Dreamtime to Space Age – NSW and ACT

This tour follows the Canberra, Boboyan and Naas roads from Adaminaby, south of the New South Wales-Austral ian Capital Territory border, through the majestic mountain country of Namadgi National Park, to the outskirts of Canberra.

Distance: 81 km, Adaminaby to Tharwa
Travel time: 1.5 hours
Driving conditions: Two-wheel drive except for sometimes in winter. It is unsealed for about 35km, from about 7km north of Adaminaby until 2 km before it crosses the Gudgenby River. The unsealed section can be slippery when wet or frosty, and in winter the higher or shady sections of the road are frequently affected by snow and ice.
Season: Three to four seasons, may be closed by snow in winter
Food: Adaminaby, Tharwa (limited), Canberra
Accommodation: Adaminaby, Canberra. Contact visitor centres for more information.
Fuel: Adaminaby, Tharwa, Canberra
National Park camping areas: Mt Clear, Orroral valley, bookings necessary for groups of over eight people, telephone Namadgi visitor centre (02) 6207 2900
Starting point: Adaminaby

From Adaminaby you can approach Namadgi National Park via either the Yaouk or the Boboyan-Canberra roads. Although slightly longer, the Yaouk Road is far more scenic, with views into the imposing mountainous regions of the Scabby and other ranges. Sentry Box Hill stands guard over the remote farming community of Yaouk (pronounced ‘Yiak’ by its inhabitants), where the native grass paddocks are dotted with ancient Blakely’s red gums.

If you’d prefer to take the shorter of the two alternative routes, drive northwest from Adaminaby on the Snowy Mountains Highway (leading eventually to Cooma) for about 2km, to the Canberra turnoff (the Yaouk Road turnoff is at the other end of Adaminaby on the highway). Follow the Canberra Road to its junction at the Boboyan and Yaouk roads at Shannons Flat, then follow the Boboyan Road north to the Namadgi National Park boundary (30km north of Adaminaby 48km via Yaouk).

Aspects of the southern end of the park reflect its pastoral history, such as ruins of huts, yards and homesteads, and these are often marked by cleared hillsides and plantings of exotic (non-native) trees. This part of the road is edged with clusters of everlasting daisies in summer. At the beginning of the Boboyan Road at Shannons Flat, note the traditional spelling ‘Bobeyan’, used on the sign. The road takes its name from the nearby Bobeyan property established in the late 1830s.

Situated on the banks of Naas Creek is the Mt Clear camping and picnic area, the turnoff to which is 33.5km northeast of Adaminaby. The open landscape is associated with the old Mt Clear property. Grazing started here last century, though the former Mt Clear house dated from 1946. It was demolished after the resumption of the land for Namadgi’s precursor, Gudgenby Nature Reserve, in the 1970s.

Among the Snow gums and Black sallees lies a camping and picnic area, with toilet and fireplaces. Despite the intermittent racket of the Noisy miners (birds), this can be a wonderfully quiet and peaceful place. A short distance along the Naas trai I are some horse yards, as the Naas valley to Horse Gully hut walking track (part of the Bicentennial National Trail from Healesville to Cooktown) is popular with both walkers and horseriders. At the start of the walk, information is provided on the natural and cultural features of the area.

As you drive northwards, past the start of Shanahans Mountain walking track on the right, note the stands of Snow gums close to the road here. If you have a couple of hours to spare, try the Yerrabi walking track, which leaves the road around 44km northeast of Adaminaby, and travels first down into a valley and then quickly uphill to magnificent views into the heart of Namadgi National Park. Here it’s obvious why the name Namadgi, the local Aboriginal word for these mountains, was given to this park. An information leaflet about the track’s history and natural history is available at the start of the track.

Whether you have had time to walk or not, do stop at the roadside Gudgenby lookout (signposted just ‘scenic lookout’) around 48.5km northeast of Adaminaby. Here the view is across the cleared hills and valleys of what was once Gudgenby station, established in the 1840s and grazed right up until 1989, to the remote granite rock faces of Mt Gudgenby, which are accessible only by foot.

