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Burrinjuck Dam NSW’s first major irrigation dam

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Status Closed to Public
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Visit the Dam

Facilities

  • Camping
  • Childrens playground
  • Picnic areas
  • Toilets
  • Fishing
  • Kiosk
  • Shower facilities
  • Boat ramps
  • Water sports
  • Bushwalking

The first major dam built for irrigation in NSW when construction began before World War I, Burrinjuck Dam helped drive the economic development of the Riverina as a major food producing region. Today the dam continues to support agriculture across the 660,000 square kilometres of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area centred around the towns of Griffith and Leeton. It also supplies stock and household needs for landholders and towns along the Murrumbidgee River, environmental flows, flood mitigation and hydroelectricity. The large lake has become a popular sport and recreation destination.

Lookout points

Burrinjuck Road

Burrinjuck Road provides glimpses of the dam wall and spillway. No public access to dam wall.

Burrinjuck Waters State Park

The 75 hectare park provides several vantage points with panoramic views of the lake and foreshores.

Things to do

  • Camping
  • Water sports
  • Fishing
  • Bushwalking
  • Hume and Hovell Walking Track

Opening hours

Dam grounds

Dam closed to the general public

Burrinjuck Waters State Park

Office is open 9am to 5pm daily. Phone 02 6227 8114.

Directions

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Burrinjuck Dam is 55 kilometres south-west of Yass on the south west slopes of NSW. Yass is 279 kilometres south-west of Sydney via the Hume Highway.

Facilities

  • Camping
  • Childrens playground
  • Picnic areas
  • Toilets
  • Fishing
  • Kiosk
  • Shower facilities
  • Boat ramps
  • Water sports
  • Bushwalking

Fishing

Restrictions

Restrictions are in place to protect our water supply and ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe visit - with penalties up to $44,000 applying:

  •  

Recreation Areas at WaterNSW dams will be closed on ALL Total Fire Ban days.

The Burrinjuck experience

Top 5 things to see and do

1. Camp 

Lake Burrinjuck’s foreshores offer a range of accommodation options. Burrinjuck Waters State Park is located close to the dam wall, surrounded by bush on the southern escarpment of Mount Barren Jack.

2. Water sports

The lake offers water sports including skiing, jet skis, sailing, canoeing and swimming. Several boat ramps are available at camping grounds around the lake foreshores.

3. Fishing

Lake Burrinjuck is home to the Murray cod, as well as golden perch (yellow belly), silver perch, brown and rainbow trout, redfin and European carp.

4. Bushwalking

Burrinjuck Waters includes a variety of walking ranging from the easy to more challenging.

5. Hume and Hovell Walking Track

The historic Hume and Hovell Walking Track passes through Burrinjuck Waters State Park on its 440 kilometre journey between Yass and Albury. Follow in the footsteps of explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell on their expedition to Port Phillip in 1824.

Dam Summary

93
Metres High
Length: 233 metres
Size of lake:
55 km 2
1,028,000 ml total operating capacity
Catchment: 12,953 square kilometres

Facts & History

Burrinjuck Dam is situated near the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee River in the Great Dividing Range. It is about 55 kilometres south-west of Yass, and about 330 kilometres south-west of Sydney.

Burrinjuck Dam is the main water storage for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme, a 660,000 hectare area in the Riverina irrigated with a series of weirs, canals and holding ponds. The dam has a capacity of 1,026,000 megalitres, twice the volume of Sydney Harbour.

The name Burrinjuck comes from the Aboriginal words ‘booren yiack’, meaning precipitous mountain. The dam is appropriately named as it lies between the Barren Jack and Black Andrew mountains.

Find out about the Burrinjuck Dam centenary celebrations.

Why the dam was built

In 1891 the Murrumbidgee Valley was identified as being ideal for irrigation development. After devastating droughts in 1901-02, the NSW Parliament approved the establishment of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area Scheme to control and divert the flow of local river systems for the purpose of food production.

Burrinjuck was the first major dam built for irrigation in NSW. When construction began in 1909, it was the fourth largest dam in the world. Construction delays due to World War I meant the original design was not completed until 1928.

