Chaffey Dam Famous for its morning glory spillway

Chaffey Dam
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Visit the Dam


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

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.

Chaffey Dam Fact Sheet (PDF, 1081.58 KB)

Lookout points

Viewing area above the dam wall

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

Things to do

  • View the morning glory spillway tower
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Water sports

Opening hours

Dam grounds

Open 24 hours a day, all year round. Entry is free. Parking at Bowling Alley Point Recreation Reserve is $5 per car. The Recreation Reserve is managed by the Bowling Alley Point Recreational Reserve Trust. Enquiries: 0429 621 043


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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.


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



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:

  • Dogs are permitted on a leash
  • No model aircraft or drones

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

The Chaffey experience

Top 4 things to see and do

1. 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.

2. Fishing

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

3. Camping

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

4. 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.

Dam Summary

Metres High
Length: 500 metres
Size of lake:
7.2 km 2
100.5 gl total operating capacity
Catchment: 420 square kilometres

Facts & 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.

Annual Compliance Report


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 past 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 amber alert level.
  • Notification - You are advised to move to higher ground and if necessary evacuate.

Red alert

  • Trigger - Storage level has reached red alert 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 10,000, 15,000 megalitres per day
  • Notification - Flows of XX,000 megalitres per day are being passed.

Flood of record

  • Trigger - Spillway flows of over 46,000 megalitres per day, last reached in 1995.
  • Notification - Flows of over 46,000 megalitres per day are being passed, levels last reached in 1995.

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 500 megalitres per day.
  • Notification - No notifications in this range.

Increased flows

  • Trigger - When flow increases above 500 megalitres per day.
  • 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

Bureau of Meteorology Weather forecasts and warnings BOM varies by region
NSW State Emergency Service Flood or severe weather warnings/advice NSW SES 132 500
NSW Water Information Storage levels and river heights Water info N/A
WaterNSW Algae Hotline Algal alert details and algae levels WaterNSW 1800 999 457
Early Warning Network To view or edit your registration details EWN 1300 662 077


Saturday 25 June
2,524,148 ML
2,618,706 ML
9,094 ML
1,300 ML
27,516 ML
Saturday 25 June
Chaffey Dam
Saturday 25 June