News—December 2012

19 December 2012 – Vale Helen Gee – In memory of the life and contribution of Helen Gee

The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee is deeply saddened by the passing of one of its most active and committed members, Helen Gee, on 19 December 2012.

Helen was a dynamic inspiration to so many people and organisations over the past 45 years, beginning with the campaign to Save Lake Pedder from flooding – in 1967. Her achievements and influence within the Tasmanian conservation movement are too numerous to be counted.

Helen Gee was a Pedder activist through all this time, becoming the vibrant convener of Pedder 2000 Inc (the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee (LPRC). She created, edited and published the Committee’s valuable magazine REFLECTIONS 1992 – 2004.

In 1998 Helen travelled to California in the United States to represent Pedder 2000 at the International Rivers Network conference on dam removal and de-commissioning. At that conference, her motion that Lake Pedder should be freed was accepted and passed to a UN Environmental Committee.

This visit inspired Helen to co-ordinate the Living Rivers Festival in Hobart in 2000, which brought the Gyoto Monks to Hobart for the first time, to bless Lake Pedder. Other associated workshops presented the concerns for the ailing Murray-Darling River system.

Helen was a founding member of The Wilderness Society, and served as a Councillor with the Australian Conservation Foundation. She was a member of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Consultative Committee (TWWHCC) in approx. 1987-1999 and a campaign officer for the Tasmanian National Parks Association, and for the South East Forest Protection Group.

Helen was an accomplished author, editor and co-editor of books on Tasmania’s wild places and the need to conserve them:

  • The South-West Book: a Tasmanian wilderness (1978)
  • The Franklin: Tasmania’s last wild river (1978)
  • For the Forests: a history of the Tasmanian forest campaigns (co-edited, 2001)
  • Rivers of Verse: a Tasmanian Journey 1800 – 2004
  • Ronnie: Tasmanian Songman (and Aboriginal elder) (2009).

Ill health forced Helen to withdraw from all her community activities in 2010. In November 2012, Helen was awarded with the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee Certificate of Acknowledgement for her long and impassioned service to the cause of the reclamation of Lake Pedder. The certificate was awarded as an expression of sincere appreciation for Helen’s years of work towards the eventual restoration of the original lake.

Helen’s death was noted in public statements by Cassy O’Connor, Tasmania’s Minister for Community Development and Vica Bayley, Tasmanian Campaign Manager, The Wilderness Society – see Tasmanian Times.


Pedder Dreaming: Olegas Truchanas and a Lost Tasmanian Wilderness

Dr Natasha Cica’s book Pedder Dreaming: Olegas Truchanas and a Lost Tasmanian Wilderness, , was launched nationally on 17 September at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Natasha Cica is the Director of the Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society at the University of Tasmania. Her book was launched by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. You can read the Governor-General’s speech here and Dr Cica’s speech here.

For details of Natasha’s book, click here.

The national launch followed events in Hobart with Sir Guy Green, Chair of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Ten Days on The Island arts Festival (speech here); in Launceston with Professor David Rich, the Provost of UTAS; and in Melbourne with political analyst George Megalogenis from The Australian.

Futher events were held in Sydney with broadcaster and commentator Rebecca Huntley, on Bruny Island with Dr Graham Bury, Mayor of Kingborough Council, in Burnie with Professor Janelle Allison, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regional Development at the University of Tasmania and in Brisbane with Dr Julianne Schultz, editor of the Griffith Review.

For Tasmanians, the name of Olegas Truchanas is synonymous with the loss of Lake Pedder. Slide shows of his haunting photographs of the lake before its inundation by the Hydro Electric Commission played to standing-room-only audiences in the late 1960s. Truchanas, for some time a clerk at the Hydro, was prevented by his employer from speaking out about the destruction of what he saw as one of the jewels of the Tasmanian landscape. Instead, he let his pictures speak for him. So powerful were the images that a campaign to save the lake sprang up; while it did not succeed, it formed the foundation of a robust environmental movement.

