12 km from Armidale, in the New England Region of NSW
About The Spot: Dumaresq dam was built between 1896 and 1898 and was Armidale’s water supply until the 1968, when Malpas Dam was completed. It is now set aside as a recreation reserve. A 2.5 km walking track passes through eucalypt woodland on its way around the dam. As a swimming spot, it is fantastic, with plenty of space to stretch the arm. To swim a circuit will give you a bit more than 1 km to think.
How To Get There: From Armidale, take the Boorolong Road for 6 km past turn-off to The University of New England, then turn right on Dumaresq Dam Road. After 5 km the road enters the Dumaresq Dam Reserve.
Difficulty of access: 1/10 – Access is easy, with plenty of parking. The road is sealed all the way to the reserve entrance, and there are plenty of gravel parking spaces. Once park, all you need to do is walk down to the water and step in.
Opening Times/Seasons: Dumaresq Dam is open all year, though water temperature drops below 20 degrees in April or May. For the cold-water lovers, the temperature in winter is around 5 degrees, and there occasional chances for a snow swim – see Peter below. Peter tells us the bottle he takes in with him has a thermometer attached to it.
Entrance Fee: None
Facilities Nearby: The reserve has toilets, a basic picnic shelter, gas and wood-fired bbqs, and a small playground.
Other Activities: Dumaresq Dam is circled by a pleasant 2.5 km walking track that passes below the dam wall. It is an easy walk, though rock-hopping is required for one section. A new mountain biking track links to nearby Mount Duval. Both the woodland and the dam offer excellent opportunities for bird watching, and for anglers, the dam is stocked with trout, and occasionally bass. There is a boat ramp for canoes and kayaks, but petrol boats are not allowed. In summer there are plenty of blackberries to pick.
Other Places of Interest Nearby: The dam itself is more than 100 years old, and you can visit the quarry where the rock was blasted to build the wall. To get there, you cross Dumaresq Creek downstream of the dam wall and continuing along the southern fence of the reserve.
Wildlife: The woodland around the dam has plenty of birdlife, and kangaroos sometimes come down to the picnic area to graze at dawn and dusk. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos often fly overhead. Very occasionally, water rats can be seen swimming along the reed-lined edges, and even more rarely, schools of small freshwater jellyfish swim in the surface layers during summer. They are completely harmless and very interesting to watch.
Places to Eat: Armidale has plenty of café’s and restaurants, but why not have a BBQ or picnic at the dam.
Where to Camp: Camping used to be allowed at Dumaresq Dam but this is no longer the case. The nearest bush camping spot is at Dangar Falls (where you can also swim), 32 km from the dam on the opposite side of town, but camping sites are available at the Armidale Showground and at the two caravan parks in town.
Other places to Stay: There are many motels to choose from in Armidale
Nearby Towns: Armidale is 12 km south-east of Dumaresq Dam
Other Swimming Spots Nearby: Blue Hole, Boorolong Creek TSR, Gara TSR, Sunnyside TSR, Dangars Falls
Many thanks to Peter Hancock (star of the snow swim video!) for the description and photo.