History

19th century | 20th century | 21st century

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.

20000 years ago:
Aboriginal people lived in the area and frequented the lake.

1835:
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.

1874:
Landscape painter William Piguenit visits and paints at Lake Pedder.

1898:
A branch of the Port Davey track reaches Lake Pedder.

1946:
The first light plane landing is made on the 3 kilometre long beach.

1955:
The Lake is the heart and focus of the newly gazetted Lake Pedder National Park.

1967:
Premier Eric Reece announces that development of the Middle Gordon Power Scheme will "result in some modification to the Lake Pedder National Park" .

1968:
The Lake Pedder National Park is incorporated into the South West National Park.

1972:
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.

1972:
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.

1973:
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.

1982:
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.

1993:
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.

1994:
The General Assembly of the IUCN, meeting in Buenos Aires, passes a resolution calling for the restoration of the lake.

1994:
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.

1994:
Pedder 2000 campaign is launched in Hobart with national and international expressions of support.

1994:
Robin Gray, Minister for Energy in Tasmania's Liberal Government expresses unqualified opposition.

1995:
A symposium held at the University of Tasmania concludes that restoration of Lake Pedder is feasible.

2006:
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.

2009:
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.


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