Olegas had spent many years exploring and photographing the wilds of Tasmania and was the first non-indigenous person to traverse many parts of the rugged interior of the island. The 1967 bushfires destroyed his home and with it virtually his entire collection of images. He set out to retrace his exploration and recording of the wilderness, but in 1972, while photographing the Gordon River as part of his mission to replace his lost slides, he was tragically drowned (Text courtesy of Tasmanian Times).


News—August 2010

The work of Olegas Truchanas featured in a newly digitised and remastered version of his legendary audio visual presentation on Lake Pedder

At a Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) exhibition In the Balance held in Sydney from 21 August – 31 October 2010, the work of Olegas Truchanas featured in a newly digitised and remastered version of his legendary audio visual presentation on Lake Pedder.

This presentation is justly famous, having done so much to raise awareness about this exquisite and precious Australian landscape in the years immediately before it was flooded.

June 2010 – Singer/songwriter Bruce Watson’s recent song Lake Pedder Again released on his new CD Balance.


2009 – 2010 – Subsidised hydro electricity for energy intensive industry (and its implications for Lake Pedder restoration) attract plenty of debate on Tasmanian Times

See articles from October 2009 and March 2010.


December 2009 Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott told a Millennium Forum function in Sydney:
‘My first public disagreement with the former prime minister, Mr Howard, was over my proposal to drain Lake Pedder’.

Download the article.

13-15 November 2009

Bruce Watson, in Launceston for the launch of Helen Gee’s latest book Tasmanian Songman Ronnie, performed his new song Lake Pedder Again at Launceston’s bohemian venue Chalmers over the weekend 13–15 November.

News—February 2009

12 February 2009 – Event to celebrate publication of the book Pedder: The Story. The Paintings by Max Angus, at Gleebooks, Sydney.

Over 200 people attended this event at which Peter Thompson chaired a panel featuring Geoffrey Cousins, Tom Uren and Helen Gee in a discussion of Lake Pedder and other Tasmanian environmental struggles.

Peter Fagan (NSW Representative) spoke on behalf of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee: Peter Fagan’s speech.

For details of the book click here. Many thanks to Fullers for their wholehearted support of the Max Angus book project.


2 November 2008 – Launch of Pedder: The Story. The Paintings by Max Angus at Fullers Bookshop, Hobart.

The keynote speaker was the Honourable William Cox AC, former Governor of Tasmania; for his speech, click here.

Courtney Wise spoke on behalf of Tasmania’s youth. For Courtney’s speech, click here. Author and artist Max Angus was present and also spoke.

News—September 2008

25 September 2008 – Tasmanian premiere of Scott Millwood’s documentary film “Whatever happened to Brenda Hean?” at the State Cinema Hobart.

The documentary tells of the Tiger Moth plane which was lost off Tasmania’s East coast on its way to Canberra in 1972, with pilot Max Price and passenger Brenda Hean on board. An inexplicably brief official search off Tasmania’s East Coast between Hobart and Flinders Island revealed no trace of the plane or its occupants. Mystery surrounding the disappearance was intensified by the discovery that the hangar in which the plane was kept had been broken into the night before the flight. The mystery of the crash and the total disappearance of the plane and its occupants has never been explained.

Purchase DVD of the documentary

Click here to read the review in Hobart’s daily newspaper The Mercury 25/9/08.

Scott Millwood has also developed his research into the Brenda Hean mystery as a fascinating book.

3 August 2008 – Premiere of Whatever happened to Brenda Hean? at the Melbourne International Film Festival.


News—September 2007

28 – 29 September 2007 – Extracts from an opera inspired by the life of Olegas Truchanas were performed at the Playhouse Theatre in Hobart.

The libretto, written by Natasha Cica examines Olegas’ life in Lithuania and Tasmania and his involvement in the campaign to save Lake Pedder. The music was composed by Constantine Koukias whose company IHOS Music Theatre & Opera produced the opera.

