Burrinjuck Dam | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Burrinjuck Dam

Item details

Name of item: Burrinjuck Dam
Other name/s: Barren Jack Dam, Barrenjack
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Utilities - Water
Category: Water Supply Reservoir/ Dam
Location: Lat: -35.0026934787 Long: 148.5833729450
Primary address: , Burrinjuck, NSW 2582
Parish: Childowla
County: Harden
Local govt. area: Yass Valley
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Brungle/Tumut
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 BurrinjuckYass ValleyChildowlaHardenPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
State WatersState Government 

Statement of significance:

This Dam is a fascinating example of how applied modern technology has been used to meet the demand of a expanding rural area. The dam was part of a larger system of weirs and controls providing water for the government-sponsored Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme which enabled agriculture to expand in the area. It is the first major water storage built specially for irrigation purposes in NSW. The dam is also part of the State's first hydro-electric scheme. (DLWC S170 Register)
Date significance updated: 06 Dec 00
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: L.A.B. Wade (PWD)
Builder/Maker: Lane & Peters, Sydney
Construction years: 1907-1927
Physical description: Burrinjuck Dam is situated on the Murrumbidgee River 60km by road from Yass in southern NSW. The dam is part of a larger system of weirs and controls which include that of Blowering Dam and Berembed Weir. Burrinjuck Dam provides water supplies for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area which has a combination of licensed agricultural, irrigation and stock use, with also town and domestic users. Apart from acting in a regulatory role the dam can also pass water through its 10 megawatt hydro-electric power station thus becoming a very fast and clean supply of electricity.
The Dam is a steel reinforced cyclopean concrete gravitation dam. Large rocks known as granite plums were mixed with cyclopean concrete during construction as a cost saving measure. The dam is approximately 93m high and 340m wide, and stores more than 1,026,000 ML of water. Link to the dam is a pump house, left and right spillways and a hydro electric power generation system. (DLWC S170 Register)
Modifications and dates: 1907-1927: Dam construction
1940-1957: Remedial works
1980: Dam height increased
Current use: Hydro-electric Dam
Former use: Hydro-electric Dam


Historical notes: Burrinjuck Dam, originally called Barren Jack Dam, was a significant part of the scheme launched under the Barren Jack and Murrumbidgee Canals Construction Act 1906. The dam is the first major water storage built specially for irrigation purposes in NSW. It provided water for the large government-sponsored Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme which enabled agriculture to expand in the area. The dam was also part of the State's first hydro-electric sheme. At the time of its contruction, the dam attracted international interest as the 4th largest in the world. In 1911 the dam's name changed from Barren Jack to Burrinjuck. The dam was designed by the Department of Public Works. Work began in 1907 and was completed in 1927. Following major flooding in 1929, substantial remedial works commenced in 1940 but were interrupted between 1941-47 by WW2. The remedial and strengthening works which included enlargement of the southern spillway were completed in 1957. Circa 1980, further upgrading work to secure the dam against once-in-100,000 year flood was carried out. The height of the dam's wall was increased by some 13.4m, the new wall crest bolted down to its foundations by post-tensioned steel cables. The innovative technoogy attracted engineering attention. (DLWC S170 Register)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Recommended management:

Preparation of a Conservation Management Plan is highly recommended. Conserve and maintain in accordance with the Burra Charter. (DLWC S170 Register)

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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 0095802 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Land & Water Conservation Section 170 Register199585154Heritage Group: State Projects  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Burrinjuck Dam View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Burrinjuck Dam View detail

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: 5012041
File number: H00/00368; S95/00332 [S170]

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