Sunday, 26 Feb 2017
Dams in our local area
We have two beautiful dams close by. Both are managed by the Water Corporation. Canning Dam and Churchman's Brook Dam. Both are worth visiting with many interesting walking trails within them.
The Canning River has supplied water to Perth since 1924 when a pipehead dam was built near Araluen, 6km downstream from the present Canning Dam.
Although the need for a major reservoir had been recognised for many years, it was not until the Great Depression of the 1930s that the project was commenced.
The construction of Canning Dam, which began in 1933, was the State's biggest public works project during that troubled decade. It was a vast undertaking for the period and provided desperately needed work for 500 men and a valuable boost for local industry. By the time of its completion and official opening in 1940, Canning Dam had cost more than 1.1 million pounds.
At the western end of the valley, downstream from the dam wall, the workforce lived in their own township complete with post office, general store, recreation hall and school house. The only thing missing from a typical bush town was a hotel.
In 1951, the first of several major improvements was carried out to meet the demands of the growing city. A concrete lined channel was constructed to divert stream flow from the nearby Kangaroo Gully catchment.
In the 1970s, the Canning Tunnel was blasted through solid granite from Canning Dam to Roleystone to boost the water flow from the dam.
In 1998, work began to strengthen the dam wall to preserve the reservoir for future water needs. During the construction period, the dam wall was closed to visitors, but there was full access to picnic and barbecue areas and walking trails.
Barbecues and Picnics
Lots of picnic spots with free gas barbecues, drinking water and toilet facilities. A creek flows through the lower picnic area making it a particularly attractive picnic spot.
Water Corporation brochure about Canning Dam Canning Dam
Churchman's Brook Dam
The Premier, Sir James Mitchell, announced the launch of the Hills Scheme, as it was called, to solve the problem of chronic water shortages. The scheme involved the construction of three reservoirs in the Hills to serve the city and three pipehead dams to be built as a short term solution.
The project began with the construction of a reservoir and pipehead on Churchman Brook. At the same time, pipehead dams were also built on the upper Canning at Araluen and on Wungong Brook.
Churchman Brook Dam, completed in 1929, provided Perth with a substantial portion of its Hills water supply until 1937.
Difficult and isolated working conditions, heavy rainfall and bad roads made the project a challenge for engineers and labourers alike. As with other dam projects in the Hills Scheme, workers lived at the site in temporary dwellings. In winter, horses that pulled heavy rollers to compact the dam wall, sank up to their bellies in clay.
The reservoir site was cleared by hand by a workforce about to suffer the greater hardship of the Depression years.
Barbecues and Picnics
There are five appealing picnic areas, several with free gas barbecues. A large grassed playing area is ideal for families. Nearby, younger children can have fun in a modern playground.
Two of the picnic areas can be reserved for social functions for 30 or more people.
Call the Ranger on 9397 7948 to make a booking.
Water Corporation brochure about Churchman's Brook Dam Churchman's Brook Dam
Source: Water Corporation website.