The night temperatures in Canberra are falling, the trees have started to lose their leaves, ANZAC Day is not that far away. This can only mean one thing... Winter. 

While Canberra has very cold winters, there are still many people who go out onto Lake Burley Griffin for sailing, rowing, paddling and even cold water swimming. However, the effects of cold water can be very dangerous and exposed persons can develop hypothermia quickly. Those going out on the Lake should know the risks and take precautions.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe this winter:

  • Watch the weather forecast
  • Be responsible with alcohol when on or near the Lake
  • LBG can have dangerously windy conditions. If in doubt, stay off the Lake
  • If you capsize, stay with your craft – you will be easier to find
  • Know your capabilities
  • Wear a wetsuit for swimming. Even strong swimmers can succumb to cold water
  • Carry a torch
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Wear bright coloured clothing
  • Notify someone where you will be and when you expect to return
  • Stay with your mate

The NCA is a member of the ACT Safe Waters Committee. Working with the NCA and the ACT Water Police, Royal Life Saving ACT, encourages the safe use of the Lake:

"The flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security. The weather, even for seemingly tranquil waterways such as Lake Burley Griffin, can quickly impact conditions resulting in sudden changes to temperature, turbidity and clarity. Royal Life Saving Australia recommends familiarising yourself with the area prior to use, wearing a lifejacket whilst using personal and recreational watercraft, and participating in aquatic activities in groups or with others whenever possible. " (Cherry Bailey, CEO Royal Life Saving ACT)

More people drown in inland waterways than any other water body in Australia. Respect the River is a campaign by Royal Life Saving targeting these preventable deaths. Visit to learn more about how to stay safe while recreating on or near inland waterways.

The cold water in Lake Burley Griffin is more dangerous than blue green algae and bacteria combined. The risks are real - hypothermia occurs quickly and can kill.

We love that you enjoy using the Lake all year round, but please stay safe.

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