MAROONDAH WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM (UPPER AND CENTRAL SECTIONS)
FERNSHAW AND TOOLANGI AND HEALESVILLE AND WARBURTON AND CHUM CREEK AND DIXONS CREEK AND YARRA GLEN AND CHRISTMAS HILLS AND KANGAROO GROUND AND RESEARCH AND ELTHAM AND DIAMOND CREEK AND GREENSBOROUGH AND BUNDOORA AND BEND OF ISLANDS AND RESERVOIR, YARRA RA
Statement of Significance
This site is located on the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people.
MAROONDAH WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM (UPPER AND CENTRAL SECTIONS) - History
Melbourne's early water supply
Melbourne's earliest water supply was derived from the Yarra River and its contributaries. As Melbourne grew, factories and industries were established on the banks of the rivers and creeks and together with the lack of a sewerage system, the water supply became severely polluted. In 1853, the Yan Yean Water Supply System was completed, allowing water from the Plenty River to be brought to Melbourne via a gravity fed system. This was the first large scale engineered water supply system in Victoria and was critical to the development of Melbourne in the gold rush period. By 1870 Melbourne's population had reached 200,000, which was the maximum that the Yan Yean had been designed to serve. Further works to augment the Yan Yean system, and provide a cleaner water supply were completed during the 1870s and 1880s, however a larger system with a consistently higher water quality was soon required.
Preparing for the Maroondah Water Supply System (1880 - 1886)
In 1880 the Watts River and its tributaries in the Yarra Ranges were surveyed by J H Davies, and recommended as suitable for a diversion weir (a small structure which diverts water) or a reservoir (a large body of water contained by a dam). As well as increasing water supply, water purity was also an important consideration in a time when there was significant concern about typhoid and other infectious diseases. To preserve the purity of the supply, the Watts River catchment of 43,300 acres was gazetted in 1886 as a closed water catchment. This caused objection from the tourism and logging industries who were reliant on access to the surrounding countryside. It also meant that the entire township of Fernshaw located within the catchment area was compulsorily acquired, and the entire town was removed. Houses, the hotel and the post office were auctioned and moved, and everything else was demolished and burnt, including cesspits.
Stage One: The Watts River Scheme (renamed the Maroondah Water Supply System) (1886 - 1891)
The design and construction of the Watts River Scheme (renamed the Maroondah Water Supply System at its opening in 1891) was overseen by William Davidson. Davidson was not an engineer, but had trained as a surveyor on the Ballarat goldfields. In April 1873, he was appointed assistant to the Superintending Engineer of the Melbourne Water Supply, Charles Taylor. In 1878, Taylor was dismissed, leaving Davidson in charge when a bridge carrying a section of pipe within the Yan Yean Water Supply System was washed out, severing the water supply. He managed to restore water to Melbourne within three days and was rewarded by being appointed Superintending Engineer. He oversaw the expansion of the Yan Yean system before developing the Watts River Scheme.
Due to the plentiful flow of the Watts River, it was decided to proceed with the construction of a weir rather than a reservoir. Construction began on the Watts River weir in 1886 which was 100 feet (30.5 m) long and constructed of Portland cement concrete, with stone coping. The smaller Graceburn Weir was also constructed at this time, as well as the gravity fed aqueduct which ran for 41 miles (66 km) from the weir to the Preston Reservoir through 6 miles (9.6 km) of tunnels and more than nine miles (14.5 km) of inverted siphons. With the inevitable construction of the dam and reservoir in mind, Davidson had the foresight to ensure that the tunnels were large enough to carry increased flows in anticipation of the need for additional supply in the future.
The system was opened on 18 February 1891 by the Governor of Victoria, the Earl of Hopetoun, who renamed the scheme 'Maroondah' which was incorrectly thought to be the indigenous name for the area. In the same year, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) was formed to manage the city's water supply and sewers.
Stage Two: Construction of additional weirs (1891-1909)
Among the first works carried out by the newly formed MMBW was the construction of new weirs at Donnelly's Creek and Sawpit Creek in 1893 to provide additional flow into the Maroondah aqueduct. The MMBW also purchased land in Badger Creek where another weir was completed in 1909. These new weirs were connected to the Maroondah aqueduct via open channels, pipes and siphons.
