The Maroondah Aqueduct System - a Pictorial Heritage 1891 to 2013

1891 - The Aqueduct

1803 - Beginnings
1857 - Yan Yean Reservoir
1865 - Preston Reservoir
1891 - The Graceburn Weir
1891 - The Aqueduct
1891 - Maroondah Aqueduct - Kangaroo Ground District
1891 - Watts Weir
1891 - Maroondah Aqueduct - Echo Tunnel
1891 - Maroondah Aqueduct - Eltham to Research District
1893 - Donnelley's Weir
1927 - Maroondah Reservoir
1927 - Maroondah Reservoir Park
Maroondah Reservoir - Features
Websites of the Author

1895 - one of the earliest photos of the open Aqueduct, posssibly in the Eltham North section

The Maroondah Aqueduct scheme was commenced in August 1886, from the design and under the direction of Melbourne Water Supply engineer William Davidson.
It would become one of Melbourne's three major water distribution facilities - the others were the O'Shannassy and Yan Yean systems.

Davidson’s work was central to the provision of Melbourne’s early water supply. He devised the construction of the Wallaby and Silver Creek systems, diverting northern flowing water to the south, to augment and provide clean water flows for the Yan Yean Reservoir system.

He went on to design and construct the Maroondah Aqueduct system, as well as securing the reservation of bush land near Melbourne, to be retained as closed catchment for future Melbourne water supply. He had a distinguished public career and went on to become Inspector General of Public Works.

Work began on the Aqueduct in 1886. Originally, it extended from the former Watts Weir, subsequently from the Maroondah Reservoir, delivering water to the Preston Reservoir.

The Aqueduct system was opened by the Governor of Victoria, the Earl of Hopetoun on February 19, 1891. providing a clean, reliable source of water for the growing city of Melbourne.

It was 66 km long, with 41 km of open cement and brick lined channels and pipes, 10 km of tunnels, and 15 km of inverted syphons to carry the water over ravines.Three tunnels were around 1.6 km each, the longest of which was 97 chains, in the Long Gully Range.

The syphons were made from riveted wrought iron. Air compressors and rock borers were used.

Riveted wrought iron was chosen as it was lighter than cast iron

The open channel sections were 11 ft 10 inches wide, and 4 ft 10 inches deep. The sides sloped 45 degrees. The bottom was in the arc of a circle.

Domestic water supply aqueducts of any size are (very) rare in Victoria. The size and nature of the Aqueduct, reflects Melbourne's growth during the late 19th century, as well as the program of major public works undertaken then, which included the first sewerage system.

It was designed to carry 50 million gallons per day, but the capacity was 28 million gallons on commission ing.In 1908, its height was raised, and by 1915 it was carrying 29 million gallons per day.

It was enlarged in the 1920s, and has cultural significance as a major engineering structure which played an important part in the development of Melbourne's water supply system.

Map of Aqueduct route, published 1891

2012 - Plenty Pipe Bridge (Greensborough)

1. Readers are invited to consult the Melways or VicRoads directories for further details of the route!

2. Many sections of the route designated "channel" include short sections of undeground pipe, some are "syphons"

3. Unless indicated to the contrary, public access to the channel sections are prohibited by Melbourne Water
4. Districts shown in green are approximate.

Healesville District
Maroondah Reservoir to Sawpit Creek - pipe (Echo Tunnel)
Sawpit Creek to Donnelley's Creek Rd - channel (public access walking trail)
Donnelley's Creek Rd to Chum Creek Rd - pipe
Chum Creek District (Includes Healesville West)
Chum Creek Rd to Chum Creek - pipe
Mt Lebanon Rd to (near) Long Gully Rd - pipe
Long Gully Rd to Whelans Rd - pipe
Whelans Rd to Turners Lane - channel
Dixon's Creek and Yarra Glen District
Turners Lane to Pauls Rd - pipe
Pauls Rd to Gulf Rd - channel
Yarra Glen District
Gulf Rd to Steels Creek Rd - pipe
Steels Creek Rd to (near) Pumping Station - channel
Bend of Islands District
Pumping Station to (near) Winneke Water Treatment Plant - channel
Watsons Creek to Calwell Rd - pipe
Kangaroo Ground District
Calwell Rd to Nicholas Lane - channel (unofficial public access trail!)
Nicholas Lane to Main Rd (Eltham) - pipe
Research District
Main Rd to Zig Zag Rd North - channel (public access - Maroondah Aqueduct Trail)
Melbourne Outer
Zig Zag Rd North to Preston - pipe (includes the Plenty River pipe crossing at Greensbrough)

1892 - Plenty Pipe Bridge (Greensborough)

2012 - Plenty Pipe Bridge (Greensborough)