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Gibraltar Falls
near Canberra in the ACT


 
The pool on the edge of Gibraltar Falls looks like an amazing spot to swim, but does it live up to expectations? Without a doubt, the views are spectacular, looking out over the Gibraltar Creek and Paddys River valleys from the top of a cliff, bounded by a line of mountains on both sides. However, for the swim itself, here's a few things for you to consider before you rush to get into the water at this spot. The pool on the edge of Gibraltar Falls Above: The pool on the edge of Gibraltar Falls (Order gifts or prints of this image)

The pool itself is quite small and shallow, at around five metres across and five metres long, and only waist high deep.
It's not so much of a swim as a bathing experience. If you are visiting on a busy weekend in summer, you might have to share the pool with others, so be prepared to get social in this cramped space. If you can, try and visit on a weekday, when you are more likely to have the pool to yourself. The water is crystal clear, and the bed of the pool is clean sand and rock that is comfortable on your feet. This is however a mountain stream and the water temperature is icy, so much so that my knees hurt if I stayed in for more than a few minutes at a time during my swim in Autumn. I also swam in the Murrumbidgee River on the same day, and Gibraltar Creek was clearly several degrees colder, so bring a wetsuit unless the weather forecast is for very warm weather. Gibraltar Creek rock shelf and pool above Gibraltar Falls Above: Gibraltar Creek running through the smoothed rock shelf above Gibraltar Falls, with the pool on the right hand side (Order gifts or prints of this image)

During low flow conditions, the biggest risk here is getting to the pool. The managing authority strongly discourages people from venturing out onto the rock shelf above the falls because of the steep cliffs and risk of falling off. To reach the pool you need to leave the path to the falls before it starts to descend, and scramble through the light scrub on one of the well worn, but unofficial tracks. You will see several signs from the managing authority here, recommending that you don't leave the path. I found that I was able to navigate my way around to the pool from the opposite (eastern) bank after jumping across the creek, without too much trouble. The rock shelf has been worn down by the water and is smooth to the touch, so don't expect a firm grip to your shoes. I would not attempt to reach the pool if there was any dampness on the rocks, or if the creek was high.

In the pool itself, on my visit when the water level was below the main lip of the pool, the outlet to the waterfall was smaller than a person could readily fit through, and there was no real turbulence in the pool away from this outlet. In other words, I didn't feel in any danger of being sucked over the edge of the cliff, as long as I steered well clear of the pool outlet. The thick rock provides a solid wall along the downstream side of the pool. I was able to tentatively lean over the edge of the pool and look down the cliff face, but couldn't readily see the waterfall because the rock bulges out and obscures the view below.

If you are planning on a picnic here, there are a couple of picnic tables, barbecues and a lawn area near the car park, but these do not have a view of the falls. To reach the viewing platform for the falls, continue along the well-defined dirt track, where you will find a fenced area directly below the top of the falls. You can see photos of the falls themselves here.

Here is a video of my swim on the cliff top, taken mid-morning in Autumn, when the creek was flowing, but not in flood.

Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Corin Road, Paddys River, 45 km (approx. 45 minute drive) south-west of Canberra Central
Latitude:-35.487679 Longitude:148.933980
Getting there: From Canberra take the Tuggeranong Parkway (aka Drakeford Dr), Monaro Hwy or Yamba Drive south to the suburb of Gordon. From Gordon take Point Hut Road across the Murrumbidgee River for 4 km then turn right into Tidbinbilla Road and follow it for 6 km, then head left into Corin Road. Follow Corin Road for 6 km and look for the sign to the Gibraltar Falls car park on the left. The road to the falls car park is sealed. To reach the falls there is an 80 metre walk down some steps to the viewing platform.
Facilities: Toilets, bbqs, picnic tables, lawn area, car park
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Cool
Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Coarse sand, rock
Maximum water depth: Less than 1 metre
Suggested minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: All plants, animals and their habitat are protected, do not remove or interfere with historic sites or artefacts. No dogs.
Sun shade: No shade in the pool, but some natural shade at the picnic tables and barbecues
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: None
Accommodation Options: There is no camping at Gibraltar Falls. The nearest camping is at Woods Reserve, 3 km downstream along Corin Road, which is available on a first come first served basis for a nominal camping fee. The reserve is managed by the ACT Government. If you don't want to camp, the falls are within easy reach of Canberra for a half-day trip. If you are visiting Canberra and want to have better access to these falls, you can try accommodation in Greenway (Tuggeranong), which is the closest of Canberra's commercial centres to this waterfall.
Managing authority: ACT Government
Nearby attractions: There is a snow play area and all-year round toboggan ride at Corin Forest a few kilometres further up Corin Road.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information. Specific to this site, the managing authority advises not to walk out onto the area above the falls due to the steep cliffs. This advice from the managing authority includes not walking to the pool on the edge of the falls, which clearly involves some significant risks, particularly during high creek flows or when the rocks are even a little bit damp.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park at the falls.
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.
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