Stage Three: Construction of the Maroondah dam and reservoir (1917 - 1927)
In the early twentieth century, Melbourne's population began to increase again, making further demands of the existing systems. It had been assumed that the Maroondah dam would be constructed to alleviate this demand, however its location would make it difficult to service the elevated and rapidly expanding eastern suburbs of Melbourne. In response, C E Oliver, Engineer in Chief of the MMBW, proposed a new diversion weir high on the O'Shannassy River. Discussions generated so much political debate that a Royal Commission was called in 1909 to determine a decision. The commissioners included William Davidson, creator of the Maroondah scheme, and the Commission came down in favour of the O'Shannassy scheme. The Commission also acknowledged that there would eventually be a need for the Maroondah dam. In 1917, preparations for the Maroondah dam finally began. The valley floor was cleared by timber cutters, and in the following year, the Watts River was diverted.
The first elements of the Maroondah dam to be completed were the valve houses, followed by the outlet tower in 1925. The dam itself was completed in 1926. Materials were brought to the site by an aerial ropeway which operated for almost nine hours each day, for six years. Forty two large buckets were filled with sand or cement before making the 45 minute journey to the dam site. The buckets then returned to the station where they were refilled. Although steam power was used where possible, most of the construction was completed by the labour of the several hundred men on site at any one time.
The reservoir was filled in 1927, submerging the original Watts River weir. The capacity of the aqueduct was also increased at this time, with an upper 'berm' added to deepen the open channels, and duplication of some of the siphons. Water supply was further increased with the construction of a second diversion weir on Badger Creek upstream from the first weir, in 1928. During the 1930s and 40s, the Maroondah Reservoir was one of Melbourne's largest and most visited reservoirs. It is now one of the smallest, but still plays an important role in supplying water to Melbourne.
Gardens and plantings
Gardens and picnic areas were traditionally provided at weirs and dams. The weirs associated with the Maroondah Water Supply System were located in areas which had been popular with tourists as places for outdoor recreational activities since the 1860s. When the weirs were constructed, picnic areas were provided and the bush settings were complimented with the planting of firs and ferns. In the 1930s the weirs at Donnelly's, Graceburn and Coranderrk/Badger Creek were planted with pines for their antiseptic qualities, and toilets were installed. Fireplaces were built and firewood was provided. Pines and other conifers were planted along the aqueducts as it was thought that the dense foliage would filter pollution. It is likely that the Coast Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), oaks and other exotic species at the former location of the township of Fernshaw were also planted at this time. Most of the picnic areas have been damaged through bushfires and storms and very few built structures survive.
The flat area below the Maroondah dam was also to become parkland. It was the view of the Board of the MMBW that as the 'great engineering work belonged to the people . it should be available to the people as a place for recreation.' The indigenous vegetation was to be retained, however the area was destroyed by bushfire in 1926. Parts of the site had also been compromised by the building works, leaving it unsightly and unsafe. In March 1927, the Water Supply Committee asked E G Ritchie, Engineer of Water Supply to develop a planting plan. He did this in association with Hugh Linaker, landscape gardener who then became closely involved with the development of the park for the next fifteen months. Not only was he involved in the planting plan, but he also advised on pruning, monitored the suitability of the trees to the area and it is also likely that he supplied the trees from his own nursery. Linaker planned the planting using his typical contrasting combinations of evergreen and deciduous, natives and exotics, and upright and spreading species. The concept for the park is thought to have been influenced both by nineteenth century English landscapes and National Parks in the United States.
In 1929, the Board reported that 'a very large number of deciduous and other trees have been planted and most of these are growing well.' Additional trees were planted at the Park in the early to mid 1930s including a number of elms at the base of the dam wall which were removed from Sydney Road, Brunswick when new electric lights were installed. Parts of the catchment were destroyed in the 1939 bushfires and were replanted in the 1940s under the leadership of E G Ritchie, who was a strong supporter of forest conservation. From the 1940s to the 1960s, two rotundas, a bridge over the lily pond, stone edging and pathways, the rose steps, and a sundial were constructed. Importantly for the increased use and ownership of motor cars in the age of the 'day trip', was the construction of a large carpark.
