With warmer weather on the way, Canberran's seek all things outdoors for some fun in the sun. As Canberra is the only city not on the coast, local's and tourists find other ways to cool down and enjoy the recreation areas just outside the city.
There is 66km of the Murrumbidgee River running through the ACT, which provides swimming areas, fishing spots and BBQ areas to enjoy in Summer and all year around.
Cotter Recreation area is truly a hidden surprise 23km west of Canberra. Cotter Avenue is a popular spot with a large modern playground, plenty of BBQ's, Cotter Dam, walks, large grassy areas to spread out and swimming in the river. This would have to be the most popular reserve for Canberra local's over Summer, especially on Christmas Day.
A short walk or car ride over the bridge is Cotter Bend, where you can swim at a wide part of the river bend where Paddys River meets the Cotter River. With plenty of parking and BBQ's nearby this large reserve also has plenty of room for all.
A few minutes drive down the road is Casurina Sands. This area was recommended to us by friends as a more family-friendly area to swim and we can see why. With a real sandy beach and protected swimming area with no river run close to the shore, it is a great spot for kids. Afterwards have fun at the little playground and have a BBQ at the several available.
Please be aware that like all remote river swimming holes, there is no phone reception in these areas and no lifesavers on duty. In Summer we have been told that snakes are a common sight, so please be aware of this also as you walk to the water and have a BBQ. No dogs are allowed in the area and there are also no rubbish bins, so you need to take your rubbish back out with you.
In Tuggeranong, 22km south of the city, the two most popular areas are Kambah Pool and Pine Island Reserve.
Kambah Pool has a steep walk down rocky steps (which can be abit tricky with the young ones), however it has a good stretch of "beach" for people to spread out on with their towels and umbrellas. Be aware if you go to Kambah Pool area there is a hidden nudist beach a couple of hundred metres downstream from the general swimming area which is signposted. Kambah Pool gates are closed from 6pm to 8am over winter, and from 9pm to 8am during daylight savings.
Pine Island Reserve is another family favourite with several BBQ's, playground and a more inviting sandy beach area to paddle from. Locals start swimming in the water after October as the water starts to warm up, and is a popular weekend recreation area in Summer.