Australia is perhaps one of the countries with many heritage sites in the world today. These are both national and world heritage sites. The national heritage sites are significant to the country as a whole and represent an important aspect of the country’s historical background. On the other hand, world heritage sites in Australia are significant both to the country and to the world as a whole. The latter are sites that have been declared as world heritage sites by UNESCO.
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The world heritage sites in Australia include Great Barrier Reef which is regarded as the largest in the world (Hamilton & Schladow 2005). It measures about 2011 kilometres in length and 72 kilometres across (Hamilton & Schladow 2005). Other world heritage sites include Kakadu National Park, Willandra Lakes Region and Tasmanian Wilderness.
The latter covers about 1/5 of Tasmania (Hamilton & Schladow 2005). A large swathe of this wilderness is composed of pristine forest cover. Most of the fauna and flora found within this wilderness is not found anywhere else in the world.
Lord Howe Island Group, Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park and Gondwana Rainforests of Australia are other world heritage sites in this country. Gondwana Rainforests were formerly known as the Australian Eastern Rainforest Reserves (Hamilton & Schladow 2005). The rainforests are made up of 7 distinct clusters of rainforest sites which are to be found on the east coast (Hamilton & Schladow 2005).
The above are just some of the world heritage sites in this country. There are others such as Wet Tropics of Queensland, Shark Bay in Western Australia among others. With such an impressive collection of world heritage sites in a country the size of Australia, it is understandable why many people regard Australia as a world heritage site in her own right.
National heritage sites include Jordan River Levee, HMS Sirius shipwreck among others. Prospect Reservoir is such one national heritage site in this country. The reservoir has continued to serve the country for more than 120 years. Despite being more than a hundred years old, the reservoir is still intact and continues to attract the attention of architects and engineers from around the world.
This report is going to look at Prospect Reservoir as a national heritage site in Australia. The author will write the report with the international visitor as the target audience. Several aspects of the reservoir will be looked into. These include a historical background of the site, significance of the site, how the site has changed over the years among others.
Prospect Reservoir: Historical Background
One cannot look at the history of Prospect Reservoir without looking at that of the aborigines and the European settlers around this area. This is given the fact that the history of the two is inexplicably intertwined. The aborigines and the European settlers cannot be alienated from the history of Prospect Reservoir.
The History of the Aborigines and European Settlers
According to the Office of Environment and Heritage [herein referred to as OEH] (2011), the area on which Prospect Reservoir sits was formerly under the control of the aborigines. The Eastern Creek and the Prospect Creek were especially attractive locations for aboriginal camping. It was only in the year 1789 that the first European settler set foot in this area.
Prospect Hill is regarded as Sydney’s largest mass of igneous rock which made it the perfect choice for the construction of the reservoir (OEH 2011). The rock is located at the centre of Cumberland Plain and it is the dominant feature in the region.
The aborigines resisted the occupation of their land by the European settlers. This led to an open conflict between the two parties. One of the most popular leaders of this resistance on the side of the aborigines was Pemulwuy from the Bidjigal clan (OEH 2011). After his death in the year 1802, the resistance tapered off. The conflict was eventually resolved in the year 1805 when the two sides came to an agreement (OEH 2011). The area was put under agriculture from the year 1806 to the year 1888 when the reservoir was constructed.
The History of Prospect Reservoir
The history of this reservoir can be traced back to the year 1867 (OEH 2011). This was the year that the Governor of New South Wales formed a commission to look into the issue of supply of water in the city of Sydney (OEH 2011). The commission came up with recommendations in the year 1869. It was recommended that construction of a dam should begin on the Upper Nepean Scheme. The scheme was made up of two diversion weirs.
These were located at Pheasant’s Nest and Broughton’s Pass in the catchment area (Hamilton & Schladow 2005). It was assumed that the force of gravity will be critical in feeding the water from the canal into a reservoir that was to be constructed at Prospect.
The proposed water system was to become the city’s fourth source of water (OEH 2011). The other three were Tank Stream, Busby’s Bore (OEH 2011) and the Botany which was also referred to as Lachlan Swamps. The reservoir was the handiwork of the Public Works Department of the New South Wales (OEH 2011). The reservoir was constructed during the 1880s and became operational in the year 1888.
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A man credited with this fete was the Engineer in Chief of the Habours and Rivers Branch in the department (OEH 2011). This was Edward Orpen Moriarty who lived between 1858 and 1888. There is one outstanding aspect of the Prospect Reservoir which can be conceptualised as one of its most distinctive feature. This is the diversion of Nepean River downstream where it meets the Avon and Cordeaux Rivers (Hamilton & Schladow 2005).
