swimh header
← Home fb icon Next page →

Swimming Hole Heaven in Canberra and the ACT
Your guide to the best swimming holes


 
Canberra's six most popular swimming holes have been formally recognised by the ACT Minister for Territory and Municipal Services for their social and recreational value. In a government first in Australia, the Minister "encouraged families to discover Canberra's top six swimming spots" including several along "the majestic Murrumbidgee River Corridor" (Shane Rattenbury MLA media release, 20/12/2012). Below is a review of those six spots, including how to get there and what to expect, plus several other swimming holes that didn't make it into the Minister's in-tray. The best time of year for swimming in the outdoors in this region is roughly from September to April, when the weather is at its warmest and days above 30 degrees can occur. Peak swimming conditions occur in summer and early Autumn from December to March, with swimming holes along the Murrumbidgee River having reliable flow throughout this period.
Select Your Swim:
Click or tap on the heading of each location to find your next swimming day trip or holiday destination or alternatively search by map. Swim safe, have fun and remember that no matter how cold the water is, it's alright once you're in!
Murrumbidgee River Corridor
Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Casuarina Sands Casuarina Sands is an 800 metre long section of the Murrumbidgee River with a deep pool formed by a weir across the river. There are several sandy beaches for wading at the western end of the weir pool, near the picnic area, or deeper water for swimming in the weir pool itself… Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Kambah Pool Popular with both swimmers and canoers, Kambah Pool has a long, uninterrupted sandy beach at the upstream end of this wide and tranquil body of water. Immediately downstream of the pool in a rockier and more heavily vegetated area of the river, there is a government sanctioned nude bathing area for skinny dipping… Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Pine Island Beach Pine Island Beach is a sandy inlet formed by a small island in the Murrumbidgee River that creates a calmer and slightly warmer bay of water for shallow water play, or venture out into the main current for a deeper water swim… Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Pine Island South When Pine Island Beach is too crowded, head further upstream to Pine Island South, where you will find deeper water, swifter currents and some gnarly rapids, but still plenty of sand at the water's edge and a wide grassy floodplain for ball games… Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Point Hut Point Hut Recreation Area spans two sides of the Murrumbidgee River. The best swimming is at the dog-friendly beach on the western side of the river, where you'll find a shallow rock pool with fast flowing water close to the shore and deeper water for swimming further out… Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa Bridge This was a historical crossing point for wading across the Murrumbidgee River, well before the bridge existed. The Murrumbidgee River spreads out wide at Tharwa Bridge, creating a sheet of shallow water to plonk yourself down in, or for splashing about in sunlight and shadow on either side of the concrete pylons…
Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa Sandwash Tharwa Sandwash is a towering mound of sand banked up behind a rock in the middle of the Murrumbidgee River. Swim at the partly sheltered, sandy beach or use it as a launch pad to float or swim back to the steps at the car park 150 metres downstream… Swimming Hole Heaven - Murrumbidgee River at Uriarra Crossing The Murrumbidgee River at Uriarra Crossing has several riverside picnic areas with direct access to the shallow water, which has a mix of sandy beaches and rocky outcrops for swimming. At less than half an hour from town, this spot is popular with Canberrans and their dogs…
Cotter River
Swimming Hole Heaven - Cotter River at Cotter Avenue Coming straight out of Cotter Dam, the Cotter River here is clean and clear, but also shallow and playful in the summertime. Fly over the little concrete weir or wade upstream to the more tranquil, shallow pool behind a balancing stone wall… Swimming Hole Heaven - Cotter River at Cotter Bend Cotter Bend is a little hideaway at the junction of the Cotter and Paddys Rivers that offers shade over the river, a mix of shallow and deeper water for swimming, and oodles of open parkland on the floodplain nearby… Swimming Hole Heaven - Cotter River at Cotter Campground At Cotter Campground you can roll out of your tent, roll down the hill, roll across the grassy floodplain and then roll into the water - what a great camping spot so close to Canberra. A little weir backs up the water for swimming or shallow water play…
Paddys River
Swimming Hole Heaven - Gibraltar Falls The view from this little pool at the edge of a cliff at the top of Gibraltar Falls is spectacular, but what's it really like for swimming? Find out here when I road test a dip in the chilly, clear water of Gibraltar Creek and peer out over the edge… Swimming Hole Heaven - Paddys River at Murrays Corner Murrays Corner is a ford across the Paddys River, with a flat, sandy river bed upstream and downstream for splashing around in. It's not really deep enough for a swim, but the clear water and golden sand are inviting for water play or to cool off your feet…
Canberra's Urban Lakes
Swimming Hole Heaven - Lake Burley Griffin at Weston Park, Yarralumla Swim out to the two pontoons tethered offshore in this bay at Weston Park for a different view of the nation's capital. This swimming area in Lake Burley Griffin also includes a fenced swimming enclosure for toddlers and a sandy beach…
Swimming Hole Heaven - Lake Burley Griffin at Black Mountain Peninsula, Acton For the best views of Black Mountain from the peninsula, head out into the water towards the little island in this protected bay in Lake Burley Griffin, which has a coarse sandy beach, a boundary rope, and a fenced off area for younger swimmers… Swimming Hole Heaven - Lake Tuggeranong at Ngadyung Beach, Greenway This little beach on the western shore was acting as a litter trap when I visited, but once past the plastic bottles on the shore, the water is fairly clear and calm. The the designated swimming beach is a dog-free area… Yerra Beach on the western shore of Lake Ginninderra has a curved sandy beach with two bays that look out onto a large swimming enclosure, as well as a smaller toddlers enclosure. When the water quality in the lake is good, as monitored by the ACT goverment, this is a reasonable swim and picnic option if you can't get out of Canberra… Canberra's Warmest Pools Too cold to swim outside? Looking for the warmest indoor pool near you? Here is a list of the water temperature in the warmest pool and the warmest lap pool in every public swimming pool in Canberra. This city can get very cold, so you are really going to want to bookmark this list…
Swimming Hole Heaven - Southern New South Wales (inland) Here are some swimming holes in southern New South Wales outside of the ACT, many of which you could reach in a day trip from Canberra. These include a warm spring and several swimming spots along the mighty River Murray. This area covers swims in the southern half of the State, west of the Great Dividing Range, excluding the ACT…

Each swimming spot includes a link to swimming safety information. Please make sure you read that information before you head out, particularly if you are an inexperienced swimmer.

I'm always interested in hearing about and visiting new swimming holes, so feel free to share them with me and suggest a swim.
Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria After more than a decade of research, here are my top 50 swimming holes in Victoria. Make the most of your holiday when you head south of the border, including some swims that are within easy reach of southern NSW. Waterfall Seasons of Australia My companion website Waterfall Seasons - The Waterfall Guide lists all of the waterfalls that I have visited during my search for swimming holes. You can swim at some of them, but most are just for viewing and admiring. Great for a day trip when it's too chilly to get into the water. Ankle Deep Water - Splash Parks, Shallow Beaches, Lakes and Streams My companion website Ankle Deep Water lists shallow water recreation areas that I have come across during my search for swimming holes. These are for splashing or relaxing to cool down without fully committing to a swim. Most are suitable for inexperienced swimmers, so they can be a great option if you have a young family.

© Brad Neal 2017. All rights reserved.