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Cotter Campground
Cotter River, Stromlo ACT

At Cotter Campground, from your camping spot at the top of the hill you can roll out of your tent, roll down the hill, roll across the narrow grassy floodplain, and then roll into the water. Don't forget to unzip yourself from your sleeping bag on the last few turns before you hit the water. This is a fantastic little camping spot for swimmers, located right next a shallow weir pool on the Cotter River. Swimming in the weir pool at Cotter Campground Above: The tranquil weir pool at Cotter Campground (Order gifts or prints of this image)

I spent my time at the downstream weir pool, where the water was surprisingly shallow. During low flow conditions you can walk out into the middle of the river along the flat concrete wall that sits just above the water level. Here you can sit yourself down in the rushing water on the weir crest, or in the calmer, shallow water just above it.
You can also dangle your feet in the water from the steel fishway that protrudes upstream into the weir pool, and check through the grill to see if there are any travellers on it. Sparkling riffles running off the weir wall at Cotter Campground Above: Sparkling riffles running off the weir wall at Cotter Campground (Order gifts or prints of this image)

There are lots of submerged rocks in the area upstream of the weir pool, but the visibility in the water during summer is usually good enough to see and avoid them. If you have an inflatable, you can wander up to the footbridge at the other end of the campsite and float downstream to the weir. There are a few deeper holes along the way, but you will be able to stand up and exit the river if you can steer yourself over to the concrete walkway, just before you reach the weir.

If you are coming on a busy summer weekend, there's not a lot of room for casual parking here and the limited number of campsites are usually very hot property, so have a backup plan for your swim at one of the other swimming holes nearby. If it is busy, you can also park upstream at Cotter Bend where there a more spaces, and either swim there, or walk 400 metres downstream along the track beside the river to reach Cotter Campground.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Cotter Road, Stromlo, ACT, 24 km (approx. 25 min. drive) west of Canberra Central.
Latitude:-35.325539 Longitude:148.948126
Getting there: From parliament house, head west along Adelaide Avenue / Cotter Road. Cotter Campground is on your left, just after you cross the Murrumbidgee River.
Facilities: Car park, toilets, showers, washing up sink, electric and wood barbecues (BYO wood), picnic tables, sheltered picnic tables, campground, drinking water, walking trail, public telephone, rubbish hopper
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Mild
Water clarity: Clear to cloudy
Under foot: Sand, rock, concrete
Maximum water depth: 1-2 metres
Suggested minimum swimming proficiency required: Beginners (under supervision, during low flow conditions)
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No dogs, no pets, no generators, no collecting firewood, no camping on the grassy floodplain, no diving in the water, no loud music after 10pm, no drinking parties, no taking of native plants or animals, light fires only in fireplaces provided, maximum stay is 2 weeks. Fishing is permitted.
Sun shade: Shade available out of the water. Limited shade available in the water from overhanging trees.
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible paths and toilet, but I didn't see a wheelchair accessible path down to the weir
Accommodation Options: There are 50 unpowered sites at Cotter Campground, which you can read about on the ACT government website. These are available on a first come, first served basis and you can't book a site. There is a notional cost per night ($12 at the time of writing) with a maximum of two weeks' stay. 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. This spot is within easy reach of the city for a half-day trip.
Managing authority: ACT Government
Nearby attractions: Murrumbidgee River at Casuarina Sands, which is a few hundred metres downstream by road or inflatable.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information. Specific to this site, the managing authority advises that there are strong currents and submerged rocks, and diving into the water is prohibited. The managing authority provides general advice on site about swimming in the ACT's rivers 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 weir at Cotter Campground.
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.
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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