New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published August 6th 2017
4WDs, river swimming & platypus spotting
Angle Crossing is a river swimming hole, picnic area, 4WD thoroughfare and kayak entry point on the Murrumbidgee River, south of Canberra. It is called Angle Crossing due to a bend in the river which creates a narrow section for cars to cross over. A concrete road connecting the two sides of the river can be accessed from Tharwa (via Smith Road) and also from the Monaro Highway to Cooma. See map here (under the Directions tab). Although it feels like a wild and remote location, it is just 20 minutes from Tuggeranong and 40 minutes from Canberra's CBD.
For many Canberra locals, Angle Crossing is also a place to cool off in the summer months and appreciate the cool flowing waters from the Snowy Mountains. Although there are other river swimming holes and picnic areas along the Murrumbidgee River which are much larger (eg. Cotter Reserve), this small swimming area is a lot quieter and there is a good chance that you may even have it all to yourself. After visiting Uriarra Crossing a couple of weeks ago, which is located further downstream, our family were interested in exploring the Murrumbidgee's other scenic river crossing. As our visit was in winter, we didn't dip our toes into the freezing water, however we enjoyed spending some time exploring this remote location...
Angle Crossing recreation area on the Murrumbidgee River
On our visit, we accessed the crossing from Angle Crossing Road, off the Monaro Highway to Cooma. This road is unsealed, however it is suitable for the average car if you drive slowly through some of the more bumpy and steep areas. At the start of the road there is a sign indicating whether the road is open for crossing. Please be aware that this sign refers to larger 4WD vehicles, as when you eventually get down to the crossing a couple of kilometres down the road, most of the road is under water even when the sign says "OPEN". Crossing is at your own risk and be particularly careful after heavy rain, as people have been taken by surprise in the past.
The start of Angle Crossing Road, from the Monaro Highway
The road to get there is an adventure in itself, with hundreds of sheep climbing over rocky pastures, wildlife on the side of the road and the spectacular sight of the 30 hectare Williamsdale Solar Farm, with thousands of solar panels glistening in the sunlight. Driving down further into the scenic valley, you drive past the $155 million project that is the Angle Crossing Pump Station. This hi-tech system, finished in 2012, involves pumping water from the Murrumbidgee River into the Burra Creek and then sending it - via pipeline over 17 rural properties - to fill Googong Dam when it gets low. Although there isn't much to see, it is interesting to know that the cool, clear waters of the Murrumbidgee River will be utilised in time of drought.
When you reach the bottom of the hill, there is a car park area on your right to pull into with toilets, picnic table, signage to read and views down to the crossing. There is also a short 800-metre walking loop from the car park along the river's edge.
Signage explaining the river formation and wildlife...
Along the edge of the river, there is a concrete platform which houses the water pumps, for the Angle Crossing Pump Station back up the road. On the other side of the platform, there are sandy areas to lay out a towel, enjoy the views and listen to the river flowing by. In the summer months, many locals enjoy bringing foam noodles, blow-up tubes and inflatable chairs to float on in the river, however swimming is at your own risk along the Murrumbidgee River, so be careful of the conditions.
The fresh and protected waters of Angle Crossing are also the native habitat of platypus that have been spotted in the area. An interesting story was reported in the Canberra Times (October 2013), describing how two young men in a 4WD drove through the water at Angle Crossing and proceeded up the other side. They soon heard banging and rustling sounds coming from their engine and pulled over to investigate. Gingerly they lifted the bonnet and found a platypus wedged inside! It was sitting just above the front wheel compartment and had hung on for 15 kilometres of the bumpy ride. Thankfully it was still alive and was returned safely back to Angle Crossing, with a one-in-a-million story to tell his platypus friends! See here for the full story.
Imagine finding one of these in your engine! Image: Wikapedia (By Klaus - Flickr)
Our family enjoyed our visit to Angle Crossing, exploring its banks, looking for platypus and watching cars slicing through the waters. On the winters day that we visited, it was rugged, wild and beautiful. Although Uriarra Crossing is still our favourite of the two, as it has more picnic amenities and safer areas to swim, we will come back to Angle Crossing in the summer months and see how the locals enjoy the area.
Living in Canberra, we are fortunate that the Murrumbidgee River runs through the ACT for 66km between Angle Crossing and Uriarra Crossing. In between is the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, where there are numerous places to fish, kayak, swim, walk along its length and enjoy the rugged scenery of the Murrumbidgee.
Why not check out the map below and have your own adventure this weekend?
Where will you start first? Map supplied by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate - Environment