“Battle of the Rivers,” Battle of the Stories: Dust Bowls, Dams, TVAs, and a Snowy Mountains Scheme
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This chapter describes how the concept of “Australia’s Tennessee Valley Authority” became central to a fourth transnational narrative emerging in 1940s Australia during fierce debate between New South Wales and Victoria over a post-war, nation-building water conservation scheme for the waters of the iconic Snowy River. Campaigners, writers, film-makers—G.V. Lawrence, Mervyn Weston, Murrumbidgee Valley Water Users’ Association, Ken Hall, Murray Valley Development League, John Heyer—drew “dust bowl” imagery into contrast with imagery evoking US Bureau of Reclamation and TVA dams and planning achievements. However, neither Australian dust bowl nor Australian TVA narratives endured as national myths. They contributed to national debate that reinterpreted Australia’s existing Snowy River mythology and changed the Australian landscape forever when the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme construction began in 1949.