Maroondah Reservoir Pictorial Heritage 1862 to 2011

Construction 1915 to 1929

Historical Timeline
The First Weirs1878-1891
Construction 1915 to 1929
The Yarra Track
The Blacks' Spur
Heritage Pictures 1872 to 1926
Images of 1957
Gallery of 2011
Interesting Features
Maroondah Reservoir Park
Walking Tracks
Present day Maps
Old Maps
References and Bibliography


1927 Official opening ceremony

Consruction in 1921

Building the Outlet Tower in 1924

Graceburn Weir, Graceburn Aqueduct, and Donnelly's Weir constructed

The earlier Watts or Maroondah Weir, formally opened on 18 February, 1891 by the Governor Lord Hopetoun, was submerged beneath the new Maroondah Reservoir. The structure can still be seen when water levels are low.

Exploratory works for the Maroondah dam began in 1915, and work on preparing the designs and clearing the site for the reservoir began in 1917.

The Watts River diversion works were completed between 1918 and 1919, and construction began in 1920.

The design for the dam was completed and the clearing of the reservoir site began. The first contract was let in August for diversion of the Maroondah River by an open concrete channel constructed on one side of the valley.

Temporary dams were located at each end to divert the course of the river. The first contract for the construction of the dam was let to E. Carroll for the lower portion only in October 1920, for the sum of 116,955 pounds. The work was completed in October 1922, and a second contract began for the dam outlet tower and subsidiary works totalling 502, 124 pounds

All sand and cement for the dam structure was brought by rail from Melbourne to the terminal of the broad gauge railway at Healesville and conveyed to the dam site via a bi-cable aerial ropeway erected in 1919-20 for 10,961 pounds.

A travelling aerial cableway was used for conveying materials along the dam wall.

This system, with modifications, was also to be used during the construction of the Silvan Dam between 1927 and 1931.

The dam was completed and the Reservoir Park was developed. 

The Board undertook extensive planting and beautification work in the vicinity of the reservoir, and constructed two brick residences for Caretakers' Quarters

1923 - construction

1921 construction of spillway

1923 aerial ropeway

The aerial ropeway, during the early stages of its erection, proved highly interesting to local residents, and for six years was a source of attraction to visitors.

The construction of the aerial by the Metropolitan Board of Works look six months to complete. It was commenced at the latter end of 1920, and was completed in April 1921. It had been in active commission until 1927, and the only repair necessary had been the replacement of two wooden structure supports.

A stationary cable and a lower transmitting one stretched from the reservoir works to the railway station and back again.

Along these cables 84 buckets travelled backwards and forwards for six years, being driven by a steam plant at the headworks.

The timetable had been arranged with such mathematical precision that
throughout the day, year in and year out, 42 loaded buckets on their way to the reservoir kept pace with a similar number of empty ones descending for their load. A space of 100 metres separated each bucket, and buckets dumped their loads at the reservoir four minutes after they left the station.

Eight cubic feet was the capacity of each bucket. Three buckets accommodated
one ton, and 150 loaded buckets made the trip to the reservoir daily.

Every hour 52 empty buckets travelled down to the sand bin, received their load, and left on the 3 km return trip, lifting the load 100 metres on the journey. By this means cement and sand were safely transported in mid-air to help construct the dam.

The ropeway passd over houses and electrical transmission lines, and no accidents were reported in the six years of its operation.

(Based on an article published in the Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian of May 14, 1927)

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