Manly Dam is a heritage-listed former dam that now is a reserve and war memorial. It was completed in 1892 as a mass concrete structure (damming Curl Curl River) with a maximum height of 19 m and length of 250 m. Its catchment area covers 520 hectares to Frenchs Forest.
It is still the largest freshwater lake in Sydney and is a popular spot for walking, mountain biking, picnicking, water skiing, swimming and fishing.
The wall was raised three times, initially in 1909 and then finally to its current height of 35 metres in 1922. Stone for the dam was quarried on site from the rock along the entrance roadway.
The Dam provided water to the local area and beyond, but as the population grew, its supply was no longer sufficient. In 1930, supply was phased out and following World War I, the Dam was placed under the care of a committee of ex-servicemen. During World War II the Dam was fortified with machine guns and barbed wire. The War Memorial is a special place for Anzac Day and Memorial Day ceremonies.
We visited Manly Dam in 22 April 2021. The lake formed by the dam is small enough that it is possible to circumnavigate it by foot in under 2 hours. We parked nearby, and took some photos of a black swan swimming near the War Memorial, then walked across the dam wall. On the other end of the dam wall, the walk quickly ascends to give us a bird’s eye view of the dam, then the journey continues down along the western foreshore providing access to a private beach. After that the walk joins the mountain bike track for a brief period until the creek. We cross the creek, and then follow it until we encountered a waterfall. The damming of the creek has created a wetlands area which is quite interesting. We walked along the foreshore of the wetlands until it turns into a lake which also forms part of the picnic grounds. The final part of the walk involved climbing up, offering tantalising views of the lake obscured by trees.