Wingecarribee Reservoir Central to water supply in the HighlandsView Map
Visit the Dam
- Drinking water
- Disabled toilets
- Picnic tables
Wingecarribee Reservoir is about 10 kilometres south-east of Bowral on the Wingecarribee River. It's unique for the ancient peat swamp immediately upstream of the reservoir, which is a habitat for several endangered species. The reservoir supplies the nearby towns of Bowral and Mittagong, and is part of the Shoalhaven Scheme which during drought also tops up Sydney and Illawarra water supplies. Goulburn can also be supplied with water from Wingecarribee Reservoir.
From the picnic grounds enjoy scenic rural views and views of the nearby reservoir and Wingecarribee Swamp in the distance.
Things to do
- Picnic in the reservoir grounds Download map
- Visit nearby Fitzroy Falls Reservoir Reservoir details
- Visit nearby Bendeela Recreation Area Bendeela details
- Visit nearby Tallowa Dam Tallowa Dam details
- Visit NPWS Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre Visitor Centre details
Open 24 hours a day, all year round
DirectionsView in Maps
Wingecarribee Reservoir is about 130 kilometres drive from Sydney. From Sydney, follow the Hume Highway (F5) south towards Goulburn and take the Mittagong to Bowral turnoff. Take the Nowra Road towards Kangaroo Valley. The reservoir is about 10 kilometres south-east of Bowral.
- Drinking water
- Disabled toilets
- Picnic tables
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:
- No wood, charcoal or solid fuel barbecues. Penalties of up to $5,500 apply
- Portable gas barbecues are permitted (except during total fire bans)
- No fishing, boating or swimming
- No camping
- No dogs, horses or other pets
- No model aircraft or drones
- No access allowed to restricted and Special Areas
- No smoking within 10 metres of children's playgrounds and four metres of shelters, toilets and public buildings
- Keep to vehicle speed limits and be aware of pedestrians
Recreation Areas at WaterNSW dams will be closed on ALL Total Fire Ban days.
The Wingecarribee experience
Top 3 things to see and do
1. Spot the peat barriers
To protect the spillway from floating peat blocks, two new barriers were installed in the reservoir in 2012 - one in front of the spillway, and one further away in the reservoir. In the distance you can spot the edge of Wingecarribee Swamp, a unique habitat for several endangered species. Part of the swamp collapsed during a storm in 1998, detaching large blocks of peat which now float in the reservoir. In fact, nine million cubic metres of peat swamp moved into the reservoir, displacing nine billion litres of water or around one quarter of the storage!
2. Take a break and enjoy a picnic
The picnic area is a great spot to take a break from your car journey. Stretch your legs and enjoy the peaceful rural scenery. Or throw down a rug and enjoy a picnic. There are picnic tables, shady trees and toilets.
3. Visit nearby Fitzroy Falls Reservoir, Bendeela Recreation Area, Morton National Park and Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre
Enjoy the recreational activities available nearby - camping, canoeing, swimming and fishing at Bendeela Recreation Area, canoeing, swimming and fishing at Tallowa Dam, and fishing at Fitzroy Falls Reservoir. Or head further south to explore the lush escarpment country of the Southern Highlands between Robertson and Nowra, including spectacular Fitzroy Falls and Morton National Park.
Facts & History
Located about 130 kilometres south of Sydney, Wingecarribee Reservoir is on the Upper Wingecarribee River about 10 kilometres south-east of Bowral. The earth and rockfill dam was completed in 1974 as part of the Shoalhaven Scheme.
Wingecarribee Reservoir lost around 9,000 megalitres of storage capacity as a result of the inflow of peat from Wingecarribee Swamp. This large peat swamp upstream filters water from the 40 square kilometre catchment area of rural lands feeding the reservoir.
Prior to its partial collapse during a storm in 1998, the Wingecarribee Swamp was considered one of the best examples of montane peatland in mainland Australia. It is still an important ecosystem and home to threatened species, including the giant dragonfly and the Wingecarribee leek orchid.
Why the Shoalhaven Scheme was built
Plans for a water supply in the Shoalhaven first arose at the end of World War I, but it was not until 1968 that the Water Board consulted the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority about the longer-term water needs of Sydney and the south coast. There was concern that Warragamba Dam, which had opened only eight years earlier, might not be enough to meet Sydney's water supply needs by the mid-1970s.
The advice was to proceed with the Shoalhaven Scheme. Construction of Tallowa Dam began in 1971 and was completed in 1976. Construction also commenced on reservoirs on the coastal range above Fitzroy Falls, and on the Upper Wingecarribee River. Wingecarribee and Fitzroy Falls reservoirs were completed in 1974.
Water from Tallowa Dam, Wingecarribee and Fitzroy Falls reservoirs, is now used to supply local communities and supplement Sydney and Illawarra water supplies during drought. Power generation involves regular exchange of stored waters between Lake Yarrunga, Bendeela Pondage and Fitzroy Falls Reservoir.
How the Shoalhaven Scheme works
The Shoalhaven Scheme is unique in Sydney's water supply, designed as a dual-purpose water transfer and hydro-electric power generation scheme.
Water pumped from the Shoalhaven Scheme is mostly collected from the Tallowa Dam catchment of 5,750 square kilometres. Wingecarribee and Fitzroy Falls reservoirs have relatively small catchment areas totalling only 70 square kilometres.
Water from the Shoalhaven Scheme provides water to the local Southern Highlands and Goulburn communities. It can also be fed into Warragamba Dam and the Upper Nepean dams to top-up the Sydney and Illawarra water supplies.
From Wingecarribee Reservoir water can be released into the Wingecarribee River, which flows into the Wollondilly River and Lake Burragorang to feed the main Sydney supply system via Warragamba Dam. Water can also be released from Wingecarribee Reservoir via canals and pipelines (collectively known as Glenquarry Cut) into the Nepean River which flows into Nepean Dam. From there it can be transferred to Sydney via the Upper Canal or to the Illawarra region via the Nepean-Avon tunnel or pumping station to Avon Dam.
As well as supplementing water supply, the Shoalhaven Scheme also supplies water to local communities. Wingecarribee Reservoir supplies Bowral and Mittagong via Wingecarribee Shire Council's water filtration plant next to the reservoir. Goulburn can also be supplied with water from Wingecarribee Reservoir in drought times. Kangaroo Valley township is supplied from Shoalhaven City Council's treatment plant, which draws water from Bendeela Pondage. Water is also released from Tallowa Dam into the Shoalhaven River so that Shoalhaven City Council can extract water from the river to supply Nowra.
The Shoalhaven Scheme hydro-electric power generation involves pumping water up the system between Lake Yarrunga and Fitzroy Falls Reservoir using off-peak electricity. Some of that water is then released back down the system to generate electricity during periods of peak demand. The power is fed into the state-wide transmission grid through the Canberra-Dapto transmission line.
To meet modern dam safety standards, in 2012 two new peat barriers were installed and the dam wall was upgraded. The barriers help stabilise the peat blocks and prevent them from drifting towards the reservoir spillway.