Restoring Lake Pedder



Restoring Lake Pedder

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Lake Pedder—situated in south-west Tasmania – was the jewel in the wilderness, a magnificent, untouched natural formation that instilled wonder in all who had the good fortune to experience this spiritual place.

The flooding of Lake Pedder in 1972 for a relatively minor hydro-electric scheme created an international environmental furore. In the summer of 2021-22 it will be fifty years since the water of the Serpentine impoundment swallowed Lake Pedder’s wide pink-white quartzite beach.

In recognition of the lake’s remarkable values and its timeless appeal, the case for the waters to be drained and the lake restored to its natural splendour continues to be made—and still resonates with Australians of all ages. In the midst of the global climate change and biodiversity emergency, we need symbols of hope and powerful examples of ecological restoration to turn the tide on destruction and align with our values that wilderness and nature are integral to our existence. It is time to uncover and restore the jewel of Tasmania.

The movement to restore Lake Pedder is one of Australia’s longest running environmental campaigns and is recognised as the initial movement that resulted in the formation of the world’s first Green political party. Its members include legends from the environment movement, from academia, wilderness photographers and bushwalkers.

Restoration is envisaged as a national project—funded nationally, located in Tasmania, drawing on the skills and enthusiasm of all Australians, and benefiting all Australians.

It would attract a great deal of positive international attention to Australia and demonstrate that Australians are willing to make major environmental investments for their future and can undo mistakes of the past.

We invite you to take a look at this Paddle for Pedder…

In the summer of 2021-22 it will be 50 years since Lake Pedder was flooded. We want agreement to pull the plug and Restore Pedder by this anniversary. We have a plan. We need your help to make it happen.

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group


Primary environmental focus

Conservation & Protection

Geographic sphere or activity


Primary location


Known address

23 Abels Bay Road, Deep Bay, Tasmania 7112

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History of group

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The campaign to restore Lake Pedder is one of longest running environmental cases in Australia’s, thus the library of media, data, submissions and studies is extensive.

Bibliography, prepared by Patsy Jones.

Australia. Parliament. House of Representatives. Report of Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts. Inquiry into the Proposal to Drain and Restore Lake Pedder. The report was tabled 26 June 1995 and is Parliamentary Paper Number 113/1995.

The Standing Committee was in existence 1987-1998. The report is still available on the Parliament of Australia website but you may have difficulty finding it. A scanned copy (118 pages, file size 4.9 MB) can be viewed or downloaded at house_reps_committee_report_lake_pedder_1995.

Please note that the report is now 20 years old and the positions of some of the parties involved have changed.

The Future of Lake Pedder – Interim Report, Commonwealth Government’s Lake Pedder Enquiry ReportThe Future of Lake Pedder’ was first printed in an interim format for the Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. This book, which includes that report was published by the Lake Pedder Action Committees throughout Australia in September 1973.

Lake Pedder: Values and Restoration. The Proceedings of a Symposium held on 8th April 1995 at the University of Tasmania, Hobart. Edited by Chris Sharples. Occasional Paper No. 27, Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, 2001. The proceedings consist of the following papers:

FLANNERY, T. – Foreword (and title page, bibliographic details, table of contents and front piece illustration)
SHARPLES, C. & SAWYER, N. – Introduction and overview
KIERNAN, K. – The geomorphology and geoconservation significance of Lake Pedder
TYLER, P. – Lake Pedder – a limnologists lifetime view
PEMBERTON, M. – Soils in the Lake Pedder area
BALMER, J. & CORBETT, E. – The vegetation of the Lake Pedder area prior to flooding
LAKE, P.S. – The fauna of Lake Pedder – changes after the flooding and thoughts on restoration
McCONNELL, A. – The cultural heritage of the Huon–Serpentine Impoundment, and an assessment of the effects of restoration of Lake Pedder
GEE, H. – Social and cultural grounds for the restoration of Lake Pedder
DUCKETT, T. – Practical cost effective rehabilitation of the current Lake Pedder impoundment
SANGER, A. – Prospects and problems for the restoration of the Pedder galaxias
LIVINGSTON, A. – Hydrological and engineering issues associated with draining and restoring Lake Pedder
KIERNAN, K. – Restoring Lake Pedder: a geomorphological perspective on recovery prospects and likely time scales

Pedder 2000 Campaign Submission. Pedder 2000 submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage Inquiry into the proposal to restore Lake Pedder.

