What is happening at the Wentworth Falls Lake Precinct?

    Wentworth Falls Lake Precinct is being upgraded, thanks to grant funding from the:

    • Western Parkland City Livability Program grant that provides a new pedestrian bridge and viewing platform, and improvements to how visitors access the northern edge of the lake to Waratah Road.

    • Preparing Australian Communities - Local Stream grant that allows Council to upgrade the spillways, upstream dam wall and weir infrastructure to improve control of water levels for fire protection and community resilience. It will also provide an upgraded boat ramp, landscaping of the surrounding landscape and a staging area for emergency vehicles.

    • Western Sydney Infrastructure Grants Program funding gives Council the ability to deliver a walk around the lake precinct for the community. In addition, it will fund the completion of the pedestrian bridge and viewing platform across the weir spillway, a new carpark on Sinclair Crescent and Waratah Road, upgraded seating, shelters and BBQ facilities.

    The upgrades will happen in stages and as much of the lake will be kept open as possible as work occurs.

    The first stage of work will commence on Monday, 19 February 2024.

    Why is this upgrade happening?

    Wentworth Falls Lake Reserve is one of four district parks in the Blue Mountains. 

    District parks are large and high-quality parks that cater to the needs of the broader community. They offer a wider variety of activities and settings and are often the most popular parks and playgrounds.

    This upgrade is in line with the vision for the park and precinct as outlined in the community-endorsed Wentworth Falls Lake Reserve Masterplan and Plan of Management (adopted on 29 June 2021). 

    The vision is to provide a high-quality precinct that is accessible and inclusive for the community and visitors, while protecting its natural values and biodiversity, as well as safely managing dam infrastructure.

    The current bridge over the spillway is nearing the end of its life and its replacement is necessary for continued use and community safety.

    Council will also significantly improve water management infrastructure at the park.

    What community consultation has been held?

    On the Masterplan and Plan of Management:

    Multiple phases of community consultation occurred during the development of the Plan of Management and Master Plan. This included:

    • Signage on site
    • Letter box drops to nearby residents
    • Media, advertising and social media
    • Direct correspondence to stakeholders

    The Draft Wentworth Falls Lake Plan of Management and Draft Masterplan were on public exhibition 12 April – 24 May 2021. Following that, they were endorsed by the Council on 29 June 2021.

    On the accessible pedestrian bridge design:

    Community consultation, focused on the design of the accessible bridge that will connect to a walkway and dual viewing platform on the north side of the lake, was conducted from 21 January to 7 March 2022. Originally due to end on 18 February, consultation was extended to allow further dialogue with the community.

    Download the Community Consultation Report.

    On the updated, full precinct upgrade planning:

    The most recent community consultation period occurred in November and December 2023.

    Consultation and engagement with the community included:

    • A survey to formally capture community feedback (available both electronically and in hard-copy).
    • Two face-to-face consultation events:

    A consultation outcome report for this round of engagement with the community is available here.

    What are the design features of the new pedestrian walkway, viewing platform and bridge over the spillway?

    The new walkway, viewing platform and bridge over the dam spillway will follow the current footprint. The walkway is almost 2m wide x 56 metres in length.

    The pedestrian walkway will be raised to span between the dam and the existing lookout for:

    • Safety
    • Accessibility standards
    • Better views across the lake

    All elements of the design will comply with Australian accessibility standards.

    • They have been approved by an accessibility consultant.
    • Handrails are low enough for someone in a wheelchair to look over the handrail.
    • The decking will be heel guard mesh.

    Materials selected for the design of the bridge have been chosen to blend in with the natural surroundings. This includes corten steel, that will weather and blend with the backdrop of the trees and sandstone cutting.

    Following community consultation, Council resolved to reduce the height of the corten steel facia on the  walkway, viewing platform and bridge, from 650mm to 450mm (the minimum height to meet structural requirements).

    The structure will be well integrated, and not visually prominent, despite being some height above the spillway.

    Wentworth Falls Lake Master Plan also gives direction to the use of materials and design that highlight the natural setting wherever practical. The current design follows that direction.

    Will the works impact the ecological, cultural or heritage value of Wentworth Falls Lake Precinct?

    This upgrade is in line with the vision for the precinct, as outlined in the Wentworth Falls Lake Reserve Masterplan and Plan of Management, adopted in 2021. As with all proposed Council projects, extensive environmental assessments have been undertaken. This includes a formal Review of Environmental Factors. 

    It is important that, while we improve accessibility and the appropriate level of recreational amenity for a district park, we balance this with the need to preserve the natural values of the site, as well as the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultural heritage. 

    A full flora and fauna study has been undertaken and all work will be designed and delivered in consultation with Council’s tree, environment, and heritage teams.

    The proposed activity will have a small footprint in relation to the overall site and environmental impacts have been avoided or mitigated in the concept design process.

    When will construction start?

    Construction work on Stage 1 will start on Monday, 19 February 2024.

