Located 10 kilometres south of Queanbeyan, Googong Foreshores is a great place to observe wildlife and go canoeing, fishing and mountain biking. It also has a fascinating historic homestead and London Bridge Arch. The entire Foreshores area is a Wildlife Refuge.
Whether you like picnicking, birdwatching, bushwalking, mountain bike riding, enjoy sailing and fishing or delving into history - at Googong there's something for everyone.
In the north of Googong Foreshores is the Googong Dam with lookouts, walking trails, BBQ and boating facilities. To the south off Burra Road, the historic London Bridge Homestead beckons visitors to explore the history of farming and settlement in the area. A remarkable natural feature in this area is London Bridge Arch which formed over thousands of years.
Googong Foreshores was acquired by the Commonwealth Government more than 40 years ago in order to provide drinking water to Canberra and Queanbeyan. The ACT Government manages the reservoir and the surrounding Foreshores reserve on behalf of the Commonwealth with the primary objective of protecting water quality. The ACT Parks and Conservation Service manages the Foreshores and the draft Plan of Management is presently being revised. A Ranger Station including office, depot and visitor centre are located at the park entrance on Googong Dam Road.
The entire Foreshores area remains within NSW and is subject to NSW legislation. Authorised officers and rangers patrol regularly to enforce regulations relating to boating and fishing.
In addition to being important for catchment and storage of the region's water supply, Googong Foreshores is also a significant wildlife refuge for native plants and animals including a number of threatened species.
The Queanbeyan River, within Googong, is home to one of the few remaining wild populations of the threatened Macquarie Perch. The Pink-tailed Worm Lizard, listed as vulnerable nationally, inhabits Googong's native grasslands. Listed as vulnerable in NSW, Rosenberg's Monitor is also a Googong resident. The Hooded Robin, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper and Speckled Warbler are all listed as vulnerable in NSW and also occur at Googong.
Googong protects plants of national or state significance including the Silky Swainson-pea and Australian Anchor Plant. These plants occur in open grasslands on the reserve's western side. Unusual Pomaderris and Dillwynia species grow in the woodlands along the Black Wallaby Loop Track and in heathy areas between Tin Hut Dam and Tortoise Inlet. White Box-Yellow Box (Box-Gum) Woodland, an endangered ecological community, also occurs here.
Over 165 bird species have been recorded at Googong. Water birds such as coots, ducks and swans congregate around the shores of the dam. Tin Hut Dam at the southern end of the reserve features a bird hide with displays, two bird hide screens, seats and a loop walk. Spoonbills, several species of duck, herons, egrets and waders can be seen here. Raptors including the Peregrine Falcon, Wedge-tailed Eagle and White-breasted Sea-Eagle reside and breed at Googong. Look for eagles riding the thermals.
The woodlands, open forests, grasslands and cool gorges of Googong also provide habitats for a wide range of birds. For more information view the Googong Foreshores bird list (702.1 KB) (Word (189.0 KB)).
The area now known as Googong has a rich history in Aboriginal culture. The Ngunnawal people have lived in and maintained the area for thousands of years. The area is also rich in cultural and natural resources which sustained the Ngunnawal people. The Queanbeyan River was a traditional pathway used by the Ngunnawal, Yuin and other neighbouring tribes to gain access to the higher country where they would perform lore such as initiation, trade and marriage. Googong also has Aboriginal sites which are viewed by the Ngunnawal people as holding spiritual significance, including London Bridge Arch. Please respect all heritage sites.
Sailing and boating
The following types of watercraft are permitted on the dam: sailing boats, canoes, kayaks and boats with electric motors.
The following are not permitted: windsurfers, surf skis, jet skis, boats with fuel motors.
Boats with a motor which cannot be removed, are permitted however the motor must remain out of the water and the user must have a Googong specific permit from the ACT Government. To apply for a permit please complete the Boat Permit Application form. For more information how to obtain a permit contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
Watercraft are not permitted to land on any banks north of the disabled car park on Drumstick Point (west side of dam) except at the boat ramp or north of Long Neck Island (east side of dam). Watercraft are also not permitted to pass the line of marker buoys in front of the Dam Wall (see map). The public are not permitted to enter any fenced-off areas north of the boat ramp on Drumstick Point.