9 September 2007 – $100,000 reward offered by filmmaker Scott Millwood for information that solves the mystery of the disappearance of Brenda Hean and Max Price.

See newspaper clippings about the disappearance of Max Price and Brenda Hean and the reward in Resources).

8 September 2007 – a Memorial Service for Brenda Hean and Max Price was held at 11 AM at Scots Church, Bathurst Street Hobart.

The service marked 35 years since the disappearance of Max Price and Brenda Hean There were speeches by Senator Bob Brown and others – Order of Service.


October 2006 – Wildflower Spectacular featuring installation by the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee celebrating the famous Pedder beach and flora from the surrounds, Hobart City Hall

September 2006 – Geoff Parr’s solo exhibition Persicope: a view from the original Lake Pedder Beach at Hobart’s Carnegie Gallery.

The exhibition covered 25 years of work on issues of conflict and conservation. It is mixed media with computer generated images, photos and light box installations.

25 August 2006 – Pedder Cards Released.

Melva Truchanas and Bob Brown launched two greeting cards featuring previously unreleased images of Lake Pedder captured by Olegas Truchanas.

The cards are published as a tribute to Olega’s memory and to his pioneering work in raising consciousness of Tasmania’s threatened natural beauty. The cards also serve to promote awareness of the possibility of restoring Lake Pedder to its original state.

Basslink Interconnector, a seabed electricity transmission cable, enables Tasmania to join the National Energy Market (NEM) and ends Tasmania’s total dependence on electricity generated on the island.

Note: NEM is now the Australian Energy Market, run by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). You can visualise the electricity market in operation, including interstate transfers, at the Australian Energy Regulator Electricity market reports page.

Lake Pedder chalet to close to public – while the Tasmanian tourist industry continues to grow, the failure of the man-made “attractions” of the “new” Lake Pedder to draw and hold visitors is starkly demonstrated.

October 2009:
Professor Jonathan West, in his Innovations Strategy for Tasmania report recommends the Tasmanian Government consider ending its hefty electricity subsidies to the Comalco and Temco smelters at Bell Bay and the Nyrstar zinc works in Hobart.

His report outlines how the three ore smelters and metal works consume two-thirds of Tasmania’s annual power generation, pay less for their electricity than its cost of production and employ only 1400 people.

The sale of the power below cost and way below value to industrial users is costing the Government up to $220 million in revenue every year, depleting the drought-affected hydro storage reservoirs and preventing more of the electricity they can generate from (a) being sold at peak times and rates via Basslink to mainland Australia and (b) enabling integration of eco-friendly wind power into the national grid.

For an analysis, including a Lake Pedder restoration perspective, see Peter Fagan’s article in Tasmanian Times.


December 2004 – Reflections 10, the 10th edition of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee newsletter Reflections was released.

This was the final issue in this format, the Committee having since moved to a less formal newsletter format to keep members informed. Read Reflections 10.


December 2003 – The Pedder 2000 (Victorian Branch) AGM

It was decided that another walk along the old Pedder track from the Strathgordon Road to the north should be organised for 2004.

October 2003 – Australian Geographic No 72, Oct-Dec 2003 featured the story of the 30th anniversary commemorative walk (see below) and the placing of a time capsule onto the submerged shores of Lake Pedder.

This article includes some superb photographs, including a view of Lake Pedder from the Frankland Ranges taken by Peter Dombrovskis.

2003 – Release of the documentary film Wildness written and directed by Scott Millwood, produced by Michael McMahon for Film Australia, which examines the legacy of Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis, two of Australia’s greatest wilderness photographers.

For more on the film click here.


Late 2002 – Dimensions on the ABC featured a documentary about Lake Pedder prepared for the 30th anniversary of the flooding of the lake.

April 2002 – The 30th anniversary of Pedder’s flooding was commemorated in Tasmania.

