Dipping into Canberra’s Natural Swimming Holes
Although winter is just around the corner it is still not too late to head out and admire Canberra’s beautiful natural landscape. A suggestion for the weekend would be to visit one of Canberra’s abundant swimming holes, and if you’re not too keen for a chilly dip, then you can find yourself relaxing over a picnic or BBQ, being one with nature, and drawing in the last warmth before the cool draws in.
For those of you who have started to turn on your heating, of course only socially acceptable after Anzac Day, and the chill outside is too much, then why not start planning for those nice hot days where you could cool of in one of Canberra’s many swimming holes with friends. It’s never too early to plan a group date, because we all know how all those turn out.
Here, I have compiled a list of swimming holes in the ACT to help you get started.
Naturally, one of the first places that come to mind is Kambah pool. Known for its abundance of swimming spots, catering for everyone, from families to those who are more adventurous and enjoy a bit of skinny dipping. For those that don’t mind nudity, then the northern section of the pool is reserved for nude bathing, and there are signposts that sets out the perimeter.
Located off Kambah Pool Road via Sulwood Drive in Kambah, and only 20 minutes from Civic, transit via car is the best option, with only a short walking distance to the park.
Apart from swimming, Kambah pool offers great views of the Murrumbidgee river, is a great place for fishing, and is a great spot for bird watching. If you’re from the more elite group of the human race and enjoy a good hike, then Kambah pool also gives access to the impressive Murrumbidgee Discovery Track (27 km).
Access to the pool is from 0800 to 1800 during winter, and from 0800 to 2100 during daylight savings.
Upstream from Kambah Pool is Pine Island Reserve. Only a few minutes from Tuggeranong and 30 minutes from the CBD, it is very popular amongst Canberrans. There are electric barbecues offered and a playground for the kids.
Again, you can access the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track from Pine Island or if that’s a bit too much for you, there are shorter tracks available around the reserve. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you.
Pine Island can be accessed through Pine Island Road, Greenway. Opening hours are the same as Kambah Pool. 0800 to 1800 (during winter) and 0800 to 2100 (during daylight savings).
Further along the river, going past Kambah Pool again, you’ll find yourself along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River at Casuarina Sand. Here there are plenty of riverside beaches, barbeques and recently installed playgrounds. Casuarina Sands has been known for being a popular fishing spot.
Located only 25 minutes from Civic, it is located off Cotter Road.
Also, just down the road from Casuarina Sands and below Cotter Dam is the Cotter Bend. Most, if not all Canberrans have dropped down to the dam, and if you haven’t, you should definitely give it a try. What’s unique about this location is that it’s the meeting point between Paddy’s River and the Cotter River.
Nearby, there is the Bullen Track (4.5km return), the Cotter Explorer Track (2km return), and luckily for the faint hearted a 1km return track of the Cotter Dam Discover Trail – something more up my alley.
Again only 25 minutes from the city, the Cotter Bend is on Cotter Road and is literally where the road bends before it changes over into Paddy’s River Road, it would be hard to miss.
Black Mountain Peninsula
Lastly, although not naturally a swimming spot, it worth to mention that the man-made Lake Burley Griffin offers a great swimming, picnic, and barbeque area at the Black Mountain Peninsula. More aimed for families, this great spot has recently been renovated with better access to the lakeside and upgraded facilities for the family to enjoy.
The peninsula was designed to enjoy the lake, and if you look hard enough, you can just make out the outline of Parliament House. What’s great about this place is that it has a netted swimming area, kid friendly, offering a safe swimming spot for the kids. There are plenty of fun activities to do here, and you can even use the boat ramp to launch a non-powered craft into the lake to paddle and get better views.
Like all the other swimming spots mentioned, the peninsula is open all year round. Access to this area is available between 0700 to 2200 during daylight savings and 0700 to 2000 during winter. The peninsula is located on Garry Owen Drive, off Lady Denman Drive Acton.
Note: The places listed above have a restriction on the access of dogs, and visitors are asked to take care of the environment by taking their rubbish home. Bins are not provided.