The Icon of Wodonga
Film by Chris Pidd, and Jenni Munday, featuring Dennis Kovacs, Ian Cramer, Mavis Chapple, Margaret Bennetts, and Jean Whila.
Project Director: Malcolm McKinnon.
Project Coordinator: Karlie Hawking.
Produced in partnership with National Museum of Australia.
2001: A Space Odysey performed by New World Orchestra (P) 2003 EMI Records Ltd. Licensed courtesy of EMI Music Australia Pty Ltd.
Tower replica by Dennis Kovacs
Archival still images reproduced with kind permission of Wodonga Historical Society.
This video was created as part of the Murray Arts “Stories of the Upper Murray” project, with assistance from the Commonwealth Government’s Regional Arts Fund, Regional Arts Victoria, National Museum of Australia, City of Wodonga, Shire of Towong, and Museums Australia (Victoria).
Contact Murray Arts.Copyright
Murray Collections Network, and the artists.
”I selected site for proposed water tower at south end of Woodland Grove, which position is considered to be most suitable from every point of view.” Commissioner Ryan, Wodonga Shire President, 1923.
Completed in 1924, Wodonga’s Water Tower supplied water to residents and businesses in the town of Wodonga up until 1959.
Since being drained in 1960 the future of the Water Tower was the subject of conjecture, but it is now an integral part of the town centre.
-Just the thought to make the water tower a water fountain. An aesthetic as a water fountain. And the bottom part made of pebbles in sections so children or adults, whoever, interested to put a stone.
You feel a connection later on to this monumental water tower, water fountain. I feel that it's a metaphysical positive for Albury-Wodonga.
-We had to cart our water from over at the sale yards. And in those days, kerosene tins were your main things. You didn't worry about watering cans.
And I used to drag those tins. Every now and again they'd drag on the ground. And we'd bring the water from over at the sale yards. They had very large tanks over at Campbell's. And we got permission to use the water from those tanks.
And when we'd come home, we'd have a wee little tin. And we'd only have one tin on each plant to keep it alive.
It was a big deal, that water tower going up. Oh my word, we appreciated it. We did. Absolutely.
Whether the water, the power. As I always say, I saw all those luxuries come to Wodonga.
MARGARET BENNETTS: Eric Fulford, who was the turncock for the Wodonga Water Trust, his main job was pumping into the water tower and to tap into the water mains for the plumbers. We had a good view of the water tower. There was a mark up on the outside of the tower painted white. This was on a float connected to the inside of the water. It was very hard to gauge the amount of water the residents used.
-Some of the old timers told me that when they were children coming to school-- and mostly in the days when the water tower was filled because they had to walk to school-- that they would look on a hot summer day to see if the tank was overflowing. And if it was overflowing, they'd go and stand under the overflow of the water and get themselves saturated. And then, oh we've got to get to school! We'll get into trouble!
The water tower's always been under threat since it was decommissioned in 1960. We decided as an organization, as an arts council, to protest the latest move to demolish the water tower. And so the council said, well, you tell us why we should keep it. And we decided to draw up plans.
So we had two teachers who were artists amongst our group. One a sculptor, and the other a teacher of painting. And they decided that they would talk to us, get our ideas on what we could do with the area and what we could do with the water tower.
MAVIS CHAPPLE: Well, I think it's a great old landmark in Wodonga. I really do. And I hope they leave it there.
JEAN WHITLA: Every time the council has told me that I wonder why we still keep the water tower, I say, you have to keep it because you couldn't find your way around Wodonga.