After an emotional ceremony at Maydena, young and young-at-heart Pedder supporters followed the original route into Lake Pedder with journalists and photographers. A time capsule containing ‘messages to the future’ was lowered into the waters of the Huon-Serpentine impoundment, awaiting rediscovery when the dam is drained. Included in these messages was that of botanist David Bellamy: “Lake Pedder will rise again, pink dawn of the Green Renaissance.”


May 2000 – Reflections of Pedder: a night of celebration was held in Melbourne.

More than 300 people attended to raise more than $3000. Dr Geoff Mosley, Karen Alexander, Brian Walters and Rob Sitch shared thoughts of hope. An excellent slide and film presentation featured.


Scientific studies reveal that beneath 15 metres of water, the features of the Lake Pedder area – including beach, dunes and the channel of the Serpentine River – are intact under a few millimetres of silt.

The General Assembly of the IUCN, meeting in Buenos Aires, passes a resolution calling for the restoration of the lake.

Comalco aluminium smelter, Tasmania’s largest bulk electricity consumer, closes the third potline at its Bell Bay smelter. Tasmania’s power surplus reaches 130 MW.

Pedder 2000 campaign is launched in Hobart with national and international expressions of support.

Robin Gray, Minister for Energy in Tasmania’s Liberal Government expresses unqualified opposition.

A symposium held at the University of Tasmania concludes that restoration of Lake Pedder is feasible.


The Huon-Serpentine impoundment (the ‘new lake Pedder’) is included within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) because the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) expresses hope for eventual restoration of the natural Lake Pedder.


The Tasmanian government refuses an offer from the Commonwealth Government to fund a simple alternative version of the Middle Gordon scheme that would enable the lake to be saved.

In spite of a massive Tasmanian, national and international opposition campaign, Lake Pedder is flooded to augment by 60 MW the electricity generated by the Middle Gordon power station.

The world’s first Green Party, the United Tasmania Group (UTG) is formed to oppose the flooding of Lake Pedder that will result if the proposed design for the Middle Gordon Power Scheme is constructed.

The Lake Pedder National Park is incorporated into the South West National Park.

Premier Eric Reece announces that development of the Middle Gordon Power Scheme will “result in some modification to the Lake Pedder National Park” .

The Lake is the heart and focus of the newly gazetted Lake Pedder National Park.


The first light plane landing is made on the 3 kilometre long beach.

A branch of the Port Davey track reaches Lake Pedder.

Landscape painter William Piguenit visits and paints at Lake Pedder.

Surveyor John Wedge names the lake ‘Pedder’ after the first Chief Justice of the colony (then named Van Diemen’s Land), Sir John Lewes Pedder.

Pre-settlement history

20,000 years ago:
Aboriginal people lived in the area and frequented the lake.

1 million years ago:

Glacial outwash blocks the flow of the Serpentine River. A unique glacial lake is formed which is nine square kilometres in area with a beach of pink quartz sand three kilometres long and nearly one kilometre wide in summer when the lake’s level is low.

Misc. archive content

Hydro Power and Global Warming

As people search for answers to carbon pollution and global warming, the argument that maintaining and even expanding Tasmania’s hydro-electric generation capacity can make a valuable contribution is being offered. For a refutation see Chris Harries’ article They should have dammed the Franklin after all? in the Tasmanian Times. September 2009.

Our Common Ground

Community organisation that believes the conflict over forestry has divided Tasmania for too long, and that a win-win solution is possible. Our Common Ground is committed to having all sections of the Tasmanian community work to find a resolution. This includes the timber industry, environment movement and government.

Scott Millwood – Whatever Happened to Brenda Hean?

Purchase DVD of the documentary

Purchase the book

Tasmanian National Parks Association

Organisation dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Tasmania’s National Parks.

Environment Tasmania

Representative body for Tasmania’s environment movement (LPRC is a member).

Stott webpage & McLean webpage

Two websites featuring personal photos of Lake Pedder.

Habitat Advocate

Steven Ridd’s new web site, advocating the conservation of wildlife and native habitat.

