Sir John Monash – The civil engineer for Tungamah

By Yarrawonga Chronicle

By Colin Campbell

Countless articles have been written regarding John Monash’s brilliant army career which culminated in the great honour of his knighthood. However, very little recognition seems to exist about his outstanding achievements prior to joining the military forces.

John Monash was a highly talented Civil Engineer who founded a firm titled the “Reinforced Concrete Monier and Pipe Construction Company”. 

I must admit that during my years in Local Government, I would have written hundreds of orders for “Monier Pipes” without making the connection with his name.

Moving on, some years ago, a member of the Tungamah Historical Society, Mr Jim O’Connor, researched the life of John Monash and found that his firm constructed the concrete water towers in Tungamah, St. James and Katamatite during 1909. 

At that time, those towers were all within the Shire of Tungamah which had its own Waterworks Trust.

Unfortunately, this information only came to light after the publication of “Just About Tungamah” in 2002 so is not included in that book. 

However, although the towers are no longer used to supply the three townships, their historical significance is such that some signage is certainly warranted for the information of the public and for future generations.

The Katamatite tower was the first one built and when filled, water leaked through the concrete. As a result, the Trust’s Engineer, Mr Tobias Kelly, refused payment for the work. 

Monash insisted that the leakage would “take up” but the dispute led to some interesting correspondence between the two parties. 

In one letter, Monash wrote to his overseer stating; “We have received another excited letter from Mr. Kelly. He seems a hot-headed fellow who does not stop to think – ignore his outbursts and treat him with calm courtesy.”

As predicted by Monash, the leakage did stop and the towers served the three townships for almost one hundred years.