Lake Burley Griffin is Canberra's centrepiece and a significant number of national institutions, parks and national public places are located on or near its shores.
The Lake and surrounding areas are popular for a wide range of boating and other recreational activities. There are lovely parks for picnics and areas for swimming as well as walking tracks and cycling paths. The Lake is a busy waterway with rowing, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, dragon boating, fishing, model boating and stand up paddle boarding being just some of the activities available. There are a number of clubs and associations organising activities on and around the Lake.
Around the Lake there are many services available including kayak and stand up paddle board hire, Lake cruises and ferry services. There are also parks, cafés and restaurants around the Lake where you can relax and take in the view. Find the list of Lake operators here.
Quick Lake Facts
- Average depth: 4 m
- Maximum depth: 18 m
- Surface area: 6.64 square km
- Elevation: 556 m above sea level
- Length: 11 km
- Maximum width: 1.2 km
- Shoreline: 40.5 km
- Catchment area; 183.5 square km
- Volume of water: 33,000,000 cubic meters
Lake Burley Griffin Areas
- Central Basin
- West Basin
- East Basin
- West Lake
- Tarcoola Reach
- Yarramundi Reach
Lake Burley Griffin has three designated swimming beaches and enclosures. These are at:
- Yarralumla Beach (West Lake);
- Weston Park East (Tarcoola Reach); and
- Black Mountain Beach (Tarcoola Reach).
The water quality in these areas and six other locations around the Lake is monitored and tested each week during the summer recreational season (mid October to mid April). By visiting www.theswimguide.org or downloading the free Swim Guide app, the closest monitored beaches and water ways will be displayed, showing the water quality conditions and amenities provided at that location. Sites around Lake Burley Griffin are available now with 22 sites monitored by the ACT Government to be added in the near future.
The Swim Guide currently has six countries providing water quality information for over 7,000 locations.
Other Popular Recreational Areas
Lake Burley Griffin offers many areas popular with other forms of recreational use.
This area is a wonderful sight during the balloon festival (March). You will often see rowers training in the early mornings, while the small yachts enjoy passing under the spray of the Captain Cook Memorial Jet in the afternoons.
Triathlons are often held here.
This area has the triathlon swimming training course. The Paddle Steamer PS Enterprise is docked at the jetty near the National Museum of Australia.
This area is popular with rowers, wind surfers, dragon boating and stand up paddle boards.
This is the largest expanse of water in Lake Burley Griffin. The Canberra Yacht Club and dragon boats are situated on the southern shore, adjacent to Lotus Bay. Kayaks and stand up paddle boards can be hired at Yarralumla Bay. Yarralumla Bay is also a busy rowing hub.
A busy stretch of water with rowers and other paddle craft moving to and from Yarramundi Reach.
Designated rowing lanes are located here. These are used for training as well as local and national rowing regattas.
Bridges of Lake Burley Griffin
John Gordon Bridge
Aspen Island, site of the National Carillon, is accessed by this bridge. Usually referred to as John Douglas Gordon, this man was Canberra’s first carillonist. He played the very first concert, when Queen Elizabeth II opened the Carillon on 26 April 1970.
Commonwealth Avenue Bridge
Constructed before the lake was filled, it was opened in late 1963. Sewer mains are cleverly incorporated into the superstructure and the south-east decorative pylon is actually a vent. When Waterloo Bridge in London was demolished, in 1936, some of the large, flat stones from it were donated to the Australian Government. These are now displayed under the bridge, on the northern shore.
Kings Avenue Bridge
Called Federal Avenue on the Griffin plan, it was renamed in honour of the then monarch, King George V. Capital Avenue on Griffin’s plan became Constitution Avenue. Constitution, Kings and Commonwealth Avenues form the great triangle at the centre of the Griffin design. This bridge was the first part of the infrastructure for Lake Burley Griffin that was completed, in 1961.
Islands of Lake Burley Griffin
This island, and the two small ones close by, are manmade islands. They were created during the construction of the lake in an effort to reduce the power of the inflow from East Basin. Named for the aspen tree, the large island is the site of the National Carillon. The two smaller, unnamed, islands are bird sanctuaries.
The island is the highest part of what was a working farm called Springbank. Various families, including the Kayes and the Sullivans, lived there – nearby Sullivans Creek at ANU is named for the latter family. The island can only be reached by boat but there are toilets and a barbeque there.
This small island was named in relation to sailing in West Basin, apparently as the mass of the island alters prevailing winds. Only accessible by boat, it houses a breeding colony of silver gulls, which should not be disturbed unnecessarily.
Island in Lake Burley Griffin
A sixth, unnamed island sits just off Black Mountain Peninsula.