The water from Mount Wellington is said to be the cleanest water available to any major Australian city. And this reliable water supply shaped the new colony.
The importance of access to water was recognised in 1804 when Bowen’s struggling settlement moved from Risdon Cove on the eastern shore of the River Derwent to Sullivan’s Cove where fresh water was more reliable. Governor David Collins noted: ‘... a Run of clear fresh Water, proceeding from a distance inland, and having its source in a Rock in the vicinity of Table Mountain’.
By the 1830s, engineering schemes were being developed to collect and deliver water from the Mountain. The first stage of the main pipeline system began in 1861 when wooden and stone masonry troughing was installed to carry water from Browns River at Fern Tree, to the Waterworks Reservoirs to supply clean water to the Hobart Town settlement. Extensions and redevelopment followed population growth as demand for water increased. The stories of water politics and personalities are told at the Waterworks Reserve Pumping Shed, visitors welcome.
Today, high rainfall in Wellington Park provides the source of numerous streams and rivers. Water is the main agent of weathering and erosion, carving valleys, creating boulder fields and inducing landslips. Groundwater occupies pores and spaces in soils and rock, sometimes spilling to the surface as springs. This water, in its untested and unadulterated state, is collected by some locals for personal use.
But the water that comes out of any Hobart tap may well be sourced from Wellington Park. In 2002–03 over 4 000 mega litres (or about 23% of the total source) of bulk water supply harvested by Southern Water came from the area. Healthy water catchments in the Park’s Drinking Water Zone ensure the supply of quality water for the local community. Excellent water purity means that only minor treatment is required for drinking. The relatively high elevation of the collected water alleviates pumping expenses while the close proximity to the market reduces costs.
To protect this important resource there are restricted areas within the Park. Visitor access and activities around these important intakes are managed to ensure the protection of drinking water. Please comply with signs which identify any restricted areas and detail permissible activities.
For more information on water use in the Park see the Wellington Park Management Plan, the Wellington Park Drinking Water Catchment Management Strategy or visit Southern Water.