Dr Andrew Blakers Submission. Submission and Supplementary Submission to Lake Pedder Inquiry by Dr Andrew Blakers, Senior Research Fellow, Engineering Department, The Australian National University.

Dam Financing in Tasmania. Dr Andrew Blakers’ Analysis (1995).

Geoff Mosley: “A life for the environment’ Radio Interview, ABC National 10 May 2017
Lake Pedder and Franklin River Environmental Issues-Historical Summary
‘On the beach of other mens country’ Essay by Chris Viney
10 Reasons to Restore Laker Pedder by Bob Brown
Miles Ago – article of memorable quotes


News—December 2012

19 December 2012 – Vale Helen Gee – In memory of the life and contribution of Helen Gee

The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee is deeply saddened by the passing of one of its most active and committed members, Helen Gee, on 19 December 2012.

Helen was a dynamic inspiration to so many people and organisations over the past 45 years, beginning with the campaign to Save Lake Pedder from flooding – in 1967. Her achievements and influence within the Tasmanian conservation movement are too numerous to be counted.

Helen Gee was a Pedder activist through all this time, becoming the vibrant convener of Pedder 2000 Inc (the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee (LPRC). She created, edited and published the Committee’s valuable magazine REFLECTIONS 1992 – 2004.

In 1998 Helen travelled to California in the United States to represent Pedder 2000 at the International Rivers Network conference on dam removal and de-commissioning. At that conference, her motion that Lake Pedder should be freed was accepted and passed to a UN Environmental Committee.

This visit inspired Helen to co-ordinate the Living Rivers Festival in Hobart in 2000, which brought the Gyoto Monks to Hobart for the first time, to bless Lake Pedder. Other associated workshops presented the concerns for the ailing Murray-Darling River system.

Helen was a founding member of The Wilderness Society, and served as a Councillor with the Australian Conservation Foundation. She was a member of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Consultative Committee (TWWHCC) in approx. 1987-1999 and a campaign officer for the Tasmanian National Parks Association, and for the South East Forest Protection Group.

Helen was an accomplished author, editor and co-editor of books on Tasmania’s wild places and the need to conserve them:

The South-West Book: a Tasmanian wilderness (1978)
The Franklin: Tasmania’s last wild river (1978)
For the Forests: a history of the Tasmanian forest campaigns (co-edited, 2001)
Rivers of Verse: a Tasmanian Journey 1800 – 2004
Ronnie: Tasmanian Songman (and Aboriginal elder) (2009).

Ill health forced Helen to withdraw from all her community activities in 2010. In November 2012, Helen was awarded with the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee Certificate of Acknowledgement for her long and impassioned service to the cause of the reclamation of Lake Pedder. The certificate was awarded as an expression of sincere appreciation for Helen’s years of work towards the eventual restoration of the original lake.

Helen’s death was noted in public statements by Cassy O’Connor, Tasmania’s Minister for Community Development and Vica Bayley, Tasmanian Campaign Manager, The Wilderness Society – see Tasmanian Times.

News—March 2012

16 March 2012 – Senator Bob Brown met with LPRC members at Hobart Town Hall to commemorate the foundation of the United Tasmania Group on 23 March 1972

The UTG was founded to save Lake Pedder and led to the formation of the Tasmanian Greens, the world’s first “green” political party.

The text of Matthew Denholm’s article from The Australian newspaper 17 March 2012 follows:

Forty years ago, at a rowdy public meeting at Hobart’s Town Hall, a motion was put that would change the course of global political history.

Despite opposition from vocal hydroelectric workers, botanist Dick Jones successfully moved a motion to create what would later be acknowledged as the world’s first green party.

The United Tasmania Group, the first political party to seek to restrict resource consumption and “unite man with nature”, would 20 years later lead to the formation of the Tasmanian and Australian Greens.

But on March 23, 1972, the UTG’s immediate concern was to save Lake Pedder – a stunning glacial lake in the heart of Tasmania’s southwest wilderness – from flooding by a hydro scheme.

Today, as the surviving UTG founders and the Greens prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary, they are also renewing a push to have Lake Pedder restored to its former glory.

