Maroondah Reservoir Pictorial Heritage 1862 to 2011

The First Weirs1878-1891

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


1916 the early weirs

1907 The early Weir

1876 Graceburn Weir

1876 Graceburn Weir

The Graceburn Creek Weir was built in 1876. The Sawpit Ctreek and Donnelley's Creek Weirs were built in 1893.

Grcdeburn and Donnelley'sjWeirs are still in use today - Sawpit ,Weir was decommissioned in 1988.

In the early days, access to the Graceburn weir was by horse and buggy along the original aqueduct track, about 1 km, from Fernshaw Rd,  where a picnic ground existed, and visitors were permitted to enter the weir compound Nowadays, public access is limited to walkers, and the weir may be viewed from behind steel protective fencing. Melbourne Water has its treatment plant at the start of the track, off the Maroondah Highway.

The Graceburn Aqueduct carried water into the Watts River - nowadays it flows into the Maroondah Reservoir in a large pipe.

The Sawpit Creek Weir may be seen near the entrance to Echo Tunnel. The Creek flows under a culvert above the Maroondah Aqueduct.

1906 Graceburn Aqueduct

1906 Graceburn Aqueduct

1906 Graceburn Weir

It is not commonly known that there was an earlier Maroondah Reservoir, which was submerged when the present reservoir was built.

On February 19, 1891,  about 300 people, including the Governor of Victoria, the Earl of Hopetoun, travelled from Melbourne to Healesville, or the opening of the original Maroondah Water System.

On that day, the Governor turned on the water from the Watts River system, at the newly constructed Watts Weir, about 4 km from Healesville..

The event was a grand occasion - Healesville was decorated with fern arches and many local people gathered to greet the trains which brought officialdom out from Melbourne for the day. There was a procession of horse-drawn carriages, coaches and assorted wagons!

There were 60 saddle horses, and 27 conveyances.

The route was dry and dusty, and after the opening ceremonies and speeches a luncheon in a large marquee was organized at nearby Donnelley''s Creek

However, the name of the scheme was subsequently changed from Watts to Maroondah, the name by which local Aborigines knew the area.

The scheme had its beginnings in the 1879 Water Supply Board recommendation to the Government that a survey of the River and its tributaries and the practicality of conveying the water to Melbourne should be undertaken.

Mr. J.H. Davies undertook the survey, his report being furnished on 18 May, 1880.

The Water Supply Board recommended that the scheme be undertaken in May, 1885.

Work began in 1886. William Davidson, Engineer of the Melbourne Water Supply Branch of the Public Works Department, directed the permanent survey and construction. As well as the initial weir, later replaced by the Maroondah Reservoir, the scheme called for a 66 km aqueduct to take the diverted water to Preston reservoir. Of this, 41 km was open concrete channel, ten tunnels and 15 km was in 14 inverted siphons; three tunnels were/are around 1.6 km in length.

The inverted siphons took the water across various stream valleys along the way including across Watson's Creek.

Some tunnels are still in use today -  others have been replaced by pipelines in recent times.

The early reservoir actually comprised two linked weirs,  upper and lower.

The adjacent land in the Watts Valley was lush flats and used for grazing.

Parts of the old weirs may occasionally be seen today when the reservoir level is low.

1905 Ford over Watts River

1914 Watts Weir

1908 Donelley's Weir

1948 Donnelley's Weir

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