Namadgi National Park is an Australian Alps national park in Australia's capital, Canberra. It is the only national park in the Australian Capital Territory and at 1,060.95 km2 (409.64 sq mi), it takes up around 46% of the ACT, something that is a very rare occurrence in capital cities. The park borders Kosciuszko National Park to the southwest, and Brindabella National Park to the west, both in NSW. The northeast of the park is just surrounded by the rest of Country ACT.
It is the northernmost of all the national heritage-listed Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.
The name Namadgi comes from the local Aboriginals and refers to the mountains southwest of Canberra. The area has important cultural significance for the indigenous people. Since April 2001, the Australian Capital Territory government has been contractually acknowledging the role of the indigenous population and establishing a joint administration of the area.
Unlike many other national (or more like state) parks, Namadgi National Park was not established to protect or preserve the environment, but was established to protect Canberra's water supply from contamination. The ACT government protected it to prevent snow from toilet water from the Australian Alps from melting into the ACT, and contaminating the dam, and any contamination would be "NSW's problem".
The park has been managed by the local ACT government since the ACT gained self-government.
The presence of populations in the area has been more or less continuous for around about the last 21,000 years. There are numerous Aboriginal sites in the park, including rock art from 800 years ago. The area is of great importance to the Aboriginal people of the region, particularly the Ngunnawal people.
European-born settlers settled around 1830, clearing land for farms and many of what was previously precious alpine land was destroyed. The park was established in 1984, as a measure to protect what was left.
In April 2001 representatives of the Ngunnawal communities reached an agreement with the ACT government recognising their traditional association with the park region and their role and duties to their ancestors and descendants as custodians of the region, establishing a cooperative management as part of a joint management program.
The park is mostly filled with spectacular granite mountains, but there is a sizable amount of grassy plains.
Flora and fauna
The park protects part of the northern end of the Australian Alps with its spectacular granite mountains. Its habitat ranges from grassy plains, through eucalyptus forests to alpine landscapes. The fauna is also varied: eastern grey kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, Australian magpies, parrots and ravens.
In this subalpine region the climate ranges from cold winter nights to hot summer days and the weather can change very quickly. In winter, snow falls on the Bimberi and Brindabella mountains, but the snow can fall on the rest of the park, depending on weather – you may need to have snow tyres (winter tires) or snow chains.
Visitor information centre
- 1 Namadgi Visitor Centre, Naas Rd, Tharwa, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 9AM–4PM, Sa Su and public holidays 9AM–4:30PM. Get some maps of the surrounding areas, particularly a must if you're going out hiking in more isolated areas or going to go driving in some 4WD tracks. On top of that, learn about the place and the geography of the park in general.
The most common entrance to the park is via Tharwa in the southern suburbs of Canberra, which is quite a distance from the city. From Tuggeranong, use Tharwa Drive from Drakeford Drive for 8.3 km (5.2 mi) until the Naas Road/North Street junction. Once at the interchange, use Naas Road and after 2.5 km (1.6 mi), you'd have arrived at the visitor centre, which isn't exactly in the park as the entrance of the park is 19 km (12 mi) down south of the same road.
An alternative route is via Tidbinbilla, which is convenient if you are planning to visit the central parts of the park, which include Gibraltar Falls, a popular tourist spot. From Tuggeranong, head west onto Point Hut Road and then head northwest onto Tidbinbilla Road until Corin Road. Once at Corin Road, you've essentially reached the park.
From Tumut, NSW, head northeast along the Bombowlee Creek Road, which later becomes Brindabella Road for about 80 km until you've reached the ACT/NSW border. Once you've hit the border, you're essentially in the park, but you'll need to drive another 78 km (should take about 1.5 hours) to reach the main points of interests. You'll also need to exit the park as the only road is a single-lane gravel road that winds its way up 1500-metre mountains. The road from Tumut is also a gravel road, but it's in considerably good condition, but may be difficult to traverse during winter.
Fees and permits
There are no fees or permits and you can enter the park for free.
As with nearly every national park in Australia, with the exception of guide dogs, dogs are not permitted.
Your only way to get around the park is either via your own legs, or via some form of private transportation. Roads are of decent quality. Not all of them are sealed, but they are still doable during summer. During winter, going on unsealed is quite difficult and driving on such roads is at your own risk.
See winter driving for some tips which apply to Namadgi National Park.
The park has many historic huts, which remain from the time when Europeans settled the area for farming.
- 1 Brandy Flat Hut, Brandy Flat Firetrail, Booth. A 1900s built hut which is now used as a popular short stopover by cyclists and bushwalkers going along the Brandy Flat Firetrail.
- 2 Brayshaws and Westermans Homesteads, Boboyan Rd, Mount Clear. Mostly visited as a stopover for those that are walking the Settlers Track, these two homesteads are possibly the best one could find when looking for remnants of the pastoral times of the Australian Alps.
- 3 Gudgenby Homestead, 1.6 km deviation of Boboyan Rd, Rendezvous Creek. One of the most visited historic huts, owing to its location, was one of the oldest huts in the region. It was built in 1845 by a Scottish immigrant, but unfortunately dismantled in 1964. However, the hut's timber was stored in a shipping container, and now it has been restored to its historic state.
- 4 Horse Gully Hut, Naas Valley Firetrail, Mt. Clear. Built during the Second World War, this hut near Mt Clear Campground is mostly visited by those resting their heads in that campground for the night.
