Bryden Williams

Entry #1

09.02.2015

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During my stay at the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture I have been observing the natural features of the Alpine National Park from the viewpoints of various localities, each in some way crafted by the hand of man. The view from our dining room window at cabin 17 looks out to where the Pretty Valley and Rocky Valley creeks converge. Replacing this confluence is the fluctuating shoreline of Lake Guy. I peer out to the lake through a cluster of deciduous Sycamore, Spruce and Beech trees that have been here for almost as long as the glassy waters of Lake Guy. The lake formed when Junction Dam, with its inter-connecting chambers and steep spillway was built in 1944.

This dam, along with its downstream cousin Clover Dam, is a modern relic from Australia’s damming craze of the mid 20th Century. Arguably the height of this trend was reached by the completion of Australia’s largest infrastructure project, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme in 1974. Having visited parts of this scheme on my journey from Sydney, including Khancoban and Jindabyne Dams, I have been able to explore different concrete surfaces as a material pretence to Australia’s cultural identity. Subsequently I have gathered new photographic evidence of engineered spaces in Australia. However, my residency accommodation in Bogong Village has enabled me to seek a more local and strategic study of the Kiewa hydro-scheme and it’s historic attributes. Just down the road from my cabin Bogong Power Station operates on demand from it’s high-tech underground cavern. Completed in 2010, this power station uses recycled water channelled through an underground pipeline from McKay Power Station. The water starts its epic journey from Pretty Valley Pondage located in the upper reaches of the Alpine National Park. I have gone on repeat visits to these lakes and their respective dams. Seeing these epic vistas is both a haunting and somehow comforting experience. These crafted infrastructures ultimately exist as a compromise to the natural ecosystems of the Alpine region. However they also offer a new kind of tranquillity that comes into existence by an ongoing persistence of human intervention in the natural environment.