Looking for a weekend escape from the nations capital or a scenic and intriguing stopover on your way to the high country then Namadgi has you covered.
Located on Canberra’s doorstep, Namadgi National Park takes its name from the Aboriginal word used to describe the mountain ranges that now form part of the park. Covering over 105,000 hectares and containing some of the ACT’s highest mountain peaks, Namadgi forms part of the spectacular Australian Alps that take in the mighty Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales and the Alpine National Park in Victoria. Being on the doorstep of a major city it is also one of the most accessible alpine parks. The wild and rugged Bimberi Wilderness takes up over 28,000 hectares of the western section of the park and contains some of its most striking mountain scenery. The pristine water that flows through Namadgi supplies up to 95 percent of Canberra’s water supply.
Along with rugged and spectacular mountain scenery the park contains evidence of past activities and occupation by both indigenous and European settlers. One such indigenous site is the Yankee Hat Aboriginal rock art shelter in the southern section of the park. This site located on the overhang of a giant granite boulder depicts many figures including kangaroos, dingoes, birds and humans painted with a combination of white paint extracted from clay and red paint from iron oxide or ochre. The paintings date back well over 800 years and may even be several thousand years old.The 6km walking track to the art site passes through open sub alpine grasslands crossing Bogong Creek and Swamp before gently climbing through remnant forest . The views across the grasslands to the mountains along the way are simply breathtaking with mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos that call the grasslands home a sight to behold.The walk commences from a car park with signposted access off Boboyan Road and is of an easy grade if you take your time. Don’t forget to sign the visitor’s book up near the shelter site.
Also located within the southern section of the park are two of the most important reminders of European history of the area. The first being the Orroral Valley Tracking Station site located at the end of Orroral Road. This site was once home to one of Australia’s space tracking stations from 1965. The main feature of Orroral was its 26 metre telescope. The main role of the station being able to switch tracking from one satellite to another fairly quickly. The station supported many space shuttle missions including that of the space shuttle Columbia during the 1980s up until its closure in 1985 when its giant telescope was moved to Tasmania.Keep an eye out on the way back out from the tracking station for the historic Orroral Valley Homestead. This typical mountain hut located in the picturesque Orroral Valley is dwarfed by the surrounding snow clad mountains and was built during the 1860s for Archibald and Mary Mckeahnie who utilized the surrounding grasslands for grazing. The historic stockyard and woolshed were built during the 1930s for Andy Cunningham, a later owner of the property.Today the paddocks surrounding the homestead are home to mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos.A little further north on top of the mountain at the end of Apollo Road is another space tracking station site, Honeysuckle Creek. In contrast to the Orroral Valley station, Honeysuckle dealt more with long distance communications and was an integral part of the Apollo space missions. Opened in 1967 it was most notably responsible for providing the television pictures that were beamed around the world of the historic moonwalk by Apollo 11 on the 21st of July, 1969. The station in conjunction with the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station received telemetry and voice contact between the command and lunar modules during the historic mission. Following the cessation of the Apollo missions, Honeysuckle Creek supported the Skylab program being known as Deep Space Station 44 until its closure in 1981. The main feature of the station, its 26 metre antenna was subsequently relocated to Canberra’s Deep Space Communication Complex and was in use until 2009.Further north and higher up the mountain ranges both Corin and Bendora Dams make great spots for a picnic. Both these dams are essential to Canberra’s water supply.
The Bulls Head Picnic Area located high up in the Brindabella Ranges and accessed off the winding Brindabella Road is the perfect spot for a cuppa with stunning alpine scenery. Facilities here include picnic tables, shelter, wood bbqs and toilets.Mount Franklin Road, the access for Bulls Head picnic area and Bendora Dam provides vehicular access to some of the more remote western sections of the park and is open all year round, except due to total fire bans or snow when it may be closed for short periods. Check with the Namadgi Visitor Centre prior to your visit if you are unsure. If closed due to snow during the winter months this becomes a perfect spot for cross country skiing but remember this is remote country so make sure you are well prepared.During the warmer months bushwalking is the main activity in the park and with around 160km of walking tracks there is never a shortage to choose from. Walks range from easy short strolls to longer demanding hikes into the more remote sections of the park. There is a map and guide available from the Namadgi Visitor Centre detailing all the walks available. Please remember this is alpine country, so always be prepared for sudden and dramatic weather changes with snow anytime of the year. Other activities popular in the park are mountain biking, horse-riding and fishing. Check with the Namadgi Visitor Centre first for best spots and restrictions.
Apart from the many scenic picnic spots available, Namadgi also caters for campers with three vehicle accessible campsites available. Walk in bush camping is also available in some sections of the park, check with the Namadgi Visitor Centre first for suitable locations. If you are planning on camping you will have to call into the visitor centre to pay for and book your site in advance. Please be aware there is a 3 night maximum stay at all of the camping areas with weekends and holiday periods being very busy. The Honeysuckle campground is located toward the top of the range near the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Site on Apollo Road and has facilities including picnic tables, shelter, gas bbqs and toilets. Orroral campground is located on the way to the Orroral Valley Tracking Site along Orroral Valley Road and has facilities including picnic tables, wood and gas bbqs and toilets.Mount Clear is the most remote vehicle accessible camping area and has facilities including wood bbqs and toilets. The access for Mount Clear along Bobeyan Road can be closed due to wet weather or snow. There is also accommodation available in the park.Namadgi National Park is a pleasure to visit all year round. With its snow clad mountain peaks, diverse flora and fauna, rich historical sites and being on Canberra’s doorstep, Namadgi is the perfect spot to explore.
The Namadgi Visitor Centre is located on Naas Road just south of Tharwa Road. The center is open all year round except Christmas Day, 9am to 4pm weekdays and 9am to 4.30pm weekends and public holidays. Phone them on (02) 6207 2900. Campsite bookings cam also be made online at http://www.tams.act.gov.au