Cuttagee Lake has a wide sand bar that is great for shallow water play. The depth of the water across the sand bar will vary if the mouth of
the estuary is open to the ocean, ranging from high and dry at low tide (when people often set up their beach shelters here), to ankle or knee
deep at high tide. When the river mouth is closed, the water depth will depend on how much it has rained recently. The water in the shallows
is a little bit warmer than the ocean, making it more pleasant to sit down in for longer periods of time as the kids run around.
Above: Playing in the shallows with boogie boards downstream of the bridge at Cuttagee Lake
The majority of this small lake is quite shallow, but the main river channel on the northern side of the lake can be up to a couple
of metres deep, so make sure you keep inexperienced swimmers well away from these deeper waters.
A favourite activity on the lake when the estuary mouth is open is floating on a boogie board under the bridge and down to the river mouth on the
outgoing tide. For inexperienced swimmers, parents can drift alongside their child's water craft in the water to keep an eye on them.
The mouth is usually very shallow, so you are likely to run aground well before being swept out to sea. I've never seen the mouth
deeper than a few centimetres, but get an adult to check it out before less experienced swimmers launch themselves into the gentle current.
The main danger here are the rocks with sharp edges on the northern side of the river, downstream of the bridge, and the sharp shellfish
on some of the bridge pilons. It's easy to avoid the rocks because they are generally visible in the water. If you are
touching down with your feet, make sure it's in a sandy area.
Parking is on the side of the road on the southern side of the bridge. It can get very busy in summer, so you might need
to carry your gear a few metres past the line of parked cars to get to the lake. Access down to the lake can be a bit tricky, as
several attempts to build concrete steps have failed and the few steps down are quite steep. If you can find the path, the access
track on the ocean side is flatter.
Here is a video that I took when the lake was open on a fast, outgoing tide. It was for my companion website on swimming spots for
adults, but you can see plenty of kids enjoying the lake too. Sorry about the wayward finger that pops up in the corner of the screen, but I
was dealing with a gnarly current on a slippery lilo at the time.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Sapphire Coast Drive, Cuttagee, 390 km (approx. 5 hrs 30 mins drive) south of Sydney and
260 km (approx. 3 hr 20 min drive) south east of Canberra.
Getting there: The lake is at the northern end of Cuttagee Beach, below the wooden bridge.
Cuttagee is on Sapphire Coast Drive, which is the coastal road from Merimbula to Narooma.
General Facilities: None
Baby change facilities: None
Sun shade: None except under the bridge, where you can sit if you don't have a beach shelter
Entrance fee: None
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: None
Prohibitions: None stated on site
Managing authority: None
Nearby attractions: The Four Winds Festival for classical music, every second Easter on a farm up the road
If you would like to leave a comment about this shallow water play area, please fill in the comment box below. I'm particularly interested in your
experiences after visiting, and any changes in swimming conditions. Make sure you let me know whether you
consent to having your comments published on this website.