Cotter Bend is located at the junction of the Cotter and Paddys Rivers and offers a swim with shade over the water from overhanging
pine trees on the banks of the Cotter. This is a significant advantage over swimming in the nearby Murrumbidgee River corridor for
those who sunburn easily. Sitting under one of those pines on the pebbled mound at the bend, the water wraps around you in a near
360 degree view, as well as providing a tantalising glimpse of the Paddys River upstream.
Above: The deeper pool beneath the pines at Cotter Bend
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There are a range of water depths here, with a deeper hole in the Cotter River immediately before
and at the bend where it joins the Paddys River, as well as shallow water that you can skip through on the downstream side of the bend
and in the Paddys River.
There is a bit of accumulated silt downstream of the bend, which can stir up when you walk through it, and there are plenty of stones
that have been deposited in the conflicting currents of previous high flow events, so its best to wear a pair of sandals or swimming
Above: Cotter Bend looking upstream to the Paddys River from the stone beach
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It's only a small beach, but it has the advantage (and disadvantage) of not being visible from the nearby picnic area and lawn on the Cotter River
floodplain, so it feels secluded when there are not too many others down by the river. The lawns are extensive, with plenty of room for an extended family
picnic and ball games in between your swims.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Cotter Bend, off Cotter Road, Coree, ACT, 24 km (approx. 25 min. drive) west of Canberra Central.
From parliament house, head west along Adelaide Avenue / Cotter Road. Cotter Bend
is on the left hand side immediately before crossing the Cotter River. The junction of the Cotter and Paddys
Rivers is accessible from a short (~50 metre) path at the western end of the car park.
Car park, toilets, electric barbecues, picnic tables, lawn areas, walking trails, drinking fountain,
bike path. There are no bins provided so take your rubbish home with you.
Stones, silty sand
Maximum water depth:
1 to 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 collecting firewood, no
camping, no open fires, no taking of native plants or animals.
Shade available in and out of the water
Wheelchair accessible paths, but access to the water is across an uneven stone beach with a moderately steep bank in parts
There is no camping at Cotter Bend. There are 50 unpowered sites at the adjacent
, less than 1 km downstream on Cotter Road, which is available on a
first come first served basis for a nominal camping fee. The campground is managed by the ACT Government.
If you are visiting 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.
Nearby attractions: Cotter Campground
, which is a few hundred metres
downstream by road, and Cotter Avenue
, roughly the same distance upstream.
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
. 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 this area, 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
. The water quality at downstream Cotter Campground
would be a reasonable indicator of water quality
risks for swimmers at Cotter Bend, and swimming at Cotter Bend should be avoided when Cotter Campground is closed for swimming. 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 of the Paddys River (i.e. animal faeces, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, etc.).
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park at Cotter Avenue.
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 conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.