15+ places to swim in Canberra (that aren't pools!) | HerCanberra

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15+ places to swim in Canberra (that aren’t pools!)

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You don’t need to go to the coast to enjoy the beach.

In fact, you might be surprised to discover just how many incredibly beautiful watering holes are on the city’s doorstep. Here are more than 15 places where you can dip your toes and cool off during the long, hot days of summer around Canberra.

Be sure to check water quality advice before you head out and make sure to swim to the conditions—just because it’s not a beach, doesn’t mean the water is safe at all times.

Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra Aqua Park


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This fun swimming experience has returned to Black Mountain Peninsula.

A 1,600 square metre inflatable obstacle course, Canberra Aqua Park will operate throughout the warmer months.

Black Mountain Peninsula | Access via Lady Denman Drive | Google Map

Yarralumla Bay

Primarily designed for water-based recreation with a boat-launching area and sections set aside for swimming, Yarralumla Bay offers pleasant shaded picnic areas connected to popular commuter and recreational cycleway/walkway with information and directional signage around the lake.

The western part of the area has sailing and rowing clubhouses, launching ramps, piers and a wharf.

Between Orana Bay and Blue Gum Point | Access via Alexandria Drive | Google Map

Weston Park

The park’s name recognises the pioneering contribution that Thomas Charles Weston made to the city’s unique landscape and parks system.

The large playground includes a climbing net and swings with a wading pool that is operational in summer only and a miniature train.

Perfect for large groups, Weston Park has a beach (maybe we do have one after all) and a swimming area located on the eastern shore while ample provision has been made for picnicking and parking.

Access via Weston Park Road, Yarralumla | Google Map

Murrumbidgee River Corridor

Uriarra Crossing


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Looking for a swimming spot you can enjoy with your dog? With both on and off-leash exercise areas, Uriarra is a great place to take your dog for a swim, indulge in a picnic or relax with a book.

Drive pass the cyclist haven of Stromlo Forest Park via scenic grazing country to Uriarra Crossing and its shady riverside picnicking areas.

Have a swim and walk down to the junction of the Molonglo River on the Uriarra Loop Walking Track. There are two sections of the park on either side of the river.

The area also has picnic tables, shelter, toilets and barbecue facilities available.

Access via Uriarra Road | Google Map

Casuarina Sands

Tall shady trees, green grass and the river flowing with purpose are what will greet you at Casuarina Sands.

With so much to do, Casuarina Sands is an ideal location for picnics, river swimming and fishing or to launch your kayak or canoe—just be extra careful in the water as rivers aren’t without dangers.

It also offers barbecue facilities, shelter, drinking water, picnic tables and toilets.

After a swim in the river, why not take a stroll upstream to the historic pumping station?

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access via Cotter Road | Google Map

Kambah Pool

A popular swimming spot equipped with picnic tables, toilets and walking trails, Kambah Pool offers the perfect picnic location.

Walk to spectacular Red Rocks Gorge, take a dip in the mighty Murrumbidgee River or hike along the River to Casuarina Sands or Pine Island.

Note: Part of the area is set aside for nude bathing and no dogs are allowed.

Access is off Kambah Pool Road | Google Map

Pine Island


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A long-time favourite for many Canberra families, Pine Island is the main recreation area along the Murrumbidgee River in southern Canberra, conveniently located adjacent to Tuggeranong.

The island features three separate barbecue areas with picnic tables and toilets, a playground and a series of swimming holes and beaches to enjoy.

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access Pine Island via Pine Island Road, Greenway | Google Map

Cotter Bend

Tucked within a bend, a wide pool and sandy beach mark the meeting of the Cotter River and Paddy’s River.

A favourite for a swim, splash or fish, Cotter Bend offers barbecue facilities, picnic tables, drinking waters, toilets and is wheelchair accessible.

Enjoy a picnic on the grass, read a book under a large shady tree or enjoy a swim along the meandering river.

After a refreshing swim, you can even take a short drive to Tidbinbilla to enjoy snacks, ice cream, hot pies, sausage rolls, coffee and cold drinks at the Visitor Centre from 9 am–5 pm, seven days a week.

Access via Cotter Road | Google Map

Gigerline Nature Reserve


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Gigerline’s rugged gorge and surrounding land offer up beautiful clear waters that are great for swimming and paddling while its sandy beach is perfect for laying out a picnic spread.

Extending from Angle Crossing in the south to the northern boundary of Outward Bound in Tharwa, Gigerline Nature Reserve has valuable remnants of native vegetation, including stands of Manna Gums.

