Manly Dam Reserve

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Manly Dam Reserve also known as the Manly Warringah War Memorial Park[1] is an area of urban bushland in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney, Australia. Located among the suburbs of Allambie Heights, North Balgowlah, Frenchs Forest and Manly Vale in the Warringah Local Government area.


The area of the reserve is 376 hectares with the dam water surface area of approximately 30 hectares.[2] The reserve adjoins the south-eastern edge of Garigal National Park.


Manly Dam Wall

The Reserve is centred on a man-made lake known as Manly Dam.[3]

“Curl Curl” is probably an Australian Aboriginal place name. Curl Curl Creek was originally dammed in 1892 to create a reservoir with a capacity of 68.2 million imperial gallons (310 Ml)[4](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).[4](p81) However, as the population of the area grew, the dam's capacity became insufficient.[5]

Water supply from Manly Dam had been augmented with supply from the main metropolitan system starting in 1906,[4](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.[4](p82) Briefly in 1942 after a period of drought, pumps were reinstalled and Manly Dam was brought back into service for nearly 10 months.[6]

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]

Manly Dam Memorial World Peace

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


Manly Warringah War Memorial Park is home to over 300 plant species and over 80 bird species.[2]

A unique feature of the Manly Dam catchment is the presence of the Climbing galaxias fish 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.[2]

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 Warringah Council. A golf tournament Save Manly Dam Golf Classic was held at Wakehurst Golf Club. The attendees included Peter Garrett, Tony Abbott, Cliff Lyons, Craig Riddington and Guy Leech. Ultimately the battle was lost and the development proceeded.[7]


Manly Dam has a variety of walking tracks and mountain bike circuit of 9.72km. The mountain bike circuit is very popular destination for Sydney mountain bike riders.[8][9]

Hydraulics Laboratories[edit]

A view from the dam

Manly Hydraulics Laboratory is run by the NSW Government Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.[10] The Water Research Laboratory is operated by the University of New South Wales.[11] Both laboratories are located below the dam wall adjacent to Manly Dam Reserve.


  1. ^ "Manly Warringah War Memorial Park". NSW Geographical Names Board. NSW Government. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Manly Warringah War Memorial Park Plan of Management". Warringah Council. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Manly Dam and Surrounds". Australian Heritage Database. Australian Government. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Aird, W.V, (1961). The Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage of Sydney. Sydney: M.W.S.&D.B. 
  5. ^ "Manly Dam Heritage item". Sydney Water. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "History of Manly Dam" (PDF). Warringah Council. Retrieved 1 June 2008. 
  7. ^ "Save Manly Dam". Youtube. 
  8. ^ "Manly Dam". Warringah Council. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Northern Beaches Mountain Biking Group". Northern Beaches MTB. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Manly Hydraulics Laboratory". Public Works. NSW Government. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "Water Research Laboratory (WRL)". University of New South Wales - Engineering. University of NSW. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 

Coordinates: 33°46′33″S 151°14′52″E / 33.775803°S 151.247769°E / -33.775803; 151.247769