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Casuarina Sands
Murrumbidgee River, Stromlo ACT


 
The Murrumbidgee River at Casuarina Sands is a popular, deeper water swim along the river, with a downstream weir backing up the flow to create a long pool. From the park entrance head left to the two sandy beaches in front of the western car park, particularly if you are also planning a picnic, or turn right to the eastern car park to reach deeper water and either float or follow the walking trail down towards the weir. Swimming in the weir at Casuarina Sands Above: The weir pool when the river was moderately full (Order gifts or prints of this image)

The shallower, western end of this stretch of river provides easier entry to the water and has much more space on the bank to spread out on a busy swimming day. The facilities here are also much better if you are planning a few ball games or a barbecue out of the water. It is here that you will see more of the Casuarina trees that lend this place its name, rising up from the sand on the floodplain next to the river.
The best beach is actually slightly to the left of the barbecues, just at the bend in the river below a set of rapids. The backdrop for your swim here is a craggly granite cliff on the opposite bank of the river. Swimming at the beach at Casuarina Sands Above: The western end of Casuarina Sands, looking upstream from the smaller beach (Order gifts or prints of this image)

The eastern (downstream) end of Casuarina Sands offers a deeper swim. I found the water here a bit murkier because of the depth, and the river bed dropped away almost immediately away from the shore. There are a few small sandy entry points to the water, including one just to the left of the car park, but most seem to get deep quickly. If the river level is low, you will need to walk downstream along the path that runs along the river to find the longest stretch of deep water. This spot is great for a genuine swim or on an inflatable, as long as you are mindful of the current.

Casuarina Sands is one of six swimming spots that were formally recommended by the ACT Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. The Minister described it as "a great place to relax and have a picnic" (20/12/12). Endorse the Minister's comment with a sausage in bread after your swim.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Cotter Road, Stromlo, ACT, 22 km (approx. 25 min. drive) west of Canberra Central.
Latitude:-35.319262 Longitude:148.952217
Getting there: From parliament house, head west along Adelaide Avenue / Cotter Road. Casuarina Sands is at the hairpin bend in Cotter Road, just before you cross the Murrumbidgee River.
Facilities: Car park, toilets, wood barbecues (BYO wood), picnic tables, playground, drinking water, picnic shelter.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild
Water clarity: Clear to cloudy
Under foot: Sand, rock
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Suggested minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced. There have been several drownings here over the years.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No dogs. No rubbish bins provided, so take your rubbish home with you. Collection of standing or fallen timber is illegal, so BYO wood for the barbecues.
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water. No shade available in the water.
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible paths and toilet
Accommodation Options: There is no camping at Casuarina Sands. The nearest campground is at Cotter Campground, which is over the bridge and about a kilometre further up Cotter Road. Cotter Campground has unpowered sites for around $12 per adult (at the time of writing), with no bookings taken. Alternatively, if you are staying overnight in Canberra and don't want to camp, you can try accommodation in Canberra, with areas around Yarralumla, Deakin, Forrest, Curtin and Barton being some of the suburbs closer to this swimming spot.
Managing authority: ACT Government
Nearby attractions: Cotter River at Cotter Campground, which is just over a kilometre upstream on the Cotter River.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information. This spot has been the site of several drownings over the years, including one as recent as December 2016. Most of these occurred prior to modifications to the weir wall in 1991 to improve its safety. If you are not a strong swimmer, stay well away from the weir pool, and restrict your swimming to where you can stand up at the beaches near the western car park. Specific to this site, the managing authority advises that there are strong currents, shallow water, submerged objects, deep water, slippery and uneven ground, steep banks and snakes. The managing authority also advises that mobile phone reception is not reliable throughout the Murrumbidgee River corridor, so do not depend on your phone for safety or directions.

Water quality in the Canberra area can sometimes be unsuitable for swimming. For regular updates on whether the water quality at this site is suitable for swimming, see the ACT Government's water quality alerts. Signs on site indicate when the river is closed for swimming due to poor water quality. As a general rule, don't plan to swim here after rain because the river may be closed to swimming due to agricultural runoff from upstream areas (i.e. animal faeces, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, etc.).
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the main beach at Casuarina Sands.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by swimmers on this website. If you are visiting this swimming spot and have any further updates on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
If you would like to leave a comment about this swimming spot, please fill in the comment box below. I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions. Make sure you let me know whether you consent to having your comments published on this website.

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