TantaNgara Reservoir

Snowy Mountains, NSW.

Set high in the rugged alpine ranges beyond the township of Adaminaby, Tantangara Reservoir is one of the lesser-known jewels of the mighty Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Construction of Tantangara’s concrete dam wall began in 1958 and was finally completed in 1960, creating a man-made impoundment or reservoir potentially capable of holding back a quarter of a million megalitres of water, with a surface area in excess of 2,000 hectares when completely full. However, most of the time this relatively shallow alpine lake sits at much lower storage levels than that, thereby creating the capacity to capture run-off from spring snow melt or major rain events in the extensive catchment. This water is then fed via massive pipelines to Providence Portal, where it flows into the much larger expanse of Lake Eucumbene.

As with all the man-made lakes and pondages of the vast Snowy Mountains Scheme, Tantangara’s cool, clean waters hold very healthy populations of both brown and rainbow trout, providing excellent fishing opportunities for shore-based and boat anglers alike, using various baits, lures or artificial flies. The numerous small streams and larger rivers in the surrounding area are also prime trout fishing spots. However, far fewer fishers visit Tantangara in comparison to the more famous nearby lakes such as Eucumbene and Jindabyne. This is a shame, as Tantangara has a great deal to offer.

Jo Starling puts down a cast in the waters just downstream of an old ford on the Murrimbidgee River

“Jo and I were lucky enough to be amongst the first few groups of anglers to visit and trial the newly upgraded and refurbished accommodation at Daffodil Cottage, and we loved it!”

Starlo coaxes a wild trout back to hand in one of the streams that flows into Tantagara Reservoir.
A pretty little rainbow trout in Starlo's hand.
Starlo prepares to land a good sized trout for these waters. Tantangara, NSW.
Daffodil Cottage, from the solar array.
Recognising the under-utilised nature of Tantangara’s excellent trout fishery, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has recently joined forces with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to actively promote and encourage angler access to accommodation near the lake. This takes the form of a refurbished stockmen’s hut known as Daffodil Cottage, which sits in the beautiful grounds of historic Currango Station, just a kilometre or two from the lake’s northern shores.

Daffodil Cottage is intended to be just the first in a string of a dozen or so accommodation options right across the state that will eventually be offered to anglers by the NSW DPI at significantly subsidised rates, thanks to funding generated by the state’s recreational fishing fee or licence. This is a great example of this public money being used to enhance angling opportunities for all.

Jo and I were lucky enough to be amongst the first few groups of anglers to visit and trial the newly upgraded and refurbished accommodation at Daffodil Cottage, and we loved it! Unfortunately, we had just two short days to explore the area’s many fishing options, but we’ve already promised ourselves a lengthier visit this coming trout season (October to June in NSW).

On our first visit, Jo and I focussed primarily on fly fishing with ultra-light tackle in the upper Murrumbidgee and its various small tributaries above the lake. We had an absolute ball, catching mostly little trout on our bobbing dry flies. However, the odd “pound-plus” (half kilo) specimen also came to the party, and we spotted several larger trout that played hard to get on this trip… Those are the ones that bring you back next time! So too are thoughts of walking the lake’s grassy edges while flicking flies for bigger trout, or even launching our boat or kayaks and heading out onto the reservoir itself to troll a few lures.

Of course, there’s so much more to this region than excellent and varied trout fishing. The surrounding country is extremely rich in wildlife, and the terrain itself is a landscape photographer’s dream. Non-fishing party members can take long walks across the alpine plains and up into the steep country surrounding the lake, but should always remember that the weather can change fast at this altitude, even in summer. Always pack some extra warm clothing, a few high energy snacks and sufficient drinking water, and be sure to tell someone exactly where you’re going and when you intend to return.

Tantangara Reservoir is easily accessed via the Snowy Mountains Highway beyond Adaminaby. Once you turn off the highway proper onto Tantangara Road the surface is unsealed and, while it’s usually in reasonable condition, the road does become rather steep and twisting around the dam wall area, making it generally unsuitable for towing larger caravans. On the other hand, 4WD vehicles are by no means essential for reaching Daffodil Cottage, so long as you avoid travelling immediately after heavy rain or snow falls. (Many roads in this area are closed to all traffic from the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June until the long weekend in early October. Contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service for more information.)

If you’d like to investigate the prospects of spending a night or two at lovely Daffodil Cottage while exploring Tantangara and its surrounds, visit the NPWS website at www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au or phone 13000 PARKS (13000 72757)… and don’t forget your camera!

Jo Starling fly fishing in a quiet stream, upstream of Tantangara Reservoir.
The old meat safe, Daffodil Cottage
Sheltered outdoor cooking area, Daffodil Cottage.
A family of brumbies stand amongst the gums on the side of a trail, near Tantangara Reservoir.
Daffodil Cottage is as close to original as you can get.
A vibrantly coloured blue tongued lizard basking on the dirt road to Daffodil Cottage, Tantangara Reservoir.
Yep, it's an outhouse.
Steve Starling shows off a small rainbow trout, pulled from a stream around Tantangara Reservoir.
The wood stove in the Daffodil Cottage kitchen
wild mushrooms from the grounds of Daffodil Cottage, Tantangara.


To get there from Cooma/Adaminaby:

  • Take the Snowy Mountains Highway via Adaminaby for approximately 46km
  • Turn right onto Tantangara Road (unsealed) for 18km, then continue past Tantangara Dam onto Pocket Saddle Road for 6km.
  • Turn left onto Port Phillip trail for 2km and turn right into Currango

To get there from Tumut:

  • Access is not possible via Long Plain Road if Tantangara Dam has flooded crossing. Contact Tumut Visitor Centre on (02) 6947 7025 for the latest water levels.
  • From Tumut, take the Snowy Mountains Highway for approximately 111km
  • Turn left onto Tantangara Road (unsealed) for 18km, then continue past Tantangara Dam onto Pocket Saddle Road for 6km.
  • Turn left onto Port Phillip trail for 2km and turn right into Currango


Tantangara Reservoir, NSW Australia

Got A Question Or A Comment?

1 Comment

  1. Ron Croker

    Hi Steve, Quick question Steve from Ron Croker (RFFTEC), are you allowed to fish the outflow from Tantangara at Providence into the Lake Eucumbene. I was at Providence a week ago and there were some guys fishing the outflow from Tantangara, it was flowing quite a bit so there would have been some trout up in the outflow. It looked to me that they could have been jagging them. Back in the day there used to be signs put up by NSW Fisheries saying that you could not fish the running water from Tantangara but seeing as the dam has been so low over the years it would appear that the signs have disappeared. What are your thoughts on the situation. Cheers Ron


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