Namadgi is the Aboriginal word for the mountains south-west of Canberra. The park was declared in 1984 and has an area of 106,095 hectares, making up 46 per cent of the Australian Capital Territory.
The north-west section of the park lies just to the west of Canberra’s suburbs. To the south-west, the park joins Kosciuszko National Park and the Bimberi and Scabby Range Nature Reserves with Brindabella National Park on the north-western border. The Bimberi Wilderness covers the south-western section of Namadgi National Park.
The Namadgi Visitor Centre, near the village of Tharwa, provides a great introduction to the park. There are several displays to explore, a theatre production and a shop where visitors can obtain maps, brochures and books about the park.
Ranger guided walks are also conducted in the park from time to time.
Namadgi provides a wide range of recreation experiences – find out more through the links below:
- camping in designated areas (fees apply)
- cycling on formed roads and mountain biking
- Explore the many and varied walking tracks throughout Namadgi National Park.
- horse riding along the designated trail (as part of the National Trail). For details contact the Visitors Centre
- rock climbing and abseiling on granite rock outcrops
- snow play and ski touring in winter (dependant on access — check with visitor centre)
- recreational driving, motorised biking, picnicking, sightseeing, day and overnight bushwalking, and
- fishing in some of the mountain streams (some are classified as prohibited waterways meaning they are closed to fishing and some are subject to a closed season).
Namadgi has a rich heritage of human history.
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.
Namadgi has a diverse range of habitats and wildlife. Even along a short walk, vegetation and wildlife can change dramatically, particularly with increasing elevation or a change in aspect.
Habitats range from:
- open grasslands and frost hollows on the eastern side of the park in the Orroral and Boboyan valleys
- low open woodland covers much of the park and Snow Gum woodland in the high mountain areas
- tall wet forests with Alpine Ash and fern gullies occur in sheltered locations, especially on the western side of the park
- wetlands including sedge fens in the valleys and sphagnum moss bogs on the peaks that are important for water catchment and as habitat for the endangered Northern Corroboree Frog Pseudophryne pengilleyi, and
- sub-alpine peaks and heaths on Namadgi’s highest peaks experience winter conditions so severe that trees will not grow. In spring and summer these herbfields bloom with alpine wildflowers such as silver snow daises and billy buttons.
Namadgi provides habitat for a wide range of native animals.
At least 35 species of mammals, 14 species or subspecies of frog, over 41 species of reptiles, four native fish species and over 130 species of birds have been recorded from Namadgi National park There are 13 threatened animal species including; the smoky mouse, river blackfish Gadopsis marmoratus and northern corroboree frog Pseudophryne pengilleyi.
The northern corroboree frog is particularly vulnerable as the species lives exclusively in the subalpine areas of Namadgi and adjacent parts of NSW.
To help ensure the long term survival of the northern corroboree frog, eggs have been collected from the wild and successfully reared in captivity by ACT Parks, Conservation and Lands staff at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
The challenge now is to breed the species for release back to the wild to bolster declining populations.
For more information about Namadgi National Park:
- Telephone – Namadgi Visitor Centre (02) 6237 5307
- Visit – Parks ACT | Namadgi National Park
- Go to the Namadgi Visitor Centre, Naas Rd, Tharwa ACT
- Download the Namadgi National Park Guide and Map (5.5 MB)