Wolli Creek Aqueduct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Wolli Creek Aqueduct

Item details

Name of item: Wolli Creek Aqueduct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Sewerage
Category: Sewage Aqueduct
Location: Lat: -33.9272132461 Long: 151.1479265530
Primary address: Unwin Street, Undercliffe, NSW 2206
Local govt. area: Canterbury
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT2 DP86820
LOT1 DP986661


The curtilage is the whole aqueduct structure inclusive of supporting structure in embankment. Includes the 1929 pipe. The curtilage does not include the rail infrastructure.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Unwin StreetUndercliffeCanterbury  Primary Address
Lusty StreetTurrellaRockdale  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney WaterState Government27 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

The Wolli Creek Valley sewage aqueduct, completed in 1895, is an integral and visibly strong component of the original Western Main Carrier (now part of Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer System), which was one the Board's major early sewerage schemes. The aqueduct being a combination of brick arches and steel bridges, is an excellent and rare example of a late-nineteenth steel truss bridge (in non railway construction) and decorative face brick work in NSW. The two original sewer carriers are likely to be rare examples of large diameter, long run wrought iron pipes used for such a purpose. Elements of significance are its past and ongoing use, technologies of construction, and setting within the valley of Wolli Creek.
Date significance updated: 22 Jun 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Public Works Department
Builder/Maker: Public Works Department
Construction years: 1895-1895
Physical description: The aqueduct comprises the sewer carrier of three 1.8 m. diameter wrought iron and steel pipes supported on a series of brick arches, and steel bridges. The brick arches are particularly decorative, being white glazed face bricks laid in English bond with decorative motifs picked out in a red coloured brick. The springing points of the arch and cornice are in dressed sandstone. Access to this viaduct in general is difficult, and the exact configuration of the structure not easy to determine, but the carrier emerges from a brick northern abutment below Unwin Street, Undercliffe (known as Unwin’s Hill) crossing the creek by the steel trusses and then continuing by the brick arches passing under the East Hills railway to arches and embankment at Turrella and Knoll Streets, Turrella. The aqueduct is a large and impressive built structure situated across the expanse of the Wolli Creek valley.
Modifications and dates: The barrels were overhauled between 1981 and 1984, and the surface of the cast iron pipes was coated with a modern fibre-glass lining. The steelwork on the two bridge spans has been replaced where necessary. Fencing at either end of the carrier to prevent trespass.
Further information: Johnstone's Creek Aqueduct; White's Creek Aqueduct


Historical notes: The Wolli Creek sewage aqueduct was completed in 1895. The aqueduct was constructed for the Western Main Sewer, later known as the Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer and Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer No. 1 (SWSOOS). The aqueduct was designed and built by the Sewerage Branch of the Public Works Department (Contract No. 64). The design work was completed by late 1890. The engineer-in-chief of this department at the time was Robert Hickson. The Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer was designed to serve the western suburbs of Sydney. The line extended from the Rockdale end of the Arncliffe sewerage farm (enlarged for the scheme) to the sewer penstock at Premier Street, Marrickville. The contract necessitated the construction of aqueducts over the Cooks River, Wolli Creek and at Arncliffe between Rocky Point Road (Princess Highway) and Illawarra Road (Arncliffe Street) and extensive tunnelling. The work was undertaken in two contracts relating to the different construction types. The contract for the aqueducts was let to J. F. Carson. The design details of the aqueduct are the same for that of the aqueduct at Cooks River, except for the amendment to include a subway for pedestrians at the southern terminus of the arches at Arncliffe Road (now Turrella Street). Also constructed here was brick semi-circular abutment to the embankment. The original design of the aqueduct provided for a triplicate 6-ft. (1.8 m.) diameter wrought iron sewer (although only two pipes were initially laid), carried on 560-ft. (171 m.) of segmental 17 brick arches of approximately 32-ft. (10m.) span, two 80-ft. (24 m.) by 25ft. (7.6 m.) steel lattice girder bridge spans, and 80-ft. (24 m.) of a series of mass concrete arches within embankment. The total length of the aqueduct is approximately 720-ft. (220m.). The bridge spans are of mild steel riveted construction, the sewer carrier pipes being carried on cross beams on two simple lattice girders (on trusses), with a series of small cross lattice girders for wind bracing. The bridge spans are supported on two metal circular piers. The piers of the brick arches are constructed from mass concrete, faced in decorative brick and dressed sandstone and seated on mass concrete foundations founded on a raft of timber piles. The arches are a combination of brick and mass concrete construction. The two original sewer carrier pipes were fabricated from wrought iron and riveted. Expansion joints of 6ft. sections were installed at the junction of the brick arches and the steel lattice bridge and, at the Turrella Street terminus, and above the ninth arch south of the bridge. The third (western) pipe of welded mild steel was laid in 1929. The original pipes have been maintained over the years to present, with selective replacement of defective sections. The Wolli Creek aqueduct is one of six sewage aqueducts in Sydney completed in the period 1895-1901. Others include the reinforced concrete ‘Monier’ arches at Whites Creek and Johnstons Creek (1897), the mass concrete/brick arches and iron pipe at Cooks River (1895), the Mosman Bay steel arch (1901), and the stone/concrete and steel pipe at Lewisham (1900).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Wolli Creek sewage aqueduct, completed in 1895, is an integral and visible component of Western Main Carrier system which subsequently evolved into the Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer System. The aqueduct was designed by Robert Hickson, who was a foundation Board member of Sydney Water.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The arches of the aqueduct are excellent examples of decorative face brick (in a basically utilitarian structure), which are unlikely to be built again. The setting of the lattice girder bridge is now particularly notable in the Wolli Creek basin.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The aqueduct is a major element of the historic built environment of the local government area of Hurstville and provides a focus for an understanding to the contemporary community of the historical development of the local area.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The aqueduct is an excellent example of a late-nineteenth steel truss bridge (in non-railway construction). The wrought pipes are likely to be a rare example of a large diameter, long run of wrought iron pipe fabricated in 1895. The welded steel pipe of 1929 may also be of significance in consideration of the application of this technology at this early date on a pipe of this length. The face brickwork is a textbook example of the trade in a basically utilitarian structure.
SHR Criteria f)
Rare in consideration of its scale, siting and mixed use of materials and construction techniques.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative in its function which is widespread across Sydney.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementWolli Creek Sewage Aqueduct CMP, by Sydney Water for Sydney Water, dated January 2004 CMP endorsed by Heritage Council 20 October 2005 for a period of five years, expires 20 October 2010 Oct 20 2005
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0135518 Nov 99   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 215184   
National Trust of Australia register      

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Sydney Water Heritage Study1996215184Graham Brooks and Associates Pty LtdGRAHAM BROOKS AND ASSOCIATES 1 July 1996 Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management Plan (HC endorsed)Sydney Water Corporation2005Wolli Creek Sewage Aqueduct : conservation management plan

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051438
File number: H04/00048

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