Constructed from 1870 to 1907. Also known as Hares Folly or Maley's Stream. The fishponds have aesthetic, historic, social, scientific and rarity cultural heritage significance. The fishponds are a series of three ponds in tiers down a slope. The operating principal was that the ponds filled and over flowed into the next, falling down sloping banks of about three metres. They were connected by wooden slip-ways between ponds. Exit from the lowest pond was by underground pipes to the locomotive sheds. Trout farming was first introduced to Western Australia, at Albany, in 1874, following the construction of the Albany fish ponds on the southern slopes of Mount Melville. The venture was not successful.
It is unclear what remains of these structures as the ponds and surrounding land is seriously overgrown.
The Governor of Western Australia, Frederick Aloysius Weld decided that fish should by introduced to fresh water streams and rivers. Albany was selected to be the base for acclimatising and rearing the fish. The Government Resident in Albany, Gustavus Edward Cockburn Hare implemented the project by choosing the site for constructing three fish
ponds on the southwestern foot of Mount Melville. Natural materials such as clay, earth banks and local wood were used in the construction. Their work was carried out between 1874-77. The three ponds were to be hatcheries for trout and perch but the project was unsuccessful. It has been suggested that the ponds were built using convict labour but the construction period is outside the period of transportation to Western Australia. However the ponds could have been built using local prisoners, former convicts and 'Ticket of Leave Men'.
The West Australian Land company, builder and owner of the Great Southern Railway and its associated facility, the Albany Deep Water Jetty, formally opened in 1889, obtained the ponds as a collective source of fresh water supplies for ships and stream locomotives. A gravity main carried the water to the railway and the jetty. The company sold its land holdings, the jetty and the line to the WA government in 1896.
A growing demand for adequate water supplies to both the town and the port brought a decision in 1906 by government and council to build a 500 000 gallon reservoir at the fish ponds., The flow of water proved too slow. The ponds ceased to be used for the town's water supply after 1914. The fishponds have a tragic association with a number of suicides the 1930s.
In July 2000 the Fish Ponds were listed in the WA heritage Council's Register of heritage Places, giving the Fish Ponds legal Heritage Act. No changes or works can be done to the site without close consideration of the impact on its heritage value, and without the approval of the Heritage Council of WA.
The Fish Ponds significance stems from it being the first official pisciculture enterprise for breeding trout and other fresh water fish in Western Australia. It was part of the international acclimatisation movement, which saw the exchange of plant and animal species between European countries and new colonies. This resulted in the introduction of various
European species to Australia. It is thought the site may hold information about this industry through archaeological investigation.
An integral part of the community, the place has contributed to Albany's water supply since 1888. In 1907 the top pond was enlarged by the Public Works Department to create a reservoir.
To locals and visitors alike the place is a landmark in the City of Albany. A well-known site on the eastern outskirts of town, it provides a continuous landscape link from the coast to Mt Melville.
Source: State Heritage