Woodford DamView Map
Visit the Dam
Woodford Dam is a rare example of a dam planned to supply water to steam trains in the 1920s but converted during design to supply local residents as well as the railways. The dam is no longer an active part of the Blue Mountains water supply system. Some bush tracks near the dam are now open to bushwalkers and cyclists, and provide views of the lake and surrounding rugged bushland.
Some areas of the Woodford catchment are now open for restricted recreational use.
Walkers and cyclists can use designated tracks within the Woodford Special Area. Walkers and cyclists must use only those trails permitted for access. Not all the area is open for use as the Woodford catchments remains a Schedule 1 Special Area.
The Woodford Dam wall and lake are not open to the public .
Views of the dam and lake are available from nearby bush tracks.
Things to do
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 camping
- No pets, as the lands are part of the Blue Mountains National Park
- No motorcycles or horses on the walking tracks
- No model aircraft or drones
- No access allowed to restricted and Special Areas
- No access to Woodford Dam or Lake Woodford
Recreation Areas at WaterNSW dams will be closed on ALL Total Fire Ban days.
Facts & History
Located about 80 kilometres west of Sydney, Woodford Creek Dam is on Woodford Creek, just north of the Blue Mountains villages of Woodford and Linden.
It was the third of the dams built as part of the development of the Blue Mountains water supply and one of a series of dams built to supply water to steam engines.
The dam also supplied water to communities from Linden to Emu Plains. Today, the dam is no longer used as a water supply.
Why the dam was built
Explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth reached present-day Hazelbrook on 20 May 1813, as part of their famous journey which was the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by Europeans. The following year, Governor Macquarie commissioned a cart road to the west and soon staging posts were built where permanent water was found.
Between 1867 and 1876 the railway was extended from Penrith to Bathurst. Steam locomotives need water, so the Department of Railways built several weirs and dams to supply steam trains as they crossed the mountains.
Construction of water supply dams followed. Some were re-purposed from railway supply dams, like Woodford Creek, and others like the Cascade dams and Lake Medlow, were purpose-built to supply local residents. Construction spanned many years - from the first Cascade Dam in 1905, to Woodford Creek Dam in 1928, and Greaves Creek Dam in 1942.
How the dam was built
Woodford Creek Dam began as a small weir across Bull's Creek, built in 1884 to supply water to steam trains at Linden Railway Station. Responding to concerns of local residents for a more reliable water supply, in 1917 the Department of Public Works proposed a concrete arch dam in the Woodford catchment - on the junction of Woodford Creek and Bulls Creek.
The Department of Railways began designing the new dam in 1927, to supply more water to stream trains, but adapted it for local water supply during the design stage. Construction was completed in 1928.
Woodford Creek Dam is an impressive structure, with its relatively thin wall standing between the lake to the south and the void and valley floor to the north. The lake stretches back from the wall in two long arms, each about one kilometre long, along the course of Woodford and Bull's creeks. The curved concrete wall is faced with brick. A steel walkway runs across the top of the dam.
The completion of Woodford Creek Dam was a significant step in providing a reliable water supply for the lower Blue Mountains. The dam supplied communities from Linden to Emu Plains with water treated at the Linden water filtration plant.
Sydney Water no longer takes water from Woodford Dam, and the lower Blue Mountains is now supplied with water from Warragamba Dam treated at the Orchard Hills water filtration plant.
How the Blue Mountains gets its water
Water in the Blue Mountains is delivered in a complex network of pipes that can source water from within and outside the Blue Mountains catchments - a small group of bushland valleys covering a combined 19 square kilometres.
The catchments feed water to Greaves Creek and Lake Medlow dams, and the three Cascade dams at Katoomba. These five dams provide water for the Cascade water filtration plant, which supplies residents in the middle and upper Blue Mountains. Woodford Creek Dam is no longer part of the Blue Mountains water supply.
The Cascade plant can be supplemented when needed with water from Oberon Dam or Duckmaloi Weir in the Fish River Scheme, west of the Great Dividing Range at Oberon.
Water from the Fish River Scheme can top up the Upper Cascades Dam, or go directly to Sydney Water's filtration plant at Cascades Dam. This gives WaterNSW and Sydney Water maximum flexibility to source the best quality water, as well as providing a supplementary water supply during periods of low rainfall or maintenance.
Residents in the lower mountains are supplied with water from Warragamba Dam, treated at the Orchard Hills water filtration plant, which also supplies the Penrith area.