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Historic photos of Hume Dam unearthed

An historic family connection with the Hume Dam has been discovered by an MDBA staff member.
Published: 28 September 2022

Human connection to Basin infrastructure.

How do you form a human connection with a dam?

In many cases they are commanding structures made of concrete, soil and rock that for decades have silently served as the backbone of our water security, ensuring we have access to water, particularly in times of drought.  

For Tumi Bjornsson, who works in the MDBA’s Environmental Assets team, a human connection with the Hume Dam was realised through the discovery of photographs taken more than 80 years ago, including a photo featuring his wife’s grandmother visiting the dam on her honeymoon.

“My in-laws are selling their home, so they have been throwing away clutter and old paperwork, and I happened to see one that contained old photos, so I grabbed it,” says Tumi.

"Most of the photos were of distant family members, which is why they were in an obscure box. I figured that my wife should look through the albums because she might know some of the people in the photographs. That evening I looked at one of the photos and thought ‘I know that dam’. 

“My in-laws got married in 1940 the same year as the photos were taken, and I’m assuming the photos were taken during their honeymoon. They lived in Wangaratta, and for the honeymoon they travelled through Victoria into New South Wales and back again."

“My wife’s grandfather managed the Wangaratta branch of the Commonwealth Bank and was very well read. He had a particular fascination with dams and water engineering and would have been right across media reports about the construction of the Hume Dam. Their honeymoon would have presented a great opportunity to visit the dam. Later he regularly took his 2 boys to watch the Snowy Scheme progressing as there were organised tours available. In one of the photos, my wife’s grandmother is sitting in an Austin 7 overlooking the dam. She is still with us at 107.” 

Tumi believes the photos show how people can become connected to our Basin infrastructure. 

“Until now my work has involved the Hume Dam, but I wasn’t really connected to it, but finding the photos – it was quite a nice thing and I wanted to share them with our community,” Tumi says. “There are structures that have been part of Basin communities for decades, and local people understand them and, in some cases, have a lasting connection to them."

Our river management assets are much more than just concrete, soil and rock. They all form part of the collective memory of their communities.


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