Winner – Category 2, NSW CCF Earth Awards 2013

The Burrinjuck Dam Access Upgrade project had its fair share of complex challenges.

Burrinjuck Dam is a historic State Water asset. Construction of the dam started in 1909 and took over twenty years to complete. It is located 34 km south west of Yass, NSW over the Murrumbidgee River. During its construction a cableway was erected across the spillway face to ferry personnel and materials across the gorge. For many years the cableway, fitted with a lifting hook and man box was the sole method of haulage for materials and personnel.

The hook and man box run along two axis – north/south and east /west. The north/south axis runs on cables from a head tower above the northern spillway, to a tail tower above the southern spillway. To position the hook and man box along the east/west axis, the two towers move along rail tracks on benches cut into the steep rock faces of the gorge above two spillways.

The purpose of the upgrade was to address OHS risks associated with transporting personnel in the cableway man box (the only means of accessing the southern cable tower), and to provide reliable logistic arrangements for handling materials.

The works involved design, fabrication, installation, construction, testing and commissioning of a new steel trussed bridge for alternative access across the southern spillway from the dam parapet to the cableway’s tail tower and new steel trussed tower stairs and access platforms to improve access from the parapet wall down to the north and south spillway trainer walls.

The isolated location of the construction site required special consideration to emergency response and evacuation procedures, which were incorporated in the site induction and safety training. Additional working at heights safety and emergency evacuation training was essential. Much of the work was carried out using abseiling harnesses on steep rock faces above the dam wall and water storage, and to and from a man-box suspended from the cableway up to 140m above the river bed.


Business unit:



State Water

Current status:


Start date:

May 2012

Completion period:

May 2013

Contract type:

Lump sum


$2.6 million