Few Canberra public holidays are as significant as Monday 27 May – Reconciliation Day. Last…
Is your dog a panting mess, flopped down under a tree or spread out on the kitchen floor tiles getting under your feet?
It’s not much fun going for ‘walkies’ on a sweltering hot Canberra summer day. Instead of letting those dog days get you down, why not take your dog for a swim instead? Even if your dog isn’t into full immersion, most will enjoy a cooling paddle and splash on the water’s edge.
Here are our six favourite Canberra dog swimming areas. They’re all in pretty spots, have good shade nearby, and offer convenient parking. Five out of six are also in designated off-leash areas.
We’ve provided a summary of each dog swimming area below, but for detailed information including a google map with exact locations go to Canberra Dog Walks dog blog.
Of course, the usual dog owner etiquette applies when visiting these spots: only well socialised, obedient dogs off leash and always pick up after your dog.
Important: make sure you check the current water quality advice before sending your four-legged friend into the water!
River Street, Oaks Estate
A quiet, hidden gem, this paddling spot on the Molonglo River is located in Canberra’s country cousin, Oaks Estate. The river is shallow here, providing safe and easy access for less confident dogs to have a paddle, while still allowing plenty of space for boisterous dogs to splash about and play.
It’s only a minute’s walk from the end of River Street with easy on-street parking. Between River Street and the river bank there’s an inviting grassy off-leash space for wet dog zoomies and large shady trees for flopping down underneath afterwards. The river bank in both directions is off leash for some distance, and if you feel like a longer adventure, try out a walking route through Queanbeyan and Oaks Estate which incorporates this swimming spot and off-leash space.
The park along the river bank is off leash for about 500 metres downstream (towards Canberra) and about a kilometre upstream as far as the railway bridge (the NSW border).
There’s a picnic table under the trees near the river bank. Toilets, more picnic tables, bins and a playground are all available at Gillespie Park, five minutes walk up River Street.
Lake Burley Griffin
Barrenjoey Drive, Yarramundi Reach
This area is so beautiful that we’ve been told to keep it a secret! Unfortunately, we’ve been visiting for over 30 years and it’s too good not to share. Yarramundi Reach is a small peninsula on Lake Burley Griffin that boasts mature stands of oaks, poplars and other exotic shady trees as well as vast expanses of grassland.
The trees are so lovely that they’ve been incorporated into the National Arboretum. There are two good spots along the shore shallow enough for dogs to paddle if they aren’t keen on full immersion. The furthest spot provides the best access for less confident dogs and a perfect view of the Governor-General’s residence on the other side of the lake.
It’s well worth exploring the dirt tracks that wander along the shore, under the shady trees and through the grassland. The peninsula is well-defined by wire fencing on each side so you can’t wander too far off track.
The peninsula itself is not a designated off-leash area but dogs can swim in the lake off leash. However, we’ve seen locals walking their well-behaved dogs off leash here for many years in the early morning or evening.
There are a few picnic tables but the closest toilets and bins are a longish walk or short drive uphill to the Arboretum centre on the other side of the Tuggeranong Freeway.
Lake Burley Griffin
Brown Street, Yarralumla
It’s small but good! This little beach opposite Brown Street offers an inviting spot for dogs to cool off with a swim and paddle. It’s only a couple of minutes’ walk from the Yarralumla Dog Park and popular with locals in the know. There’s easy, gradually sloping access into the water for less confident dogs to wet their paws and the surrounding beach and grassy area is spacious enough for wet dog zoomies. Mature, exotic trees provide excellent shade nearby. It’s also on the route of a great dog friendly walk through Yarralumla.
Off leash status
The grassy area around the beach is off leash. However take care not to allow dogs to wander onto the cycle path nearby.
Bins are located at the Yarralumla Dog Park close by on Banks Street. There are toilets at the Yarralumla shops off Hutchins Street, a 15 minute walk or short drive away.
Diddams Close Park, Belconnen
Belconnen dog walkers are well catered for with off leash access to most of this generous sized, grassy and shady peninsula. There are several sandy, gently sloping areas into Lake Ginninderra providing easy access for dogs. A lovely spot is only a stone’s throw from the car park near the entrance of Diddams Close and adjacent to the Belconnen Dog Park. There’s good shade, ample sandy access to the water, great facilities and nice views across the water.
Off leash status
Most of this peninsula jutting into Lake Ginninderra and bordered by Ginninderra Drive is off leash. However dogs are prohibited on the designated (human) swimming beaches and the children’s playgrounds, and you should keep dogs off the cycle path.
There are picnic tables, toilets and bins close to the car park and the Belconnen Dog Park.
It’s also on the route of a great pram friendly and dog friendly walk around the peninsular.
Uriarra Crossing, Uriarra Road
This is a quintessential Canberra river swimming spot. It’s a little bit out of Canberra, but the destination is worth it and the drive very pleasant through rolling hills and pastures down to the Murrumbidgee River. You can choose from a huge park environment on the east bank, or a more modest spot on the far, west bank. The bend in the river here provides a large, safe area of slow moving water and big sandy beaches for dogs to play zoomies after they’ve cooled down. The bank slopes very gradually and the river bottom is mainly sand so it’s easy for more timid dogs to just wade in the shallows. You can also take the dogs exploring along the river bank upstream – they’ll enjoy the new smells. Make sure you bring your swimmers so you can join in the fun. Keep a watch out for submerged rocks if the river is a bit high and take care after heavy rain which might make the current stronger than usual.
Off leash status
All the beaches and picnic areas at Uriarra Crossing are off leash.
Both the east and west bank swimming spots have ample parking, picnic tables and toilet blocks. The east bank area is especially generous with a very expansive grassed area under large, shady trees. There are no bins so be prepared to take all rubbish with you.
Point Hut Crossing, Point Hut Road
This is another lovely spot on the Murrumbidgee River immediately behind the southern Tuggeranong suburb of Gordon. There’s a long sandy beach and the river usually isn’t very wide or deep at this point. As for Uriarra above, make sure you bring your swimmers for a dip yourself. Also take care after heavy rain which might make the current stronger than usual. The only downside here is that there isn’t as much good shade.
Off leash status
The river and beach on the far side of the road crossing are off leash.
It’s pretty basic the far side of the river with no picnic tables or toilets, but both are available on the other side of the river where dogs are still allowed but must be on leash. No bins so take your rubbish with you.
Want to know more about dog-friendly Canberra?
We also organise regular social group walks in different places around Canberra. If you’d like to join in, check Canberra Dog Walks meetup for information on upcoming group walks.