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Natural Attractions - WARRAGAMBA DAM

A popular picnic resort.

Since it opened in 1960, the recreational areas at Warragamba Dam have been a favourite picnic spot for countless thousands of citysiders

Up to 3000 people can gather here on the busiest day of the year - Father's Day - making it temporarily one of the largest towns in the Wollondilly.

What they come for is the majestic view of the dam and lake, the surrounding bushland, and excellent picnic and games areas for the family.

Sydney's water supply.

Warragamba is the last of the great dams of the Wollondilly region and stores 80% of Sydney's water supply.

A dam here was first suggested in the 1880s, but it took until 1948 before it was commenced and then took 12 years to build .

Warragamba Dam

Burragorang ValleyOne of the world's largest dams.

Warragamba is the largest concrete dam in Australia, and one of the largest dams in the world used specifically as a metropolitan water supply.

It was created by damming Burragorang Valley, thereby creating a lake 4 times the size of Sydney Harbour.

To achieve this some 3 million tonnes of concrete were placed across the river in a series of large interlocking blocks.

An engineering feat on a huge scale, it required special solutions to the problems of construction.

An engineering masterpiece.

To provide the sand and gravel required to make the concrete an aerial ropeway was constructed 19 kms to McCanns Island on the Nepean River from where the sand and gravel was mined and delivered directly to the dam.

If you've ever done any concreting, you will know that the chemical reaction causes the mixture to heat up. To counter this problem at Warragamba, during construction ice was added to the concrete and chilled water circulated through it to reduce the temperature - otherwise it might have taken 100 years to set!

The project was so large, a town was built next to the construction site to house the workers.

The wall itself has over 5 kms of galleries inside it to allow access for checking the dam for movement, seepage and water pressure

Completed in 1960, the dam can deliver 2630 megalitres of water per day to the city via 27 kms of pipeline to the Prospect Water Filtration Plant at Prospect Reservoir.

Display in the information centre

The new spillwayThe new auxiliary spillway.

When the dam was first built it was designed to safely cope with large floods. However, modern international dam safety standards suggested that the dam could experience floods much larger than previously thought possible, even those with a one in a hundred thousand probability.

Rare though such a flood would be, it could mean extensive flooding and devastation downstream in the outer suburbs of Sydney.

The new auxiliary spillway, completed in 2002 at a cost of $95 million, is designed to allow rare and extreme floods to be diverted around the dam, thus preventing damage to the dam wall.

To complete the project some 4.3 million tonnes of rock was removed from the eastern side of the dam wall, and a spillway 700 metres long and between 190 and 65 metres wide and 50 metres deep constructed to divert the waters.

The original central spillway will help to manage the discharge of water from the dam in ordinary flood situations, and in the event of an extreme flood the auxiliary spillway will allow excess floodwater to safely bypass the dam.

New public amenities.

Since its closure in 1998, Warragamba Dam has undergone a major $240 million upgrade and new facilities including new viewing platforms, visitors centre, shade shelters, picnic tables, seating and toilets

The new Visitor Information Centre hosts an exhibition that features detailed displays about our dams and catchments, audio visual material, historic items and a cutting edge 'drops of wisdom' interactive table, which is the largest of its type in Australia.

The exhibition adds a new dimension to what is already a popular venue, allowing school groups, tourists and anyone with an interest in engineering to learn more about this impressive piece of infrastructure.   For further information about visitor facilities at Warragamba Dam see the Sydney Catchment Authority website - www.sca.nsw.gov.au.

Picnic areas

Playground areas for the kidsPicnic heaven.

Warragamba is one of the most popular family picnic areas on the outskirts of the city.

Picnic Area #1 is close to a sports oval, tennis courts, and municipal swimming pool.

There are picnic tables and benches, free electric BBQs and hot water, shelter areas, children's playground and space for older kids to play, and well maintained toilet blocks (including for the disabled).

Picnic supplies are available in the main street (cafes, delis, takeaways) and there is a licensed club on 18th Street.

There is a Visitor's Information Centre with exhibits explaining the dam and its history.

Whether for a quiet escape in the middle of the week, or a grand family outing on the weekend or in the holidays, Warragamba is one of the best recreation areas of the Wollondilly.

Dam Specifications:

Site works commenced 1948 (after 6 years preparation). Completed 1960.

Wall - 142m. high, 351m across; 8.5m wide at the top and 104m. at the base; 94.5m wide at original central spillway.

Capacity: 2 million megalitres (4 'sydarbs')

Lake - 52kms long, 7500 hectares

Catchment Area: 9000 square kilometres (from Robertson to Goulburn, Crookwell and Lithgow. Outflow from Wollondilly, Coxs, Kowuring, Nattai and Wingecarribee Rivers.)

Includes a 50MW hydroelectric power station (operates only when high water level in the lake).

The dam

How to get there.

From Sydney: Head for Parramatta then take the Western Motorway to Penrith; at Penrith turn left at the interchange into Mulgoa Road towards Wallacia; at Wallacia turn right into Silverdale Road, then follow the sign on the right at Farnsworth Avenue to Warragamba.

From Southern suburbs: Head for Liverpool, then turn right just past Warwick Farm on the Cumberland Highway towards Cabramatta; turn left at Cabramatta Road towards Bonyrigg and continue along Elizabeth Drive to The Northern Road where you turn left then right at Park Road to Wallacia; at Wallacia turn right into Silverdale Road, then follow the sign on the right at Farnsworth Avenue to Warragamba.

From Wollongong, South and Picton: Head for Picton (turnoff on the F5 Freeway inland); in Picton turn south in the main street, then right just before the overhead railway bridge towards Mowbray Park; at Mowbray Park turn right towards The Oaks then follow Silverdale Road north to Warragamba.

Visitors Information CentreWarragamba Dam Picnic Area & the Eighteenth Street Viewing Platform are open 7 days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm. (Closes 7.00pm weekends and Public Holidays during Daylight Saving Time).

Entrance is free.

The dam wall remains closed to the public due to upgrade of the flood gates. Guided tours of the dam are not available.

For further information contact the Warragamba Dam Visitors Information Centre on (02) 4720 0349 (10.00am to 4.00pm daily except Christmas Day and Good Friday) or see the Sydney Catchment Authority website - www.sca.nsw.gov.au.

Warragamba Dam

Farnsworth Avenue

Warragamba NSW 2752

Phone: (02) 4720 0349 - Fax: (02) 4720 0389 - email: luke.job@sca.nsw.gov.au

Last updated 10/2/11