Share your secrets with a lump of concrete at the Barossa Reservoir’s Whispering Wall.

Engineers are a funny bunch. They draw up detailed plans and make all sorts of calculations using words like “megajoule” to make us think their jobs are harder than they are. Naturally they don’t make mistakes, and when something wacky occurs, they nod and say, “But of course. There’s a simple scientific explanation for that.”

But sometimes the unexpected occurs, such as when the Barossa Reservoir was built some 105 years ago. At the time this dam was a bit of a marvel, with a curved, tapering structure remarkably similar to many dams built nowadays.

The thing about this dam, though, is that if you speak normally at one side of the dam, your voice can be heard quite clearly on the other side – 144m away! The perfect curve of the dam wall doesn’t absorb the soundwaves, rather the parabolic effect simply “pushes” them along. At least that’s the explanation we got from the bearded engineer who simply couldn’t understand why it wasn’t patently obvious to us. After all, it was a “simple scientific explanation.”

 

WHERE // About 10km northeast of Gawler in SA on the Williamstown road.

DID YOU KNOW? // During construction, legend has it one poor packhorse worked for nine months moving rubble in the formation of the tunnels that feed water to the dam. It’s said the poor horse didn’t see daylight for that entire time. These days the RSPCA would have a field day.

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