The Peasant’s Nest weir is another outstanding feature of this reservoir. This is located near Wilton Township (Hamilton & Schladow 2005). The weir takes the water via a seven- kilometre- long cavern that joins the Cataract River (OEH 2011) at Broughton’s Pass. This is close to Appin Township through which another set of weirs takes the water via a fifty eight kilometres’ complex of channels and aqueducts.
According to Hamilton & Schladow (2005), the weir’s system was not designed for water storage. This being the case, it was found that the weirs should flow into Prospect Creek where a dam was to be constructed. This dam was Prospect Reservoir which came into completion in the year 1888 as earlier mentioned in this paper. The reservoir was designed in such a way that it was able to store all the water flowing from the weirs and other inlets designed by the engineers and architects of that time.
Prospect Reservoir: How has it changed Over the Years?
It is important to note that several changes have taken place around Prospect Reservoir over the years. The changes were necessary for various reasons. One major reason is to ensure that the reservoir remained viable and capable of supplying water to the growing population of Sydney.
Secondly, it was also important to ensure that the reservoir does not collapse endangering the livelihoods of many people who rely on it. This being the case, rehabilitation of the reservoir has resulted into visible changes in this national heritage site over the years. Here, the author will look at some of these changes.
According to OEH (2011), extensive maintenance works were carried out in the period between 1893 and 1916. The major aim of these maintenance works was “…to correct slumps in the upstream face (of the reservoir)” (OEH 2011: p. 6). In the year 1960, the Warragamba Dam was commissioned and connected to Prospect Reservoir.
This was aimed at improving water storage for Sydney city. In the year 1966, another pipeline was commissioned to connect Prospect Reservoir with Warragamba (OEH 2011). This increased the volume of water that could be supplied to Sydney city and its environs.
There was another phase of major works on the reservoir which took place between the years 1979 and 1980. This was aimed at strengthening the walls of the reservoir given the fact that it was already handling large volumes of water than it was designed for.
The maintenance works involved raising the volume of water that could be handled or stored on the downstream end of the reservoir (OEH 2011). Further strengthening of the upstream end of the reservoir was to be commissioned by Sydney Water Corporation in the year 1997.
Another important feature of this national heritage site is the Prospect Water Filtration Plant. This was constructed in the year 1996 to further improve water supply in and around the city. The plant made it possible to take raw water directly from Warragamba and Upper Nepean without necessarily taking it through Prospect Reservoir (OEH 2011).
It is noted that the filtration plant was designed in such a way that it could get its water directly from Prospect in case the need arose. The Prospect Water Filtration Plant is regarded as one of the largest in the world.
Other changes that have taken place in and around Prospect Reservoir include the construction of what OEH (2011) refers to as the scour/ outlet system. The Lower Canal of this system was however closed in the 1980s (OEH 2011). Since then, the system has been used solely to scour and drain the Prospect Reservoir. The aim here is to uphold the safety of the reservoir.
Conclusion: Significance of Prospect Reservoir
The significance of Prospect Reservoir as a national heritage site cannot be downplayed. To start with, the reservoir plays a very critical role in supplying water to Sydney and the surrounding areas.
The immediate catchment area of this water storage facility is covered with vegetation which is composed of native bush land (OEH 2011). The vegetation has made many people regard the reservoir as a national heritage site worth preserving.
It is Prospect Reservoir which has made it possible to conserve the bush land which has come to be categorised as Cumberland Plain Woodland (OEH 2011). This is given the fact that this region has been designated as a protected area making it possible to conserve the fauna and flora.
The region hosts more than 50 native species of plants. Additionally, the area is home to many endangered animals which are not found anywhere else in the world. These are animals such as eastern grey kangaroos (OEH 2011), echidnas and wombats (Hamilton & Schladow 2005).
This report analysed several aspects touching on Prospect Reservoir in New South Wales, Australia. The reservoir which is located about 35 kilometres from the capital city of Sydney was analysed in terms of its historical background, changes that have taken place there and the significance of the site.
Hamilton, DP & Schladow, G 2005, “Controlling the indirect effects of flow diversions on water quality in an Australian reservoir,” Environment International, 21(5), 583-590.
Office of Environment and Heritage 2011, Prospect Reservoir and surrounding area. Web.