The Gordon Dam wall, constructed with 1,540 thousand cubic metres (54×10^6 cu ft) of earthen core, is 198 metres (650 ft) long and 140 metres (460 ft) high, making it the tallest dam in Tasmania and the fifth-tallest in Australia. At 100% capacity the dam wall holds back 12,359,040 megalitres (436,455×10^6 cu ft) of water; making Lake Gordon the largest lake in Australia.:1 The surface area of the lake is 278,000 hectares (690,000 acres) and the catchment area is 1,280 square kilometres (490 sq mi). The single controlled spillway is capable of discharging 175 cubic metres per second (6,200 cu ft/s).
Approximately 48 arch dams have been built in Australia and only nine have double curvature. Gordon Dam is almost twice the height of the next highest arch dam, Tumut Pondage.:5-6
Water from the dam descends 183 metres (600 ft) underground into its power station, where three turbines of 144 megawatts (193,000 hp) generating up to 432 megawatts (579,000 hp) of power, covering about 13% of the electricity demand of Tasmania. The first two turbines were commissioned in 1978, before the third was commissioned a decade later in 1988.
The completed Gordon Dam was the only dam built on the Gordon River, despite the support of Tasmanian politicians such as Eric Reece, Robyn Gray, and others to build the Franklin Dam further downstream.
The dam was designed with Dr. Sergio Guidici as the chief engineer. He went on to be involved with the design of the Crotty Dam in the West Coast Range, one of the last significant dams created by Hydro Tasmania during its unabated dam-building era.
In June 2015, the Australian troupe How Ridiculous, known for its YouTube videos featuring trick shots with various sporting balls and flying discs, broke their own world record for highest-altitude basketball shot, successfully sinking a basket from the top of the dam through a hoop set up on the river bank below—a height of 126 metres (413 ft).