“It’s a case of when,” says Greens leader Bob Brown, who arrived in Tasmania one month after the UTG was formed and quickly joined after learning of the plan to flood Pedder and its quartzite beach.

Brown says decommissioning of dams is occurring worldwide. “For example, they are pulling out two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State, to reconstitute the fish runs, that are approximately the same power production as Pedder,” he says.

Restoring Pedder by draining the hydro scheme’s 20m of water and rehabilitating the original shoreline is the unfinished business of the green movement.

“It’s coming,” says Brown. “And when it does come, it’s going to be a huge generator of interest by business, science and (the) hospitality (industry).

“This recovery of a glacial lake with its beach – 300m above sea level but which would extend from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Central railway station – would be quite a phenomenon.”

Brown flew over the original 9sq km lake, with its beach 800m wide in summer and fringed by towering mountain ranges, in 1972, months before it disappeared under water.

The senator, who cut his political teeth as a UTG candidate for the Senate in 1975 and the Tasmanian parliament in 1976, is not alone in his quest.

The Lake Pedder Action Committee, in which former UTG members are prominent, points to a global trend to remove unwanted dams and to growing political support, with Tony Abbott on record as backing Pedder’s restoration.

Divers have discovered the beach remains intact and covered by only a thin layer of sediment.

Often seen as the moment conservationists became environmentalists, the UTG formation was more a reflection of a global environmental awakening, Senator Brown says.

“This was the time when the Silent Spring had been written, the Club of Rome was about to hand down its report (The Limits to Growth), and there was a general sudden surge of alarm that humanity was living beyond its means,” Brown says.

“And here in Tasmania, it was in your face. Tasmania had been the great bushwalking mecca for people from all over Australia and Lake Pedder was the heart of it. So the cavalier way it was about to be destroyed for a pittance of power set off the country’s first really national conservation stoush and brought to recognition that there was this big environmental sentiment across Australia.”

However, few at the meeting on March 23 believed history was in the making, or were even aware they were forming the world’s first green party. “I didn’t even think about that, it was months later that the Values Party was formed in New Zealand as a green party and then we became aware that we were the first” UTG founder Rod Broadby says.

The party came close to winning a seat in Tasmania’s lower house at the 1972 state election, despite having only three weeks to campaign after its formation.

While it continued to run candidates in state and federal campaigns for some years, it faded as the Democrats became more prominent and the Brown-formed Tasmanian Wilderness Society led another anti-dam fight: the Franklin.

Green-tinged MPs became a permanent feature in the state House of Assembly from 1983, when Brown entered on a recount following the resignation of Democrat Norm Sanders.

By 1989, Brown had been joined by four other “green independents”, following a campaign to stop the Wesley Vale pulp mill, and they formed an accord government with Labor.

Most of the UTG founders appear content that the Greens have stayed true to the original party and its manifesto, the New Ethic.

“It’s just that they’ve got more influence now, the sort of thing we would have killed for” Mr Broadby says.

Patsy Jones, the widow of UTG founder Dick Jones, who died in 1986, reveals the couple, so influential in the birth of the Greens, were initially country conservatives. She says both were active in the Young Country Party in Queensland before 1970, when they moved to Tasmania.

“Dick’s two interests – politics and ecology – came together when he found out about Lake Pedder and he saw that one way that the plans to flood the lake could be affected was through politics” Patsy Jones said.

Like other UTG founders, she sees restoration of the Pedder as unfinished business. “There are no economic reasons for keeping the lake flooded and a lot of economic and environmental potential in decommissioning it. Can you imagine the number of tourists who would be drawn to it? It was magic.”

A Hydro Tasmania spokeswoman said Lake Pedder represented 1 per cent of storage capability, but the Pedder catchment gave 6 per cent of total hydro production.

Note: The LPRC disputes the figure of 6%, believing it to be lower. The LPRC notes that with reconfiguration of the power scheme, the Pedder catchment diverted from a smaller impoundment that no longer flooded Lake Pedder could generate 4.5% of total hydro production – a loss of only 1.5%.


Pedder Dreaming: Olegas Truchanas and a Lost Tasmanian Wilderness

Dr Natasha Cica’s book Pedder Dreaming: Olegas Truchanas and a Lost Tasmanian Wilderness, , was launched nationally on 17 September at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Natasha Cica is the Director of the Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society at the University of Tasmania. Her book was launched by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. You can read the Governor-General’s speech here and Dr Cica’s speech here.

