The Cotter River at Cotter Avenue is shallow, playful and readily accessible
from the well appointed, streamside picnic facilities. The best spot to get into the water is at the little
weir. You can fly over the concrete crest on an inflatable, but still stand up out of the current before taking off
and when touching down on the other side. The weir is located next to the basketball court.
Above: The shallow concrete weir behind the basketball court at Cotter Avenue
(Order this image)
If you want a slightly quieter dip, especially if the weir is overrun with kids, you can wade about twenty metres
upstream. Here you will find a balancing stone wall that runs across an anabranch of the river on the opposite side. The water backs up behind the
wall to provide more tranquil water, but it's still quite shallow.
At both locations the visibility in the water is very good, with the
clear water coming straight out of Cotter Dam, one of Canberra's urban water supply storages. Apart from these two spots, anywhere you
can access the water along this stretch is amenable for getting your feet wet.
Above: The shallow pool behind the balancing stone wall at Cotter Avenue
(Order this image)
The lawns here are extensive with plenty of shade overhead from well established trees. Combine that with the barbecues, picnic tables and
a new playground, and those coming to have a look at the dam wall, and you can imagine that this place gets pretty busy on
hot weekends, so keep one of my nearby backup swims in mind if you can't
get a parking space here. There is also a spill over car park on the other side of Cotter Road / Paddys River Road.
Other Information Before You Go:
Cotter Avenue, off Paddys River Road, Paddys River, ACT, 24 km (approx. 25 min. drive) west of Canberra Central.
From parliament house, head west along Adelaide Avenue / Cotter Road / Paddys River Road. Cotter Avenue
is on the right hand side immediately after crossing the Cotter River. The weir is beside the basketball court.
Car park, toilets, electric barbecues, picnic tables, playground, basketball court,
lawn areas, walking trails, lookout. There are no bins provided so take your rubbish home with you.
Rock, gravel, concrete
Maximum water depth:
Less than 1 metre
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 taking of native plants or animals.
Shade available in and out of the water
Wheelchair accessible paths and toilet, but access to the water is difficult along most of the river
There is no camping at Cotter Avenue. There are 50 unpowered sites at the adjacent
, less than 1 km downstream on Cotter Road. The campground is managed by the ACT Government.
If you are visiting Canberra and want to stay near this swimming spot, you can try the following options. All distances below are by road, not as the crow flies.
Nearby attractions: Cotter Campground
and Cotter Bend
, which are both a few hundred metres
downstream by road.
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. 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, however due to this site's location below a major urban water storage with forested areas upstream, water quality here
is generally very good. As a result, water quality at this site is not specifically monitored for swimmers by the ACT Government.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park at Cotter Avenue.
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I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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