- 5 Orroral Homestead, Orroral Rd, Tennent Creek. An easy walk for those staying at Orroral Campground, this 1860s-built hut is the oldest hut in the park and one of the most conserved one. Inside there are several informative signs detaining the history of the pastoral times of the ACT.
- 6 Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, Apollo Rd, Tennent. A NASA ground that operated between the years of 1967 and 1981, part of NASA'a Apollo program. The 26-metre satellite is believed to be the station that first televised the images of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon in 1969. Today, not much of the tracking station remains, but there is plenty of information of what used to be there.
- 7 Orroral Valley Tracking Station, Orroral Rd. An Earth station erected as part of NASA's Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network and its aim was to be able to quickly switch from supporting one satellite to another.
- 8 Bendora Dam. A thin-wall, double curvature concrete arch dam opened in 1961 and was the first dam of its type built in Australia. Today, it is a water source for Canberra and has some lookouts.
- 9 Corin Dam.
- 10 Yankee Hat, Old Boboyan Rd, Rendezvous Creek. A mountain with an elevation of 1,441 meters above sea level and includes an Aboriginal rock painting featuring a kangaroo, dingos, emus, humans and an echidna or turtle.
- 11 Bendora Arboretum, Warks Rd. A rather isolated and desolate arboretum established in 1940 as an experiment to see what trees should be planted in Canberra. There's now 52 species and is popular with bushwalkers. However, bringing your car here, even nearby is very difficult, and this can take over 90 minutes at the very minimum from Civic – first, you'll need to navigate through the northwest of Country ACT to Brindabella Road. Once you're on Brindabella Road, continue until just past the NSW border, and from there, turn onto Mount Franklin Road until the trailhead, straddling across the border.
- 12 Mount Bimberi. The highest mountain in the ACT perched at 1911 metres, which has a similar elevation to Victoria's tallest peak.
- 13 Gibraltar Falls, Corin Rd, Paddys River. One of the largest waterfalls in the Australian Capital Territory with a drop of over 50 metres.
- 14 Ginini Flats Wetlands Ramsar Site. A Ramsar wetland site, with this being the only one in the ACT, this wetland is mostly protected in alpine vegetation.
- 15 Hospital Hill Lookout, Hospital Hill Lookout, Booth. Learn about the geography of the mountain at the lookout's several informative signs and displays providing some of the most magnificent views of mountains in a country that is not commonly associated with mountains.
- Mountain bike the several trails in the park
- Go along the northernmost section of the Australian Alps Walking Track, a 400 mi (640 km) long distance footpath which Namadgi National Park runs through.
- Booroomba Rocks is a 4-kilometre trail passing through some rather magnificent rocks. A list of other walking trails can be found here.
- See also: Winter sports in Australia
If conditions allow you to, it is possible to go cross country skiing on Mount Franklin from the summit of the Brindabella Ranges. However, it is very remote, the trails are often covered with snow, and it is not a suitable spot for first timers. You are much better off going to nearby Thredbo or Perisher.
A shelter serves as an interpretive centre and can provide park managers and emergency services personnel with a base to conduct search and rescue operations in the event of bushfires.
The nearby 1 Corin Forest Mountain Resort (Corin Forest Resort), 1268 Corin Dam Rd, Paddys River, ☏ , email@example.com. M–F 10AM–5PM, Sa Su 9AM–5PM. has a ski resort and a recreation centre with an alpine slide, ski and snowplay area, and a lodge along with an alpine dining area.
Buy, eat and drink
Your only option to buy anything is at Corin Forest Mountain Resort but it's slightly outside the park. Otherwise, you will need to bring everything with you.
- 1 Ready-Cut Cottage, Old Boboyan Road. A very cozy cottage by the Gudgenby River with an impressive views of the surrounding mountains. Kangaroos and other wildlife regularly visit the cottage, giving you quite an immersion of the bush, and if you're lucky enough, you might be able to spot a platypus in the Gudgenby River. The cottage can accommodate up to eight people, and it contains three bedrooms. Firewood, bedding, towels and food must also be brought with you.
The next closest to the park is Corin Forest Mountain Resort but that isn't in Namadgi National Park.
- 2 Honeysuckle Campground, 244 Apollo Rd, Tennent. Check-in: 2PM. A very historic campground near the former space tracking which is also crossed by the Australian Alps Walking Track. It is sometimes considered as a gateway to the nearby Booroomba Rocks.
- 3 Orroral Campground, Orroral Rd, Rendezvous Creek. Check-in: 2PM. Near the Orroral Homestead, perhaps this campground is convenient if you'd like a more isolated place to tent camp. Temporarily closed as of March 2022.
- 4 Mount Clear Campground, Naas Valley Firetrail, Mount Clear. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A more remote campground, so remote, in fact, that you hardly feel you're in a capital city. The facilities are minimal, and is pretty much unsuitable for campervans and caravans and the only trace of human existence you could possibly find is the few historic huts.
Camping can only be done in designated areas in order to protect the fragile environment.
There are not many safety concerns in the park, but there are some:
- Cold weather – it can get really cold during the winter, so make sure you have some layers on. Winter tyres and snow chains may also be required.
- If you're going out on really desolated tracks, make sure to let someone know in advance. You can also fill out a trip intention form.
- There is little reception in the park, and almost none in the interior parts. Carry a satellite phone if necessary
- Your only option is to head back to Canberra, or head west to Brindabella National Park or Kosciuszko National Park