For details of Natasha’s book, click here.

The national launch followed events in Hobart with Sir Guy Green, Chair of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Ten Days on The Island arts Festival (speech here); in Launceston with Professor David Rich, the Provost of UTAS; and in Melbourne with political analyst George Megalogenis from The Australian.

Futher events were held in Sydney with broadcaster and commentator Rebecca Huntley, on Bruny Island with Dr Graham Bury, Mayor of Kingborough Council, in Burnie with Professor Janelle Allison, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regional Development at the University of Tasmania and in Brisbane with Dr Julianne Schultz, editor of the Griffith Review.

For Tasmanians, the name of Olegas Truchanas is synonymous with the loss of Lake Pedder. Slide shows of his haunting photographs of the lake before its inundation by the Hydro Electric Commission played to standing-room-only audiences in the late 1960s. Truchanas, for some time a clerk at the Hydro, was prevented by his employer from speaking out about the destruction of what he saw as one of the jewels of the Tasmanian landscape. Instead, he let his pictures speak for him. So powerful were the images that a campaign to save the lake sprang up; while it did not succeed, it formed the foundation of a robust environmental movement.

Olegas had spent many years exploring and photographing the wilds of Tasmania and was the first non-indigenous person to traverse many parts of the rugged interior of the island. The 1967 bushfires destroyed his home and with it virtually his entire collection of images. He set out to retrace his exploration and recording of the wilderness, but in 1972, while photographing the Gordon River as part of his mission to replace his lost slides, he was tragically drowned (Text courtesy of Tasmanian Times).

News—August 2010

The work of Olegas Truchanas featured in a newly digitised and remastered version of his legendary audio visual presentation on Lake Pedder

At a Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) exhibition In the Balance held in Sydney from 21 August – 31 October 2010, the work of Olegas Truchanas featured in a newly digitised and remastered version of his legendary audio visual presentation on Lake Pedder.

This presentation is justly famous, having done so much to raise awareness about this exquisite and precious Australian landscape in the years immediately before it was flooded.

June 2010 – Singer/songwriter Bruce Watson’s recent song Lake Pedder Again released on his new CD Balance.

2009 – 2010 – Subsidised hydro electricity for energy intensive industry (and its implications for Lake Pedder restoration) attract plenty of debate on Tasmanian Times

See articles from October 2009 and March 2010.

December 2009 Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott told a Millennium Forum function in Sydney:
‘My first public disagreement with the former prime minister, Mr Howard, was over my proposal to drain Lake Pedder’.

Download the article.

13-15 November 2009

Bruce Watson, in Launceston for the launch of Helen Gee’s latest book Tasmanian Songman Ronnie, performed his new song Lake Pedder Again at Launceston’s bohemian venue Chalmers over the weekend 13–15 November.

News—February 2009

12 February 2009 – Event to celebrate publication of the book Pedder: The Story. The Paintings by Max Angus, at Gleebooks, Sydney.

Over 200 people attended this event at which Peter Thompson chaired a panel featuring Geoffrey Cousins, Tom Uren and Helen Gee in a discussion of Lake Pedder and other Tasmanian environmental struggles.

Peter Fagan (NSW Representative) spoke on behalf of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee: Peter Fagan’s speech.

For details of the book click here. Many thanks to Fullers for their wholehearted support of the Max Angus book project.


2 November 2008 – Launch of Pedder: The Story. The Paintings by Max Angus at Fullers Bookshop, Hobart.

The keynote speaker was the Honourable William Cox AC, former Governor of Tasmania; for his speech, click here.

Courtney Wise spoke on behalf of Tasmania’s youth. For Courtney’s speech, click here. Author and artist Max Angus was present and also spoke.

News—September 2008

25 September 2008 – Tasmanian premiere of Scott Millwood’s documentary film “Whatever happened to Brenda Hean?” at the State Cinema Hobart.

The documentary tells of the Tiger Moth plane which was lost off Tasmania’s East coast on its way to Canberra in 1972, with pilot Max Price and passenger Brenda Hean on board. An inexplicably brief official search off Tasmania’s East Coast between Hobart and Flinders Island revealed no trace of the plane or its occupants. Mystery surrounding the disappearance was intensified by the discovery that the hangar in which the plane was kept had been broken into the night before the flight. The mystery of the crash and the total disappearance of the plane and its occupants has never been explained.

