What makes the Whispering Wall whisper?

Send a message to friends 100m away at the Barossa’s magical whispering wall!

The Barossa Valley is world renowned for its delectable wines and delicious produce. Williamstown, however, at the south end of the valley, is a rather quaint and calm town. Situated as a gateway between the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills, the land was considered so useless that it was traded for a mob of horses in 1839. However, this quiet little place is home to one very cool attraction, the Whispering Wall.

Constructed between 1899 and 1902, the Barossa Reservoir was built to provide the region with clean drinking water after the previously used well became contaminated by nearby cesspools. The reservoir receives water from the South Para River and can hold 4.4 gigalitres of water – that’s enough to fill 2,220 Olympic pools!

The biggest attraction of the Barossa Reservoir, however, is the Whispering Wall. At 36m tall and 144m wide, the Whispering Wall is a popular tourist attraction. With one person standing at each end, two people can have a conversation without shouting. By speaking normally at the wall, the second person will hear the message loud and clear, but why?

The curve of the damn would create a perfect circle is continued, and this is important in creating the ‘whispering’ effect. Sound waves run along the perfectly curved damn without bouncing away, meaning they have their full volume once they reach your friend at the other end of the wall.

The wall cost £170,000 to build, equivalent to approximately $20 million today. It took over 400 workers to build, all sleeping it rough around the dam site at the peak of construction. Today the only clue that they ever lived here is the single surviving caretaker’s cottage. You can see it at the bottom of the dam near the picnic area.

At the time of its construction, the Whispering Wall was a revolutionary engineering feat, it was the first arch dam built in South Australia and the highest in the country. It was known about all around the world and even featured in the legendary journal Scientific American. The arch wasn’t just for aesthetic effect though. The arch is key to keeping the dam from collapsing. The curved resists the pressure created by the water and is the reason the dam has not collapsed.

The land surrounding the dam is now an officially designated protected area. It aims to provide a human free conservation area for native animals living nearby. Keep an eye out for colourful bird species flying around in the pink come and pine trees. The unique, elevated, structure of the Whispering Wall makes it a fantastic place for bird watching. If you’ve got a sharp eye, you might be lucky enough to spot a koala hanging out in one of the gums.

The Whispering Wall is a fun little stop on any Barossa Valley trip. Pop by for an afternoon picnic or just to stretch your legs. Whatever your purpose, the Whispering Wall is sure to impress.

 

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