Local History

The Snowy Monaro region has a dynamic and unique story.

The region has been home to Aboriginal communities for thousands of years. Over time, a number of Aboriginal groups have been identified as having ancestral connections to the region. These groups include the Bidhawal people in the south eastern parts of the region around Delegate, the Walgalu people in the west of the region, and the southern Ngunnawal people in the far north east of the region. The majority of the now Snowy Monaro region is Ngarigo Country which is home to its people and their stories. The region's Indigenous history is an important part of our anthropology, both in the past and into the future. Ngarigo culture continues to shared and celebrated, both on Country and by people living outside the region.

European colonisation began in the region in the 1830s, following exploration by Captain J. M. Currie. By the late 1800s, towns and settlements had established in Michelago, Bredbo, Cooma, Jerangle, Numeralla, Nimmitabel, Old Adaminaby, Berridale, Old Jindabyne, Dalgety, Ando, Bombala, Cathcart, Delegate, and Bibbenluke.

The Gold Rush came to the region in the late 1850s, with camps established at Kiandra and Bredbo / Cowra Creek. The discovery brought thousands of new residents to the region including large numbers of Chinese migrants. Mining had mostly ended by the early 1900s, however both Kiandra and Cowra Creek are still home to historical artefacts and relics of this important time in our history.

The region is the home of the mighty Snowy River and the many associated stories of heroism and romance. Many claim that "The Man" in Banjo Patterson's iconic poem was inspired by local horsemen. The poem's imagery continues in the current day through the presence of brumbies in the region, in particular in the Kosciuszko National Park. The Snowy River winds its way through the region before meeting the Southern Ocean near Marlo (Vic). Our regions' connection to the river features again in the story of the Men from Snowy River March. The recruiting march began in the rain out the front off the Delegate School of Arts on the morning of 6th January 1916 with 12 men accompanied by Captain Wedd, a drummer, and a chaplain. Marching under the "Men from Snowy River" banner, the march travelled  220  miles through Bombala, Cooma, Queanbeyan, and Bungendore to arrive in Goulburn on 28th January with 144 men. A second March was held in 1940 to recruit soldiers for Word War II. A Memorial commemorating the March stands in Delegate on the corner of Bombala St and Victoria Parade.

The design and construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme left a lasting imprint on the geography and social fabric of the region. The Scheme is widely considered one of the major infrastructure projects in modern history and consists of 16 major dams, 7 power stations, 2 pumping stations and over 225 km of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts. Construction of the Scheme brought an estimated 100,000 migrant workers from over 30 nationalities together in what is now recognised as the birth of multiculturalism in Australia. The old townships of Adaminaby, Jindabyne and Talbingo were flooded to make way for Lakes Eucumbene and Jindabyne and the Jounama Reservoir. The towns were relocated to their current locations in the 1950s and 60s in a series of intricate and challenging truck manoeuvres. In recent years, low lake levels have allowed for items and infrastructure from the old townships to become visible at times. Cooma's population approximately quadrupled between the 1940's and 1960's as hundreds of new homes were built to accommodate workers and support staff associated with the Scheme.

Industry in the region has centred mostly on agriculture, forestry and tourism linked to the snowfields. Our proud agricultural history is still evident across the region with many farming communities dating back to the late 19th century. In towns and villages across the region, historic homes, machinery and land holdings remain to tell the story of our ongoing connection to the farming industry. While some industries have died off over time, the region remains a large producer of wool, sheep and cattle.

The following documents give some insight into the history of the Snowy Monaro. Please note that this information was considered accurate at the time of publication based on the information available at that time, and that information may have changed or been updated as new stories are shared.