The Flood

In April 1929, Launceston was hit by the worst flooding in Tasmanian history.  While reports of the death toll vary it is believed that up to 22 people lost their lives in the deluge and it was not until 1940 that the city fully recovered from the destruction.  At Duck Reach, the suspension bridge washed away and the Power Station building was destroyed – plunging Launceston into darkness.

 

First and Largest

Duck Reach was

  • the first significant hydro-electric power scheme in Australia
  • the first major supplier of electricity to a city in Australia
  • the largest publicly owned hydro-electric plant in the Southern Hemisphere

The Duck Reach Power Station was an immediate success and within twelve months of commencing operation, it was necessary to expand the plant to meet increasing demand for electricity.  The station continued to run without addition to the equipment from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.  In 1955 the new Trevallyn Power Station was announced and Duck Reach was decommissioned after almost 60 years of continuous service – interrupted only by the 1929 flood damage.

 

The suspension bridge in flood

The bluestone pylon on the side of the river is all that remains of the original bridge which was swept away in the devastating 1929 flood.  Rebuilt in 1930 the bridge was again destroyed by flooding in 1969.  All that remains of the 1930 rebuild is the reinforced concrete pylon on the opposite bank.

After an absence of 26 years the bridge was finally rebuilt in 1995 using the existing pylons and the original designs.  It is 56 metres long and one metre wide.

The downed suspension bridge following the 1929 flood, the wreckage of the station building visible on the far bank.

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