Spilling Dams

We tried to capture four of Sydney’s dams spilling due to recent heavy rain.

In late March 2022, the Australian East Coast suffered the second of a period of heavy rain which caused flooding in some areas. The heavy rains also caused all the dams in Sydney’s water supply network to reach maximum capacity, and they began to spill water downstream. We visited four dams in one day to capture the spilling (Avon Dam, unfortunately, was closed, possibly because the access was blocked by flood damage).

Some would say we were stupid or crazy. Indeed, we were questioning our own sanity as we drove out in torrential rain under flood warning conditions.

This is Nepean Dam, and indeed it was spilling gloriously. We met some Sydney Water workers checking for water quality there. They said the dam was over full by 0.2m but last week it was 3m! Tried to capture the spill waterfall but it was very elusive. We ventured into the bush off a service road based on a tip from one of the workers.

Next up is Cordeaux Dam. I’ve always liked this dam with the Egyptian design and the very accessible and dramatic spillway.

This is Cataract Dam, the oldest of the Nepean Scheme dams and built to look like a castle. The spillway is definitely in use, but even more impressive is the valve release shooting a jet of water into the river.

The final dam in our tour is Woronora Dam. We reached Woronora Dam just as the weather was clearing. Unfortunately, the dam was closed, but we were able to capture shots of the spillway, which is magnificent. It’s a serpentine design followed by a step cascade into a narrow gorge cut from the hill. It almost looks like something out of a science fiction movie.

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Posted by Chris Tham

Chris Tham is a co-founder of Visual Voyager Pty Ltd, the Principal VoigtlƤnder Ambassador for Mainline Photographics and a Workshop Instructor for Mainline Photo Academy. She brings over 35 years of experience as a photographer to her role, starting with a Yashica rangefinder belonging to her dad, joining the Photography Club in school, and developing her own photos. More recently, Chris has been taking photos during her travels, and as a result has experienced some of the most interesting places in the world. Chris focuses on nature, street, and urban architecture subjects in her photography.