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Woronora Dam A gem on Sydney's southern fringe

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Status Open to Public

We regret to advise that access to the Woronora Dam lower picnic area and dam wall is closed to vehicles.

We regret to advise that access to the Woronora Dam lower picnic area and dam wall is closed to vehicles.

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Visit the Dam

Facilities

  • Drinking water
  • Barbecues
  • Parking
  • Toilets
  • Viewing areas
  • Hot Water
  • Disabled toilets
  • Picnic shelters

Don't miss the spectacular spillway cutting when you visit Woronora Dam. Catch a glimpse of the past while enjoying a picnic in picturesque surroundings. The grounds are unusual in retaining workers' cottages and old platforms, plant and machinery used in the dam's construction in the 1930s. Woronora Dam supplies water to the Sutherland Shire in Sydney's south, and to the northern suburbs of Wollongong.

Lookout points

Spillway bridge

From the upper picnic area, walk across the narrow concrete bridge which provides a spectacular view into the deep narrow cutting from the dam's spillway to the river below.

Dam wall

From the upper picnic area, walk across the spillway cutting to the lower picnic area near the dam wall, then walk across the wall for impressive views of the lake upstream and gorge downstream.

Things to do

Large Group notifictaion image and link

Opening hours

Dam grounds

10am to 5pm daily
Extended hours, 10am to 7pm, on weekends and public holidays during daylight saving time
Entry is free
No entry is permitted 15 minutes prior to closing time

Directions

View in Maps

Woronora Dam is about 50 kilometres drive from Sydney. From Sydney take the Southern Freeway south towards Wollongong. Exit at Helensburgh and then head north on the Old Princes Highway following the signs to Woronora Dam.

Facilities

  • Drinking water
  • Barbecues
  • Parking
  • Toilets
  • Viewing areas
  • Hot Water
  • Disabled toilets
  • Picnic shelters

Fishing

Restrictions

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 Woronora experience

Top 5 things to see and do

1. Don't look down if afraid of heights!

'Spectacular' is the only way to describe the view of the deep narrow cutting from the dam's spillway to the river below. Don't look down if you're afraid of heights! You can walk across the narrow concrete bridge from the upper picnic area to the lower picnic area near the dam wall. Look out for the jagged 'teeth' of the serpentine spillway. The unusual design allows more water to spill from the lake during floods.

2. Walk across the dam wall

Walk across the curved wall of the dam. It's only 390 metres to the other end! Pause halfway and admire the views of the lake upstream. To better imagine how deep the lake is, cross to the other side of the wall and look down. You're 66 metres above the ground, but the sheer drop makes it feel much higher!

3. Historic photos and dam model

Look at the display of historic photos taken during the dam's construction from 1927 to 1941. The large shelter in the upper picnic grounds also contains a scale model of the dam, lake and water filtration plant.

4. Step back in time

After checking out the photos of the dam's construction, spot the large reminders scattered throughout the dam grounds. Rare examples of water delivery technology used between the two World Wars include large pipes, roller gate, stopboards and penstocks. Remnants of construction platforms, roads and the old township also evoke the era of the dam's construction.

5. Relax with a picnic

Relax with family and friends in the landscaped grounds. Throw down a rug and picnic under a shady tree or use one of our tables or shelter sheds. Electric barbecues, drinking water and toilet facilities are located throughout the grounds. The upper picnic grounds features a boulevard of Monterey pines near the children's playground. The lower picnic grounds near the dam wall contain plantings of rock orchids and philodendrons, and remnants of decorative garden beds.

Dam Summary

66
Metres High
Length: 390 metres
Size of lake:
4 km 2
71.79 gl total operating capacity
Catchment: 75 square kilometres

Facts & History

Located about 50 kilometres south of Sydney, Woronora Dam was built between 1927 and 1941 specifically to supply water to communities south of the Georges River. It was the fifth and last of the dams built before World War II to provide a secure water supply for Sydney, prior to the construction of Warragamba Dam in 1960.

Created by damming the Woronora River, the dam today supplies water to nearby communities such as Helensburgh and Engadine, and parts of the Sutherland Shire and northern Wollongong.

Why the dam was built

Water was first supplied to Sutherland Shire in 1911 when a 15 centimetre pipe was laid from Penshurst Reservoir across the Georges River at Tom Ugly's Point to Miranda. However, growing residential, industrial and commercial development south of the Georges River required a larger water supply.

The site selected for the dam was on the Woronora River about 24 kilometres upstream of its junction with the Georges River, in a narrow gorge over 100 metres deep with steep sides of Hawkesbury sandstone.

How the dam was built

Woronora Dam is a mass gravity dam, which means it remains in position under its own weight. Its lower levels are built of cyclopean masonry - massive sandstone blocks quarried on site. The main wall is made from blue metal and gravel concrete.

The dam has a separate, serpentine spillway that discharges floodwater through a concrete lined cutting into the river downstream of the dam.

Construction began in 1927 but stopped for four years during the Great Depression of the 1930s, forcing workers to look elsewhere for employment until the project started again. The dam was finally completed in 1941.

Some families had strong ties to the history of Sydney's dams, moving from the Nepean project to Woronora and then to Warragamba. Other workers on Woronora Dam were former coal miners from nearby Helensburgh.

Workers' accommodation was basic but functional, with small bungalows built of fibro and placed on brick or concrete piers on the sloping ground.

Later improvements

To meet modern dam safety standards, Woronora Dam was upgraded in 1988 with a system of drains in the wall and foundations.

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