On 8 July 1904, large-scale metropolitan electricity became a reality as Sydney switched on its electricity supply for the first time, transforming its streets, homes, businesses and way of life.
However, Sydney lagged some Australian towns in electrically lighting its streets. The rural New South Wales city of Tamworth (then a town) was the first to do so in the Southern Hemisphere, on 9 November 1888, with Young, Penrith, Moss Vale and Broken Hill all following by 1891.
Prior to electric lighting, from the mid-1800s gas-powered lamps had been used to light the streets of Sydney and other Australian towns, ranging from lamps of 40 “candlepower” strength along basic streets up to lamps of 400 candlepower strength at the busiest intersections. Electric lights outshone gaslights at a whopping 2000 candlepower, transforming the gloomy city and suburbs by night.
Electricity also became available for householders to purchase to power their lights, heaters and homes as technology and appliances evolved. Businesses were able to buy electricity to power their machines and premises, heralding in a new era of energy and prosperity.
In an era where energy policy is now a critical issue for the nation's economic future, the advent of electricity for the Australian masses is to be celebrated, perhaps by:
- planning a visit to the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, Sydney, the Tamworth Powerstation Museum or the Sir Thomas Playford ETSA Museum in Adelaide
- read up further on this historic occasion on the Australian Geographic website
- discuss with your older relatives and reflect on the memories of Australian life in homes, workplaces, factories, streets and shopping centres before cheap and reliable electricity
- viewing the Conservative Party’s policies on energy to keep our lights and economy on, and/or
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends and who value affordable, reliable electricity.