These national parks near Canberra are only a short distance from the city, but they will make you feel like you’re worlds away, surrounded by the peace and quiet of Aussie bushland.
The beautiful Brindabellas
At the most northern part of the Australian Alps, this park is only 58 kilometres from Canberra and a perfect escape from the city for a day trip or weekend away. Within the 18,450-hectare park, there are spectacular views, plenty of 4WD and walking trails, and some terrific fishing spots all located within this remote alpine environment. The area is the traditional home of the Walgalu Aboriginal people who named the valley Brindabella, meaning ‘two kangaroo rats.’
Brindabella National Park is home to an enormous range of native animals, birds, reptiles and plants: many are threatened like the corroboree frog and powerful owl. Over 80 species of birds have been spotted inside the park, including the peregrine falcon and yellow-tailed black cockatoo. The tiger quoll also calls this park home.
Most of Brindabella sits on volcanic rocks dated at 400 million years old, with a large part of these belonging to a group called the Mountain Creek Volcanics. From the peak of Mount Coree – which towers over the park with some steep approaches – you are rewarded with sweeping views.
The park has a great system of 4WD tracks, including the well-known Powerline tracks, with some more challenging than others. There are steep climbs and zig-zagging descents, and something for
every off-road adventurer.
Tallaganda National Park
This remote forest area (In NSW but only an hour from Canberra) crosses thousands of hectares, boasting a unique range of landscapes with excellent opportunities for bushwalking, camping, mountain biking and orienteering. And it also has some of the best 4WD tracks
At the highest point within the national park, you will discover sub-alpine snow gums and even a high-altitude swamp along with other amazing flora and fauna. The eastern side of the Great Dividing Range is dominated by moist forest consisting of ribbon gum and narrow-leaved peppermint, while on its western slopes, mountain gums reign. It’s a nature lover’s delight.
Ancient Namadgi National Park
Namadgi National Park is a must-do if you want to get out into the bush while in the ACT. On Ngunnawal Country, this ancient and diverse landscape has been managed by Ngunnawal people for tens of thousands of years.
This huge National Park is a conservationist’s dream, protecting 106,095 hectares of alpine, sub-alpine and mountain bushland, and it takes up almost half of the ACT.
High-altitude sphagnum bogs – which offer critical habitat for endangered species, and act as giant sponges slowly releasing pristine water into the ACT’s water supply – are also protected here.
You will find many more interesting facts about this region if you pop into the Namadgi Visitor Information Centre. The friendly staff will let you know where you can go in the park, and while there you can also pick up a map and buy some firewood. It gets cold in the ACT, especially during winter, so it’s always nice to have a fire to sit by, where and when you can.
Namadgi is renowned for its granite tors, with many marked trails taking you straight to these awe-inspiring geological wonders.
When it comes to activities, you can go hiking, 4WDriving, fly fishing, rock climbing, horse riding, mountain biking and bouldering.
If you like a good hike, and enjoy one in snow shoes, then the Pryor’s Hut Walk (about 16 kilometres) is for you. Enjoy the winter wonderland while you take in beauty of the park, the utter quietness adding to the sense of peace.
For some camping options in the park, Mount Clear Campground offers basic facilities, but it is unsuitable for campervans and caravans. Camping fees apply and no dogs are allowed.
Woods Reserve is located on the banks of Gibraltar Creek south-west of Canberra and it is a popular place for camping – tents and campervans are allowed. Dogs are welcome on-leash within the campground only.
For those who love a roof over their heads in the wildernesss, Ready-Cut Cottage is an early prefabricated kit home in the picturesque Gudgenby Valley, which is on the southern bank of the Gudgenby River.
It was originally built for the Bootes family in the 1920s, and then sadly fell into ruins. It then became a part of an arts program, offering a place in the mountains for artists to work in the wilderness, and so was restored into the lovely cabin that it is today.
The first artist to stay in the cabin was well-known Canberra glass artist Kirstie Rae. She stayed there in 2009, taking long walks and absorbing her surrounds, and then working on her many projects in the cosy cottage. The many dingoes, kangaroos, eagles and the fascinating historical aspects of the property influenced her future work and style.
The cabin sleeps up to seven guests and has a nice and simple bathroom and kitchen with all of the cooking utensils you’ll need to whip up meals while enjoying the serendipity. It’s a delightful place to simply sit on the balcony taking in the mountain views, or light the fire and kick back with a book or a nice glass of red from one of Canberra’s many vineyards. There are plenty to choose from, but that’s another story.
For more to explore near Canberra, including amazing galleries, top vineyards and charming local towns, click here.
And make sure to check out our guide to the best nature and wildlife experiences in the country!
Travel to Canberra
Rex flies to Canberra. Book your flights here and check out the route map below.