Grid Reference DU 029279
Department Melbourne Water
Work Depot Warburton
Region Port Phillip East
Grading Secondary
Elevation (ASL) 640m
Height 2m
Construction Timber (original)
Steel (current)
Cabin size 2.4m x 2.4m (#2)
4m x 4m (current)
Public access to site No
In use since 1957? - 197? (original)
197? - 2013 (#2)
2013 - (current tower)
CFA Region 13 - Central
The original McVeighs tower. This photo was taken from a slide, provided by Robin Fisher.
Robin was a long time employee of Melbourne Water (ex MMBW) and he manned Poley tower for 6 years in the early 70's.

McVeighs Lookout was built during the construction of the Upper Yarra Dam (1947-1957) and was used to keep a check on the burn-offs after the logging and clearing of the Dam site. Although it doesn't cover a great area, it looks in many gullies that are overlooked by neighbouring towers and it also covers a great deal of the Armstrong Catchment, not covered by any other tower. It has a great view. It not only overlooks the rolling hills of the Upper Yarra Catchment but it also looks over the Upper Yarra Dam.
A steel cabin replaced the original wooden tower in the sixties.
In 1994, most of the Melbourne Water Catchments became National Parks but Melbourne Water still has full control over management of the Parks and the closed Catchment policy is still in force.
The running costs of the tower are shared with DEPI.
Melbourne is one of the very few cities in the world with a water supply coming from closed Catchments. This ensures Melbourne of very good quality drinking water. Some of the Catchments have been closed to the public since the start of this century and this results in beautiful Old Growth Forests of mainly Mountain Ash, (Eucalyptus Regnans). To protect these forests from devastating bushfires, Melbourne Water have had their own Towers for fire detection. Early detection of wild-fires is vital for Melbourne Water. A wild-fire effects the harvest of water for many many years. In the first few years the water yield increases but is polluted and after the re-growth starts to take of, the water yield drops dramatically as the young eucalyptus saplings consume all the water they can get.

McVeighs tower is registered with the in the USA.

Please click on thumbnails for enlargements
McVeighs Lookout
with 'false' roof and verandah
McVeighs before the 'false'
roof and verandah
McVeighs after a new
coat of paint (Oct 2003)

Photos and information supplied by Andre Belterman

McVeighs tower was evacuated during the devasting Black Saturday fires (7th Feb 2009) but was not impacted by the fire.

In 2008, Melbourne Water was looking into the idea of replacing McVeighs tower with another one a bit further south, which would give them a better view into McMahons Creek and Starvation Creek water catchments. Plans for a 50m tower were drawn-up and a site was chosen but the costing came in well above budget. One option being considered is the installation of a camera on the new site and the towerman in the current tower to monitor the screen. The plan was abandoned in 2010 due to ridiculous high quotes.

McVeighs tower was the first of Melbourne Water towers to have a new certified fire bunker installed in May 2011. This will be an extra safety measure for the FLO. Melbourne Water hopes that the FLO will never find the need to use it.
Fire Bunker
May 2011
Fire Bunker
May 2011
Panoramic view
looking NE-E & SE
July 2013
Above photos and information supplied by Andre Belterman

The deteriorating cabin was finally removed in May/June 2013 and the construction of a new cabin was finished before the start of the 2013-14 fire season. The spacious cabin was also placed on a 2m high framework to cover for the tree growth over the years. The catwalk is 1.25m wide. The tower is built in a way that if Melbourne Water decides to build the new tower at the new location at a later date, the cabin will be used to go on top.

Demolishing May 2013
Supplied by
Neville Rattray
Demolishing May 2013
Supplied by
Neville Rattray
Cabin gone July 2013
Supplied by
Andre Belterman
New cabin, Nov 2013
Supplied by
Andre Belterman
New 20x80 binoculars
on old scope base
Supplied by
Andre Belterman

During the winter of 2020, Melbourne Water handed the management of their 4 fire towers to DELWP/FFM Vic. We still haven’t been supplied with the exact reason for this decision, but it seems a bit odd that a water authority hands over the management of these assets whilst they form an critical part of the fire protection of their main asset and reason for their existence: water. Initially, DELWP only accepted the Mt. St. Leonard and McVeighs towers and won’t accept Poley and Strath towers until the ladder system has been changed, so they can be climbed without a harness. So, during the 2020-21 fire season, Mt. St. Leonard and McVeighs towers were managed by FFM Vic whilst Poley and Strath were still managed by Melbourne Water. We’ll keep an eye out for further developments

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