Copeton Dam Inland sport and recreation destination

Copeton Dam
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Visit the Dam


  • Camping
  • Children's playground
  • Parking
  • Picnic areas
  • Toilets
  • Untreated water (not suitable for drinking)
  • Viewing areas
  • Kiosk
  • Shower facilities
  • Boat ramps

Copeton Dam is a popular inland sport and recreation destination near Inverell, offering year-round attractions for water sports and fishing enthusiasts, nature lovers, bushwalkers, campers and picnickers. The large lake’s extensive foreshores are home to a recently upgraded holiday park. The main purpose of the dam is to supply irrigation, stock and household needs in the Gwydir Valley, and environmental flows to the Gwydir Wetlands.

Look out points

Dam wall

Drive or walk across the dam wall for views of the lake and mountains. The rock embankment wall is 1.4 kilometres long and 113 metres high.

Spillway lookouts

Lookout on one side of the large spillway just east of the dam wall provide excellent views of the lake upstream.

Things to do

Opening hours

Copeton Waters State Park

Office is open 9am to 5pm daily. Phone 02 6723 6269.

Please note: WaterNSW does not manage all of the facilities at this dam.


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Copeton Dam is 35 kilometres south-west of Inverell on the north west slopes of NSW Northern Tablelands. Inverell is 570 kilometres north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway and Thunderbolts Way.


  • Camping
  • Children's playground
  • Parking
  • Picnic areas
  • Toilets
  • Untreated water (not suitable for drinking)
  • Viewing areas
  • Kiosk
  • Shower facilities
  • Boat ramps



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 firearms
  • No model aircraft or drones
  • Fishing, swimming and boating is not allowed in the safety exclusion zone around the dam wall
  • Keep to vehicle speed limits and be aware of pedestrians
  • Untreated water (not suitable for drinking)

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

The Copeton Experience

Things to see and do

1. Camping

Reflections Holiday Park - Copeton Waters on the dam’s southern side provides a range of accommodation options. Camping is also available on the northern foreshore of the dam.

2. Water sports

The large lake offers skiing, jet skis, sailing, canoeing and swimming. Copeton Waters Park has several boat ramps.

3. Fishing

Fishing includes Murray cod, Golden perch (yellow belly), silver perch, redfin and catfish.

Dam Summary

Metres High
Length: 1484 metres
Size of lake:
46 km 2
1,364 gl total operating capacity
Catchment: 5,360 square kilometres

Facts & History

Copeton Dam is situated on the Gwydir River about 60 kilometres upstream of Bingara and 35 kilometres south-west of Inverell on the north west slopes of the NSW Northern Tablelands. The dam is about 570 kilometres north of Sydney.

Copeton Dam is one of the largest inland dams in NSW with a capacity of 1,364,000 megalitres, nearly three times that of Sydney Harbour.

Why the dam was built

A dam on the Gwydir River was proposed as early as they 1930s to improve town water supplies and boost agricultural production in the Gwydir Valley. World War II and subsequent shortage of funds halted further investigations. It was 1966 before a final site was chosen and construction began in 1968.

Cotton was one of the main crops to benefit from the availability of irrigation, as well as lucerne, cereals, oilseed, pecans, wheat and vegetables. The dam also provides environmental flows to the Gwydir Wetlands near Moree.

In addition to irrigated agriculture and environmental flows, the dam provides water for Inverell and other town supplies, industry and domestic requirements, flood mitigation and recreation. A 21 megawatt hydroelectric power station uses summer irrigation, environmental flows and flood mitigation.

How the dam was built

Copeton Dam is a rock-fill embankment with a clay core. The rock wall is 1,484 metres long and 113 metres high. A concrete spillway is located just west of the dam wall. The spillway allows flood waters to pass through nine radial gates and concrete chute.

Construction began in 1968 and finished in 1973 with a storage capacity of 863,000 megalitres. In 1976 construction was completed on nine radial gates in the spillway, increasing storage to its current capacity of 1,364,000 megalitres.

Later improvements

To meet modern dam safety standards, a 250 metre wide and 11 metre deep fuse plug spillway was constructed at Diamond Bay just east of the dam wall. Completed in 2013, the additional spillway will divert floodwaters around the dam in a rare and extreme flood so as to protect the dam and ensure it remains safe in an extreme flood.


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 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 12,000, 30,000 and 60,000 megalitres per day
  • Notification - Flows of XX,000 megalitres per day are being passed.

Flood of record

  • Trigger - Spillway flows of over 98,000 megalitres per day, last reached in 1995.
  • Notification - Flows of over 98,000 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 1,000 megalitres per day.
  • Notification - No notifications in this range.

Increased flows

  • Trigger - When flow increases above 1000 megalitres per day, and when they raise to 4,500 megalitres per day for the first time.
  • 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


Tuesday 17 May
2,573,926 ML
2,581,850 ML
9,342 ML
1,335 ML
50,768 ML
Tuesday 17 May
Copeton Dam
Tuesday 17 May