Discover the Tallest Dam in New South Wales

Panorama of Sydney harbour and bridge in Sydney city, New south wales, Australia
© anek.soowannaphoom/

Written by Isaac Peterson

Published: November 20, 2023

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The Talbingo Dam, a Concrete Embankment Dam in New South Wales, Australia, is Also the Nation’s Tallest

Talbingo Dam sits on the outskirts of Canberra, Australia’s capital city. That city is inland on the southwest coast of the continent. With an embankment wall ascending 532 feet (137 meters), it is the tallest dam in the province of New South Wales.

Surrounded by numerous local or national parks and nature preserves, the dam supplies a large amount of the city’s colossal water resources. The dam harnesses the Tumut River, making it one of many hydroelectric dams in the area, helping supply electricity needs.

Design of the Tallest Dam in New South Wales, Embankment with Rock Fill and Clay Core

Wide aerial panorama of Sydney city CBD landmarks on shores of Sydney Harbour from Lower North Shore to distant Barangaroo.

While Canberra, the capital of Australia, is in the southwestern province of New South Wales, Sydney is the largest city.

©Taras Vyshnya/

Embankment dams are—oddly enough, given the height of Talbingo—the shorter type of dams. They are used to harness wider bodies of moving water and are designed to allow most or all of the entire flow down through. The process involves packing large amounts of earth and/or rock into the core.

A side-section slice of an embankment dam looks a bit like the bell curves we remember from statistics class.

A Dam Big Volume of Water. At full swell, the tallest dam in New South Wales can hold a total of 243 billion gallons of water! (0.92 billion cubic meters)

Dam Big

At 532 feet, the Talbingo Dam is the tallest in New South Wales and appears to be the tallest dam in all of Australia. At 532, it’s about three-fourths the height of Hoover Dam in the Southwestern US. Yet, it still makes the roster among the world’s tallest.

Comparison, Various of the World’s Tallest Dams

  • Nurek Dam | embankment | Tajikistan – 980 feet 
  • Hoover Dam | arch-gravity | USA, Arizona-Nevada Border – 726 feet
  • Three Gorges Dam | gravity | China – 594 feet
  • Talbingo Dam | embankment | New South Wales, Australia – 532 feet
  • Warragamba Dam | concrete gravity | New South Wales, Australia – 466 feet

The Tumut River flows through the dam, creating the enormous, splintering Talbingo reservoir.

In and Around Talbingo Dam

In and around the city of Talbingo, we find the animals we recognize for Australia: the sleepy koala and the lively kangaroo. The city sits right on Kosciuszko National Park. Plus, this park has other fun-looking creatures, such as various native possum species, wedge-tail eagles, and three other classics of the Great Continent: wallabies, emus, and platypus. The park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Nearby are Bogong Peaks and the Green Hills. There are observation areas and a panoply of hiking, camping, wilderness, and water sports opportunities nearby.

The Talbingo Dam is part of a family of 16 dams that are part of what is called the “Snowy Mountain Scheme.” Many of these generate electricity for the area.

Miles Franklin hailed as a foundational figure in the creation and development of Australian literature was born in Talbingo.

Snowy Sourcing for the Snowy Mountains Scheme

Kosciuszko National Park

Kosciuszko National Park in Australia sometimes gets snow.


The Snowy Mountains Scheme is the cluster of 16 dams in and around New South Wales. Some of the water for these dams actually comes from melting snow. Though Australia is known for its sweltering climate, several places on the continent get snow. This includes, occasionally, parts of the capital.

Being at the southwest corner, New South Wales is actually closer to Antarctica than much of the nation. There are some beautiful, high peaks on the continent and parts of Australia even have ski resorts.

Ongoing Project

The Talbingo Dam has been tied up for some time in the Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0 development project. Yet the dam and the area still provide an excellent opportunity to stop and look at the beautiful collision of climates and wonder at what humans can accomplish.

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About the Author

Isaac began writing as a paid staff reporter for his college newspaper. After getting his B.A. in Divinity, he was a daycare teacher who emphasized God's natural world, and all the creatures, into his learning activities. He worked as Staff Writer for a Midwest-based global online retailer before going full-time freelance. As a solo writer, he's covered gray wolf sightings in the Southwest U.S., smart home upgrades to backyard chicken coops, training American bulldogs and countless other topics, animal and otherwise; especially technical writing. Since his childhood in northern New England, he's been hooked on the beauty of this earth and the outdoors. Isaac loves biking, running, snowboarding, skateboarding and hiking in all of it. In his new home of the Great Lakes, he's spotted numerous herons, rabbits, squirrels, deer, a few toads and at least one turtle on his trail runs. He especially enjoys talking critters with his little sister who loves all animals big and small from giant orcas to her own pet beagle (Mister B).

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