Egyptian inspired Dam with lake views, picnic spots and great photo opportunities

April 7, 2020: In response the ongoing public health emergency and to support social distancing measures, ALL WaterNSW Dams and Recreation areas will be closed to public access until further notice. Please check the WaterNSW website for updates.

Located just off the Hume Highway near Bargo and a mere hour or so drive from Sydney City is the historic and beautiful Avon Dam.

Avon Dam is Sydney’s second largest dam after Warragamba and supplies water to the Illawarra region. It stands a tall 72 meters high and 223 meters long with a catchment area measuring 142 square kilometers. The Dam construction was completed in 1927 featuring a curved wall built using cyclopean masonry consisting of sandstone blocks. A tunnel linking Avon and Nepean dams was completed in 1973.

Avon Dam has a unique Egyptian vibe making for fantastic photos and backdrop for a picnic. Visitors can also enjoy views of the lake accessed from the lower car park and along the pathway to the serpentine spillway.

Top 5 things to do at Avon Dam

1.Be photographed in Egypt!

Stand under one of the massive stone gateways at either end of the dam wall and have your photo taken. Your friends may think you’ve been on holidays in Egypt! The gates were inspired by the popularity of all things Egyptian following the discovery of King Tutenkhamun’s tomb in 1922. Construction of Avon Dam started in 1921 and was completed in 1927.

2.Walk across the dam wall

After your photo under the Egyptian style gateway, walk across the curved wall of the dam. It’s 223 metres to the other end, and you’re 72 metres above the river below. Pause halfway and admire the views of the lake upstream. Look downstream and you’ll see the rockfill embankment built in the 1970s to strengthen the wall.

3.Step back in time

Be on the lookout for reminders of the dam’s glory days as a picnic spot in the 1930s and 1940s, when Upper Nepean dams competed for the most beautiful gardens. Avon Dam retains remnant features that evoke images of an Egyptian revival landscape. As you walk from the dam wall to the viewing area near the spillway, keep an eye out for remnants of fountains and ponds to your left, and an old fernery to your right.

4.Soak up the views

Elevated paths and the dam wall provide excellent views of the lake in its natural bushland setting. Avon Dam draws water from a catchment of 142 square kilometres of mostly protected bushland. Look out for the jagged teeth of the serpentine spillway. The unusual design allows more water to spill from the lake during floods.

5.Relax with a picnic

Relax with family and friends in the landscaped grounds. Throw down a rug and enjoy a picnic – you’re sitting on the site where the dam builders lived. Electric barbeques, drinking water, picnic tables and toilet facilities are located throughout the grounds. There’s a children’s playground at the top picnic ground, and a row of older-style picnic shelters closer to the dam walk and lake.