Blowering Dam and Ken Warby’s Spirit of Australia world water speed record

There are few things that are more dangerous, more romantic, fool hardy and adventurous than a speed record. For this reason, Ken Warby’s water speed record of 275.97 knots (511.10 km/h; 317.58 mph), set on Blowering Dam on 8 October 1978 still stands.

Inspired by his childhood hero, Donald Campbell, who died attempting to break the record in 1967, Ken, a former Makita (power tools) salesman, designed and built the hull of the speed boat, the Spirit of Australia, in his back yard. The engine that powered it, a non-working military surplus Westinghouse jet engine was purchased at auction and 2 aircraft engineers helped him finesse the speed record-breaking craft for its first attempt in 1977.

With a maximum speed of 288.6 mph during this run, he narrowly broke the existing record. When he returned the following year, he become the only person to exceed 300 mph (482.8 km/h) on water and live to tell the tale.

With his record still standing, he’s currently working, with his son, on the Spirit of Australia 2, in which they hope to better the 1978 time.

At three times the size of Sydney Harbour, Blowering Dam is one of the biggest dams in NSW. Storing water released upstream for hydro-electricity generation, it was built for irrigation and electricity generation as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme – The most significant water management project undertaken in Australia.

The Snowy Mountains scheme includes 16 large dams, which are all easily accessible from Riverglade Caravan Park. The scheme diverts water from the Snowy and Eucumbene Rivers on the east of the Great Dividing Range through the Snowy Mountains to the Murray and Murrumbidgee River systems on the western side of the range. The water is used to generate electricity and for irrigation farming in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The project, which took 25 years to complete, was undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority.

With scenic lookout spots across the reservoir and bush surroungd, the Blowering Dam walking trail climbs the hillsides above the reservoir to reach Blowering Falls.

Blowering Dam is also popular spot for all water sports, including water-skiing, jet skis, sailing, canoeing and swimming. Several boat ramps are available around the lake foreshore. The dam is stocked with Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch. Trout and other fish species are present, however, the dam and its tributaries are closed to trout fishing between the June and October long weekends).ook out points

Blowering Dam is an easy drive south from Riverglade and Tumut.

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