Take your canoe but leave the puppy behind, as the reserve is a no-dog zone. There are toilets on-site, however, camping and fires are not permitted at any time.

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access from Angle Crossing Road via the Monaro Highway near Williamsdale or from the Naas Road near Tharwa | Google Map

Tharwa Sandwash

Another local treasure, Tharwa Sandwash is part of the Gigerline Nature Reserve.

Located in a bend of the Murrumbidgee River, Tharwa Sandwash is a calm, sandy and open stretch of river ideal for swimming, kayaking and water play.

For bird lovers, there are also 128 bird species known to inhabit this space within only two hectares. Upgraded in 2010, the area has new facilities and walking paths.

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access via Smiths Road via Naas Road near Tharwa | Google Map

Angle Crossing


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Shallow and clear waters make this hidden gem perfect for floating away your summer worries.

A lovely sandy beach that makes up part of the Gigerline Nature Reserve, it’s a great spot for swimming, paddling and picnicking.

Note: No facilities (including toilets) and no dogs.

Access off Angle Crossing Road via Monaro Highway near Williamsdale or from Naas Road near Tharwa | Google Map

Tharwa Bridge Recreational Area

Why not paddle and picnic near the historic Tharwa Bridge in the township of Tharwa?

Opened in 1895, Tharwa Bridge is the oldest surviving bridge in the ACT. Facilities include toilets, barbecues, picnic tables and disabled access.

Ideal for swimming, fishing or walking. After a swim, drive to nearby Namadgi Visitor Centre and Lanyon Homestead.

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access via Tharwa Drive, Tharwa | Google Map

Point Hut Crossing

A shady picnic area and great swimming in south Canberra, Point Hut Crossing is easily accessible for families.

Ideal for a lazy Saturday barbecue, horseriding or canoeing, Point Hut offers barbecue facilities, toilets, fishing and picnic tables.

Note: Dogs are allowed on leash.

Access via Drakeford Drive, Woodcock Drive and Jim Pike Avenue in Gordon | Google Map

Murrays Corner


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A pleasant picnic area beside the road, Murrays Corner is perfect to stop off for a swim, a bite to eat or a stretch of the legs with your pooch.

It offers barbecues, toilets and picnic tables with a ford across the river that leads to other picnic areas.

Note: Dogs allowed.

Access via Paddy’s River and Tidbinbilla Road | Google Map

The Brindabellas

Gibraltar Creek


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Make your way to Woods Reserve on Corin Road, just 30 minutes drive from Tuggeranong and discover Gibraltar Creek.

Previously accessible via a beautiful walk that left Woods Reserve and followed the creek upstream to Gibraltar Falls, these days (and if you don’t mind getting wet, though that is the point of visiting, right?), “rock-hopping” is going to be the easiest way to access these very pretty swimming holes.

Deep enough for a splash before heading back, there’s no need to leave the kids at home. Just get them to put on their old shoes as you make your way through the creek.

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access from Corin Road | Google Maps

Flea Creek (4WD-only)


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Take extra care with the little ones as you head to this rather remote yet popular shady oasis, arguably one of the most prettiest swimming holes in the region.

Flea Creek’s quiet leafy grounds are perfect for spreading out a picnic blanket and relaxing by the gurgling Goodradigbee River, splashing about in the deep pool or exploring the rocks upstream.

The main swimming area is 300 meters past the campground in Flea Creek and there’s only room for around 10 vehicles so you may need to park at the campground on a hot day.

Make a weekend of it—pitch your tent with the family for a few days and disconnect from the world.

Note: No dogs allowed.

Access via the Gentle Annie Fire Trail off Brindabella Road | Google Map

Water Quality + Safety

Before heading out to any of these swimming spots, be sure to check they’re open and safe to enter. Keep up to date at cityservices.act.gov.au.

If you’re out enjoying a refreshing dip, be sure to take note of the following to make sure you and your family remain safe:

  • Do not enter the water if signage indicates the conditions are unsafe
  • Watch the flow—flowing water is stronger than you think
  • Never drink and swim
  • Never let children out of your sight and avoid swimming alone
  • Never dive into water if you are unsure of the depth
  • Keep an eye out for submerged logs, other hazards and wildlife

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One Response to 15+ places to swim in Canberra (that aren’t pools!)

Yasmin Element says: 20 November, 2016 at 10:49 pm

I go swimming in rivers around Canberra 2-3 times a week throughout spring, summer and autumn.

Cotter camping ground is also a good spot… lovely and shady so on the hottest summer days you can find some delightful icy cool patches of water…

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