THE historic Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme has been declared a national heritage place after more than 60 years of operation.
Renown for supplying more than 30 per cent of all renewable energy to the mainland electricity grid, the scheme became the 107th place added to the famous list.
It will now sit alongside national icons like the Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach and the Great Barrier Reef.
The listing spans a mountainous area of more than 4600 square kilometres and includes 15 vital dams, nine power stations and a pumping station.
Many consider the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme to be the birthplace of Australia’s multiculturalism after it employed an estimated 100,000 workers from across the globe between 1949 and 1974.
The majority were migrants from more than 30 nations, creating a cultural melting pot across the region.
Former Griffith resident Marie Walters, who lived in the city during the 1950s, said the construction of the site provided much needed relief to unemployed Riverina residents following the Great Depression.
“It was usual to hear that any one without a job, went to work on the Snowy,” she said.
“We need another project like the great Snowy Scheme, maybe an inland rail route perhaps.”
Snowy Hydro Upper Tumut area manager Kent Allen said it was easy to see why the scheme was built in the south west of NSW.
"They weren't just built as power stations, actually they are a thing of beauty,” he said.
"We see snow in most months of the year.
"It is the largest hydro electric scheme in Australia, that is still the case.”
The pivotal scheme collects, stores and diverts water in the Snowy Mountains through the use of 16 major dams, seven power stations and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts.
The scheme remains a prominent tourist attraction.