Boat launching and retrieval is easy from the boat ramps at the Foreshores. Please return cars and trailers to the car park to ensure access for others.
At Tin Hut car park to the south, boats must be carried or wheeled by hand from the car park to the water's edge.
All visitors participating in boating should return at least half an hour before closing time. People using electric motors should carry oars and more than one battery to ensure they have sufficient power and backup to return to the Foreshores' boat ramp or Tin Hut access.
NSW Waterways safe boating regulations apply.
A great place to fish
Googong is managed as a mixed fishery and is stocked with Rainbow Trout, Golden Perch, Murray Cod and Silver Perch. This detailed Fishing Information booklet (595.4 KB) answers common queries and provides information about the common species found in the dam.
Please remember the following:
- The dam is open to fishing all year. Streams and rivers are closed to fishing from the end of the long weekend in June to the beginning of the long weekend in October.
- NSW fishing regulations apply and a NSW fishing licence is required.
- Two rods are permitted on the dam but only one in streams and rivers. The use of hand lines, traps or nets is not permitted anywhere.
- Bait collection is not permitted. Please bring your own. The use of live fish or frogs is strictly prohibited.
- Bag and size limits apply to most fish.
- There is a closed season on Murray Cod between 1 September and 30 November inclusive.
- Macquarie Perch are totally protected and must not be taken.
- Discarded fishing line kills wildlife. Be sure you take it with you when you leave. Take all litter home.
There are numerous fire trails throughout the reserve that are great for mountain biking. Riders must stay on the fire trails as off-trail riding causes erosion and subsequently reduces the quality of our water. Mountain bike riders should not ride on designated foot tracks. There are two excellent rides at Googong (see descriptions under 6 and 8 for details). Please contact the rangers if you are intending to undertake a long ride.
No bins are provided - please take your rubbish home with you.
No dogs allowed.
Note: If you have difficulty accessing the information in this map please contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
The following map shows the main facilities and features of Googong Foreshores (North).
The following map shows the main facilities and features of Googong Foreshores (South).
Please note the trail between Woolshed and Drawdown Crossing is unable to be crossed until further notice due to water levels.
Facilities and activities
- Dam Lookout
- Gas barbecues
- Picnic tables
- Picnic shelter
- Boat launch
- Mountain biking
- Walking trails
- Heritage sites
- Electric / Gas BBQ
- Walking trails
- Mountain biking
- Picnic tables
- Picnic shelter
London Bridge Walk (South Googong)
Distance: 3.4km return
This circuit starts at London Bridge car park, crossing the Burra Creek via the London Bridge Arch then takes you to the historic London Bridge Homestead. Return along the management trail. Both the arch and the homestead are on the register of the National Estate. Refer to the London Bridge tab for further details.
Black Wallaby Loop Track (North Googong)
Distance: 2.6km return
Start at the Downstream Picnic Area and walk parallel to the Queanbeyan River to the dam wall. This walk provides lovely views of the river gorge known as the Cascades. The track climbs gently through thick patches of tea-tree and wattles, crossing a number of moist gullies before emerging into open grassland above the dam. It is a short walk back along the bitumen track to the car park.
Cascades Walk (North Googong)
The short river walk takes you down into the Cascades gorge where there are a number of large water holes. The Cascades Lookout and the Dam Wall Lookout are two scenic vantage points. These are both reached by walks of less than 100 metres from the car park.
Shoreline Walk (North Googong)
Distance: 4km return
This walk takes you along one of the most popular and accessible stretches of shoreline at Googong. It runs close to the high water mark between the Foreshores car park and Shannons Inlet. On still days you may see trout and Golden Perch swimming along the bank in search of food, or find waterbirds roosting and sunning themselves. The walk can be extended by returning via the Western Foreshores Walk (6).
Dhurrawarri Buranya Walk (South Googong)
Distance: 4km return
This walk starts and ends at London Bridge Arch. Follow the Queanbeyan River Walk (5) branching off towards Washpen Crossing then north along the Queanbeyan River. Climb up a rocky, wooded ridge then down to the junction of the Queanbeyan River and Burra Creek. The return track follows the remains of an old boundary and 'vermin proof' fence along the ridge. If the river is low it may be possible to cross over the nearby Drawdown Crossing and return along the fire trail.
