Artur Baumhammer was 16 when he came from Germany to Australia in April, 1952. Seven days after he arrived he began work on the Snowy Hydro Scheme.
His first memories of the land down under were of the heat, and the pleasure of eating his first ice cream.
Happy memories of his work on the scheme are intermingled with his worst. Once he was trapped in a shaft for hours.
"The worst experience was when working in the shaft fixing equipment behind the formwork and got stuck by the jagged rock wall and the reinforcement," Mr Baumhammer said.
"I was trapped there for about four hours, until they put a sling on my feet and used the crane and manpower to pull me out."
Despite the accident, he said working on the scheme gave him opportunities he would not have had if he had stayed in Germany, things like, he said, "freedom of movement, freedom of speech and freedom of work".
Mr Baumhammer and his mother and father were among more than 100,000 people from 30 countries to work on the scheme, considered one of the greatest engineering projects ever undertaken. This month marks 70 years since construction began.
In October 1949 the building of the Snowy Hydro Scheme commenced with the first blast fired at Adaminaby. It took about 25 years to complete.
The hydro-electric scheme was initially designed to collect and store water and divert it into the Murray and Murrumbidgee river catchments for use. But by directing the water through power stations on the way down, the scheme was also able to generate large amounts of electricity. It now provides more than 30 per cent of renewable energy available to the east coast.
Mr Baumhammer's father had come to Australia in 1951. He was paid 100 pounds to make the trip, as there was an acute shortage of skilled tradespeople to work on the project.
"My father came by plane with 33 of the first 613 German workers contracted by the scheme," Mr Baumhammer said.
"They were the first Germans after World War II and arrived on April 6, 1951."
After joining his father in 1952, Mr Baumhammer began work for the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority as a labourer in the concrete and soils laboratory at Island Bend. His mother soon began work as a cook in the camps.
The family lived in separate camps, giving Mr Baumhammer an idea of just how big the project was.
After two years as a labourer, the family moved to Canberra so Mr Baumhammer could get an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner.
About a decade later, he re-joined the scheme working as a carpenter in the tunnels for the construction of the Jindabyne pumping station, and he helped in other areas.
He said he had good memories of this time, mostly of the camaraderie and friendships that he made.
"I'm very proud to have helped build the Snowy scheme," he said.
"The knowledge and experiences I gained from working with geologists and engineers continued to serve me well during my working life."
Following his time on the Snowy scheme, Mr Baumhammer went on to become qualified in building and civil works, and worked on major projects overseas as an inspector and surveyor.
He is one of a number of people gathering in Cooma on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of the feat of the Snowy Hydro.
"I feel a great deal of pride having contributed to what has been a major engineering project in Australia," Mr Baumhammer said.