Silvan Reservoir Pictorial Heritage - 1880 to 2011

Modern Era

About this Research Project
Timeline 1880-2010
Historical Background from 1917
Construction 1926-1932
Aerial Ropeway
Aerial Cableway
Steam Tramway
Development after 1932
Modern Era
The abandoned Second Reservoir
Silvan Forest
Reservoir Park
Stonyford Forest Nature Trail
Contact the Author

O'Shannassy Control Tower


Area 900 hectares off-stream catchment

Maximum height

Length along top of dam wall 650 m

Surface area 333 hectares

Total average capacity 40,445 Megalitres

Thomson, O'Shannassy and Upper Yarra Reservoirs, and rainfall over the Coranderrk Catchment

Via a large Treatment Facility to the Cardinia Reservoir, and to major service reservoirs in suburban Melbourne


Kookaburra at entrance

Entrance off Stonyford Rd

Dam Wall 2011


There is no public access to the Reserrvoir, which is protected by a high metal fence around its perimeter.

Melbourne Water maintains a management depot and store, with the gate on Stonyford Rd.
Good views of the Reservoir may be enjoyed from the public Lookout at the northern end of the dam wall. An information display is located there, with historical photos and descriptions of the history and development of the dam.
The dam wall is a rolled earthfill dam with concrete corewall, 644 metres long and 219 metres at its base, blocking the valley of the Stony Creek. It is an off-river storage and has a relatively small catchment of 555 ha. The maximum height of the embankment above the creek bed is 43 metres, and storage capacity is 40,000 megalitres. Bluestone rock from the nearby quarry has been used to cover the embankment, the downstream face of which was reconstructed and extended in the 1980s. A vehicular pathway allows access across the dam wall, and a series of wells along the wall lead to the drainage gallery within the wall itself.

Three of these are original, and the rest were constructed later. The catchment comprises mixed eucalypt and other species, with a distinctive line of poplars planted along the eastern edge of the reservoir.

Pine trees predominate on the slopes above the Depot, and along the Lilydale- Monbulk road.

The Reservoir is built on the Stony Creek Valley. The origin of the creek was in the high point to the south, near what is now Melbourne Water Gate 6A, and flowed north down the valley, It then flowed westerly, entering the Olinda Creek.

Part of the creek survives today, artificially fed via a pipe through the bottom of the reservoir wall, and passing under the Stonyford Rd where it joins the Olinda Creek. This point is believed to be the original location of the ford.

Silvan is filled mainly from the Thomson, Upper Yarra and O'Shannassy catchments in the east, and supplies other off-river storages such as Cardinia and Greenvale , and service reservoirs throughout the metropolitan area. Water is brought to the Silvan by an open concrete channel from the O'Shannassy Aqueduct at Wandin Yallock, and enters the reservoir via a short tunnel and the O'Shannassy Inlet works, and the Yarra Silvan Conduit (pipeline), and the Yarra Valley Conduit (pipeline).

This is a concrete tower located on land at the north eastern corner of the reservoir, comprising six columns supporting a concrete slab, based on an Egyptian design. The Egyptian style of construction, also employed in the Reservoir Outlet Tower and Stilling Basins, is apparently based on the inherent strength of the design. In this tower, iron rings have been set into the ceiling to enable the valves to be lifted, and this requires a structure that can withstand this kind of stress.

The structure contains wells in which four valves are located for the Reservoir, and two valves that control the flow of water from the O'Shannassy aqueduct. The valves enable the aqueduct water to be redirected to the Preston Reservoir, if the Silvan reservoir needs to be isolated at any time. A fibro cement shed with asbestos cement roofing is located adjacent to the structure. It was formerly used to house a pump to service a small reservoir that provided water to the houses and reservoir park. 

This is located in the reservoir, and is an oval-shaped concrete structure featuring a distinctive Egyptian design reflecting a similar architectural theme as the O'Shannassy Inlet Tower. Unlike the O'Shannassy Inlet Tower this tower features straight rounded columns, a low decorative wall, and two wells in which the water hydraulics system internal valve controls are located. The external valves are now operated mechanically, but the ratchets once used to turn the valves by hand are still located in the tower. 

This as apparently part of the Aerial Ropeway system that carried goods from Mt Evelyn Railway Station to the dam site during construction. It is located about 30 metres to the north east of the dam wall. A galvanised iron shelter has collapsed on the timber drum, but the drum and metal cable appears to be intact. The drum measures approximately 2 metres in diameter.

The rusting remains of sections of the Aerial Cableway and Aerial Ropeway infrastructure are located next to an open storage area adjacent to the overlow carpark, now becoming overgrown by vegetation. This includes part of the concrete base for a cableway mast, lattice ironwork, girders, and other artefacts.

A concrete slab and some timber beams mark the site of a workshop on sloping ground above the reservoir, adjacent to the dam wall. The slab is bout 8 X 4 metres, with a drain traversing it and the remains of a step in one corner. According to Keslo's plan, it appears to have been the garage.

A concrete slab and flat site is located above the road adjacent to the northern end of the reservoir, near the garage site. It is raised about 0.5 metre above the road, and appears to have been the second hand store indicated on Kelso's plan. Old machinery parts and brick are located on the site.

Stilling basin 2010

Stillage Ponds 2010

This area is a concrete structure with plain square pillars and concrete slab roof, similar in design to the O'Shannassy Inlet Tower but with paired columns and less ornate detail. It houses the valve system for control of water entering the Stilling Basins, consisting of a system of concrete chambers extending about 100 square metres to the north of the structure. The Stilling Basins and valve house are no longer used.


Melbourne Water pipeline

Melbourne Water pipeline


View from Golfcourse Track,Olinda

View from Lookout Rocks, Olinda


Aqueduct inlet 2010

Aqueduct 2010

Stillage ponds artefacts 2010

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at my Project!  I'd like to hear from you with any comments or reactions - please Email to  Bob Padula