Queanbeyan River Walk (South Googong)
Distance: 18km return
This walk starts at the London Bridge car park, crosses the London Bridge Arch then branches onto management trails finishing at Flynns Crossing. It passes through dry sclerophyll forest and roughly follows the Queanbeyan River, with three access points to the river - Washpen Crossing, Gelignite Crossing and Flynns Crossing. Return via the same route. No swimming permitted.
Western Foreshores Walk/Ride
Distance: 19.7km return
This walk can be accessed from either end of Googong. The northern trackhead is near the upper Foreshores car park and the southern end is at Tin Hut car park. The track follows management trails through grassland and open woodland providing many scenic vantage points of the dam and the Queanbeyan escarpment to the east.
Bradleys Creek Walk (North Googong)
Distance: 14.2km return
Starting at the Downstream Picnic Area the track initially follows a route marked by directional posts. The walk then follows management trails, skirting the northern shore to the dam before climbing steeply up the Queanbeyan escarpment to Gormans Trig. From here it is a relatively easy walk to Bradleys Creek which is typical of the steep sided creeks bisecting the escarpment. The short detour to Googong Lookout on the way provides panoramas of the northern part of the reserve and dam.
Queanbeyan River Loop Ride (South Googong)
Distance: 19.7km return
This ride starts at the London Bridge car park and follows the management trail towards London Bridge Homestead. Before reaching Burra Creek, follow the management trail branching eastwards and travel past Gelignite Crossing to Flynns Crossing. Follow the trail to loop back to Gelignite Crossing and then London Bridge car park. Track markers define the route. The loop involves some steep grades plus two crossings of the Queanbeyan River. See Queanbeyan River Walk for more details.
Located south of Googong Foreshores, the London Bridge walking track displays the features of Burra Creek and its landmarks.
This two hour circuit walk takes you from the London Bridge woolshed and shearers' quarters, across London Bridge Arch and along Burra Creek to the homestead. The return trip from the homestead is via the fire trail and back to the woolshed.
The homestead is protected by a security fence but is clearly visible from outside the fence. Many of the out-buildings, including the remains of the original woolshed, are outside this fence and may be explored at any time.
Open days are held regularly to allow the public to inspect the homestead. Please contact the Googong Foreshores Ranger Station for details.
London Bridge Arch
The limestone of London Bridge Arch began to form as sediment and coral remains deposited on an ancient ocean floor 420 million years ago. These sediments and coral remains were subject to intense pressure to form the limestone seen today. Over time the ocean receded and erosion shaped the landscape.
The arch was formed by water slowly leaching through the limestone, enlarging cracks until a passage became large enough for Burra Creek to pass through. It reached its present size about 20,000 years ago.
The arch was first recorded by Europeans in 1823 by explorer Captain Mark Currie. He had been directed to the arch by an Aboriginal guide. Currie described it as 'a natural bridge of one perfect Saxon arch, under which the water passed.'
The First People in the Burra Valley
Aboriginal people maintained a hunting and gathering lifestyle around this region for thousands of years. Long before Captain Mark Currie's journey of exploration this valley was occupied by Aboriginal people. Aboriginal camps in this area have been dated by archaeologists to be at least 800 years old.
The remains of these camps are now covered by sediments or have been disturbed by floods. The camps contained stone artefacts and the remnants of fires, on which a wide variety of bush foods were cooked.
Remains of locally extinct native rats, mice and small marsupials have been found around the arch. These animals may have become extinct in the mid 1800s when European settlers cleared and farmed the surrounding land.
Along Burra Creek
Europeans first settled in this area in about 1834. As you walk along the track, you can see how much this landscape has been altered by their land uses. Originally, this area was grassy woodland. When Europeans arrived with their grazing flocks many trees were ring-barked to create more pasture, while others were cut down for building or firewood.
The most common trees remaining are apple box. This species has survived as its timber is not preferred for building or firewood. Its interwoven grain makes it difficult to split and hard to burn. Some of the small native plants which formed the understorey in the original woodland can still be seen in the area. Examples of these are Prickly Moses Wattle and Early Nancy which you might see carpeting the ground in early spring.
