Barossa Reservoir

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This article is about the reservoir. For other uses, see Barossa (disambiguation).
Barossa Reservoir
Barossa reservoir - landscape.jpg
The reservoir from its arch dam
Whispering wall concave.jpg
The Whispering Wall carries sounds clearly over 140 metres
Location Williamstown, South Australia[1]
Coordinates 34°39′00″S 138°50′56″E / 34.650°S 138.849°E / -34.650; 138.849Coordinates: 34°39′00″S 138°50′56″E / 34.650°S 138.849°E / -34.650; 138.849
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Yettie Creek
Primary outflows Yettie Creek
Basin countries Australia
Surface area 0.62 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 at a total of 36 metres, was the highest in Australia.[2] 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] Nowadays, the dam is notable for its parabola effect, where a voice can be heard clearly from one side to the other — over 140 metres, 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]

Barossa Reservoir from the air

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 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 recognized by the installation of a marker provided by the Engineers Australia's Engineering Heritage Recognition Program.[7]

  • Capacity: 4,515 megalitres
  • Length of wall: 144 m
  • Height of wall: 36 m
  • depth at wall: 28.6 m
  • Type of wall: Concrete arch

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. 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). Retrieved  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  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.