Secrets of the Special Areas

Secrets of the Special Areas

Secrets of the Special Areas is a photographic journey into the protected lands surrounding our water supply dams. These areas not only help protect our drinking water but also provide a haven for native plants and animals including many endangered species. Our photographer and catchment officers trekked across knife-edge escarpments, through rainforests and wetlands, saw all sorts of birds and insects, and captured images that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the Warragamba and Metropolitan catchments.

  1. Secrets of the Special Areas

    Secrets of the Special Areas: A photographic journey into the catchments that protect our water quality

    This exhibition features 50 photographs taken in WaterNSW's Special Areas – the important lands that protect Greater Sydney's water supplies.

    The photos were taken over five days in March 2013, and involved traversing over 600km of fire-trails under the guidance of three senior catchment officers, who collectively have over 100 years of experience working in the Special Areas. The images celebrate the beauty, diversity and conservation values of the Warragamba and Metropolitan catchments.

  2. Photographer

    Blue Mountains-based photographer Adam Hollingworth has worked professionally for 20 years. Adam started his career with Fairfax Regional Newspapers on The Penrith Star newspaper before graduating to News Ltd at the Daily Telegraph and Australian.

    In 1999 Adam became a freelance photographer and a weekly contributor to The Sun-Herald and Sydney Morning Herald. He has covered major news and sporting events in metropolitan and regional Australia and worked internationally for The Guardian newspaper and The Wall Street Journal.

    Adam has exhibited nationally and been a finalist in the Head On portrait prize and runner up in The Olive Cotton Award.

  3. What's so Special about the Special Areas?

    We are lucky to have access to some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. This is because when the water supply systems for Greater Sydney were designed over 100 years ago the authorities had the foresight to create special protection areas around each of the water storages.

    These protection zones, known as Special Areas, limit the types of access and activities in these parts of the catchments, which helps keep pollutants and contaminants out of our water supply.

  4. Schedule 1 Areas

    Schedule 1 Special Areas are the lands immediately around the Warragamba, Metropolitan, Woronora, Wingecarribee and Blue Mountains water storages.

    To protect water quality entry is not generally allowed to the Schedule 1 Special Areas, on foot or by vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, bicycles and horses.

  5. Schedule 2 Areas

    Schedule 2 Special Areas form a second tier buffer zone around Lake Burragorang in the Warragamba catchment. Schedule 2 lands also include the Shoalhaven and Fitzroy Falls Special Areas.

    No vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, bicycles and horses, are permitted in Schedule 2 lands. Bushwalking and camping is allowed.

    For more information on what you can and can't do in the Special Areas request a copy of the Special Areas map (also available on the publications page) or visit the Managing Special Areas web page.

  6. A Noah's Ark of biodiversity

    The Special Areas have been sealed off from major human impacts since catchment restrictions were introduced when the dams were built. The areas have become biological treasure troves of conservation and contain some of the most varied habitats in NSW including rainforests, dry sclerophyll forests, exposed plateaus, freshwater swamps and flood plains.

    Animals living in the Special Areas include grey kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, wombats, microbats, possums and an almost pure strain of dingo. The lands also provide refuge to threatened species such as brush-tailed rock wallabies, long-nosed potaroos, powerful owls, platypus, squirrel gliders, tiger quolls and koalas.

  7. Caring for the Special Areas

    Despite being natural environments, the Special Areas don't just look after themselves. A lot of care, protection and knowledge goes into maintaining our catchment to protect the quality of our drinking water.

    Here are just some of the ways WaterNSW and our partners from the National Parks and Wildlife Service care for our catchments:

    • fire management
    • pest and weed control
    • water quality monitoring
    • compliance
    • soil and erosion control
    • fire trail maintenance
    • scientific research
    • maintaining Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage

    WaterNSW is proud to have many staff who share a deep commitment and passion for the catchments. Through their knowledge, stewardship and decades of experience we strive for healthy catchments and quality water.


Thursday 09 July
2,077,049 ML
2,581,850 ML
8,809 ML
1,259 ML
-8,127 ML
Thursday 09 July