Changes to the Maroondah system (1970s - mid 1980s)
In the 1970s the Sugarloaf Reservoir was constructed. From 1978 water from the Maroondah reservoir still flowed into the upper section of the Maroondah aqueduct but was redirected to the Sugarloaf reservoir via pump at Yering Gorge. Further changes took place in the mid 1980s including the extension of the bottom outlet system of the Maroondah dam and construction of a new valve house on the Watts River. The width of the spillway channel was also increased to allow for greater flood flows. The final stage of works stabilised the dam structure with a series of vertical cable anchors within the dam wall.KEY REFERENCES USED TO PREPARE ASSESSMENT
Context (2011) Maroondah Water Supply System Conservation Management Plan
Lee Andrews & Associates Heritage Consulting (2011) Maroondah Reservoir Park Conservation Analysis (Volume 3b in the Context CMP)
Ritchie, E G (no date) Melbourne's Water Supply Undertaking in One Hundred years of Engineering
Harsant, Les (1991) Water for a Metropolis, the Maroondah Water Supply System, Healesville and District Historical Society
Interview with Jim Viggers (8 June 2017), Manager of Operations, Maroondah Water Supply System from 1976 - 1990
MAROONDAH WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM (UPPER AND CENTRAL SECTIONS) - Assessment Against Criteria
The Maroondah Water Supply System is of historical significance to the State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criteria for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria's cultural history.
Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria's cultural history.
Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.
Special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Victoria's history.
MAROONDAH WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM (UPPER AND CENTRAL SECTIONS) - Permit ExemptionsGeneral Exemptions:General exemptions apply to all places and objects included in the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR). General exemptions have been designed to allow everyday activities, maintenance and changes to your property, which don’t harm its cultural heritage significance, to proceed without the need to obtain approvals under the Heritage Act 2017.Specific exemptions may also apply to your registered place or object. If applicable, these are listed below. Specific exemptions are tailored to the conservation and management needs of an individual registered place or object and set out works and activities that are exempt from the requirements of a permit. Specific exemptions prevail if they conflict with general exemptions. Find out more about heritage permit exemptions here.Specific Exemptions:It should be noted that Permit Exemptions can be granted at the time of registration (under s.42(4) of the Heritage Act). Permit Exemptions can also be applied for and granted after registration (under s.66 of the Heritage Act).General Condition 1All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.
General Condition 2Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and Heritage Victoria shall be notified as soon as possible.General Condition 3All works should ideally be informed by Conservation Management Plans prepared for the place. The Executive Director is not bound by any Conservation Management Plan, and permits still must be obtained for works suggested in any Conservation Management Plan.General Condition 4Nothing in this determination prevents the Heritage Council from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.General Condition 5Nothing in this determination exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the relevant responsible authority, where applicable.Specific Permit Exemptions:Permit Exemptions to ensure the ongoing Security of Melbourne's Water Supply
The following activities relate to the Watts River Catchment and Maroondah Reservoir Park. They are permit exempt based on the agreed responsibilities of Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria outlined in the Yarra Ranges National Park Management Plan (2002)Melbourne Water Activities:
- All repairs, maintenance, replacement, upgrade and works to the Maroondah Water Supply System, including the Watts River catchment, reservoir, dam, weirs, aqueduct, and all associated infrastructure, as well as protection, control and communications systems, to ensure the ongoing supply of water which do not impact on the cultural heritage fabric or values of the place.
Parks Victoria Activities
- Controlling and managing security for closed catchment areas (fences, gates, locks).
- Maintaining existing roads.
- Controlling, managing, operating and maintaining water supply structures and installations.
- Continuing existing hydrological research.
- Harvesting non-native timber.
- Conserving and managing native flora and fauna.
- Controlling and managing visitors.
