Escape the city for boating, bushwalking & quiet bliss
Googong Dam is located in a remote bushland location less than half an hour south of Canberra's CBD and 20 minutes from the southern suburbs of Tuggeranong. The 66 metre high dam was completed in 1979 to block the flow of the Queanbeyan River to provide drinking water to Canberra and Queanbeyan. Today, most of Canberra's water supply comes from the Cotter system, west of the city, however this dam is still used as a back up supply in Summer if needed. The foreshore areas in particular are now used as a popular recreation ground for the surrounding region for fishing, boating, bushwalking, mountain bike riding, picnics and BBQs.
To look after this pristine environment only sailing boats, canoes, kayaks and boats with electric motors are allowed out onto the dam. Although it looks tempting, swimming is not permitted in the dam and dogs are not allowed. This huge expanse of blue is a welcome sight in contrast to the rural bush setting, with boats seen all over the dam on weekends enjoying the fishing and access to remote bushwalking areas.
There are a dozen walks of varying grades that you can do around the dam foreshores and learn about the aboriginal and farming history of the area. If you love mountain biking, there are also numerous fire trails to explore. Why not track down an approved fishing area to throw in a line and try your luck at catching Rainbow Trout, Golden Perch, Murray Cod and Silver Perch (with a NSW fishing licence). Local fishermen of the Googong Dam have created their own fishing DVDs showing their large Murray Cod captures, see here for examples of what you could catch out on the water.
There are two areas of the Googong Dam Foreshore to explore - north and south. The Northern Foreshore is closest to the dam and has a boat ramp, fishing area, lookouts, bushwalks and picnic areas to enjoy. Perhaps take an esky and have a BBQ after your walk, to enjoy this quiet location a little longer. The bushwalks along the foreshore range between 200 metres graded as easy to 19.7km and graded as hard, with several walks in between. If you visit during the week, you will have the whole foreshore to yourselves to spot native endangered wildlife and over 165 types of birds that can be found here. For more information about the bushwalks see here, under Walking Trails.
Map of Googong Foreshore North. Source: tams ACT website
View of the Shoreline Walk (4) from Drumstick Point
The Southern Foreshore is accessed from Burra Road, further around the dam. This area is very remote, with the road to the dam unsealed and you also need to hop out to open a farm gate onto private land. Getting to the southern end of the dam is an adventure in itself, with little phone reception and bushland in all directions. Once there, you can access a range of walks including the popular walk to London Bridge Arch, a naturally formed limestone bridge of rock stretching over Burra Creek. This area was used by local aboriginal tribes, including the Ngunnawal people, for thousands of years. A circuit walk of two hours will take you across London Bridge Arch up along Burra Creek to the London Bridge Homestead, a historical home built by early settler and Irishman John McNamara in 1857.
If you enjoy bird watching, the Tin Hut Dam walk features a bird hide with displays, two bird hide screens, seats and a loop walk. Take your binoculars and camera and spend some time at this scenic location.
Please note, due to this remote location it is advised to take emergency supplies with you and a snake bite kit in the warmer months.
Map of Googong Foreshores South. Source: tams ACT website
In recent years, the new self-contained township of Googong has been built nearby, with the first stage of development completed and more stages to come. Residents have access to Googong Dam and the Southern Foreshore minutes down the road. If you are visiting the dam, why not take a quick drive around this new area and stop for a coffee or a play at Beltana Park for the kids. Eventually the estate will have over 5,550 homes out in this region, creating their own "Googonian" community.
The Googong Dam and foreshores are a quiet oasis away from the city. It is an easy drive from Canberra, particularly the southern suburbs of Tuggeranong, to visit on weekends and enjoy a bushwalk, BBQ or boating adventure. The Northern Foreshore area is the easiest to get to with sealed roads and easy access. Although not large, it has enough BBQ areas and plenty of parking to accommodate many during the peak months. As an inland city, Canberrans enjoy spending time by the inland dams, lakes and rivers that surround the region. This dam covers 696 hectares of water, making it a good sized waterway to explore by kayak or boat.
So why not strap the kayak on the car or lace up your hiking boots and see what you can discover at Googong Dam. If you want to escape the city, this rural location is guaranteed to slow you down to the country way of life, just half an hour from the city.
Whilst there remember to stop and listen. You won't hear a thing.