Restoring the Earth

A project to promote the ecological restoration of the planet’s degraded ecosystems as the essential over-riding and uniting task for the peoples and nations of the world in the 21st Century.

Reflections: Campaign Newsletter

Newsletter April 2006



Brenda Hean and Max Price Memorial Service, held 8 September 2007 at Scots Memorial Uniting Church, Hobart, Tasmania – Order of Service.

Read poetry inspired by Lake Pedder

Media Clippings

7 September 2007 The Mercury (Tasmania)
“Pedder riddle remembered”

9 September 2007 The Sunday Tasmanian
“$100,000 Lure – Bid to solve vanished plane mystery” PAGE 1
“$100,000 Lure – Bid to solve vanished plane mystery” PAGE 2

9 September 2007 The Sunday Tasmanian
“Darkness over Lady of the Lake” PAGE 1
“Darkness over Lady of the Lake” PAGE 2
“Darkness over Lady of the Lake” PAGE 3


‘… there would be some modification of the Lake Pedder National Park …’

Part of a statement issued by the Premier, reported in The Mercury, 1965

‘This new lake would inundate Lake Pedder to a depth of some 40 feet and this would result in the loss of the beach as a light aircraft landing strip in the summer seasons’.

HEC Report on the Development of the South-West, Interdepartmental Committee 1966

‘Lake Pedder is to me the very heart of the South-West. When it is modified, as it is called, into a large deep inland sea it will not be more beautiful. It will be an artificial man-made pond in the middle of the natural wilderness area. It will affect, in my view, the entire atmosphere, the entire make-up of the South-West of Tasmania’.

Olegas Truchanas, from transcript made prior to his death on 6 January 1972

‘There is no doubt at all that the saga of Lake Pedder will go down in Australian history.  The case simply reflects the rather sudden awakening of the Australian people to what is happening to their natural heritage.  In a pioneering society, the principle problems are to survive, to exploit and to develop.  The Lake Pedder case marks the end of Australia’s pioneering days and it ushers in a new phase of conscious concern by all sections of the community for the long-term future of the natural and human environment.  I very much hope that never again will Australians have cause to question so vehemently a decision on any conservation issue’.

HRH Prince Philip – Foreword, Pedder Papers, September 1972

‘If Lake Pedder were to be re-exposed, its beauty would return, irrespective of the length of time the lake had been flooded … This is very fortunately, in this case, what lawyers call a locus poenitentiae – an opportunity to repent … if not we ourselves, the day will come when our children will undo what we so foolishly have done’.

Edward St John QC, Australian Government Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry, 1974

‘All major features of the original beach and dune systems are intact … Accumulation of sediment over the original beach is slight, no more than a few millimeters’.

Professor Peter Tyler, Lake Pedder. A Geophysical Survey, May 1993

‘ … the General Assembly of IUCN CALLS UPON the Tasmanian State Government and the Government of Australia to investigate the feasibility of (a) the restoration of the original Lake Pedder … and REQUESTS the Director General to make available … relevant technical expertise and advice to achieve the restoration …’

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 19th Session, Buenos Aires, Jan 1994

‘Technically it is feasible to drain the present impoundment and restore the original lake. If implemented the proposal would enhance the world heritage values of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area … there would be a significant net cost to the Tasmanian community … It is opposed by the government and the major opposition in Tasmania and under these circumstances has no real prospect of proceeding in the foreseeable future’.

Australian Government House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts: Inquiry into the Proposal to Drain and Restore Lake Pedder, June 1995 (from the Summary).

‘As it sits now the lake [the Huon-Serpentine storage] is an insult upon the land. We initially thought it should be excised from the existing World Heritage site but our 1989 evaluation foreshadowed the eventual prospect of restoration and on that remote (at that time) prospect we left it in. On earth in general and in Tasmania in particular it is time for healing. I would hope this process can begin with the successful restoration of Lake Pedder’.

