In 1952, The Tinaroo Dam and Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Scheme was approved by the state government. Construction on the dam was started in 1953 and completed in 1958, at a cost of $12,666,000. The dam wall is 45.1 metres high and traps enough water from the Barron River to create a lake 3/4 the size of Sydney Harbour with a capacity of 407,000 megalitres.
Covering almost 1200 square kilometres, the Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Area is spread across the valleys of the Barron, Walsh and Mitchell Rivers.
415 square kilometres of farmland are irrigated by the lake when it supplies its 205,000 megalitres of water each year. Farmers access this water from the extensive network of 176 kilometres of channels using either a gravity fed system or pumps. Areas not serviced by the channels can draw water from streams that have their water replenished by the Barron River, which, in turn, is fed by the lake.
The townships of Tinaroo, Walkamin, Mareeba, Kuranda, Mutchilba, Dimbulah and Yungaburra are supplied from Tinaroo Dam through the Barron River.
Other than Irrigation Tinaroo Dam offers much more to the Tablelands such as; Watersports, Fishing, Hiking, Camping and Picnic Grounds.