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Burdekin Dam
CSIRO ScienceImage 10816 Spillway at the Burdekin Falls Dam.jpg
Burdekin Dam, 2009
Burdekin Dam is located in Queensland
Burdekin Dam
Location of the Burdekin Dam wall in Queensland
Official name Burdekin Falls Dam
Country Australia
Location North Queensland
Coordinates 20°38′33″S 147°08′27″E / 20.64250°S 147.14083°E / -20.64250; 147.14083
Purpose Irrigation
Opening date 1987
Owner(s) SunWater
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Gravity dam
Impounds Burdekin River
Height 55 m (180 ft)
Length 876 m (2,874 ft)
Dam volume 1,860,000×10^3 m3 (66,000×10^6 cu ft)
Spillways 1
Spillway type Uncontrolled
Spillway capacity 64,600 m3/s (2,280,000 cu ft/s)
Creates Lake Dalrymple
Total capacity 1,860,000 ML (410×10^9 imp gal; 490×10^9 US gal)
Catchment area 114,220 km2 (44,100 sq mi)
Surface area 22,400 ha (55,000 acres)
Maximum water depth 40 m (130 ft)
Normal elevation 154 m (505 ft)

The Burdekin Dam, officially the Burdekin Falls Dam, is a concrete gravity dam with an uncontrolled spillway across the Burdekin River, located south west of Ayr, and Home Hill in North Queensland, Australia. Built for the purpose of irrigation, the reservoir, called Lake Dalrymple. Burdekin Dam is managed by SunWater. Water from the reservoir is also used to replenish downstream aquifers.

Location and features

The dam wall is 876 metres (2,874 ft) long and has a 504-metre (1,654 ft) spillway, and a drop of 37 metres (121 ft). The reservoir holds 1,860,000 megalitres (410×10^9 imp gal; 490×10^9 US gal) at full capacity. The design allows for future storage capacity increases and potential for hydro-electricity generation.

The catchment area for the dam extends north to the Seaview Range west of Ingham, south to the Drummond Range near Alpha through the Suttor and Belyando Rivers, southeast to the coastal ranges west of Mackay, and west beyond Charters Towers to the Lolworth, Montgomery and Stopem Blockem Ranges through the Clarke River.


Construction of the dam began in 1984. It was completed by Leighton Contractors in 1987 and is the largest dam in the state, with a capacity four times that of Sydney Harbour. Burdekin Dam filled after the wet season in 1988.


The Burdekin River Irrigation Area was granted approval in 1980. It is Queensland's largest land and water conservation scheme. In 2007, the scheme was supplying 103,000 ha of land located about 200 kilometres (120 mi) inland from Townsville with water to grow a range of crops including sugar cane, cotton and rice.

Proposed hydroelectricity

Burdekin Dam
Water discharging at Burdekin Dam's spillway.

Stanwell Corporation has begun a feasibility study into a proposed 37 megawatts (50,000 hp) hydroelectric power station below the Burdekin Dam wall. It is proposed it would be capable of producing 125,000 megawatt-hours (450,000 GJ) annually, enough to power more than 9,500 homes each year.


There are no boating restrictions, with a single boat ramp located near the dam wall. Water in the dam is often muddied with unsettled sediment long after the rains have washed it into the lake. This not only makes angling difficult but also means boating can be hazardous at high speeds due to the presence of submerged rocks.

Fauna and flora

The dam has been stocked with sleepy cod, sooty grunter and barramundi. Numerous other species are present naturally, including forktail catfish, spangled perch, eel-tailed catfish, long tom, golden perch and archer fish. A Stocked Impoundment Permit is required to fish in the dam. Red-claw crayfish and freshwater crocodiles although not native to this river may also found in the dam. These were probably released by people who caught them from rivers of the Gulf of Carpentaria.. Saltwater crocodiles are commonly known to take cattle from the reaches of both Burdekin and Suttor river sections of Lake Dalrymple reaches of the dam.


In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Burdekin Falls Dam was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "structure and engineering feat".

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