Jim Thorsell Senior Advisor, Natural Heritage IUCN, 1995

‘We may reasonably expect that almost from Day 1, many of the best-loved scenes of Lake Pedder will again be on view … The lake basin itself is robust and almost certainly remains intact. Any intervention in the restorative process around the lake shore will have to be very carefully planned well in advance. The impact of two decades of ill-considered impoundment have been of little consequence to the landforms.’

Dr Kevin Kiernan, Geomorphological Report to Pedder Study Group, 1994

‘The HEC was completely wrong in its forecasts of growth of demand.  In contrast, estimates of demand growth by conservationists were reasonably accurate.  The unnecessary hydro construction of the last 20 years has caused the HEC to accumulate an astonishing debt of $1.65 billion.  If the Gordon-below-Franklin scheme had been built, the HEC debt would now stand at $2.5 billion.  The Commonwealth saved the HEC from financial disaster by blocking construction of the dam.  The only bright spot in this sorry story is that the original Lake Pedder could be restored at little cost.  The draining of the impoundment would reduce overcapacity in Tasmania by just 1% of total hydro storage.  That is, the water in Lake Pedder is essentially valueless.  There would be an added benefit – Greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from rotting vegetation in the lake, which could be up to 6 times worse than from an equivalent coal-fired power station, would be eliminated.’

Dr Andrew Blakers, Engineering Department, ANU, 1995

‘Almost nothing gets to me like photos of the old Lake Pedder. It is almost impossibly beautiful … it humbled every person who visited. It was flooded for power against the wishes of a nation by a group of vindictive old men. These same men who would pass strict laws against graffiti or the destruction of private property raped and destroyed what was surely Mother Nature’s temple. It was a crime. I saw the first documentary on its flooding when I was ten and it’s haunted me ever since. A small band of people led the fight to save it. They became known as the Pedder People. I don’t think this country’s seen such a self-less, honest and passionate campaign. The tragedy of it all burnt a hole in their souls. They deserved better. I hope this nation rises one day to correct the damage.’

Rob Sitch, Film Director, statement made to Lake Pedder Restoration Committee, 1997

‘Tasmania’s distinctive qualities, which have all but disappeared from the rest of the world, ultimately will attract people and it is these qualities… that we must preserve and seek to base our future on. In a world in which perception is ever more seen to be reality, a series of iconic projects would carry the greatest symbolic weight in altering the attitude of people everywhere toward Tasmania and would serve to employ people in the short term and create long-term employment. For this reason alone, Lake Pedder ought to be drained. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the environmental and historical arguments for this action, it would be seen as an act of global significance.’

Richard Flanagan, Flanagan’s Vision for Tasmania, in the Saturday Mercury, July 18, 1998, p28.

‘With the exception of the Sea of Galilee there can be few lakes that have had such an impact on a nation and beyond as Tasmania’s Lake Pedder, in the heart of the south-west wilderness. Plans to flood this beautiful and impressive lake raised an out-cry of national and international opposition.

Engineering feasibility, political will at national level, and financial inducements to save this lake were of no avail, and an obdurate Tasmanian government proceeded with its original plans.’

Professor Peter Tyler 2001.

‘The conference concluded with a call for action from the relevant governments, agencies and organizations to implement … the restoration of Lake Pedder in the heart of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area in Australia’.

From the Concluding Declaration and Call to Action from Restore the Earth!
Conference, Findhorn, Scotland, April 2002

‘When will a decision have to be made about replacing or refurbishing the dam wall (containing the Pedder impoundment)? How much is it projected to cost? What would be the cost of dismantling it? Does the Hydro have a capital fund capable of replacing existing aging infrastructure?’

There is now a real conflict between water for food and water for power … It is clear to me that farmers downstream will pay more for water from the impoundment than the Hydro gets for renewable energy generated from it. We can replace the foregone power with wind and solar and possibly go geo thermal’.

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne on climate change, in a letter to the LPRC, July 2008

Header Photo Credit : John Anderson Collection