Community learn about oldest water supply

MELBOURNE Water hosted yet another successful tour of Yan Yean Reservoir on April 27 educating locals and history buffs on Melbourne’s oldest water supply.

At the time of its completion in 1857, Yan Yean Reservoir was the largest artificial reservoir in the world.

Principal of Cultural Heritage at Melbourne Water Paul Balassone led the tour, titled ‘Going Against the Flow’ – a bus tour that follows the water system upstream.

“We start at the historic caretaker’s cottage at Yan Yean Reservoir and follow the system upstream heading north to the closed protected catchment of Wallaby Creek,” Mr Balassone said.

“It’s quite a privilege seeing behind the scenes of nature’s water factory, particularly accessing areas ordinarily out of bounds to the public and to experience the unique biodiversity of natural forest.”

The tour, in partnership with the City of Whittlesea, showcased the breadth and depth of Melbourne’s water supply operations.

“We take people to key parts of the system,” Mr Balassone said.

“Yan Yean water supply system was completed in 1857 and remains the oldest surviving and functional water supply system in Australia.

“Expansion of the system took place in the 1880s to the north of the Great Dividing Range, harnessing the waters of the Wallaby and Silver Creeks through a system of weirs and aqueducts, stands as a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of our forbearers – it’s very much a part of Melbourne’s history.”

“People on the tour are usually overwhelmed at the artisanship of bluestone and granite structures carved with such precision and care.

“The process of dealing with Traditional Owners and other stakeholders, conservation issues and finding a balance is also a great learning experience for people – at times it can be challenging maintaining conservation whilst managing critical infrastructure to ensure service delivery.

“Really in some way it’s a legacy that continues on – Melbourne is one of a handful of cities in the world that enjoys water from protected water supply catchments.

“That’s why our water quality is of premium standard, and that’s one reason why Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world.”

“The process of dealing with Traditional Owners and other stakeholders, conservation issues and finding a balance is also a great learning experience for people – at times it can be challenging maintaining conservation whilst managing critical infrastructure to ensure service delivery.

“Really in some way it’s a legacy that continues on – Melbourne is one of a handful of cities in the world that enjoys water from protected water supply catchments.

“That’s why our water quality is of premium standard, and that’s one reason why Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world.”