Snowy Hydro workers and their families at Cabramurra have a twelve month window to move out of town, Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said on Thursday.
The site will instead become a drive-in drive-out operation, with the local school to close and other services to lose business, and Mr Broad has admitted some Cabramurra residents are not exactly thrilled about the situation.
The transition process began at the beginning of 2016 and is due to be completed by the end of 2018. He said the affected families have been given financial assistance to help them with their move.
“The town continues to be a critical operational site for Snowy Hydro’s operation and continues to house our staff and contractors working on our Upper Tumut assets. Cabramurra also continues to remain open to the public to visit,” a Snowy Hydro spokesperson told the TA Times.
“The transition to the new arrangements will be complete by January 2018 when there will no longer be any permanent residents in the town. However, our workforce will continue to be housed in the town when they are rostered on.”
Cabramurra is Australia’s highest town with an altitude of 1, 488 metres. It is entirely populated by Snowy Hydro employees and their families. There are no private homes or overnight accommodations for tourists and non-Snowy Hydro residents are not allowed to live there – but there is a general store, a post office, and a coffee shop, which will remain open.
The town was constructed in the fifties to house Snowy Scheme employees and has served that purpose ever since. It is ideally located for those who work on the Tumut 2 Hydroelectric Power Station and Electrical Switching Yards, and the Tumut Pondage Dam.
During peak construction of the Snowy Scheme it had a population of over 2000 but those numbers have dwindled since the boom days of the mid twentieth century. There were 364 permanent residents in Cabramurra at the last census count.
A Snowy Hydro spokesperson said the move will be to the benefit of the town’s former residents.
“For their wellbeing, employees and their families need to be able to access the full range of services available in other regional communities including medical and social services, shops, sporting clubs, social facilities etc. This is best achieved by our workers being accommodated at Cabramurra when they are rostered on and then spending time with their families in communities across the Snowy Mountains and beyond when they are rostered off,” the spokesperson said.
Cabramurra is frequently covered in snow for three to four months of the year, and the nearest hospital is over a 100 kilometres away in either Cooma or Tumut. It does have a primary school – up until now at least – but the nearest high school is an hour and a half’s bus ride to Tumbarumba.
The Snowy Hydro families are moving to a more convenient location whether they like it or not.