Summer often means seeking out the cool solace of water, be that a beach, river, creek, dam or swimming hole, and when beating the heat is the name of the game, the benefits for developing children are many and varied.
Canberra has plenty of beautiful swimming spots scattered along the Murrumbidgee River Corridor with the majority comprising large sandy beaches which are great for children and adults alike.
If you are heading out to swim around Canberra, keep in mind you should:
- Never dive into water if you are unsure of the depth.
- Keep an eye out for submerged logs, other hazards and wildlife.
- Watch the flow – flowing water is stronger than you think.
- Not enter the water if signage indicates the conditions are unsafe.
- Never let children out of your sight and avoid swimming alone.
If you have kids too young to enjoy splashing about in the water and tend to stick to the sand, below are a few suggestions to keep them entertained:
- Build sand castles and a moat - use buckets, shovels, cups or your hands.
- Dig for buried treasure or bury your feet in the sand.
- You're familiar with mud pies. Try sand pies!
- Draw or write in the sand.
- Go on a scavenger hunt - collect rocks, shells, sticks, and seaweed.
- Explore - take a walk, climb on rocks, jump off sand dunes.
Bodies of water offer endless opportunities for physical experiments and discoveries. Though it might look like your child is just splashing around, water play can help improve children’s balance and strength. Water also supports a variety of life forms like fish and frogs, so water play can also lead to new biological adventures as well. For more water based play ideas check out the activities below.
Kayaks, Canoes and Paddle Boards
Floating objects are inherently unstable, so climbing into, standing on and jumping off them is perfect for children's core muscle development - a major issue for many who live highly sedentary, indoor lifestyles. Mucking about in boats not only addresses this issue, but also provides children with risk assessment and management opportunities while developing water confidence.
When starting out with the kids it is best to find calm water with little to no current. The lakes are a great place to begin, half an hour to an hour is sufficient for all first trips regardless of age.
The YMCA Canberra paddle hub on Yarralumla Bay hires out stand up paddle boards (SUPS) and single or double kayaks, and is a perfect opportunity for families to paddle to various picnic spots around the lake and check out the local bird life. For something extra special, why not pack a picnic lunch and paddle out to Springbank Island? The Canberra Yacht Club has boats for public hire.
As the lakes can get quite rough and water temperatures can drop to dangerous levels, winter paddling is not encouraged for those with little to no experience.
Fishing isn’t just a way to pass the time; it’s a perfect family activity that provides invaluable bonding time.
An outdoor hobby like fishing can help kids gain valuable physical and technical skills including balance and coordination; it can increase their appreciation of nature and may even teach them to be patient. Fishing is not only measured by how many fish are caught, but about the satisfaction and challenge.
Get 'em hooked early is a great read if you are interested in introducing your kids to fishing.
Canberra is fortunate to have a variety of great fishing spots. The best locations to start with the kids are lakes Burley Griffin, Ginninderra or Tuggeranong. You've got a good chance to catch a fish even with some corn or bread on a small hook. Once the kids gain some confidence why not pack a picnic lunch and head out to one of the three rivers surrounding the ACT - the Murrumbidgee, Molonglo or Queanbeyan rivers.
Before heading out on your next water based adventure, it's best to refresh yourself with current information on Recreational Fishing in the ACT.
Need more information?
Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate provide information on recreational fishing in the ACT.
Transport Canberra and City Services provide advice on which lakes are open for primary and secondary recreational use.