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Cataract dam is located on the Cataract River, a tributary of the Nepean River, just below the junction with the Loddon River. By June 1903 much of the area to be submerged had already been cleared of timber.


For the first time in Australia, pre-cast moulded concrete blocks were used to build the upstream face of the dam. They were hauled to the site from an open factory on the banks of the Loddon River. Cement and other supplies were delivered to the site by steam tractors hauling trailer trains over rough-made roads from Campbelltown, about 16 kilometres away.


The dam was completed in 1907 and cost about $1.3 million. When Cataract filled to capacity for the first time in January 1911, it soon became clear that the spillway needed to be widened to prevent any risk of floodwater overtopping the dam wall. This work was completed in 1915. During a large flood in 1968, the water level rose 1.5 metres overnight reaching 75 millimetres below the walkways across the wall. About 150 million litres of water were discharged out of the old spillway.


Cataract Dam is a straight dam with an unlined side spillway extending from the left abutment. The weathering of the sandstone on Cataract, together with its stone battlements, has made it one of the most picturesque dams in Sydney. In 1987 Cataract Dam was strengthened by installing post-tensioned anchors at a cost of $13.2 million.


    Height: 56 metres

    Length: 247 metres

    Capacity: 94,300 megalitres

    Catchment: 130 square kilometres

    Lake: 8.5 square kilometres


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Destinations to explore near Cataract Dam

Photos Courtesy Scott Westlake Photography

Distance & direction from Sydney: 96 Klms S SE

Cataract Dam Road, Appin

 Tel: 1300 722 468

Cataract Dam

Historic Site, New South Wales

Cataract Dam during construction - C1903 - 1907

Courtesy: Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society

Constructed of  Basalt concrete faced sandstone blocks

Courtesy: Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society