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The Whispering Wall

Home > Adelaide > Day Trips | Free | Kids | Outdoor | Picnic Spots
by Paula McManus (subscribe)
Photography obsessed writer and urban explorer. Lover of nature, art and long weekends. Adelaide, South Australia.
Published January 5th 2014
Whisper to me
It's more than 110 years old, is world famous, incredibly unique and just a little bit magical - it's the Whispering Wall, just out of Williamstown in the Barossa Valley.

barossa reservoir whispering wall
The Whispering Wall at Barossa Reservoir, Williamstown (Špaula mcmanus)

The Barossa Reservoir's Whispering Wall is an engineering feat; built between 1900 and 1903 as a back-up water supply for the growing population of Gawler. Early settlers had been using the water from a well in the South Para River, but quality concerns forced the construction of the dam at the site of the Yettie Creek Gorge.

barossa reservoir whispering wall
The Barossa Reservoir, Williamstown (Špaula mcmanus)

The 9 storey high concave wall was once the highest dam wall in Australia and it's shape is the major drawcard to the area. Words spoken in a whisper can be heard clearly at the other side - approximately 140 metres away. It's hard to believe, but the wall really does whisper. Children and adults alike hold amazed conversations from side to side. It's as though a little bit of magic happens and the surprise on the faces of those who test it out is wonderful to see.

barossa reservoir whispering wall
The Whispering Wall at Barossa Reservoir, Williamstown (Špaula mcmanus)

Voices can be heard clearly due to the parabola effect. The wall is one sector of a perfect circle and the soundwaves bounce in a series of straight jumps along it to the other end.

The whole area is also a protected area for native species. The area is covered in original scrub growth of pink gums and native pine trees. Trees bring birds, so it's a great spot to do some birdwatching.

The water in the reservoir comes via a tunnel from more than 2 kilometres away from a weir on the South Para River. It took one horse nine months to cut the path through - that poor horse never once saw the light of day while working.

There were nearly 400 people living at the dam construction site - the only building that remains today is the old caretakers cottage, which can be seen adjacent to the picnic area.

barossa reservoir whispering wall
9 storeys high and 10 metres thick at the base - it's a very big wall! (Špaula mcmanus)

Access With Assistance for the Disabled
Free carparking
Coach Parking
Parking for the Disabled
Picnic Area
Public Toilet
Shaded Area
Sheltered Area
Toilet facilities for the Disabled
Viewing Platform

barossa reservoir whispering wall
History - Whisper - Water (Špaula mcmanus)

Williamstown (population approx 1500) is a small South Australian town on the fringe of the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills.

It is approximately 1 hour/51km north east of Adelaide, with an elevation of 310m and an average rainfall of 682.7mm.
Williamstown was originally known as Victoria Creek. It has a summer average temperature of 31°C with temperatures often reaching mid 40's, and a winter average temperature of 15°C with it often dropping below freezing at night.
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Why? Tell me a secret
When: Every day, 8am to 5pm
Where: Barossa Reservoir Via Yettie Road, Williamstown (follow signposts from main street)
Cost: FREE!
Your Comment
Hi Paula, Thanks for reminding me of places like this as I have overlooked revisiting the Whispering Wall when driving through to the Barossa. I possibly had two colours on my mind, red & white. Next time I will make time to have a look around and make use the picnic area. Congrats on your Silver award!
Haydn :)
by Haydn Radford (score: 3|1141) 2721 days ago
Hi Paula, this fascinating tourist spot has been in my life for as long as I can remember....the original owner of this land was my Great-Great-Grandfather,Capt. Thomas Lacey Lawson who farmed the land now under the reservoir.His son-in-law, Edward Gaston (his wife was Penelope Lacey Lawson), also farmed in this area - there is a stone cairn in a corner of the carpark area noting the information about Capt Thomas Lacey Lawson....this area was a favourite picnic destination for my family long before it became a tourist destination and I am pleased that so many people are now able to enjoy this wonder! Maureen
by embee (score: 0|6) 2718 days ago
Hi Paula thanks for the wonderful article ,my family goes back to the original owners of the land, my Great Great Grandfather Capt Thomas Lacey Lawson and also my Father used to cart milk in a bucket from our farm to supply the camp used in building the wall would be pleased to catch up with embee as we are doing the family historyof Thomas Lacy Lawson
by hind4 (score: 0|5) 78 days ago
Whisper To ME. ^.^
by lalla (score: 0|4) 2609 days ago
We hadn`t been to the whispering wall in about 40 years and recently took some friends from interstate. They were astounded at the acoustics and we liked all the improvements to the surrounding areas. A truly unique icon of S.A.

by walte (score: 1|51) 2720 days ago
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