Burrinjuck releases water for irrigation of crops in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, including cotton and fruit and vegetables, as well as pastures for sheep and cattle.

In addition to irrigated agriculture, the dam provides water for town supplies, industry and domestic requirements, environmental flows, flood mitigation and recreation, and a 28 megawatt hydroelectric power station using irrigation releases, environmental flows and flood mitigation.

How the dam was built

Burrinjuck Dam was built in a narrow gorge on the Murrumbidgee River. The steep gorge required the erection of a cableway across the spillway face to ferry workers and materials from one side to the other. Building materials were delivered to the site by a wood-burning locomotive travelling on a narrow gauge railway line built for the project, connecting the construction site to the main southern line at Goondah, south of Yass, 42 kilometres away.

Burrinjuck is a mass gravity dam which holds back water by using its own weight. The wall was built using cyclopean masonry with giant concrete blocks fitted into an irregular pattern. Granite quarried on the site was mixed with sand barged from up river and cement transported by rail. Each block contains a giant granite boulder, weighing on average four to five tons.

Work started in 1909 but was not completed for 20 years due to World War I and labour shortages. Hundreds of workers lived on-site at ‘Burrinjuck City’ in barracks provided for single men. They used steam engines and manual labour to build the massive wall.

Following a big flood in 1925 that sent water pouring more than a metre over the wall, it became clear the height of the wall and size of the spillways had to be increased. These enlargement works continued for another 20 years between 1937 and 1956, again interrupted by war.

Later improvements

To meet modern dam safety standards and increase dam safety in the event of extreme flooding, between 1986 and 1994 the wall was strengthened by post-tensioned anchors, the dam’s spillways were upgraded and the wall was raised by 13.4 metres to its current height of 92.4 metres.

Notifications

In consultation with our stakeholders and the community we review and update these notifications.

To receive Early Warning Network notifications below please register your details with us.

To see all past archived notifications, please visit all dam notifications.


Dam safety notifications

Alerts will be issued in the following unlikely events:

  • When there is a reasonable possibility of dam failure.
  • State Emergency Service (SES) require advance public warning to evacuate if such a failure may occur.

Amber alert

  • Trigger - Storage level has reached Design Flood Level.
  • Notification - You are advised to move to higher ground and if necessary evacuate.

Red alert

  • Trigger - Storage level has reached crest level.
  • Notification - Residents are advised to evacuate to their designated flood assembly points.

Flood notifications

Flood notifications indicate the dam is releasing controlled or uncontrolled flows, likely to cause downstream flooding.

Flood operations

  • Trigger - Flow increases of 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 megalitres per day.
  • Notification - Flows of XX,000 megalitres per day are being passed.

Flood of record

  • Trigger - Spillway flows of over 392,000 megalitres per day, last reached in 1974.
  • Notification - Flows of over 392,000 megalitres per day are being passed, levels last reached in 1974.

High regulated release notifications

High regulated releases are when our operations may impact landholders immediately downstream or we are releasing higher than normal flows.

Normal operations

  • Range - 0 to 1,000 megalitres per day.
  • Notification - No notifications in this range after first notification (below).

Increased flows

  • Trigger - When flow increases above 1000 megalitres per day, or when they raise in 1,500 mega litres per day increases after that.
  • Notification - Releases are planned to increase from XX,000 megalitres per day (ML/day) to YY,000 ML/day at 00:00 on DD/MM/YY.

More information

  
AgencyInformationWebsitePhone
Bureau of MeteorologyWeather forecasts and warningsBOMvaries by region
NSW Algae HotlineAlgal alert details and algae levelsDPI Water1800 999 457
NSW State Emergency ServiceFlood or severe weather warnings/adviceNSW SES132 500
NSW Water InformationStorage levels and river heightsWater infoN/A
Water NSWTo view or edit your registration detailsEWN1300 662 077
To provide feedback on our EWNFeedback1300 662 077
95.4
Monday 27 March
2.6
2,463,348 ML
2,581,749 ML
5,933 ML
848 ML
63,166 ML
Monday 27 March
67.7
Burrinjuck Dam
Monday 27 March