Wodonga Waterworks

More from Norm Fraser written in 1975.

When I first knew Wodonga (1898) there was no reticulated supply of water although, as far as I can remember, a Council Scheme had commenced. This provided for a storage in the catchment area of the House Creek with a small service reservoir on Heckendorf’s Hill to supply a wholly gravitation supply to the township.

At this time, the Railway Department had its own water supply with water pumped from the Wodonga Creek to its own water tower with its tank on a brick tank house in the railway yards … from where it was piped to wherever it was required. The railway pumping station was located near the south-western approach to the old wooden road bridge over the Wodonga Creek. The exact spot would be somewhere under the southern approach to the oldest of the present concrete bridges. 

The man in charge of the Railway pump house was a Mr Robert Barber of the Loco Branch. When the Council Water Scheme was completed, which would have been early in the present century, the Railways abandoned their source of supply and took their water from the Wodonga Water Works Trust.

The first supervisor of the Wodonga water supply was Mr Arthur Watt. Later on, the man in charge was Mr J. L. M’Coubrie. Before the Council took over the supply of water, Wodonga was well supplied by rainwater tanks both above and underground and there were numerous wells of good quality water, those in the southern area being about 40 to 50 feet deep. The water supply from the first Scheme of the Council was not of very good quality, being very hard, with a distinct odour of its own. I don’t recollect many people ever drinking the stuff as most of the residents had retained the rainwater tanks for washing clothes and household uses.

It was apparent that beautiful spring water deteriorated with storage. This water had a deleterious effect on the boiler tubes on Railway Locomotives and the department looked around for alternate sources of supply. Boring on railway property was undertaken, one being on railway land just east of the House Creek where a wheel-driven hand pump was installed for a period.