Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme

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Incline for the Rubicon Power Station
The former Sugarloaf Power Station on Lake Eildon

The Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme is a small run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme located on the Rubicon and Royston Rivers, north east of Melbourne, 40 km (25 mi) south-west of Alexandra, Victoria, Australia. The scheme commenced in 1922, and was the first state-owned hydroelectric scheme to generate electricity in mainland Australia, and among the first in the world to be remotely controlled.[1] For the first ten years of its operation it supplied on average 16.9% of electricity generated by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria.[1] It is now owned and operated by AGL Energy and contributes approximately 0.02% of Victoria's energy supply.[2]


In the 1920s the State Electricity Commission of Victoria investigated hydroelectric power generation, in parallel with work on brown coal fired power stations at Yallourn. In 1922 a report was delivered by Messrs J.M. and H.E. Coane relating to the development of potential hydro-electric power on the Goulburn River and the Cerberean Range; their findings were then in turn submitted to the Parliament of Victoria for funding,[3] with the more cost effective project[1] approved in 1922.[4]

Known as the Sugarloaf - Rubicon Project, the initial plan involved five power stations, with total turbine capacity of 25,800 horsepower (19.2 MW); it would be the largest power scheme on the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria's ongoing construction of Sugarloaf storage reservoir for irrigation. It is now called Lake Eildon. The four other power stations were situated with two on the Rubicon, one on the Royston, and one on Snobs Creek. These plans were later altered, the Snobs Creek station deleted, and an additional station provided at Rubicon Falls, bringing the installed turbine capacity to over 35,000 horsepower (26 MW).[4] The Sugarloaf Power Station generated electricity during the irrigation season from October to April, when water released from this dam could also be used for power generation. The other four power stations were used during the rainy seasons of winter and spring.[4]

Work started in 1922, and by 1928 the mountain stream section of the project was complete, the Sugarloaf power station on the Eildon following in 1929.[5] Rubicon 'A' power station has a pipeline with a 1,455-foot (443 m) drop over its 4,280-foot (1,305 m) length. This station also remotely controlled the other power stations in the project.[4] Minor enlargements were carried out at one station in 1954–55.[1]

The 13.5-megawatt (18,100 hp) Sugarloaf Power Station on the Goulburn River was replaced by the larger Eildon Power Station, and dam at the same site in the 1950s, with the turbines upgraded and reused.[5]

Details of the Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme[edit]

Today the scheme consists of three small run-of-river dams, four power stations and associated raceways and penstocks.[6] The total generating capacity of the scheme is approximately 13 megawatts (17,000 hp), and this output is achieved during the winter months.[2]

Royston Power Station[edit]

Royston Power Station
Coordinates37°22′26″S 145°51′53″E / 37.37389°S 145.86472°E / -37.37389; 145.86472
Operator(s)AGL Energy
CreatesRoyston Dam
Power Station
Installed capacity0.8 MW (1,100 hp)

The Royston Dam is a 48-metre (157 ft) concrete slab and buttress on the Royston River. It diverts water into an aqueduct that carries water for 2.0 kilometres (1.2 mi) into the neighbouring Rubicon Valley to the Royston Power Station forebay. The Royston penstock consists of 900 feet (270 m) of woodstave pipe on the upper section and 916 feet (279 m) of steel pipe on the lower section. The lower part of the woodstave section is now encased in concrete. The Royston Power Station has a capacity of 0.8 megawatts (1,100 hp). Water from the power station outlet discharges into the Rubicon aqueduct about halfway along its length.[1]

Component Location Notes
Royston Dam 37°22′42″S 145°53′9″E / 37.37833°S 145.88583°E / -37.37833; 145.88583 (Royston Dam) 158-foot (48 m) concrete slab and buttress dam[1]
Royston aqueduct 37°22′37″S 145°52′43″E / 37.37694°S 145.87861°E / -37.37694; 145.87861 (Royston aqueduct) 6,700 feet (2,000 m)[1]
Royston Power Station forebay 37°22′28″S 145°52′16″E / 37.37444°S 145.87111°E / -37.37444; 145.87111 (Royston Power Station forebay)
Royston Power Station penstock 37°22′29″S 145°52′5″E / 37.37472°S 145.86806°E / -37.37472; 145.86806 (Royston Power Station penstock) 30-inch (76 cm) diameter. 900 feet (270 m) of woodstave pipe on the upper section and 916 feet (279 m) of steel pipe on the lower section.[1]
Royston Power Station 37°22′26″S 145°51′53″E / 37.37389°S 145.86472°E / -37.37389; 145.86472 (Royston Power Station) 0.8 MW[7]

