Getting tanked

Water reservoir at Menangle photographed in the 1930s
Water reservoir at Menangle photographed in the 1930s Photo: Riley Collection, Campbelltown City Library

This is an update to last week's blog entry titled imagine if this was your cubby.

During the week I caught up with Marie Holmes, research officer with the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, who reports that the wooden structure with roof (and a small one on the western side of the freeway) ‘‘attracts quite a lot of questions’’.

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all, a few years ago the history buff spoke with Annette Macarthur-Onslow, a descendent of the famous Macarthurs who were the first settlers to work the land, who advised that the structure is, wait for it...a water tank.

Apparently it was used to store water from the nearby Nepean River for use in the property’s dairy and butter factory and for a time also serviced the Menangle township. The tank held about 8000 gallons of water and the water was transported by an open wooden trough to where it was to be used. Unfortunately, the trough is no longer remaining.

Annette also advised Marie that the smaller wooden structure on the western side of the freeway is a remnant of a slaughterhouse and was used to hang the meat.

Special thanks also to super sleuth reader Jas Hugonnet, of Hughes, who helped me track down the current owner of the property who confirmed, ‘‘it’s simply an old concrete-lined water tank’’, and who seemed somewhat annoyed at the fuss his elaborate wooden structure had caused.

Several readers may not be easily convinced by this explanation.

These include Wal Glennon, of Duffy, who writes, ‘‘Having grown up in the area, I can tell you this ‘tree house’ was in fact the commentary box for the original Menangle showground and trots, and the trees were not there 50 years ago. It was a popular spot for all and sundry to get out of the heat and mingle, as kids we fought off many invading tribes and won the hearts of many fair maidens, one of whom I rescued and married and for the last 42 years as we pass the ‘tree house’, we remember the old times.’’

 Then there’s Peter Murray, of Red Hill: ‘‘By now a RAAF historian should have told you of the RAAF air defence system for Sydney during World War II. Your tree house is a surviving relic of that system and was originally built as a watch tower in the days before radar to detect enemy aircraft approaching Sydney from the west.’’

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