Oberon Dam, built in two stages between 1943 and 1959 across the waterway now known as the Fish River, is 232 metres long and 35 metres high. The surface area of the water it holds when full is 410 hectares. It was originally built to supply water to the Glen Davis shale oil refinery and industries around Lithgow as well as the supporting population. It now feeds water into areas served by the Sydney Catchment Authority, largely through a pipeline which conveys water to the base of the geological formation known as First Narrowneck, a short distance south of Katoomba township.
A short bushwalk off the Narrowneck fire trail allows you to hear the pumps working to lift the water from the floor of the Megalong Valley up into a system that lets it serve reservoirs in the upper mountains towns. Until a few years ago, maintenance ladders known as “Dixons Ladders” paralleled the pipe rising against the cliff at Narrowneck. Excessive adventurousness by some bushwalkers convinced the NPWS to remove the ladders.
A brief but pleasant drive takes the visitor from the Oberon Tourist Information Centre to the picnic area below the dam wall. In autumn, the deciduous trees along the route offer a colourful display and there is a small patch of moderately disturbed natural bushland along the entry road. You can walk along the dam wall but there is only limited access to the lake foreshores on either side. This is one of several access points to the catchment lake which features in the popularity of the Oberon district for fishing.
© Don Morison