Barossa Reservoir

Coordinates: 34°39′00″S 138°50′56″E / 34.650°S 138.849°E / -34.650; 138.849
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Barossa Reservoir
The reservoir from its arch dam
Barossa Reservoir is located in South Australia
Barossa Reservoir
Location of Barossa Reservoir in South Australia
LocationWilliamstown, South Australia[1]
Coordinates34°39′00″S 138°50′56″E / 34.650°S 138.849°E / -34.650; 138.849
Purposewater supply
Construction began1899
Opening date1902
Built byEngineering and Water Supply Department
Owner(s)SA Water
Dam and spillways
Type of damArch dam
ImpoundsYettie Creek
Height36 metres (118 ft)
Length144 metres (472 ft)
Total capacity4,515 megalitres (159.4×10^6 cu ft)
Surface area0.62 km2 (0.24 sq mi)

Barossa Reservoir is a reservoir in the Australian state of South Australia, built between 1899 and 1902 to supply water to Gawler and other northern country areas. Built at a cost of almost 170,000 the reservoir was hailed on completion as an engineering marvel, and with the reservoir wall rising to a height of 36 metres (118 ft), it was, at the time of its completion, the highest dam wall in Australia.[2]

Location and features[edit]

The thin arch of the dam retaining wall, curved against the pressure of the water, was an innovation considered radical, and attracted the Reservoir international attention.[3] It was featured in the Scientific American and caused the American Engineers News to remark that its "boldness of design deserves to rank with the most famous dams in the world".[3] The dam is notable for its parabola effect, where a voice can be heard clearly from one side to the other – over 140 metres (460 ft), end to end. This unusual acoustic phenomenon is a popular tourist attraction, and has earned the dam the title "Whispering Wall" (see Whispering gallery).[4]

During construction large stones were used in the wall to save concrete and tram rails were used to reinforce the upper section.[5] The Barossa Reservoir was formed by damming the Yettie Creek gorge in the northern Mount Lofty Ranges, a feat that took over 400 men.[2] Its water comes through a two-kilometre (one-mile) tunnel, carved by horse power, from the South Para River and Reservoir, and is supplemented by the Warren Reservoir and the River Murray. In addition to Gawler and country, a filtration plant constructed in 1982[6] allows the Reservoir to supply the suburbs of Munno Para and Elizabeth.[citation needed]

The dam's vegetated surrounds are also protected. Aside from its acoustic attraction, the Whispering Wall offers great views of both the Barossa Reservoir and the surrounding, well-preserved natural bounty. The area abounds in thick scrub, tall red gums, and pines, and a flourishing bird and animal life. It is a popular destination for picnics and bird-watching.[citation needed]

In 2008, its engineering heritage was recognised by the installation of a marker provided by the Engineers Australia's Engineering Heritage Recognition Program.[7]

Key statistics[edit]

  • Capacity: 4,515 megalitres (159.4×10^6 cu ft)
  • Length of wall: 144 metres (472 ft)
  • Height of wall: 36 metres (118 ft)
  • Depth at wall: 28.6 metres (94 ft)
  • Type of wall: Concrete arch


At approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday 21 April 2021, Henry Shepherdson jumped from the wall with his 9-month-old daughter, Kobi, strapped to him, amongst disturbed onlookers. The father was pronounced dead upon arrival of paramedics and the child later died at the scene. The incident was deemed a murder-suicide as there were witnesses who testify that Henry jumped as opposed to falling. There was a history of domestic violence between Kobi's mother and father.[8][9][10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Search result for "Barossa Reservoir (Reservoir) " (SA0004781) with the following layers selected – "Suburbs and Localities" and " Place names (gazetteer)"". Property Location Browser. Government of South Australia. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Barossa Reservoir" (PDF). SA Water. c. 2012. Archived from the original on 9 September 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b Conlon, Keith. "Barossa Valley: Whispering Wall". Postcards. Nine Network. Archived from the original on 18 October 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2005.
  4. ^ "SA Water Reserves: Barossa". South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage. 21 March 2005. Archived from the original on 17 September 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2005.
  5. ^ "Barossa Reservoir" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Filtration". SA Water, Government of South Australia. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Barossa Dam, South Para River, 1903-". Engineering Heritage Recognition Program. Engineers Australia. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Baby who died in tourist spot 'murder-suicide' with dad identified". 22 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Reference at".
  10. ^ Police, South Australia. "Front Page News". South Australia Police – Keeping SA Safe. Retrieved 3 June 2021.