In Namadgi National Park, as elsewhere, there is much physical evidence that the land was inhabited by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Researchers have found art sites, stone arrangements, quarry sites, rock shelters and camp sites. You can see some of this evidence for yourself at the Yankee Hat Aboriginal site. At around 52.5km northeast of Adaminaby, and about 250m before the Gudgenby River, turn left onto the Old Boboyan Road. Follow the dirt road to the Yankee Hat carpark near the old Boboyan pine forest, which is now being removed so that the land can be rehabilitated over the next few years. Pines can become very invasive weeds in national parks and other wild areas, and their wilding saplings can grow and spread quickly. Frank and Jacks hut, on the southern edge of the pine forest, was built in the 1950s by brothers Frank and Jack Oldfield as periodic shelter during stockwork. Just over the mountain range to the southwest, in Kosciuszko National Park, is another hut built by this pioneering family, now known simply as Oldfields hut.

The track to the art site leads from the carpark and a brochure on the walk is available at the start. Yankee Hat (so named because one of the two hills there is said to resemble an early
American hat) provides visitors with another opportunity to appreciate the rich and long human history of the area. Please respect the strong cultural and spiritual links that Aboriginal people still maintain with the land and remember to ‘walk softly’ near all Aboriginal cultural sites, in the same way that you would in a church, mosque, temple or synagogue.

After the Yankee Hat (Old Boboyan Road) turnoff, the Boboyan Road crosses the Gudgenby River and returns to a sealed surface. In a few kilometres the road passes Glendale Crossing picnic area, 60km northeast of Adaminaby, and in this pleasant roadside setting beside the Gudgenby River, toilets, picnic tables and barbecues are provided. (Glendale Crossing was formerly the site of ranger quarters and the visitor centre for Gudgenby Nature Reserve and later Namadgi National Park. The new visitor centre is further north, near Tharwa, on this road.)

At the Namadgi National Park boundary, 2km further on from Glendale, the tour leaves the park and tourers do not re-enter it unless turning into the Orroral valley or Honeysuckle roads.

After returning to the Boboyan Road, travel northeast again up the steep and winding Fitzs Hill and down through the Naas valley. The road, now called Naas Road, crosses the Gudgenby River again on a single-lane bridge at Naas, and then begins to ascend again. On the next ridgeline, the left-hand turnoff onto Honeysuckle Road, around 72.5km northeast of Adaminaby, will take you to the start of the walk to Booroomba Rocks and to the site of the former Honeysuckle Creek tracking station. The road re-enters the national park about halfway along the Honeysuckle Road.

The road to Booroomba Rocks (3km unsealed) leaves the Honeysuckle Road about 500m before the tracking station site. The short but steep walking track (2km or 1.5 hours return) climbs through eucalypt forest and granite boulders to a rock platform at the top of 120m-high cliffs, now the Australian Capital Territory’s main rock-climbing venue. The views north to Canberra reveal how close the city is to this rugged and remote country.

As the Naas Road travels north again, it crosses the dry slopes of Mt Tennent (1383m), which are covered with Sweet bursaria – bearing creamy fragrant flowers in mid to late summer – eucalypts, she-oaks and native Cypress pine. These areas are very different from Namadgi’s higher mountain environments and, if possible, tourers should take the time to walk into the mountains and the more inaccessible regions in order to experience a true cross-section of the park.

The Namadgi visitor centre lies 2 km south of Tharwa, 81 km northeast of Adaminaby, and close to the boundary of the national park itself.

The Cypress pine walking track leads from the centre up to the dry rocky slopes of Mt Tennent and a walk to the top of Mt Tennent starts on this track. Long-distance walkers will also want to know that the Namadgi visitor centre is the start (or finish) of the Australian Alps Walking Track, which stretches a challenging 650km across the Australian Alps, with distinctive totems identifying the route from here in the Australian Capital Territory to Walhalla in Victoria.

To reach Canberra from the visitor centre, travel north through Tharwa, over its single-lane bridge, and travel along the Tharwa Road to Tuggeranong, passing the historic Lanyon homestead and Nolan Gallery (both of these are open for visits, with refreshments available).

Tharwa grew into a small village at this historic ford over the Murrumbidgee River last century. Cuppacumbalong homestead (worth a visit for its gardens, gallery and cafe), was the major station close to the village. The Allan Howe Truss bridge dates from 1895 and is of major engineering significance.

If you don’t want to go into Tuggeranong town, continue on the Tuggeranong Parkway to Canberra city centre. It’s around 35km to Canberra via this route.