Weekend Away From Canberra – ACT is not just spin and broken political promises, there are many good things in it.
When most people think of the ACT (the Australian capital), “politicians” is probably the first word that comes to mind. If the next two words that come to mind are “bush,” they’re in luck. Almost half of the ACT’s land area is covered by bushland in the form of Namadgi NP.
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Located about 25km south-west of Canberra and usually overlooked by visitors to our nation’s capital, Namadgi NP offers a range of bush activities including a scenic route to the Snowy Mountains. Aboriginal people have been in the area for over 25,000 years, and European history dates back to the 1830s. It has much to offer to interest both adults and children.
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Many people who visit the snowy mountains in summer or winter take the Monaro Highway – but why not take a back road and spend some time exploring the area? Space observatories, shepherds’ huts and Aboriginal rock art are all on the road less travelled.
It is a road that connects Terwa in the north and Adaminibi in the south. It is open all year round but not passable for 2WD vehicles. As you pass through Tarwa there may be a road closed sign…but that means it’s only closed to 2WD traffic. Best to call the rangers at Namadgi Visitor Center for the latest updates (6207 2900).
Since the Boboyan route passes through mountain ranges at an altitude of more than 1400 meters, snow can fall at any time of the year. It is mud based and can be very slippery when wet – so getting 4WD is advisable. Corner Crossing is the road that crosses the Murrumbidgee… it floods regularly and is impassable when traveling from the Monaro Highway near Williamsdale.
Frosty hollows and meadows make perfect habitat for pinks and wallabies, so take it slow if you’re traveling near dusk or dawn. The trail climbs through snow-capped forests and the views on the way down are well worth it. Hospital Hill Lookout has a spectacular view to the west and is 3 km south of the Old Beauboyan Road junction.
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One of the things that struck me when I visited Namadgi NP was the Aboriginal rock art site. There is evidence that indigenous people have lived in the area for thousands of years, but the rock art near Yankee Hat is the only known site in Namadgi NP.
Carbon dating indicates that Aboriginal people used rock shelters in the area as early as 800 years ago and possibly as early as 3,700 years ago. The paintings are thought to have been painted for hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years.
The pictures depict animals with kangaroos, turtles and dingoes. Some figures look like abstract human figures. The significance and true meaning of the images will never be fully understood as the traditional way of life of the Ngunnawal people was destroyed with the arrival of European invaders in the mid-1800s.
To see this rock art, it is an easy 6 km walk from the parking lot on Eski Boboyan Road. The track has a gentle gradient and passes through large grasslands where you can see hundreds of grazing kangaroos.
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When you visit the rock shelters, take time to soak up the atmosphere as massive granite boulders rest in snow domes that have lain for thousands of years. As you walk between the rocks and snow gums, imagine the events that took place over the centuries.
From prehistoric aboriginal rock art to extraterrestrial first human footprints, Namadgi can be uniquely connected to both. Although many believe that Armstrong took the first steps on the moon with the Parkes radio telescope, this was not the case.
As Armstrong descended the stairs and beamed images around the world, the signal from Apollo 11 was received by the Honeysuckle Creek Observatory – where the world’s population sat in front of black-and-white televisions.
The first eight and a half minutes of the 1969 moonwalk signal were received at Honeysuckle Creek before Park received the signal. Although critical to the success of Apollo 11 and other space missions at the time, not much remains of the Honeysuckle Creek site.
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The antenna has now been moved to Tidbinbilla, so all that remains of the old observation post are a few concrete slabs and a few signs that give visitors some insight into the historical significance of the site.
Although timber-framed construction was common in the High Country before the proliferation of massive hardware stores, Brayshaw’s Hut is one of only two remaining timber-framed buildings in Namadgy. It was originally built in 1903 with local materials including hewn mountain ash for the walls and granite stone for the fireplace. David Brayshaw lived there for 28 years.
After he died of illness after falling from a horse at the age of 79, the cottage passed to David’s nephew Ted and his wife Roma, whose first son was born in 1933. It was a very difficult area at that time. Roads are often blocked due to snow in winter. To prevent drafts, wall the hut with Roma newspapers. Some of these can still be seen today.
The first Europeans entered the region in the 1820s and settled with their cattle and sheep. These areas became leaseholds managed mainly by the Brayshaw and Crawford families until the government converted them into game reserves in the 1970s and 80s.
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47km south of Tarwa along the Boboyan road is Mt Clear Camp. It is a small camp suitable for tents among the snowy grass and black sally gums that grow in the cold hollows. These hollows were often favored by settlers because they were close to rivers. But they are also called especially cold at night because cold air flows down and settles in the voids. Bring your warm gear even in summer.
Facilities include a wood barbecue, but you will need to bring your own wood. There are also large wooden picnic tables and a deep toilet. The trail down to the campsite is unsealed and can be muddy after rain. Pets are not allowed and reservations (online) are recommended prior to your stay.
There are many hikes in the area and Clear Mountain is a beautiful place to camp while exploring Namadgi NP.
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