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.
Above: The weir pool when the river was moderately full
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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.
Above: The western end of Casuarina Sands, looking upstream from the smaller beach
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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.
Other Information Before You Go:
Cotter Road, Stromlo, ACT, 22 km (approx. 25 min. drive) west of Canberra Central.
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.
Car park, toilets, wood barbecues (BYO wood), picnic tables, playground, drinking water,
Clear to cloudy
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.
Shade available out of the water. No shade available in the water.
Wheelchair accessible paths and toilet
There is no camping at Casuarina Sands. The nearest campground is at
, 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.
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
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. 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.).
The marker indicates the approximate location of the main beach at Casuarina Sands.
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 conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.