Rubicon Power Station[edit]

Rubicon Power Station
Coordinates37°19′38″S 145°51′38″E / 37.32722°S 145.86056°E / -37.32722; 145.86056
Operator(s)AGL Energy
CreatesRubicon Dam
Power Station
PumpsSingle-jet Pelton wheel generators
Installed capacity9.2 MW (12,300 hp)

The Rubicon Dam is a 64-metre (210 ft) concrete arch dam on the Rubicon River. It diverts water into the Rubicon aqueduct for 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi) to the site of the Royston Power Station, where it collects the water diverted through the power station from the Royston River . It then travels a further 5.4 kilometres (3.4 mi) to the Rubicon Power Station forebay. The Rubicon penstock has a 443-metre (1,453 ft) drop over its 1,305-metre (4,281 ft) length. The Rubicon Power Station has two 4.6-megawatt (6,200 hp) horizontal single-jet Pelton wheel generators.[1]

Component Location Notes
Rubicon Dam 37°23′29″S 145°51′2″E / 37.39139°S 145.85056°E / -37.39139; 145.85056 (Rubicon Dam) 210-foot (64 m) concrete arch dam[1]
Rubicon aqueduct 37°22′29″S 145°51′40″E / 37.37472°S 145.86111°E / -37.37472; 145.86111 (Rubicon Aqueduct) 11,300 feet (3,400 m) from Rubicon Dam to site of Royston Power Station[1]
Rubicon aqueduct 37°20′56″S 145°51′23″E / 37.34889°S 145.85639°E / -37.34889; 145.85639 (Rubicon aqueduct) 17,600 feet (5,400 m) from Royston Power Station to Rubicon Forebay[1]
Rubicon Power Station forebay 37°20′16″S 145°51′22″E / 37.33778°S 145.85611°E / -37.33778; 145.85611 (Rubicon Power Station forebay)
Rubicon Power Station penstock 37°19′59″S 145°51′23″E / 37.33306°S 145.85639°E / -37.33306; 145.85639 (Rubicon Power Station penstock)
Rubicon Power Station 37°19′38″S 145°51′38″E / 37.32722°S 145.86056°E / -37.32722; 145.86056 (Rubicon Power Station) 9.2 MW,[7] 2 turbines[1]

Lower Rubicon Power Station[edit]

Lower Rubicon Power Station
Coordinates37°18′10″S 145°50′45″E / 37.30278°S 145.84583°E / -37.30278; 145.84583
Operator(s)AGL Energy
Power Station
Installed capacity2.7 MW (3,600 hp)

Water discharged from the Rubicon Power Station flows along a 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) aqueduct, then through a 320-metre (1,050 ft), 51-inch (1,300 mm) diameter penstock to the Lower Rubicon Power Station. This comprises a single 2.6-megawatt (3,500 hp) horizontal generator. The discharge water from the power station is returned to the Rubicon River.[1]

Component Location Notes
Lower Rubicon aqueduct 37°18′42″S 145°50′58″E / 37.31167°S 145.84944°E / -37.31167; 145.84944 (Lower Rubicon aqueduct) 10,500 feet (3,200 m)[1]
Lower Rubicon Power Station forebay 37°18′20″S 145°50′42″E / 37.30556°S 145.84500°E / -37.30556; 145.84500 (Lower Rubicon Power Station forebay)
Lower Rubicon Power Station penstock 37°18′17″S 145°50′43″E / 37.30472°S 145.84528°E / -37.30472; 145.84528 (Lower Rubicon Power Station penstock) 1,045 feet (319 m) of 51-inch (1,300 mm) diameter riveted steel pipeline[1]
Lower Rubicon Power Station 37°18′10″S 145°50′45″E / 37.30278°S 145.84583°E / -37.30278; 145.84583 (Lower Rubicon Power Station) 2.7 MW,[7] 1 turbine[1]

Rubicon Falls Power Station[edit]