Purchase DVD of the documentary

Click here to read the review in Hobart’s daily newspaper The Mercury 25/9/08.

Scott Millwood has also developed his research into the Brenda Hean mystery as a fascinating book.

3 August 2008 – Premiere of Whatever happened to Brenda Hean? at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

News—September 2007

28 – 29 September 2007 – Extracts from an opera inspired by the life of Olegas Truchanas were performed at the Playhouse Theatre in Hobart.

The libretto, written by Natasha Cica examines Olegas’ life in Lithuania and Tasmania and his involvement in the campaign to save Lake Pedder. The music was composed by Constantine Koukias whose company IHOS Music Theatre & Opera produced the opera.

9 September 2007 – $100,000 reward offered by filmmaker Scott Millwood for information that solves the mystery of the disappearance of Brenda Hean and Max Price.

See newspaper clippings about the disappearance of Max Price and Brenda Hean and the reward in Resources).

8 September 2007 – a Memorial Service for Brenda Hean and Max Price was held at 11 AM at Scots Church, Bathurst Street Hobart.

The service marked 35 years since the disappearance of Max Price and Brenda Hean There were speeches by Senator Bob Brown and others – Order of Service.

October 2006 – Wildflower Spectacular featuring installation by the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee celebrating the famous Pedder beach and flora from the surrounds, Hobart City Hall

September 2006 – Geoff Parr’s solo exhibition Persicope: a view from the original Lake Pedder Beach at Hobart’s Carnegie Gallery.

The exhibition covered 25 years of work on issues of conflict and conservation. It is mixed media with computer generated images, photos and light box installations.

25 August 2006 – Pedder Cards Released.

Melva Truchanas and Bob Brown launched two greeting cards featuring previously unreleased images of Lake Pedder captured by Olegas Truchanas.

The cards are published as a tribute to Olega’s memory and to his pioneering work in raising consciousness of Tasmania’s threatened natural beauty. The cards also serve to promote awareness of the possibility of restoring Lake Pedder to its original state.

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.

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.

December 2004 – Reflections 10, the 10th edition of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee newsletter Reflections was released.

This was the final issue in this format, the Committee having since moved to a less formal newsletter format to keep members informed. Read Reflections 10.


December 2003 – The Pedder 2000 (Victorian Branch) AGM

It was decided that another walk along the old Pedder track from the Strathgordon Road to the north should be organised for 2004.

October 2003 – Australian Geographic No 72, Oct-Dec 2003 featured the story of the 30th anniversary commemorative walk (see below) and the placing of a time capsule onto the submerged shores of Lake Pedder.

This article includes some superb photographs, including a view of Lake Pedder from the Frankland Ranges taken by Peter Dombrovskis.

2003 – Release of the documentary film Wildness written and directed by Scott Millwood, produced by Michael McMahon for Film Australia, which examines the legacy of Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis, two of Australia’s greatest wilderness photographers.

For more on the film click here.


Late 2002 – Dimensions on the ABC featured a documentary about Lake Pedder prepared for the 30th anniversary of the flooding of the lake.

April 2002 – The 30th anniversary of Pedder’s flooding was commemorated in Tasmania.

After an emotional ceremony at Maydena, young and young-at-heart Pedder supporters followed the original route into Lake Pedder with journalists and photographers. A time capsule containing ‘messages to the future’ was lowered into the waters of the Huon-Serpentine impoundment, awaiting rediscovery when the dam is drained. Included in these messages was that of botanist David Bellamy: “Lake Pedder will rise again, pink dawn of the Green Renaissance.”

May 2000 – Reflections of Pedder: a night of celebration was held in Melbourne.

More than 300 people attended to raise more than $3000. Dr Geoff Mosley, Karen Alexander, Brian Walters and Rob Sitch shared thoughts of hope. An excellent slide and film presentation featured.


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.

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

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.

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

Robin Gray, Minister for Energy in Tasmania’s Liberal Government expresses unqualified opposition.

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

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. - website archive of Lake Pedder orginal campaign and events post-flooding.



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