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Canberra's River Swimming Holes

Home > Canberra > Barbecue | Outdoor | Playgrounds | Swimming Pools | Walks | Lists
by Sue W (subscribe)
New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published August 13th 2015
The Murrumbidgee, BBQ's & Playgrounds
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.

Cotter Avenue Swimming area, Cotter reserve, swimming in canberra, murrumbidgee river
Swimming at Cotter Avenue Recreation area


Cotter Dam, Canberra, BBQ areas, swimming holes in canberra
Cotter Dam - accessed from the reserve area or via the Cotter Dam Discovery Trail.


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.

Cotter Bend, Cotter Reserve, Canberra, Swimming waterholes, Canberra
Cotter Bend Swimming Area


Cotter Bend reserve, swimming, murrumbidgee river, Canberra
Large reserve at Cotter Bend for picnics, BBQ's and games of cricket


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.

Casurina Sands Swimming area, Cotter rd, Canberra, swimming holes
Casurina Sands swimming area


Casurina Sands, Cotter rd, Canberra swimming holes
Casurina Sands BBQ and playground area.


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.

For swimming areas to take your dogs to, Uriarra Crossing, Murrays Corner, and Point Hut Crossing are the only dog friendly parks you can take them to along the river.

Murrumbidgee River, Point Hut Crossing, Canberra, swimming
Point Hut Crossing with access from picnic area.


Point Hut Crossing also has a little sandy area next to the bridge.

Point Hut Crossing, Gordon, ACT
Point Hut Crossing little swimming beach


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.

Pine Island reserve, swimming holes in tuggeranong canberra
Pine Island Beach.


Pine Island BBQ area, Tuggeranong, swimming holes
Pine Island BBQ area.


Pine Island gates are closed from 6pm to 8am over winter, and from 9pm to 8am during daylight savings.

Other popular areas include Tharwa Sandwash and under Tharwa Bridge...

Tharwa Bridge, Tuggeranong, swimming holes, ACT
Swimming area under Tharwa Bridge


Further south, Angle Crossing has swimming areas either side of the bridge.

Although the water can appear murky in some parts of the Murrumbidgee River, it is a refreshing spot to have a paddle and swim if you are careful of the conditions.

Canberra has so many hidden places to explore, so pack the car and your esky and get out into Canberra's great outdoors this weekend.

Cotter Discovery Trail, Cotter Avenue Reserve, Canberra, swimming, walks in canberra
Enjoy the many walking trails along the river, such as the Cotter Dam Discovery Trail at Cotter Reserve.
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When: Open all year around.
Where: Click on blue links in this artcile for each individual map and details
Cost: Free BBQ's and entry
Your Comment
WOW! What beautiful scenery.
by Sherry (score: 2|440) 869 days ago
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