brief history of the proclamation of the National Park:

Lake Pedder National Park, an area of 59,000 acres centred on Lake Pedder was proclaimed in 1955 as a result of submissions by bushwalkers. The Scenery Preservation Board endorsed the proposal and Sir Allan Knight, commissioner of the Hydro-Electric Commission and a statutory member of the board, did not object.

At least three sets of boundaries were proposed. The final agree boundaries are notable for excluding much of the valley of the Serpentine River (which drains Lake Pedder) from the national park:

From Report of Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry June 1973
From Report of Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry June 1973

The reason for this exclusion was that the Hydro-Electric Commission had by 1955 conceived of a hydro-electric power scheme that would dam the Serpentine River, hold the captured water behind the dam and use it to generate electricity. Excluding the lower reaches of the Serpentine from the National Park would enable them to be flooded by a dam without also flooding Lake Pedder.

The configuration of such a scheme is illustrated in the following diagram:

Middle Gordon power scheme reconfigured to restore Lake Pedder within the boundaries of the 1955 National Park. From Report of Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry June 1973

Middle Gordon power scheme reconfigured to restore Lake Pedder within the boundaries of the 1955 National Park. From Report of Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry June 1973

The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee has developed a 3D visualisation that demonstrates how the eventually constructed power scheme abandoned this environmental compromise and flooded the entire course of the Serpentine River, a great deal of surrounding country and Lake Pedder itself. The 3D visualisation also demonstrates how the power scheme could be modified to enable Lake Pedder to be restored. To view the visualisation, click here.

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