River swimming, picnics, walks & dog friendly areas
Uriarra Crossing is a swimming and recreation area on the Murrumbidgee River, less than half an hour west of Canberra's CBD. To get there, visitors need to drive past the new suburb of Denman Prospect, before the road turns into a windy, scenic country drive towards the hills west of Canberra. From this direction, the first turn-off you see is the Uriarra East Reserve which is the most popular area for swimming, picnics and games of cricket on the grassy reserve. On this side of the river there are little sandy beaches to paddle off from, to feel the crystal clear waters that come straight down from the Snowy Mountains - and yes, it's cold!
...but beautifully refreshing in summer! Uriarra East Reserve swimming hole
Also in this reserve, you will find firewood BBQ areas (BYO wood), clean toilets (with a parents room) and plenty of grassy areas to lay down a picnic blanket. On our visit, on a beautiful sunny day in the middle of winter, we were the only ones there enjoying the area, skimming stones across the water and appreciating the serenity. Faint "baaa's" could be heard from behind the reserve, with newborn lambs and their mothers on the hillside property nearby. The whole effect was quiet, serene and natural. Although this reserve would be full of Canberra locals over the summer months, the winter months provide a quiet haven to explore the area.
Dogs are welcome to swim at this location, however they aren't allowed on the walking trails that begin from this reserve (see map below). Other dog-friendly reserves along the river are at Murrays Corner and Point Hut Crossing. Another point to note is that swimming is at your own risk, as there are no lifeguards at any of the Murrumbidgee River swimming areas.
After exploring this scenic reserve on the eastern side of the river, we then hopped back in the car and drove a few minutes, over the Uriarra Crossing bridge itself, to the Uriarra West Reserve, on the other side of the water. If it was summer and you were a good swimmer, you could easily swim across from one side to the other, otherwise it is a short drive to the other reserve, which is slightly smaller but equally as beautiful as across the river. The western side also has firewood BBQs, toilets, a long grassy area, picnic tables and also some rocky areas to explore - perfect for skimming stones.
Please note however, that the Uriarra Crossing bridge can go under water after heavy rain and the bridge across to this reserve will be closed.
According to the map, there was also another recreation area on the other side of the Uriarra Crossing bridge, so we took a short walk over to the other side and discovered another swimming and picnic area, Swamp Creek. This reserve also has the same amenities, with prominent fishing signs, so it must be good spot on the river for dropping in a line or two. Fish that you can catch in the Murrumbidgee River include Golden Perch, Redfin and Murray Cod. See here for details of fishing in the ACT.
Swamp Creek, with picnic tables and firewood BBQ areas
The Murrumbidgee River Corridor is a hidden treasure, just a short drive from Canberra's city centre. It is accessible for all visitors to the Capital and to all residents, with access from both sides of the city. For details on other river swimming holes in Canberra, see a full article here - with Cotter Avenue, Cotter Bend, Casuarina Sands, Pine Island and Kambah Pool the most popular. No dogs are allowed at these swimming areas.
Although each and every picnic area along the Murrumbidgee River provides a scenic place to relax, Uriarra Crossing is particularly beautiful with wide expanses of green along the riverbank and sandy areas by the river, to sink your toes into. It has not just one, but three reserves to choose from all in the one area, if you are meeting up with friends and spending a leisurely summers day by the river.
For us however, winter was the perfect time to explore this stunning area, as we had this little pocket of nature all to ourselves...
Natural beauty and tranquility at Uriarra Crossing