Is your dog a panting mess, flopped down under a tree or spread out on the kitchen floor tiles getting under your feet?
It’s not much fun going for ‘walkies’ on a sweltering hot Canberra summer day. Instead of letting those dog days get you down, why not take your dog for a swim instead? Even if your dog isn’t into full immersion, most will enjoy a paddle and splash on the water’s edge.
Cool dogs! Photo by Pups4Fun
Here’s our four favourite Canberra dog swimming areas. We like them not just because they are in very pretty spots, but because they’re all in designated off leash areas, have good shade nearby, and include convenient parking.
As well as a description of each dog swimming area, we’ve provided detailed directions and information on parking and facilities. To see a google map with exact locations marked go to our website post on dog swimming areas.
Of course, the usual dog owner etiquette applies: only well socialised, obedient dogs off leash and always pick up after your dog.
Do you know any other good dog swimming areas in Canberra – especially in Tuggeranong or Gungahlin that we don’t know so well?
Lake Burley Griffin – Barrenjoey Drive, Yarramundi Reach
Sorry, the secret’s out – early morning water dogs and owners at Yarramundi Reach
This area is so beautiful that I’ve been told to keep it a secret! Unfortunately I’ve known about it for over 30 years and it’s too good not to share. Yarramundi Reach is a small peninsula on Lake Burley Griffin that boasts mature stands of oaks, poplars and other exotic shady trees as well as vast expanses of grassland. The trees are so lovely that they’ve been incorporated into the National Arboretum. There are two good spots along the shore shallow enough for dogs to paddle if they aren’t keen on full immersion. The furthest spot provides the best access for less confident dogs and a perfect view of the Governor-General’s residence on the other side of the lake. It’s well worth exploring the dirt tracks that wander along the shore, under the shady trees and through the grassland. The peninsula is well-defined by wire fencing on each side so you can’t wander too far off track.
Off leash status – The ACT Government recently proposed that this entire peninsula be a dog off leash area. While not officially off leash yet, locals have been walking their well-behaved dogs off leash here for many years, especially early in the morning or evening.
Directions and parking – From the Tuggeranong Parkway, take the exit to the National Arboretum, but instead of turning to the main centre/complex uphill, turn the opposite direction towards the lake. Cross Lady Denman Drive at the traffic lights and continue on the bitumen road (Barrenjoey Drive) to a small car park. From the car park, walk along the wide gravel track to reach the water. Dirt tracks lead to the swimming spots.
Facilities – There’s one picnic table but the closest toilets and bins are a longish walk or short drive uphill to the Arboretum centre on the other side of the Tuggeranong Freeway.
Lake Burley Griffin – Brown Street, Yarralumla
Burley Griffin Labs
It’s small but good! This little beach adjacent to Brown Street offers an inviting spot for dogs to cool off with a swim and paddle. It’s only a couple of minutes’ walk from the Yarralumla Dog Park and popular with locals in the know. There’s good, gradually sloping access into the water for less confident dogs to wet their paws and the surrounding beach and grassy area is spacious enough for wet dog zoomies. Mature, exotic trees provide excellent shade nearby. It’s also on the route of a great Yarralumla dog walk.
Off leash status – The grassy area around the beach is off leash. However take care not to allow dogs to wander on the cycle path nearby.
Directions and parking – From Brown Street in Yarralumla, walk across the grass crossing the cycle track to a little beach on the lake shore. Park on Brown Street, Banks Street next to the Yarralumla Dog Park, or in one of the small car parks off Alexandrina Drive.
Facilities – Bins are located at the Yarralumla Dog Park close by on Banks Street. There are toilets at the Yarralumla shops off Hutchins Street, a 15 minute walk away.
Lake Ginninderra – Diddams Close, Belconnen
Whippet beach babes dry off after Lake Ginninderra zoomies
Belconnen dog walkers are well catered for with off leash access to most of this generous sized, grassy and well treed peninsula. There are several sandy, gently sloping areas into Lake Ginninderra providing easy access for dogs. A lovely spot is only a stone’s throw from the car park near the entrance of Diddams Close and adjacent to the Belconnen Dog Park. There’s good shade, ample sandy access to the water, great facilities and nice views across the water.
Off leash status – Most of this peninsula jutting into Lake Ginninderra and bordered by Ginninderra Drive is off leash. However dogs are prohibited on the designated (human) swimming beaches and the children’s playground, and you should keep dogs off the cycle path.
Directions and parking – Turn off Ginninderra Drive into Diddams Close. At the t-junction turn left and left again to enter the car park. From the car park walk towards the lake shore and follow it to the right, passing the (human) swimming beach (well signposted) to reach the next sandy beach within sight.
Facilities – There are picnic tables, toilets and bins close by the car park and the Belconnen Dog Park.
Murrumbidgee River – Uriarra Crossing, Uriarra Road
Pups4Fun swimming excursion at Uriarra Crossing
This is a quintessential Canberra river swimming spot. It’s a little bit out of Canberra, but the destination is worth it and the drive very pleasant through rolling hills and pastures down to the Murrumbidgee River. The bend in the river here provides a large, safe area of slow moving water and big sandy beach for dogs to play zoomies after they’ve cooled down. The bank slopes very gradually and the river bottom is mainly sand so it’s easy for more timid dogs to just wade in the shallows. Make sure you bring your swimmers so you can join in. Keep a watch out for submerged rocks if the river is a bit high and take care after heavy rain which might make the current stronger than usual.
Off leash status – The grassy area and beach downstream of the bridge are off leash.
Directions and parking – Follow Uriarra Road for approximately 10 minutes after you leave the new suburb of Wright until you reach the bridge crossing over the Murrumbidgee River. After the bridge, turn right and park in the small car park immediately to the right.
Facilities – There is small grassy area next to the car park with picnic tables and a toilet block but no bins.
Beagle brigade explores the shallows; Photo by Pups4Fun