Hydro Power Generation
Power generation at Gaunts can be divided into four main stages:
1. Drop Turbine Power Scheme 1936
The property was the first in the district to have electric light when Mr LF Thompson bought the generator previously installed by HR Lord for lighting the houses and streets of Latrobe which had been in place until taken over by the State’s Hydro Electric Commission. The generator was installed in the Power House.
Various views from a photograph album of Gaunts at Nietta featuring external and garden views and members of the Thompson and Stilwell families.
LF Thompson brought knowledge of power generation from England with water wheels and with the development of the Hoover Dam built a drop turbine power scheme on the Horseshoe Waterfall, also known as the Dynamo Waterfall located in the gardens and at the entrance of Gaunts Homestead. The drop turbine scheme was established as a way of modernising living and farming operations. A weir was established on the Castra Rivulet watercourse which was filled during the day and released by a sluice gate on dusk to provide lighting to the Homestead. This scheme also supplied power by large belts to the chaff cutter for thrashing chaff for the draught horses. The fishtail turbine is still located on the property, awaiting restoration. The Power House building was renovated by Honourable Chris Miles, his son Casey as an engineering student at the University of Tasmania and Matt Kelly in 1997 to its original glory.
2. Water Wheel-32volt-1957
Mr GH Miles installed a 32 volt 2 amp producing water wheel that is still onsite today in 1957 where water was diverted through a race to generate power for the original Gaunts Homestead. This probably was the only one of its kind in use in Tasmania at the time. This initiative was greatly assisted with the efforts of Mr Jim Gillam and Mr Hedley Higgs who designed, built and installed the scheme. During the day power was stored in eight four volt batteries located in the first dairy.
3. Mains Power Connection to Homestead-1991
Hydro Electric power was connected to Gaunts but not to the homestead. A new saw mill was built in 1982/83 for dressing timber and required three phase power.
In 1980 the new Gaunts Homestead utilised the 240 volt, 2.2 kw, small turbine for all electrical needs. However in 1991 with a very dry season and the water supply inadequate for shearing and the Homestead. Mains power was then connected to the Homestead. This was 45 years after the first plan for mains power to be connected when the Miles family purchased the property in 1946.