    The first stage of the upgrade program includes a new accessible pedestrian walkway and viewing platform on the eastern side of the lake. An accessible path will then link this new structure to a formalised, sealed carpark on Waratah Road, to the north.

    These improvements launch a complex program of upgrades that will improve accessibility, safety and infrastructure across the precinct, including:

    • Necessary dam, spillway and pedestrian bridge improvements, that will see water management infrastructure significantly upgraded, improving the control of water levels for fire protection and community resilience. A new accessible path across the dam wall will also be constructed.
    • An upgraded boat ramp, landscaping and staging area for emergency vehicles.
    • Improved recreational facilities, including precinct seating, shelters and BBQ facilities.
    • A precinct walk around the lake and an Active Transport Link.
    • Formalised carparks on Sinclair Crescent.

    While the first stage of the upgrade program focuses on improved accessibility, the second stage provides increased protections from future flood and fire events through improvements to the dam, spillway, spillway pedestrian bridge and the boat ramp.

    To receive project updates, please register via the blue ‘Subscribe’ button on the top right of the Wentworth Falls Lake Precinct upgrades Have Your Say webpage.

    Why do the pedestrian bridge, dam wall and spillway need to be upgraded?

    A Surveillance Inspection Report (GHD, December 2019) and a Safety Review (GHD, November 2020) identified engineering priorities to be addressed in the current dam wall. Based on these findings and to ensure the dam wall’s structural and safety compliance (Dams Safety Act 2015 and the Dams Safety NSW (DSNSW) Regulation 2019), Council identified the following critical deficiencies for priority treatment, which are included in the dam wall upgrade project:

    • Repair of the upstream embankment rock filled mattresses protection
    • Spillway side wall repair/upgrade; and
    • Improvement to the “Megaflo” seepage measuring pit outflow system.

    Will parts of Wentworth Falls Lake Precinct be inaccessible to the community while work takes place?

    As work progresses on the upgrades around the lake some areas will not always be accessible to the community.

    To minimise disruption, the upgrades will be delivered in stages with as much of the area as possible kept open to visitors.

    However, while every opportunity will be taken to lessen the impact of the upgrade work, there will be significant disruption.

    During construction, there will be no community access to much of the east side of the lake for more than 12 months. The boat ramp will also be inaccessible for periods.

    A map of the Stage 1 work areas is available here.

    We will keep the community informed ahead of any necessary closures to certain areas.

    How will the dam and spillway upgrades be constructed in a water/lake environment?

    Construction in and around the dam wall and spillway is complex and environmentally sensitive. Construction methodology options are currently being investigated and assessed under the safety first principle and to ensure the best options on how to access the work area and perform the necessary upgrades. 

    Options to provide safe access for the required work may include a cofferdam (a water-tight wall which protects the work area until it is ready for contact with the water), or a temporary water level drawdown, which means dropping the water level of the lake, which has been done in the past. Council will consult with dam specialist and in-house teams with various professional disciplines to investigate further. 

    Importantly, any elected construction methodology will require, and then take into consideration, a robust risk assessment which identifies any potential impact to the ecological environment of the lake precinct and identifies suitable mitigation activities.

    Will there be additional parking as part of this upgrade?

    The upgrades will provide formalisation and sealing of existing off-road carparking at the:

    • Waratah Road Carpark 
    • Sinclair Crescent Carpark

    Approximately 90 car spaces will be delivered as part of this project. Formalising the parking areas makes the best use of the available space, allowing more cars to park safely.

    Additionally, the Sinclair Crescent Carpark will benefit from an extension of approximately 200m to provide more carparking, traffic management measures and a bus stop.

    Adjacent car parking and pedestrian connections to the new toilet block were also improved in 2018-2019.

    What is the proposed route of the Precinct Walk around the lake?

    Providing a Precinct Walk around Wentworth Falls Lake will provide visitors with increased opportunity to enjoy the beautiful outdoor environment at Wentworth Falls Lake.

    From the eastern end of the lake at Sinclair Crescent, it's proposed that the Precinct Walk will run:

    • Across the dam wall, the new spillway bridge and pedestrian walkway to Waratah Road at the north-end of the lake.
    • West along Waratah Road for a short distance to a bushland track that runs down to Banksia Road along the west of the lake.
    • Alongside Banksia Road to Canberra Street.
    • Across the bottom of the lake reserve to the east, via a bushland track to Sinclair Crescent.
    • North-east along a bushland track to Wentworth Falls Lake Playground and connecting pathways within the precinct.

    Why isn’t there a shorter option proposed for the Precinct Walk – cutting through the bushland opposite Banksia Road and linking to the weir at the southern end of the lake?

    This location presents a challenging and steep profile which leads into a swap-land environment. To reduce impact on the biodiversity at the lake, no track will be formalised at this location.

    Why won’t the Precinct Walk run along the water’s edge on the western side of the lake?

    We are keeping the western edge of the lake untouched. This area provides a refuge for wildlife and will also frame the impressive natural views over the lake and its surroundings from the new viewing platform and walkway.