Namadgi National Park
Located in the southwestern part of the Australian Capital Territory, bordering Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, Namadgi National Park lies approximately 40 km southwest of Canberra, and makes up approximately 46 percent of the ACT’s land area. The park protects part of the northern end of the Australian Alps with its spectacular granite mountains.
Its habitat ranges from grassy plains over snow gum forests to alpine meadows. The fauna is also varied: Eastern Grey Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, magpies, rosellas and ravens are commonly seen. In this sub-alpine region the weather ranges from cold winter nights to warm summer days, and it can change very quickly.
Snow normally falls on the Bimberi and Brindabella Ranges during winter, and is not uncommon throughout most of the park. The highest mountain is Bimberi Peak (1911 m) which is the highest peak in the ACT. Namadgi has a rich heritage of human history.
A rockshelter at Birrigai, just north of Namadgi National Park, contains evidence that Aboriginal people were living in the region during the last ice age 21 000 years ago. At this time, the Namadgi Ranges were snow covered most of the year. Clues to the lifestyle of the local indigenous people are found throughout the park. These include quarry sites where stone was gathered for tool making, campsites with discarded fragments of stone and animal bone, ceremonial stone arrangements on the high peaks, and rock painting sites.
Contact: Namadgi Visitor Centre, Naas Road (two kilometres past Tharwa), ACT, Phone (02) 6207 2900.
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Namadgi is home to a many huts and homesteads that were built in the early European settlement days. There are several huts that can be accessed via walking trails. Visitors can step back in time and glean an insight into the pastoral era through the exploration of this Interpretive Shelter which is located just a short walk from the Namadgi Visitor Centre.
Historic Huts and Homesteads
Namadji National Park has 160 kilometres of marked walking tracks. Below are just some of the many walking tracks in this park. Visit the Namadgi Visitor Centre to get expert advice and see displays and audiovisuals. The Visitor’s Centre is open 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 4.30 pm on weekends and public holidays. It is closed Christmas Day.
Booroomba Rocks Walk: A scenic bushwalk among the flora and fauna of the area. Booroomba Rocks is one of the most popular destinations within the Namadgi National Park and a favourite spot for bushwalking in the Australian Capital Territory. The walk passes through a craggy eucalyptus forest. From the platform at the top of the 120-metre high cliff of Booroomba Rocks, the panoramic view of the Canberra city make the trek worthwhile. Climbing and abseiling over the huge granite boulders of the Booroomba Rocks are very popular among the visitors who want to explore the thrills of rock climbing. Moderate pace; 1 to 2 hours duration.
Orroral Valley: Discover history in the Orroral Valley Ngunnawal Aboriginal, pioneer and the space age on the Orroral Heritage Walking Track. Informative signs along the way. Easy grassland walking with mountain and river views. Duration: 6 km (2.5 hours). A pleasant walk from the Orroral Campground onnects to the Orroral Heritage Walking Track. It is a pleasant ramble along the Orroral River that returns to the campground. Duration: 1 km (25 minutes)
The longer Orroral Valley loop trail can be walked in either direction. The fire trail is steeper while the trail up the centre of the valley has a gentler grade. The loop is joined at its northern end by 2 km of the Smokers Trail. The walk has views, kangaroos and wildflowers. Duration: 19 km (1 day)
Shannahans Mountain: A pleasant walk through Snow Gums to the summit of Shannahans Mountain with views over the Clear Range to the Tinderry Range. Duration: 3 km (1.5 hours)
Nursery Swamp Trail: Walk through dry and wet forest and see massive granite boulders and a large fen (sedge swamp). First 2 km steep. Duration: 8.5 km (4 hours)
Yerrabi/Boboyan Trig Walk: A walk with great variety dry and wet forest, swampy grassland, Black Sallee woodlands, granite formations and wildflowers. See the zone of contact of sedimentary and granite rocks. Enjoy magnificent views of the Bimberi Wilderness. Duration: 4 km (2 hours)
Gibraltar Falls: A short walk down to the falls. Slippery after rain. Stay behind barriers. Duration: 400 m (20 minutes)
Bendora Arboretum: Walk through Snow Gums and Mountain Gums to a stand of conifers planted in 1900s for research. There is a short marked trail through the plots along with signs. Duration: 5 km (2 hours)
Mount Gingera: A beautiful mountain walk through Snow Gums with panoramic views from the summit. Alpine wildflowers in summer. Visit Pryors Hut on the way. Last 1 km steep. Duration: 14.5 km (6 hours)
Stockyard Spur Track: Stockyard Spur track climbs steeply through tall eucalypt forests surrounding Corin dam up to snow gum woodlands on the top of the Brindabella range. It is approx 15km return from Corin Dam to the junction with Mt Franklin Road but more experienced walkers can easily extend their day by visiting Prior’s hit and Mt Ginini. Duration: 15 km (6 hours)
Mount Tennent Summit Walk: A challenging walk with magnificent views. Start from the Namadgi Visitor Centre after hours car park, walk along the Woodland Walk, then on the Mt Tennent Track to Cypress Pine Lookout (4.5 km return). Continue up the steep track to the fire trail that leads to the summit. You can also start at the locked gate on the Apollo Road (first 1 km on private property) following the Mt Tennent fire trail. Duration: 15 km (6 hours). The walk to Mt Tennent is the start (or finish) of the Australian Alps Walking Track (see below).
