Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee- A Brief History

By Malcolm320 posted 13-08-2020 10:00



1/ Home to the Guringai people for millennia.

2/ Manly Dam wall was built in 1892 to create a water supply for the settlement of Manly (the native bushland catchment was strictly protected as a consequence).

3/ A unique War Memorial was established after WW1 by formally conserving the bushland* catchment and dedicating the entire area as Manly Warringah War Memorial Park.

4/ A huge swathe of this bushland was cleared to create Wakehurst Golf Club (opened in 1971). The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee was formed in an effort to stop illegal tipping, including toxic materials, during the construction.

5/ A proposed Landcom housing development on McComb Hill, Manly Vale in 1995 was stopped by committee members and the subject land incorporated into the park.

6/ On 28th July 1997, Tony Abbott announced that 300 hectares of Manly Dam’s bushland had been listed by the Australian Heritage Commission.

6/ Many acres of bushland were lost at the top of the catchment to the Ardel housing development (now Madison Way) despite an extensive community campaign. Four thousand people marched along Manly Seafront to the ‘Jam for the Dam’ at the Corso in 1999. The world’s first ever pro-environmental Golf tournament (The Save Manly Dam Golf Classic) was held in 2000.

7/ The Mermaid Pools Restoration project was initiated in 2002 (to help compensate for this environmental loss).

8/A successful campaign to prevent hard surface netball courts being built, at the top of the sensitive catchment, was carried out in 2008.

9/ The King St, Avenue of Honour to the Merchant Navy (using locally indigenous plant species) was completed in 2011.

10/ Save Manly Dam helped fund environmental restoration work at Orara Reserve, Allambie (2012).

11/In 2015 surplus Sydney Water land at Kirkwood St, Seaforth (adjoining Manly Dam) was withdrawn from sale to developers following community outrage. Premier Mike Baird promised to return this land to the park in 2016.

12/ Also in 2015, Council proposed leasing land (adjoining Warringah Aquatic Centre) for the construction of a private gym. This risked disturbing a former tip site at the top of the catchment and would have meant losing more rare bushland. Thankfully this idea has not proceeded

12/ The NSW Department of Education refused to build on Manly Vale School’s original footprint, as was originally planned, and commenced clearing nine acres of high conservation value bushland in 2017. Some of this land had been previously saved from another development proposal (see item 5).

13/ Manly Warringah War Memorial Reserve was formally gazetted as a State Park on 7th April 2017 (supposedly to afford it a higher level of protection).

13/ The surplus Sydney Water land at Seaforth (see item 11) is now being flagged as a construction entry point for the Northern Beaches Tunnel (if chosen, all the bushland on site would be lost). Please add your comments via this feedback link- The tunnel project will also involve extensive clearing of bushland along Wakehurst Parkway (adjoining Manly Dam) for road widening purposes.

14/ In early 2018 Council flagged their intention to build an intrusive “Regional Playspace” at Manly Dam. After much community disquiet, the plans were modified but were still far too intrusive (being 17 times the size of the original facility). Thankfully reason eventually prevailed (after intensive lobbying) and at the Northern Beaches Council meeting, on Dec 14th, 2018, it was agreed to sentively upgrade the playground on its original footprint.

15/ A Development Application for 24 additional "luxury" units at 181 Allambie Rd was refused by the Local Planning Panel in sept 2109 further to intense community disquet. The proposal would have meant clearing bushland into Manly Warringah War Memorial Park (for fire buffers) and impacting on the habitat of Manly Dam’s ancient Climbing Galaxias fish (as well as fragile native birds and wildlife). This plan has now been resurrected and will again go to a Local Planning Panel in 2020.

16/ There are currently fears that the Departments of Planning and Education are proposing to relocate Frenchs Forest Hight School to Aquatic Reserve-within the boundaries of the State Park. Now playing fields, this was formerly an unmonitored tip site. Siting the school here would risk disturbing toxic materials into the creeks and catchment and require clearing rare Duffys Forest Ecological Community bushland for fire breaks.

17/ SMDCC applied for and received a Federal Communities Environment Program grant to conduct biodiversities studies in Manly Warringah War Memorial State Park (this had never been comprehensively done before). Northern Beaches Council matched this funding and ACF has also contributed. Already some amazing species have been discovered.  The plan is to use this data for conservation, recovery and educational benefits. More info on this to come.

18/ MWWMP was added to the National Estate Register in 1997- a system that was later abandoned. After much lobbying from SMDCC. Northern Beaches Council nominated the park for both State and National Heritage listing. 

* The fragile landscape supports 300 native plant species, more than 100 bird species, 27 different species of reptiles and frogs plus one unique climbing fish- the Climbing Galaxias (which is a Gondwanan relic that has lived here for over 60 million years).

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