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 Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee is currently involved with four projects in and around the catchment area: