Junction Reefs Dam, Land in the vicinity of | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Junction Reefs Dam, Land in the vicinity of

Item details

Name of item: Junction Reefs Dam, Land in the vicinity of
Other name/s: Belubula Dam
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Cultural
Category: Historic Landscape
Location: Lat: -33.6203016465 Long: 148.9919033840
Primary address: Belubula River, Lyndhurst, NSW 2797
Parish: Belubula
County: Bathurst
Local govt. area: Blayney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Orange
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT7006 DP1019813
PART LOT7007 DP1019813
PART LOT7012 DP102114
PART LOT253 DP614596
LOT156 DP750359
PART LOT200 DP750359
PART LOT211 DP750359
LOT232 DP750359
PART LOT260 DP750359
PART LOT101 DP750393
PART LOT99 DP750393
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Belubula RiverLyndhurstBlayneyBelubulaBathurstPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Department of Planning and InfrastructureState Government11 May 98

Statement of significance:

Industrial archaeological in Australia provides an important record of the occupations and commercial activity of European incomers from the earliest days of settlement to the present. Looking at the industrial archaeological can provide insight into events which shaped the development and characteristics of this area of NSW. The Central Western Region was one of the first major inland areas of NSW to be settled and its archaeological provides a physical adjunct to the historical record. This is particularly true of the industrial remains, through which the process of transfer and adaptation of English technologies to Australian conditions can be documented.

Junction Reefs Dam was built as a direct result of the gold rush in this area. Its purpose was to provide hydropower to allow gold extraction [to] continue in the Lyndhurst goldfield on a more constant basis. Gold rushes had an enormous effect on the landscape, where ever they happened; from the physical appearance of the surrounding environment, to the increase of capital, in terms of both personal and public profit and expenditure on infrastructure and buildings, to the establishment and demise of communities.

Junction Reefs Dam was the first multi-arched dam to be built in Australia, in 1897 and is unique to New South Wales (Manson 1998).

Junction Reefs Dam is assessed as being of high state significance.

(Source: Heritage Concepts. 2005. Statement of Heritage Impact Junction Reefs Dam Belubula River Mandurama, NSW:31-32).
Date significance updated: 16 Feb 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Oscar Shulze
Builder/Maker: Oscar Shulze
Construction years: 1897-1896
Physical description: The dimensions of the Belubula Dam are as follows - Its total length along the crest, including bye-wash, is 431 feet, which is not curved but straight on plan; the greatest height of the structure at the deepest foundation is 60 feet; the height of the brickwork 36 feet 9 inches; the height of the rugged contour of the bed rock. As has already been stated there are six buttresses, 28 feet apart from the centre to centre, each 40 feet long, 12 feet wide on top at the end where they outer end. The front wall of the foundations increase slightly in thickness downwards. On top of these foundations the buttressess were carried up as brick-masonry, each forming a sextant of a circle of 36 feet 2 inches radius and decreasing in thickness from the centre towards the circumference from 8 feet 6 inches to 4 feet. These buttresses serve as piers for the support of five brick arches of elliptical shape which decrease in thickness upwards, from 4 feet thick at the foot to 1 foot 7 inches on top, and have a lean of 60 degree. The spandrils between these arches were faced flush with concrete which covers the crown of the arches were faced flush with concrete which covers the crown of the arches 12 inches thick, thus making the arches 2 feet 7 inches thick at the thinnest part. On each side of this central portion of the dam the ground rises, and the wall was continued about 100 feet long, up and into the hill sides to firm rock faces, as concrete masonry, with the same batter of 60 degree in front ( that is on the water side) as the arches part, but almost vertical at the back, the width on top being 2 feet.

The whole of the dam proper measures thus 347 feet in length and shows a straight, uniformly battered, cemented face on the water side, while the back is ribbed, and shows five chambers under the overhanging archs between the buttresses. A bye-wash was constructed in the extension of the dam on the east side, 65 feet wide, divided into five sluice openings, and a wing wall was built on rock foundation to lead the water away clear of the dam. Allowance was also made for accasional extreme flood waters to run over the dam between the buttresses. The race which was left open during construction, being arched over, will serve permanently as an emergency outlet, for which purpose a projection was built out form the main wall with a 5 feet well in it, through which the reservoir can be emptied to the level of th service pipe, into the gorge. This well is usually kept closed by a wooden lid 12 inches in thickness, which can be raised by means of a hydraulic ram of 50 tons power, worked by a pump placed at the back of the wall. The service outlet was carried through the main wall by a 24 inch cast- iron pipe, the entrance of which was formed by a tapering and rising brick culvert. The vertical opening of that culvert, together with that of the emergency outlet and of two 6 inch flushing pipes, is enclosed by a wooden grating built in the shape of a step roof and surounded by a sediment basin, which was formed by building an earth dam across the river bed above the dam, which, during the construction, served for diverting the river from the work as required.

The dam contains in its construction about 6000 yards of concrete and 500,000 bricks, together with which 5000 casks of cement were used. The comparatively small amount of cement wer used. The comparatively small amount of cement is accounted for by the fact that large boulders were placed in the concrete wherever practicable to the extent of one-fifth to one third of its bulk. The total cost of the dam was under 9000. In order to secure the reservoir against gradual silting up, it will be necessary to construct a cribwork across the valley at its upper end, for which purpose a number of she-oak trees were left standing there in the river bed and they will serve as supports for the cribwork. All the other timber in the area of the reservoir was cleared away. (Shulze 1897)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. (Manson 1998)
Date condition updated:01 Jul 98
Further information: The Dam is located on Crown Land currently under the control of the Candobolas Regional Reserve Park Trust. It is to be hoped that when the current mining lease expires the reserve can be opened to the public under the care of (a live on site) caretaker. There is potential to establish a viable mining visitor centre in conjunction with picnic grounds changing an entry fee for maintenance works. (Manson 1998)
Former use: Supply Hydro Power for the reduction and concentration of ore.


