THE SAVE MANLY DAM CATCHMENT COMMITTEE
A short history…
Manly Dam, on Sydney’s Northern beaches, was built in 1892 and the reservoir created was used as a source of drinking water for 40 years. To ensure that the quality of the water remained high…the catchment, which is the area of land that collects the water, was protected- meaning that the bushland was preserved to prevent contamination and soil erosion. The legacy has been a beautiful natural landscape of approx 375 hectares supporting over 300 native plants species, more than 80 bird species, 27 different species of reptiles and frogs plus one unique climbing fish. The Climbing Galaxias has lived here for over 60 million years. It breathes through its skin, can climb sheer rock faces and is found nowhere else in the Sydney region. Evidence of Aboriginal occupation in this area over thousands of years includes rock engravings, shell middens and axe grinding grooves. The protected bushland’s role as a Memorial Park (now known as Manly Warringah War Memorial Park) was first established after World War 1.
Sadly over recent years the wisdom of past generations has been ignored. Encroachment has occurred in the catchment, culminating in the construction of the Ardel medium density housing development off Aquatic Drive. This involved bulldozing endangered vegetation and actually digging up an important creek line.
The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee is a community group which was established to protect this special area known as “Sydney’s Kakadu.”
It orchestrated a long campaign to stop the aforementioned development from proceeding. There were several court cases, on site protests and “lock-ons” culminating in 6 arrests. 4,000 people marched along Manly seafront as a prelude to the “Jam For The Dam” concert in 1999-(Manly-Warringah’s largest ever environmental action). There were also many rallies, the world’s first ever pro- conservation golf tournament, (The Save Manly Dam Golf Classic was held at Warringah Golf Club attracting celebrities, politicians including Tony Abbott and Peter Garrett plus four Olympic champions) and innumerable other campaign activities.
The Ardel development (now called the Madison estate) was ultimately built at the headwaters of Manly Dam and has subsequently caused obvious problems with siltation, weed invasion and loss of water quality.
The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee continues to be an active advocate for conserving the natural beauty of the Manly Dam Catchment and related bushland corridors against a range of ongoing threats.
To try and compensate, in some small way, for the destruction of bushland in the Manly Dam Catchment it was resolved to rehabilitate Mermaid Pool at Manly Vale. Mermaid Pool with adjoining waterfall and surrounding bushland is on the same creek line that had been bulldozed in the upper catchment. Over recent years it had become a dumping ground and was severely impacted by invasive weeds.
The “Return of the Mermaids” project was hence born on Clean Up Australia Day 2001 when over four tonnes of rubbish were carted away…including old cookers, car parts, shopping trolleys and builders’ waste. This commenced an ongoing rehabilitation program where volunteers meet on the fourth Saturday of every month from 9am to 1pm for a range of bush regeneration activities.
For more information:- http://www.cleanup.org.au/au/Whatelsewesupport/mermaid–s-pool-fix-up-project.html
King St Avenue of Honour
The Save Manly Dam Catchment committee has also orchestrated the planting of an avenue of endemic native plants along King St, Manly Vale, leading to Manly Warringah War Memorial Park. This commemorates the service and sacrifice of Merchant Seamen in two world wars and also helps inform the community about their local plant species http://www.avenuesofhonour.org/King%20Street%20Avenue%20of%20Honour.html
Orara Bushland Restoration
Additionally the Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee is helping to fund the restoration of remnant bushland at nearby Orara Reserve Allambie. The disabled bushcare team at Bushlink are working with students from the Beach School to remove weeds and rubbish from this special area containing endangered species and important Aboriginal heritage.