Located within an easy, 10km drive from the Queanbeyan District, lies the flourishing township of Googong. Known for its serene foreshores, including the striking London Bridge Arch, Googong remains a favourite day-trip destination among locals and visitors for its historic features, spectacular landscapes and endless recreation opportunities.
The area around Googong Dam, known as Googong Foreshores, was constructed in 1977. The dam is fed by the Queanbeyan River, as well as the numerous creeks surrounding the dam, making it the largest reservoir in the Canberra region. The Foreshores are managed as a water catchment, wildlife refuge and public recreation area – and it certainly isn’t short of activities for the public. Whether you’re looking to escape the city to observe some wildlife and take in the impressive scenery, or to get active with a range of outdoor activities, such as canoeing, fishing and mountain biking, the Foreshores are guaranteed to show you a good time.
Please note, while the area is part of NSW, it is managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service. For the most up-to-date information on the Foreshores’ opening hours and more, visit the Parks ATC website.
Something for everyone
The northern parts of the Foreshores play host to the Googong Dam. Here, you can explore the area’s lookouts and bushland along the Dam’s several walking trails, or take in the stunning views while enjoying a nice picnic or a barbecue. For visitors with boats with electric motors, the North Foreshore also features a boat launch for easy access. Additionally, sailing boats, kayaks and canoes are a regular sighting along the Foreshores’ waters.
For those looking to have a dip in the water in the scorching summer days, the best spot is downstream the Queanbeyan River below the dam wall, as swimming is not permitted in the dam. Because the Dam is used as a drinking water catchment, it is important to note that activities including body contact with the water, such as wading or paddleboarding, are also not permitted.
While the Foreshores are a great spot for fishing, anglers new to the area should be advised of the best practices to maintain the reserve’s unique environment. For example, you should make sure you carry a NSW fishing licence, bring your own bait instead of collecting it on site and only use fishing rods to catch fish. For the best fishing spots, head down the Queanbeyan River below the dam wall where you’ll find the two most popular spots, the Cascades and the Downstream picnic area. You can also chuck a line in at the southern end of Googong Foreshores as well as the southern end of the Queanbeyan River and Burra Creek.
If staying on land is more to your liking, the Foreshores boast plenty of fire trails perfect for mountain biking. Why not have a go at the Queanbeyan River Loop Ride or the Western Foreshores Ride? If you do decide to hop on a bike, steer clear of designated foot tracks and stay on the fire trails to avoid erosion caused by off-trail riding.
Flora and fauna
Not only are the Foreshores an important resource for the region’s water supply, it is also a wildlife refuge for a plethora of native plants and animals. A number of threatened species, such as Macquarie Perch, the Pink-tailed Worm Lizard and Rosenberg’s Monitor call the Foreshores home. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you might also spot the Hooded Robin, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper and Speckled Warbler, all of which are listed vulnerable in New South Wales. In total, a staggering 165 bird species have been recorded at Googong, making it one of the go-to spots for birdwatching in the Capital region.
Fans of Australian native flora will get to wonder at the numerous plants of national or state significance protected by the reserve, including the Silky Swainson-pea and the Australian Anchor Plant.
Perhaps the most photographed feature of the Foreshores, the London Bridge Arch, is located to the south off Burra Road. This awe-inspiring natural bridge was formed from limestone over thousands of years and is now the number one attraction in the area. The limestone of the arch began to form hundreds of millions of years ago from sediment and coral remains deposited on an ocean floor. Over time, these remains were subjected to intense pressure and erosion shaped the landscape once the ocean receded. The arch itself was formed by water slowly leaching through the limestone, enlarging cracks to a point where the passage became big enough for Burra Creek to pass through over 20,000 years ago.
For those interested in exploring more of the fascinating history of the Foreshores, the historic London Bridge Homestead provides a chance to do so. The first part of this original stone homestead was built back in 1845. The first occupant of the homestead is said to have been Alexander McDonald, an employee of the Campbell family who were early European settlers of the Canberra region.
- Gas barbecues
- Picnic tables
- Picnic shelter
- Boat launch
- Electric / Gas BBQ
- Picnic tables
- Picnic shelter
- Take Cooma St continuing on to Old Cooma Rd
- Turn left at Googong Rd and follow the road until you reach Googong Foreshores
- Dam Lookout
- Mountain biking
- Queanbeyan River Loop Ride (South)
- Western Foreshores Ride
- Googong Dam Circuit
- London Bridge walk (South)
- Black Wallaby Loop Track (North)
- Cascades Walk (North)
- Shoreline Walk (North)
- Dhurrawarri Buranya Walk (South)
- Queanbeyan River walk (South)
- Western Foreshores Walk
- Bradleys Creek Walk
- Heritage sites
- Googong Foreshores is a day use area only, so take note of this when planning your visit. The opening hours for North Googong are 8am to 6pm (or 8am to 8pm during daylight savings), and 8am to 5pm for South Googong (or 8am to 7pm during daylight savings). Consequently, camping is not permitted in the reserve.
- Gas barbecues can be found at the Downstream Picnic Area and the London Bridge Woolshed and Tin Hut, located in the southern end of the reserve – both great spots for setting up a picnic before continuing to explore the Foreshores.
- Please note that only sailing boats, canoes, kayaks and boats with electric motors are permitted on the dam.
- If you’re looking for a refreshing swim at the Foreshores, make sure you only dip in the Queanbeyan River below the dam wall, as swimming is prohibited in other parts of the dam.
- Although the dam is a popular fishing spot, there are regulations you should follow to ensure it remains just as pristine for years to come. For more information, visit the Ranger Station located at the park entrance on Googong Dam Road, or visit the ACT Parks website for Googong Foreshores where you can find detailed fishing information, the Foreshores’ bird list, maps of walking tracks and more to prepare for your visit.