Chaffey Dam

Famous for its morning glory spillway






7.2 KM2

Chaffey Dam is unique in inland NSW for its distinctive brick-red rock wall made of semi-precious stone and its unusual morning glory spillway. The lake and its foreshores are a popular destination for water sports and fishing enthusiasts, nature lovers, bushwalkers, campers and picnickers. The main purpose of the dam is to supply irrigation and stock needs in the Peel River Valley of northern NSW, and to supply water to the city of Tamworth.

Dam fact sheet (PDF, 1081.58 KB)

Recreation reserve

  • Managed by the Bowling Alley Point Recreational Reserve Trust, enquiries 0429 621 043
  • Parking at the reserve is $5 per car

Lookout points

Viewing area above the dam wall

From the main lookout enjoy views of the lake, rock wall and morning glory spillway tower.

HOURS - Entry is free

  • Open 24 hours


  • Wear a life jacket
  • Supervise your children
  • Look out for underwater hazards
  • Keep a safe distance when boating
  • Follow all algae alerts

Learn more about safety at our sites.


Please phone 1800 061 069

In an emergency call 000

We’re the people taking care of the state’s water at the source – capturing, storing, delivering. Learn more about WaterNSW.


Boat ramps icon

Boat ramps



Picnic shelter icon

Picnic Shelters

Shower icon

Shower facilities

Toilets icon


Things to do

View the morning glory spillway tower

Stand on the dam’s main lookout for views of the brick-red rock wall made of the semi-precious stone jasper, and the unusual morning glory spillway tower. Rather than spilling over the dam, high water levels spill into in a giant concrete egg-shaped funnel. Named because its shape is similar to the flower, Chaffey Dam’s morning glory spillway is the larger of only two in Australia.


The Nundle Fishing Club overlooks the Chaffey Dam. Rainbow trout and golden perch (yellow belly) are the top catches.


Camp sites are available on the lake foreshore at Bowling Alley Point Recreation Reserve. Enquiries: 0429 621 043.

Water sports

The lake is a popular spot for all water sports including skiing, jet skis, sailing, canoeing and swimming. Several boat ramps are available on the lake foreshores.

Map and directions

Chaffey Dam is 43 kilometres south-east of Tamworth and 14 kilometres north of Nundle in the New England region of NSW. Tamworth is 400 kilometres north of Sydney via the Pacific Motorway and New England Highway.


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:

Restriction icon

No model aircraft or drones

Restriction icon

Dogs are only permitted on a leash

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

Facts and History

Chaffey Dam is situated on the Peel River, 43 kilometres south-east of Tamworth in the New England region of NSW. The dam is about 400 kilometres north of Sydney.

Find out more

Facts and History

Chaffey Dam is situated on the Peel River, 43 kilometres south-east of Tamworth in the New England region of NSW. The dam is about 400 kilometres north of Sydney.

Chaffey Dam holds a maximum of 102,868 megalitres of water, or about 40,000 Olympic swimming pools.

The dam’s name pays tribute to former parliamentary members for Tamworth, Frank Chaffey who represented the district in the NSW Legislative Assembly for 27 years to 1940, and his son Bill who followed in his footsteps for 33 years until 1973.

Why the dam was built

A dam was first proposed for the Peel River in 1914 but it wasn’t until 1967 that comprehensive investigations identified an ideal dam site near Bowling Alley Point.

A dam was needed to provide a regulated water flow for irrigation, stock and domestic use. More water was also needed for the rapidly growing city of Tamworth, which relied on wells and a small dam on Dungowan Creek.

Construction of Chaffey Dam began in 1976 and was completed in 1979.

The dam provides water for irrigating crops including wheat, lucerne, vegetables, fruit trees, oilseeds and fodders, as well as pastures for sheep and cattle.

How the dam was built

Chaffey Dam is a rock-fill embankment with a clay core. The rock wall is 443 metres long and 55.8 metres high.

The distinctive brick-red rock, a cryptocrystalline quartz called jasper, is one of many varieties of gemstones found in the nearby countryside. The former gold rush region is still a popular destination for fossicking.

The dam features the larger of only two morning glory spillways in Australia, so named because the spillway is a similar shape to the flower. The giant concrete egg-shaped funnel measuring eight metres wide by 10 metres high surrounds a concrete tower situated in the lake. Rather than spilling over the dam, high waters spill into the funnel-like spillway.

Later improvements

Chaffey Dam has been upgraded to enable it to store more water, and to meet modern dam safety standards. The dam wall was raised by 8 metres and the mouth of the morning glory spillway by 6.5 metres, increasing storage capacity from 62,000 to 100,500 megalitres. The downstream embankment was strengthened, and an auxiliary spillway constructed to enable the dam to safely pass rare and extreme floods.

Go to top

WaterNSW acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and pay our respects to all elders past, present and emerging. Learn more