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Scrivener Dam

Home > Canberra > Family | Free | Outdoor | Picnic Spots | Places of Interest
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I love travelling, discovering hidden gems & food. Experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass. Owner of www.justplattersbyrose.com.au do check it out for grazing platters and more :)
Published April 27th 2021
A free recreational attraction for all ages to enjoy
Enjoying the tranquility at the Dam


Located in Canberra and a National Engineering Landmark and on the Register of National Estate, Scrivener Dam is a concrete gravity dam that impounds Molonglo River and creates Lake Burley Griffin. Established for recreational and ornamental purposes, it is also ranked fifth of 25 dams in Australia with heritage listing.

Scrivener Dam was named in honour of surveyor Charles Scrivener (1855-1923), who recommended the site in 1909. The Dam's official filling of the lake was commemorated on 17 October 1964 by Prime Minister Robert Menzies.



Work on the lake and dam began in September 1960 and moved faster than expected due to drought, however, it took longer than expected to fill up the lake. For nearly seven years, there was just a trickle of water and few pools. The lake eventually filled up when the drought broke and the rains came just before a rowing championship scheduled for April 1964.

The lake filled in a few days uniting the two halves of Canberra's city, making Canberra's description as two villages separated by a floodplain a distant memory.

The walking path leading to the bridge where top views of the Dam can be seen


It took 55,000 cubic metres of concrete to build the dam with a wall thickness of 19.7 metres and holding back 33 million cubic metres of water with a surface area of 664 hectares (approx. seven square kilometres).

Views of Scrivener Dam & Telstra Tower can be seen at the top of the bridge


The dam is 33-metres high and 319 metres long with a five-bay spillway controlled by 30.5 metres wide, hydraulically operated fish-belly flap gates. The German-designed and built fish-belly gates are rare in Australia and allow for perfect water level control.

The five gates have only been opened simultaneously once in the dam's history, during heavy flooding in 1976.



Both the lake and dam have created crucial wetland habitats for native fish, birds and wildlife.

Scrivener Dam is also a perfect spot to enjoy a barbecue or picnic, sit back and enjoy the sunset, or enjoy the great outdoors with a stunning backdrop of the dam and its tranquil surroundings.

A scenic picnic can be enjoyed at the Dam


Whether you live or visiting Canberra, be sure to add this attraction to your itinerary.

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Why? A great outdoor attraction
When: All year round
Where: Lady Denman Drive, Yarralumla
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Another reason to visit Canberra.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|2276) 10 days ago
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