The Murrumbidgee River is a natural asset to the city of Canberra, twisting and turning for 66km through the ACT. There are many popular BBQ and swimming areas along the river, however there are also other places to walk, stay, see and explore. For a map of the different places to visit along the river, see here.
Before you start exploring however, please be aware that phone reception isn't strong in many areas and there are no lifeguards or swimming aids along the river, if you want to go in for a dip. If you visit in the hotter months, it is also the natural environment for snakes. Although that all sounds very daunting, it is just like visiting anywhere else in the Australian bush - there is plenty of adventure, with just a few things to look out for. So pack up the esky and enjoy a day of exploring - who knows what you'll discover along the way!
The Murrumbidgee Discovery Track is a 27 kilometre walk along the river, which starts at Point Hut in the south and finishes at Casuarina Sands in the north. Along the way you will find well-managed tracks, signs, bridges and mostly flat terrain, making it an enjoyable walk for all ages and fitness levels. This walk can be broken up into more manageable walks, such as Point Hut to Pine Island (4km one way), Pine Island to Kambah Pool (7km one way), Kambah Pool to Red Rocks Gorge (2km one way) and Kambah Pool to Casuarina Sands (14km one way). A popular idea with some walkers, if you have two cars, is to leave a car at either end so you can walk from one to the other without back-tracking. See here for a map and details.
Bridges and a well-marked track to Red Rocks Gorge
Uriarra Loop Walk is located at Uriarra Crossing Recreation Area, further north near the top of the ACT. This recreational area is made up of Uriarra East Reserve, Uriarra West Reserve and Swamp Creek, which are all dog-friendly reserves with wood-fired BBQs, toilets, river swimming and large grassy reserves for games of cricket, or a game of "fetch".
One place dogs can't go however, is on the Uriarra Loop Walk, which is a 3.5km return walk which starts from Uriarra East Reserve. At the far end of the car park you will find the entrance to the walk, which takes you for a loop along the Murrumbidgee River and up into the graze lands and back to the start. There is also the option to walk up to Shepherds Lookout for a birds-eye view of the Murrumbidgee. See here for maps and details.
The Cotter Campground is the only place you can camp along the Murrumbidgee River itself. This family-friendly camping spot is enjoyed by all ages as it has hot showers, swimming areas, noise restrictions and plenty of things to see and do in the local area. No bookings are required, however, you need to pay via the honesty box at the entrance to the grounds. See here for details.
Not far from the campground you will find Cotter Avenue, which is the most popular reserve on the Murrumbidgee River. It has walks, a large playground for the kids, river swimming and a long stretch of grass along the river to picnic or BBQ. Across the river is Cotter Bend and then a short drive away is Casuarina Sands, which is particularly popular with families.
Honesty Box system at Cotter Campground
Take a short drive to the sandy shores of Casuarina Sands
Shepherds Lookout is located in the northern suburb of Holt, or you can walk to it from Uriarra Crossing Recreation Area (as mentioned above under "Walks"). From the car park it is just a 600 metre walk to the viewing platform, with a view that stretches along the length of the Murrumbidgee River, showing where it enters into NSW. This particular walk is also dog-friendly. See here for details (under Walking Trails) and here for map of how to get there.
View of the Murrumbidgee River, from Shepherds Lookout. Image: ACT Government website
Lambrigg Lookout isn't listed on the tourist brochures as it is a little run-down, however if you happen to stop, you will find an interesting story of national importance. Do you remember the old paper notes of Australia's currency? Have you ever wondered who the man on the back of the $2 note is, next to the ears of wheat?
The man on the note was William Farrer, who lived with his wife at Lambrigg farm on the Murrumbidgee River, just below the lookout. After 20 years of propagating and experimenting on the farm, he developed type of wheat that could withstand Australia's harsh climate and disease. This new discovery was distributed to farmers across Australia and was the reason why Australia then became one of the world's largest exporter of wheat. See here for a map.
Lambrigg Lookout, a tucked away piece of local and national history
The Murrumbidgee River is 66 kilometres of outdoor adventure and discovery, with fishing and kayaking also options along its waterways. If you aren't feeling that energetic however, you can also take a scenic drive along Tourist Drive 5 (from either Stromlo or Gordon) and cross the Murrumbidgee River at either end. However you decide to enjoy the river, the natural attractions west of the city are the ideal place to escape to each weekend, to breathe in the air and paddle in the freshest of waters.
Why don't you hit the road and discover the Murrumbidgee River, this weekend?
Head off on your own adventure! (Photo taken on walk between Point Hut and Pine Island, on the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track)
Why? Explore Canberra's west, just 20 minutes from the city!
When:Reserves open 24 hours a day, although Pine Island and Kambah Pool are closed to vehicles at night. During daylight savings time you can access these areas from 8 am to 9 pm, and during non-daylight savings times between 8 am and 6 pm.
I appreciate how beautifu the river is.
If I drive to one end and walk to the other end, how do I get back to my car?
How many hours would it take to walk from end to end?
Is it possible to join a group?
Being an oldie, how far apart are decent and clean toilets?
If I get half way and need to stop / exit, is that possible?
Seems to me that this walk is not easily undertaken.