- Controlling and managing security for National Park facilities.
- Controlling and managing noxious and environmental weeds, except in or on reservoirs.
- Controlling and managing pest animals.
- Constructing and maintaining walking tracks.
- Carrying out catchment rehabilitation.
- Fire protection and suppression.
Land Protection Act 1994.
- Minor repairs and maintenance to hard landscape elements including roads, steps, paths, and gutters.
- Subsurface works involving the installation, removal or replacement of watering and drainage systems or services in accordance with AS4970.
- Landscape maintenance works provided the activities do not involve the removal or destruction of any heritage fabric.
- Management of trees in accordance with Australian Standard:
- Protection of trees on development sites AS4970.
- Management of trees in accordance with Australian Standard; Pruning of Amenity Trees AS 4373.
- The process of gardening, including mowing, hedge clipping, bedding displays, removal of dead trees and shrubs and replanting the same species or cultivar, and maintenance to care for existing plants and planting themes.
- The removal or pruning of dead or dangerous trees to maintain safety. If the tree is identified as being of cultural heritage significance, the Executive Director must be notified of these works 21 days prior to them being undertaken.
- Removal of plants listed as noxious weeds in the Catchment and
NOTE: Parks Victoria infrastructure and visitor facilities are located at Mt Donna Buang Summit which is within the Watts River Catchment. These elements are not associated with the process of water supply and are not of cultural heritage significance in the context of the Maroondah Water Supply System. Works to Parks Victoria infrastructure and visitor facilities at Mt Donna Buang Summit do not require a permit.Maintenance and signage
- Vegetation protection and management of possums and vermin.
- Fire suppression, fire-fighting duties.
Public Safety and Security
- Maintenance, replacement and installation of electrical and fire services where this does not impact on the heritage fabric.
- Erecting, repairing and maintaining signage (directional signage, road signs, speed signs). Signage must be located and be of a suitable size so as not to obscure or damage heritage fabric, and must be able to be later removed without causing damage to the place. The development of signage must be consistent in the use of format, text,
- logos, themes and other display materials.
Note: All works, including urgent or emergency site works are to be undertaken by an appropriately qualified specialist such as a structural engineer, or other heritage professional.
- Public safety and security activities provided the works do not adversely affect heritage fabric.
- The erection of temporary security fencing, scaffolding, hoardings or surveillance systems to prevent unauthorised access or secure public safety which will not adversely affect heritage fabric.
- Emergency stabilisation necessary to secure safety where a site feature has been irreparably damaged or destabilised and represents a safety risk to its users or the public.
Caretakers Cottage in Maroondah Reservoir Park - Building Exterior
Caretakers Cottage in Maroondah Reservoir Park - Building Interior
- Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
- Removal of any non-original extraneous items such as airconditioners, pipe work, ducting, wiring, antennae, aerials etc and making good.
- Installation or repair of damp-proofing by either injection method or grouted pocket method.
- Painting of previously painted surfaces provided that preparation or painting does not remove evidence of original paint or decorative schemes.
- Painting of previously painted walls and ceilings provided that preparation or painting does not remove evidence of original paint or decorative schemes.
- Installation, removal or replacement of non-original carpets and/or flexible floor coverings, wall coverings, curtain, blinds, curtain tracks, rods, blinds, and hooks, nails and other devices for hanging artwork and mirrors.
- Demolition or removal of non-original stud/partition walls, suspended ceilings or non-original wall linings, non-original doors, windows, bathroom and kitchen fit-outs or lights.
- Installation of removable stud walls provided that installation does not damage/remove original fabric.
- Refurbishment of non-original bathrooms, toilets and kitchens including removal, installation or replacement of non-original sanitary fixtures and associated piping, mirrors, wall and floorcoverings.
- Removal of non-original tiling or concrete slabs in wet areas provided there is no damage to or alteration of original structure or fabric.
- Installation, removal or replacement of electrical wiring provided that all new wiring is fully concealed and any original light switches, pull cords, push buttons or power outlets are retained in-situ. Note: if wiring original to the place was carried in timber conduits then the conduits should remain in situ.