Historical notes: The Junction Reefs area on the Belubula River near Manurama has been the site of intermittent gold production since 1870. Belubula Dam was built in 1896 in a deep narrow ravine at an altitude of about 61m above the crushing mill and was completed in nine months. It was built with day labour about 40 men strong. Under the personal supervision of the eminent civil engineer Oscar Schulze.

This arched dam was the first of its type constructed in Australia anhd Schultz was one of the few Australian visionaries. He advocated improved windmills and waterwheels for heavy industry and campaigned against the use of steam gas and petroleum engines when alternative energy was available. Power derived from the natural elements still has its critics and engineers who advocate non-fossil based power are still regarded as mere dreamers. The vested interests of fuel consuming machines are too strong to allow an objective view. Schultz's dream of alternative energy for heavy industry is yet to come.

Junction Reefs Dam and its hydro system gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his theories and apply them to the mining industry. Although since his day we have travelled some way towards this goal.

After the dam was completed he delivered a paper to the Australian Institute of Mining Engineers at Melbourne in 1897. He elaborated on his theory and enunciated how the final design for the dam evolved. The brick buttress was the accepted design as it was the cheapest of the furable designes and was the quickest to build. Good brickmakers clay was on the northern bank adjacent to the dam site. Once built the water backed up the river 2 kilometres and impounded 2ml and would keep the machinery running for three months if the river ever stopped running, which seldom happened. (Manson 1998)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of mining-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for gold-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
From a civil engineering point of view it is highly significant as the first multi-arch dam built in Australia. From a mining engineering aspect it is historically significant where hydro power was converted to mechanical power in processing ore. (Manson 1998)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The dam is aesthetically significant because of the graceful design utilising arches and brick curved buttresses. (Manson 1998)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The designer was a visionary who appreciated the value of alternative energy sources ie; hydro power versus expensive non renewable coal, wood or oil powered systems. He was strong willed enough to proceed with his ideas even though criticised by his fellow engineers. (Manson 1998)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
It has the potential to reveal information about dam building techniques and the utilisation of hydro power versus steam, oil/diesel power. (Manson 1998)
SHR Criteria f)
The dam is unique to NSW, and was the first of its type built in Australia. (Manson 1998)
SHR Criteria g)
The dam forms part of the classic history of development and advancement in mining engineering technology in the area and for all Australia. (Manson 1998)
Integrity/Intactness: Although the water body storage is manly silted up the dam wall is in excellent condition. 102 years after construction (especially after restoration works complete). Remains of associated mining machinery in vicinity. (Manson 1998)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
* The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
* Pasture improvement, not requiring substantial clearing of existing vegetation;
* Maintenance and repair of existing farm fences and the provision of internal subdivision fences;
* Eradication of noxious plants and animals. (Weed species in natural areas to be removed either by manual means or treated by spot application of herbicide to avoid affects on native vegetation);
* Maintenance and repairs of existing access roads;
* Horticultural and agricultural management.
Sep 24 1986
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
* The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing materials.
* Pasture improvement, not requiring substantial clearing of existing vegetation.
* Maintenance and repair of existing farm fences and the provision of internal subdivision fences;
* Eradication of noxious plants and animals (weed species in natural areas to be removed either by
manual means or treated by spot application of herbicide to avoid effects on native vegetation).
* Maintenance and repair of existing access roads.
* Horticultural and agricultural management.
* Exploration for mineralisation by Climax Management Pty Limited or its associated companies, providing it does not affect the relics listed in the schedule and as shown on the plan HC 1754, and notification is given to the Manager, Heritage Branch. If this activity is within 100 metres of the Junctyion Reefs Dam, approval by the Manager, Heritage Branch to be obtained, subject to recommendations made by an independent report - consultant to be approved by the land owners and the Manager, Heritage Branch - on the structural stability of the dam, and the effect that the proposed activities may have on the dam.
* Upgrading of the existing Crown Land track and causeway for use as a haul road, subject to compliance with necessary statutory requirements, including the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979.
* That in the event that exploration identifies ore deposits, approval will be given to underground mining subject to demonstration that it will not cause damage to relics shown on the plan of the proposed PCO and compliance with necessary statutory requirements.
Aug 18 1989
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0070202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0070218 Aug 89 0895755
National Trust of Australia register  309605 Mar 79   
Register of the National Estate  25 Aug 81   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenD.A. Manson1998NSW State Heritage Inventory Form
WrittenGeolyse Pty Ltd2006Review of Environmental Factors Junction Reefs Dam Remedial Works
WrittenHeritage Concepts Pty Ltd2006Conservation Management Plan Junction Reefs Dam Belubula River, Mandurama, NSW
WrittenHeritage Concepts Pty Ltd2006Statement of Heritage Impact Junction Reefs Dam Belubula River Mandurama, NSW (revised report)
WrittenHeritage Concepts Pty Ltd2005Statement of Heritage Impact Junction Reefs Dam Belubula River Mandurama, NSW
WrittenMaurice Morrison1989Mountains of Gold
WrittenOscar Schulze1897Paper No 52 Notes on the Belubula Dam Australia, Institute of Mining Engineers
WrittenW.L.P.U. Consultants (Aust) Pty Ltd1987Climax Management Pty Ltd Sheehan - grants project report on survey of Belubula Dam Rep,210/5,Nov.1987

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5001347
File number: S90/03622

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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