Manly Dam Reserve

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Manly Dam Reserve (also known as the Manly-Warringah War Memorial Park) is an area of urban bushland in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney, Australia. It is within the suburbs of Allambie Heights and Manly Vale in Warringah.


The Reserve adjoins the south-eastern edge of Garigal National Park, and to the reserve's east lies Wakehurst golf course.


The Reserve is centred on a man-made lake officially called 'Manly Reservoir', but it is more widely known as 'Manly Dam' after the dam that created it.

Curl Curl Creek was originally dammed in 1892 to create a reservoir with a capacity of 68.2 million imperial gallons (310 Ml)[1](p80) to provide a permanent supply of fresh water for the nearby village of Manly. The original 37 feet (11 m) high dam wall was subsequently raised in 1909, 1914 and 1922 to a final height of 115 feet (35 m), increasing the capacity to 441 million imperial gallons (2.00 Gl).[1](p81) However as the population of the area grew, the dam's capacity became insufficient.[2]

Water supply from Manly Dam had been augmented with supply from the main metropolitan system starting in 1906,[1](p81) initially from Mosman reservoir. By 1928 it was realised that Manly Dam had reached its limits and all future expansion would rely on the main metropolitan system. A trunk main was therefore laid from the Pymble reservoir and pumping from Manly Dam ceased in 1933.[1](p82) Briefly in 1942 after a period of drought, pumps were reinstalled and Manly Dam was brought back into service for nearly 10 months.[3]

In the early 1990s engineers installed a large enclosed powered propeller against the dam wall on the reservoir side to prevent silt building up against the wall and causing damage to the structure. The propeller's purpose is also to prevent stratification of the water body, thereby preventing eutrophication.

War Memorial[edit]

On the southern side of the dam there is a war memorial to those who have fallen in all wars.


Members of the community formed the Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee to fight developments that would have a destructive impact on this special well as to promote the natural values of the area. Manly Warringah War Memorial Park is home to over 300 plant species and over 80 bird species. Considering its close proximity to Sydney's CBD, there are also an impressive number of mammal and reptile species (some threatened). A unique feature of the Manly Dam catchment (Sydney's "Kakadu") is the presence of the Climbing Galaxias fish (Galaxias brevipinnis) which inhabits some of the more undisturbed creeks. It climbs up sheer rocks with its fins, breathes through its skin and has lived in this, once remote, area for an estimated 60 million years..since the time of the Gondwanan Supercontinent. In 1999 the community mounted a vigil and blockade to try and stop the contentious "Ardel" housing development from proceeding at Allambie Heights in the upper catchment (now called Maddison Way). Over 1,000 people attended a demonstration near the site, the "Jam for the Dam" march and music event was organised in Manly (attended by over 4,000 people) there were also rallies at NSW parliament and substantial lobbying at Warringah Council. In addition the world's first environmental golf tournament the "Save Manly Dam Golf Classic" was held at Wakehurst Golf Club (attendees included Peter Garrett, Tony Abbott, Cliff Lyons, Craig Riddington, Guy Leech and a plethora of Olympic sports champions. Ultimately the battle was lost and the sensitive bushland and fragile creek-line was bulldozed...threatening the environmental integrity of the area long term. Warringah Council's part in this unfortunate scenario was called into question and soon after council was dismissed to be replaced by an Administrator. The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee still exists as an advocate for nature conservation and organises the 'Return of the Mermaids restoration project This is also a Clean Up Australia "Fix Up" project

The SMDCC is additionally responsible for organising the King St, avenue of endemic native plants which pays tribute to the sacrifice of merchant navy personnel in two world wars

Check out the Save Manly Dam website here:-


Manly Dam is home to a wide variety of well maintained walking tracks, and a single mountain bike circuit of 10.3 km. The mountain bike circuit is one of the only legal singletracks available in Sydney, which makes it a very popular destination for Sydney mountain bike riders.[4][5]

Due to the popularity of the cycling circuit local park rangers have installed a number of wooden boardwalks at various points and ask riders via emails and communication with clubs to stay off the track during and immediately after periods of rain.

Hydraulics Laboratories[edit]

A view from the dam

Manly Hydraulics Laboratory (run by the NSW Department of Commerce) and the Water Research Laboratory (run by the University of New South Wales), are at the southern end of the Reserve, just below the actual Dam.


  1. ^ a b c d Aird, W.V, (1961). The Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage of Sydney. Sydney: M.W.S.&D.B. 
  2. ^ "Manly Dam Heritage item". Sydney Water. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "History of Manly Dam" (PDF). Warringah Council. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Manly Dam". Warringah Council. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "NoBMoB". Northern Beaches MTB. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 


"Manly Dam". Warringah Council. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 

"Caring for the Manly Dam Catchment" (PDF) (Press release). Warringah Council. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 

External links[edit]