As you walk down the track you might see Eastern Grey Kangaroos resting in the shade of the trees. They move out into the grasslands to graze in the late afternoon. If the weather is cold or wet, you might see them grazing in the middle of the day.
Many species of birds can be seen at Googong Foreshores. If you see a bright green and yellow flash it is likely to be an Eastern Rosella. They have a very distinctive chatter when feeding and a loud screech when alarmed. Australian Kestrels, one of the few birds which hover, are also seen in this area. They are commonly seen hovering, with rapid wing beats and their tail fanned, looking for prey such as young rabbits and small birds.
Since the 1980s, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, with the help of community groups, has been planting trees in this area. Species such as Red and Yellow Box have been planted to increase the mix of species. Work is also undertaken to control the spread of Willow, Hawthorn, Poplars and Briar Roses, all of which were introduced to this area. However, the area around London Bridge Homestead is managed to maintain its rural context and, while the spread of exotic regrowth is controlled, the older exotic trees will remain to allow visitors to appreciate the area for its rural history and landscape.
The London Bridge Property
In 1857, John McNamara, an Irishman from County Clare, paid 30 pounds for 30 acres of land in the Burra Valley. 'London Bridge' became one of the first properties in the area.
As you look at the collection of buildings which make up this homestead you can see at least five architectural styles and different uses of building materials. The styles and construction varied according to the costs of materials and labour. Corrugated iron and weatherboard replaced stone and pisé, as mass produced materials became available with the arrival of the railway at Queanbeyan.
The stone cottage was built in about 1860 from stone quarried from a nearby hill. Additional buildings were constructed over the years in response to the needs of a growing family – John and his wife had thirteen children, although not all of the children lived at the homestead all the time.
The significance of the diversity of this site and the rural setting of the area are recognised by the listing of the homestead on the Register of the National Estate and its classification by the National Trust of Australia.
The McNamara family owned the London Bridge property until 1920. During the later years of this ownership, it was leased to James Moore until the property was purchased by the Noone brothers in 1921. By that time, the estate had been extended to 9000 acres.
In 1928, it was sold to the Douglas family with whom it remained until the Commonwealth resumed most of the property in 1973, to protect the catchment of the dam.
Public Open Days are held regularly at the homestead when rangers are available to talk to visitors about the history of the area and the construction of the buildings. Access for groups can also be arranged by contacting the Googong Foreshores Ranger Station on 02 6207 2779.
A Fragile Heritage
Please protect this area by adhering to the following conditions:
- Do not rock climb on the arch or enter the caves as they are extremely fragile and take thousands of years to recover from disturbance.
- Keep to the tracks and protect this special environment.
- Googong Foreshores is a wildlife refuge, so please leave your pets at home.
- Take your rubbish home as there are no bins at Googong Foreshores.
- Use the toilets provided in the car parks.
- Swimming and camping are not permitted.
The main entrance to Googong Foreshores is located 10 kilometres south of Queanbeyan, NSW on the Googong Dam Road. The area is managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service within and an office and visitor centre is located at the park entrance.
The London Bridge section of the Foreshores is a further 10 kilometres south towards Burra. The London Bridge Walk has a number of interesting features including a limestone arch and historical sites and these are listed on the Register of the National Estate. Take the Burra Road off the Old Cooma Road and turn into the London Bridge Road.
Further information is available at the Ranger Station at the northern end of Googong Foreshores.
Googong Foreshores is 10 kilometres south of Queanbeyan off Old Cooma Road.
- Northern end: 8am to 8pm during daylight savings and 8am to 6pm during non-daylight savings.
- Southern end: 8am to 7pm during daylight savings and 8am to 5pm during non-daylight savings.
- Googong Foreshores map and guide (1.2 MB) (Word (77.0 KB))
- Googong Foreshores bird list (702.1 KB)
- London Bridge Homestead (1.8 MB)
- London Bridge Walking Track Brochure (611.5 KB) (Word (69.5 KB))
Please remember the following:
- No dogs or horses allowed
- No camping
- Electric boating only
- Swimming is only permitted in the Queanbeyan River below dam wall.
- No off road motorised riding
- No hunting
- No rubbish bins are provided, please take your rubbish with you
- No open fires
- NSW Fishing licence requirements apply