No. 1185 - Tarraleah - Our Lady of the Snow - Catholic Church (1953)

Tarraleah is a former Hydro Electric Commission village located in the mountains between Hobart and Queenstown. Built in the 1930s, it was home to over 500 workers and was the heart of Tasmania's hydro-electricity projects. It is now a privately owned a holiday village and tourist centre.

In 1953 a Catholic church, Our Lady of the Snow, opened at Tarraleah, the first of two churches built in the village. Before the church was built, Catholic Mass was held at the Tarraleah hall. In 1951 the Central Highland’s parish was formed comprising of the three “Hydro” towns of Bronte Park, Butler’s Gorge and Tarraleah.

Tarraleah’s Catholic church was built by volunteer labour within 100 hours during long summer evenings and weekends. The works overseer was Mr. R. Jenkins, (who was not a Catholic) who led a team of men representing a number of nationalities. The church was valued at £4,500 but was built for £450 with building materials purchased from subscriptions by parishioners.

An article in the Catholic Standard describes the church as follows:

“Built in timber, its exterior is simple. The interior, however, is very beautifully done. The walls and ceilings are painted in Venetian red, French gray, and cool gray and the whole of the floor is covered with inlaid rubber….The spacious sanctuary is carpeted in burgundy. The altar, which was hand-carved some years ago by Mr. J. Roman, and has been used when Mass was said in the hall, has been repainted. The Church has a built-in confessional and two sacristies. It has seating capacity for about 120….”.

Our Lady of the Snow was opened by Archbishop Tweedy on Sunday 8 February 1953. Commenting on the new buildings, the parish priest at Tarraleah (the Rev. J. W. Flannery) remarked:

“The work emphasised in a practical way that, given a common object, men and women of all nationalities and creeds could work in harmonious union. He said the people of the parish were proud of the magnificent voluntary effort that had been put into the erection of the church”.

A plaque in the church reflected these sentiments:

“This Plaque was erected by Rev. Fr. J. Flannery in appreciation of outstanding services performed by men and women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who so unselfishly erected this Church in the honour and glory of God”.

The Catholic church is located to the left of the surge towers. The second colour photograph shows St Barnabas’ United Church (the blue building) with the Tarraleah Primary School to right.

Our Lady of the Snow no longer exists as it was destroyed by fire after being sold in 1980s.

Our Lady of the Snow - Photograph: Archdiocese of Hobart Archives & Heritage Collection 

Our Lady of the Snow - Photograph: Archdiocese of Hobart Archives & Heritage Collection 

A view of Tarraleah towards the surge towers. The Catholic church is located to the left of the surge towers. (see enhanced detail in the photo below) Source: Libraries Tasmania/Tasmanian State Archive 

Our Lady of the Snow is just visible to the left of the surge towers. 

A detail of a photograph showing St Barnabas Church and the Tarraleah Primary School.  Source: Tasmanian State Archives - online - Item NS6404-1-66

 Source: Tasmanian State Archives - online - Item NS6404-1-66

Reverend Father J. Flannery who was appointed parish priest at Tarraleah in 1951. (The Catholic Standard)


Mercury, Saturday 7 February 1953, page 6
The Catholic Standard, Friday 13 February 1953, page 1

Information provided by Nik Olechowski 23/10/22


  1. The church description of "Our lady of the Snow" Catholic Church at Tarraleah in the above photo is incorrect. The United Anglican Church, St Barnabas is identified correctly. The building to the right of St Barnabas Church is actually the Tarraleah Primary School. The afore mentioned Catholic Church was situated on the RHS of the road leaving the village near the top of the hill opposite & past the two surge towers. As also stated, it was destroyed by fire after it had been sold.

    1. Two photos of the church have been located and the article has been updated.

  2. Thank you for this information. Appreciated. The article has now been corrected.


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