The Old Railway Dams

Last updated Sep 2014

The lower dam

The railway dams in Fountain Creek at the end of Reeves St, Narara, were built to supply water for steam trains after the railway line to Gosford opened in 1887. The lower dam is situated on top of a dramatic waterfall and was built in 1901. The other dam is a short walk upstream and was built in 1925 to provide additional storage. Each was planned to have a capacity of about 6 million gallons (or 27 mega-litres), and a pipeline down the valley connected the dams to Gosford railway station. A number of steel girders protrude from the cliff face below the lower dam showing where the pipeline was once supported. You can also still see an elevated section of the pipeline at the end of Narara Creek Road.

Gosford Council's document titled "History of Narara", which is available on-line, has this to say about the dams:
The Railway Dams located on Fountain Creek at the top of Reeves Street hold heritage significance connected to the era of the steam engine. The steam locomotives at Gosford were dependent on the piped water from the dams, which are located approximately 2.5kms north-west of Gosford Railway station. Two dams were built, the first or lower dam in 1901, and the second or upper dam in 1925. They became largely obsolete in the 1960s and 70s, as steam locomotives were replaced with diesel and electric trains.
There is also a heritage listing page about the dams which includes some details of their construction.

If you continue to follow the creek upstream from the upper dam you reach a pretty waterfall. In addition to the natural beauty of this area, there are also some aboriginal rock engravings nearby.

Access to these historic and scenic dams has become difficult due to a new residental development at Lot 1, Reeves St, Somersby. This land, which has been used by generations of bushwalkers to reach the dams, has now been completely fenced off.

There was an article about the Railway Dams in the Central Coast Express Advocate on 11th Sept 2003. Here's a quote: "A popular bushwalking track which has been used for a century could be cut off by development". The railway dams walk is described in the NPA's Bushwalks in the Sydney Region, Vol 2, in an earlier publication by S.W.Pulsford called Bushwalking in the Gosford District, and also my own guidebook Discovering Gosford's Bushland on foot. The dams are listed as items of environmental heritage by Gosford City Council.

A new route to the railway dams which does not involve crossing private property is shown below. To reach the start of this route, you need to be at the Somersby end of Reeves St and walk about 80 metres west along the road past the last fenced property. Then, leave the road near the power pole and follow the rock outcrop south-west, cross a small creek bed and then descend down the rocks to reach the creek which feeds into the upper railway dam. Follow the track on the northern side of this creek to the wall of the upper railway dam and then follow the creek bed downstream to the lower railway dam.

You can download a KML file of the new route here, for use in Google Earth. (Right-click on the link and choose "Save link as", then open it).

You can see more photos of the railway dams here.

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