Grid Reference CU 696409
Department Melbourne Water
Work Depot Healesville
Region Port Phillip East
Grading Primary
Elevation (ASL) 1027m
Height ?m (tree tower)
28m (second tower)
34.5m (current tower)
Construction Steel
Cabin size 3.5m x 3.5m
Public access to site Yes, to viewing platform (old tower) only
In use since 193? - 1949 (tree tower)
1949 - 1989 (second tower)
1989 - (current tower)
CFA Region 13 - Central
Photo by Andre Belterman

Below is some information supplied by Melbourne Water.

1982: The Forest Commission of Victoria applies for use of the Mt. St. Leonard tower to help their radio communications.

mid 1980's: Preparations are being made to built a new tower on Mt. St. Leonard. The tower had internal corrosion in the structure and the cabin contained substantial amounts of asbestos.

While the current tower was being built, various community groups voiced their disapproval about the demolition of the 'old' tower and after many consultations it was decided to leave the bottom two sections intact and convert this to a viewing platform for the public. Melbourne Water and various groups contributed to the cost of the establishment of this tourist attraction.

The original plague is still attached to the leftover viewing platform. Photo by Andre Belterman

Supplied by R. Pockett: R. J. Pockett wrote a piece about the tower for the local paper in 1987. He witnessed the (second) tower falling back when they were trying to haul it in position with a bulldozer, winches and cables. The dozer had lost traction on the rocky ground. This delayed the project for a while.
In the mid 60's power became available in the area and a helicopter assisted in the stringing of the wires from the summit via the steep western slope of the mountain to Meyers Crk. Rd. It was to be the longest span in existence in the State at the time. It did create problems though; sagging after snowfall and heavy wind made the wires touch the tree tops and eventually the power lines were taken up via roadside poles to the top of the mountain.

A pair of powerful binoculars was stolen from the tower in 1973. Obtained by the MMBW in 1946, the binoculars were a souvenir from World War 1. They were so powerful, that the names of ships in Port Phillip Bay could be read on a clear day. (Yarra Valley News, 3rd Oct 1973)

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 and the CFA.
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.

Mt. St. Leonard tower is registered with the in the USA.

Please click on thumbnails for enlargements

The erection of the first Mt. St. Leonard steel tower. Photos obtained from the Healesville & District Historical Society and used with permission.

Original tree tower Inside current tower Binoculars, 20x80 2000
Photo of original tree tower was taken from a book by Luke Steenhuis (Secret Places of the Upper Yarra Valley, Beauty Spots) and used with permission.
Photos 2-3 by Andre Belterman. The aerial shot, taken in 2000, was supplied by Colin May.

A certified Fire Bunker was installed before the 2012-13 season. The bunker couldn't be burried due to the rocky ground, so rock and soil was placed around the unit. This will be an extra safety measure for the FLO. Melbourne Water hopes that the FLO will never find the need to use it.
1st photo (2013) supplied by Andre Belterman and 2nd (2012) by Paul Jones from his cabin.

For a newspaper article from 1942 about the tower please click here.
The link to the original article (ackowledged in the attachment) was supplied by Paul Jones.

Photos of the 1st steel tower were taken (1983) and supplied by Ian Michie in June 2019

The 5 photos above were supplied by MMBW, now Melbourne Water. 1st photo was taken from roof of the cabin of the current tower and shows the height difference in both towers. 2nd photo shows the current tower (L) and the previous one (R). The 3rd-4th photos show the interior and some of the communication equipment used in the previous tower in 1959. The FLO in the picture is Ron Furmston. The 5th photo shows the interior in the 1980s, not long before the current tower came into operation. The FLO is Glen Winter.

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

Photo wass obtained in Feb 2022 from the Healesville & District Historical Society and used with permission.
The year it was taken is unknown, but it shows the late George Start in his younger years on FLO duty.

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