- Installation, removal or replacement of bulk insulation and plant in the roof space.
- Installation, removal or replacement of smoke detectors.
MAROONDAH WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM (UPPER AND CENTRAL SECTIONS) - Permit Exemption PolicyPreambleThe purpose of the Permit Policy is to assist when considering or making decisions regarding works to a registered place. It is recommended that any proposed works be discussed with an officer of Heritage Victoria prior to making a permit application. Discussing proposed works will assist in answering questions the owner may have and aid any decisions regarding works to the place.
The extent of registration of the Maroondah Water Supply System in the Victorian Heritage Register affects the whole place shown on Diagrams 2381A, 2381B and 2381C including but not limited to the Watts River catchment, the location of the former township of Fernshaw, including oak and redwood trees, the Maroondah dam and reservoir, outlet tower, two valve houses, caretakers huts, weirs and their associated picnic areas, tunnels, aqueduct, siphons, pipes, drains and scours from the south western edge of the Yarra Ranges to Diamond Creek, Junction Basin at Preston and the Plenty River Pipe Bridge at Greensborough. It also includes Maroondah Reservoir Park comprising roads and paths, two rotundas, fences and gates and extensive tree planting and gardens. Under the Heritage Act 1995 a person must not remove or demolish, damage or despoil, develop or alter or excavate, relocate or disturb the position of any part of a registered place or object without approval. It is acknowledged, however, that alterations and other works may be required to keep places and objects in good repair and adapt them for use into the future.
If a person wishes to undertake works or activities in relation to a registered place or registered object, they must apply to the Executive Director, Heritage Victoria for a permit. The purpose of a permit is to enable appropriate change to a place and to effectively manage adverse impacts on the cultural heritage significance of a place as a consequence of change. If an owner is uncertain whether a heritage permit is required, it is recommended that Heritage Victoria be contacted.
Permits are required for anything which alters the place or object, unless a permit exemption is granted. Permit exemptions usually cover routine maintenance and upkeep issues faced by owners as well as minor works or works to the elements of the place or object that are not significant. They may include appropriate works that are specified in a conservation management plan. Permit exemptions can be granted at the time of registration (under s.42 of the Heritage Act) or after registration (under s.66 of the Heritage Act).
It should be noted that the addition of new buildings to the registered place, as well as alterations to the interior and exterior of existing buildings requires a permit, unless a specific permit exemption is granted.
Conservation management plansA Conservation Management Plan was prepared for the Maroondah Water Supply System by Context in February 2011. It contains indepth assessment of all the elements of the Maroondah Water Supply System, and should be used in association with this Permit Policy to inform any future works. It also references Maroondah Aqueduct; Cultural Heritage Assessment completed by Tardis Enterprises Pty Ltd in 2005 and includes the Maroondah Reservoir Park Conservation Analysis byLee Andrews & Associates Heritage Consulting.
Aboriginal cultural heritageIf any Aboriginal cultural heritage is discovered or exposed at any time it is necessary to immediately contact Aboriginal Victoria to ascertain requirements under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.Other approvalsPlease be aware that approval from other authorities (such as local government) may be required to undertake works.ArchaeologyGround disturbance may affect any archaeological deposits at the place and, subject to the exemptions stated in this document, requires a permit.Cultural heritage significanceOverview of significanceThe cultural heritage significance of the Maroondah Water Supply System lies in but is not limited to the Watts River catchment, the location of the former township of Fernshaw, including oak and redwood trees, the Maroondah dam and reservoir, outlet tower, two valve houses, caretakers huts, weirs and their associated picnic areas, aqueduct, tunnels, siphons, pipes, drains and scours from the south western edge of the Yarra Ranges to Diamond Creek, Junction Basin at Preston and the Plenty River Pipe Bridge at Greensborough. It also includes Maroondah Reservoir Park comprising roads and paths, two rotundas, fences and gates and extensive tree planting and gardens.
MAROONDAH WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM (UPPER AND CENTRAL SECTIONS)Victorian Heritage Register H2381