Rendezvous Creek Walk: A short introduction to the park featuring mountain streams, boulders, woodland, forest, open grassy areas and views to the Gudgenby area. Links to Rendezvous Creek Fire Trail. Duration: 1.6 km (1 hour)
The Australian Alps Walking Track is a 650 kilometre trail that winds through the high country of south eastern Australia, linking this ancient mountain landscape. It traverses rugged remote alpine country where bushwalkers must be experienced and self-reliant. The track climbs our highest mountains and crosses exposed grassy high plains. It passes through magnificent tall forests and stunted snow gum woodlands, and discovers sites rich in history. Most people choose to walk shorter sections of the trail such as the Baw Baw Plateau, Mount Howitt and the Cross Cut Saw, the Bogong High Plains, Mount Kosciuszko and the wilderness areas of Jagungal and Bimberi. Duration: 650 km (6-8 weeks) Walking Track Brochure (PDF)
Orroral Valley tracking Station, 1969
Birrigai Rock Shelter at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve just north of Namadgi contains evidence that Aboriginal people were living in the region during the last ice-age 21 000 years ago. Throughout the park there are at least 390 known Aboriginal sites including quarry sites where stone was gathered for tool making; campsites with discarded fragments of stone and animal bone; ceremonial stone arrangements on the high peaks, and rock art sites.
Pastoralists settled in the valleys at the southern end of the park in the 1830s. They struggled to establish themselves due to the remoteness of the area and its extremes of weather. Fences, yards, huts and homesteads remain in the park to tell the story of early European settlement in the region.
The mountains of what is now Namadgi National Park have been used to protect and store water for the region since 1917 when the Cotter Dam was completed. Protection of the Cotter Catchment as the main source of water for the national capital was a vital issue during negotiations on the boundaries of the Territory. Timber extraction began in the Brindabellas in the 1930s. From 1928 until 1968 arboreta were planted throughout the ACT including six in the Namadgi section of the Cotter Catchment. Only one of these, Bendora arboretum, survived the 2003 bushfires.
Recreational skiing began in the Brindabella Range in what is now Namadgi National Park with the formation of the Canberra Alpine Club in 1934. The club’s chalet – Franklin Chalet – was built in 1938 but was destroyed during the 2003 bushfires. Today a shelter near the chalet site commemorates the club and chalet.
Namadgi entered the space-age in the 1960s – 1980s with tracking stations operating at Honeysuckle Creek and in the Orroral Valley. Honeysuckle Creek was set up initially to support the Apollo Moon mission and later participated in the Skylab missions and was briefly part of the Deep Space Network. Honeysuckle was the first place on earth to receive the images of Neil Armstrong as he became the first man to walk on the moon.
Orroral Station tracked earth-orbiting satellites and also played an important role in the final Apollo Moon missions, the Apollo-Soyuz project and the early space shuttle missions. It was established as a member of the STADAN the Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network as Station 21. STADAN was concerned primarily with the tracking of a variety of Earth-orbiting satellites (The other initial STADAN stations were at Rosman in North Carolina and Fairbanks in Alaska). After Orroral Valley closed in 1985, the 85 foot (26 metre) antenna was relocated to the Mount Pleasant Observatory near Hobart, run by the University of Tasmania. After modification, the antenna is still being used for Radio Astronomy.
National Park Website
Above: Gibraltar Falls. Below: Birrigai Rock Shelter