There are several swimming spots along the Murrumbidgee River at the three picnic areas in the vicinity of Uriarra Crossing.
The best of these is the sandy beach at Uriarra East Picnic Area, because it is protected somewhat from the river currents by
a rock barrier that extends out into the river immediately upstream. However, all three picnic areas are within a few
hundred metres of each other, so you can readily move between them by car, foot or, during low river flow periods, in the water.
Swamp Creek Picnic Area also has a sandy beach, but
with a slightly steeper entry into the water, whilst Uriarra West Picnic Area has mainly rock outcrops.
Above: The Murrumbidgee River from the Uriarra West picnic area, looking upstream. Image source:
The river is typically lower and the current less swift in late summer and early autumn, with the
visibility in the water reasonably good under these flow conditions. However if you are coming for a swim in spring, expect the river to be
higher, the water muddier and the current swifter,
which will make it more difficult to swim upstream, and more difficult to see the submerged rocks around the Uriarra West
Picnic Area. The Murrumbidgee River can swell considerably during floods, when you should stay out of the water here at those
Apart from swimming, this site is also enjoyable for a picnic at any of the three areas, or for a walk along the
river on one of several walking trails. The 2 km Uriarra Loop is a pleasant walk that starts and ends at the Uriarra East
Picnic Area and takes you near the Molongolo River junction with the Murrumbidgee.
This swimming spot is a designated dog off-leash area, so don't be surprised if you are sharing the water with a pooch.
If you are a dog owner, make sure you clean up after your dog, so that no one has to swim in its poo. Note that dogs
are not allowed on the nearby walking trails (Uriarra Loop, Woodstock and Shepherds Lookout walking trails).
Other Information Before You Go:
Uriarra Road, Stromlo, ACT, 26 km (approx. 30 min. drive) west of Canberra Central.
From parliament house, head west along Adelaide Avenue / Cotter Road / John Gorton Drive to
Wright, then turn left along Opperman Ave and then right into Uriarra Road, which takes you to the river. At the
Murrumbidgee River, the turnoff for the Uriarra East Picnic Area is roughly 1 km before you reach the bridge.
After crossing the bridge, head left and then left again to the Uriarra West Picnic Area, or right and then
right to the Swamp Creek Picnic Area.
All three picnic areas have a car park, toilets, wood barbecues (BYO wood) and picnic tables. Uriarra West
and Swamp Creek Picnic Area also have a picnic shelter if it rains.
Clear to cloudy
Maximum water depth:
Suggested minimum swimming proficiency required:
Beginners during low flow conditions, under supervision. Experienced
at other times.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
Dogs permitted at the picnic areas and in the water,
but cannot be taken on the walking trails. 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 in the middle of the day.
Limited shade available in the water early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
There is no camping at these picnic areas. The nearest campground is at Stony Creek
Nature Reserve, which is about 10 km to the north by road. Alternatively, if you are staying overnight in
Canberra, you can try
accommodation in Canberra
with areas around Yarralumla, Deakin, Forrest, Curtin and Barton being some of the suburbs closest to this swimming spot.
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. 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
. As a general rule, avoid swimming here after rain due to agricultural runoff from upstream
areas (i.e. poo, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, etc.). 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
The marker indicates the approximate location of the beach at the Uriarra East Picnic Area.
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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.