The central highlands is an excellent yet underrated part of Tasmania. Boasting dramatic landscapes, world heritage wilderness, freshwater fishing, pencil pines, engineering feats of yesteryear, Australia’s oldest golf course and luxury accommodation, it is a good idea to add the area to your “must see” list. One of the fascinating things to explore in the central highlands is the power scheme. I’ve visited Pumphouse Point and Poatina Power Station (open to the public only occasionally) and can now add Waddamana Power Station to the list. Although very different to the other two sites, it is equally as impressive.
It is difficult to imagine how on earth the power stations, pumphouses, watercourses and so on that criss-cross the central highlands were built in the early 1900s. When you see the terrain for yourself, you’ll understand what I mean! Many of the workers arrived on foot from Launceston, something that I don’t recommend trying out yourself! Waddamana A Power Station is the station that has been restored and is now open to the public. You can catch glimpses of Waddamana B Power Station but it is not open for inspection.
You’ll find the building itself impressive. It a tribute to a bygone era where industrial buildings were both functional and beautiful. The fall of the pipes to the power station down the hillside also makes for a spectacular backdrop. Inside, visit the original offices, see the logbooks, explore a store of tools. If you’re feeling cold, sit in the heated history room and view footage of some the station’s key events. My favourite thing to do is to walk between the turbines. There is a large array of them, all restored and one stripped so that you can see the inner workings.
Walk to the end of the hall and have a look at the smaller exhibits too. I learnt that ceramic insulators were used originally (before the invention of polymer and plastic insulators). They are rather beautiful works of art! Upstairs, you’ll find another exhibit, this time showcasing life in Waddamana and the central highlands in the early- to mid-1900s. On your way out, make sure that you say hello to Joe the dachshund (sausage dog) and his lovely owner.
What to Bring
You’ll want to bring food and water with you. Between the drive in and out of the power station and the hour or so that you spend exploring it, you’ll have worked up an appetite and there are no cafes nearby. I also recommend dressing appropriately for the weather forecast as it can be very cold in the central highlands. The history room is the only heated part of the station, so you can shelter there if needed!
Waddamana Power Station is located between the towns of Miena and Bothwell. Take the A5 and then detour via the C178. Check for road closures before you start out. Even though it wasn’t snowing, we were caught out by unexpected roadworks. We had to double-back towards Bothwell, making the trip longer than anticipated. It will take you approximately one hour and forty-five minutes to drive from either Launceston or Hobart to Waddamana, if all of the roads are open. Hydro Tasmania currently advise that the roadworks are ongoing (check their website here), although you can time your trip to coincide with a break in the roadworks. Give yourself more time and enjoy the scenery!
You’ll visit Waddamana Power Station for FREE!!!! Even better, the museum is open daily from 10am – 4pm, except for major public holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday). You will shell out quite a bit in petrol to get there. That said, the central highlands region is well worth the visit.
Want to visit more of the central highlands’ power scheme? Pumphouse Point is magnificent and, although rarely open, I highly recommend exploring Poatina Power Station. Other nearby attractions include Ratho Farm (housing Australia’s oldest golf course) or you can head further afield to the west, south, north or to the midlands.