Rubicon Falls Power Station
Coordinates37°20′24″S 145°50′52″E / 37.34000°S 145.84778°E / -37.34000; 145.84778
Operator(s)AGL Energy
CreatesRubicon Falls Dam
Power Station
PumpsHorizontal twin-jet Pelton wheel
Installed capacity0.3 MW (400 hp)

The Rubicon Falls Dam is on the Rubicon River below the Rubicon Dam. It diverts water around the Rubicon Falls into the Rubicon Falls Power Station through a 420-metre (1,380 ft) penstock. This power station has a single 0.3-megawatt (400 hp) horizontal twin-jet Pelton wheel.[1]

Component Location Notes
Rubicon Falls Dam 37°20′35″S 145°51′0″E / 37.34306°S 145.85000°E / -37.34306; 145.85000 (Rubicon Falls Dam) 106-foot (32 m) concrete slab and buttress dam[1]
Rubicon Falls Power Station penstock 37°20′30″S 145°50′57″E / 37.34167°S 145.84917°E / -37.34167; 145.84917 (Rubicon Falls Power Station penstock) 1,400-foot (430 m) reinforced-concrete and steel pipeline[1]
Rubicon Falls Power Station 37°20′24″S 145°50′52″E / 37.34000°S 145.84778°E / -37.34000; 145.84778 (Rubicon Falls Power Station) 0.3 MW,[7] 1 turbine[1]


A 2-foot (610 mm)-gauge steel tramway was built for construction access between Rubicon Power Station and Rubicon Dam, with timber trestle bridges at Fifteen Thousand Foot Siphon, Royston Power Station, Beech Creek and Lubra Creek. The tramway remained in operation until the 1990s.[1] Additional tramway was built for construction of the Royston power station and dam and removed on completion.

The trestle bridges were replaced after their destruction in the 1939 Black Friday bushfires, were again replaced as part of the maintenance program in 1960s, and the Royston and Lubra Creek bridges were replaced in 1987 and 1991 respectively. The Beech Creek bridge was destroyed in February 2009 by the Murrindindi Mill fire, one of the Black Saturday bushfires.[8] The Victorian Government agreed to rebuild the bridge in October 2011.[9]

Component Location Notes
15000 foot trestle bridge 37°22′15″S 145°51′49″E / 37.37083°S 145.86361°E / -37.37083; 145.86361 (15000 foot trestle bridge) 15,000 feet (4.6 km) along aqueduct
Beech Creek trestle bridge 37°23′14″S 145°51′45″E / 37.38722°S 145.86250°E / -37.38722; 145.86250 (Beech Creek trestle bridge) Destroyed in 2009 Black Saturday bushfires
Lubra Creek trestle bridge 37°23′22″S 145°51′37″E / 37.38944°S 145.86028°E / -37.38944; 145.86028 (Lubra Creek trestle bridge)

Heritage values[edit]

The Scheme is on the Victorian Heritage Register[10] and the Register of the National Estate,[1] and the surrounding state forest is set aside for its protection.[6] The historical significance of the scheme is increased by its continuous and ongoing use in essentially original form.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme, Rubicon, VIC (Place ID 100030)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b AGL - Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme
  3. ^ State Electricity Commission of Victoria (1922), Reports on Sugarloaf-Rubicon hydro-electric scheme and investigation in Strathbogie District (Parliamentary paper, Victoria, Australia), 1922, no 18, retrieved 11 July 2019
  4. ^ a b c d Gill, Herman (1949). Three Decades: The story of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria from its inception to December 1948. Hutchinson & Co.
  5. ^ a b Edwards, Cecil (1969). Brown Power. A jubilee history of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. State Electricity Commission of Victoria.
  6. ^ a b "Rubicon Valley Historic Area" (PDF). Forest Notes (PDF). FS0055. Alexandra: Department of Sustainability and Environment. April 2006. ISSN 1440-2262. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d Murray Darling Basin Commission: Electricity Generation
  8. ^ Gray, Darren (5 December 2009), "Fire again claims a mountain gem", The Age, retrieved 19 March 2011
  9. ^ Gray, Darren (10 October 2011), "Cash will ensure Beech Creek's 'special' trestles rise again", The Age, retrieved 13 October 2011
  10. ^ a b "Rubicon Hydro-electric Scheme, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H1187, Heritage Overlay HO17". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 12 June 2013.

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
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Coordinates: 37°19′37″S 145°51′39″E / 37.32694°S 145.86083°E / -37.32694; 145.86083