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On Walkabout In: Namadgi National Park’s Honeysuckle Creek

Much like how Canberra is a very under appreciated city, Namadgi National Park is also very under appreciated for being the fine park that it is. Namadgi is located on the outskirts of Canberra and makes up the vast majority of the land of the Australian Capitol Territory. The park is easy to reach by just being about a 20 minute drive outside the city on a well maintained road. Interestingly enough though is that to get into the actual park land you have to drive across an old rickety one lane bridge to get there:

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Not to far from the bridge is the visitor center. This peak dominates the view from the visitor center:

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From the visitor center they have a short nature trail to check out and for the more energetic you can get a variety of park maps for the various bush walking trails around the park.  The trail I decided to hike was between the two old NASA tracking stations in the Orroral Valley:

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The visitor center is also serves as one end of the 650 kilometer Australian Alps Walking Track that begins in southern Victoria:

This is a trail I would really love to tackle one day but being able to take the time off to do something like this is impossible for me right now. So I have to stick with shorter treks like the ones Namadgi National Park offers. The hike I went on was a day hike between the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station to the Orroral Valley Tracking Station. Both of these tracking stations were once used by NASA for receiving and transmitting data from outer space before they were closed and scrapped in the 1980’s. The trail is located towards the center of the park and is only about 60 kilometers outside of Canberra.

The Honeysuckle Creek Tracking station is reached by driving up a steep windy paved road until you are high and deep into the mountains to where the old satellite antenna was once located. Here is a picture from the Honeysuckle Creek website of what the complex looked like back when it was operating:

The antenna station opened in 1967 and was closed in 1981. It was most famous for receiving the first pictures from the Apollo 11 moon landing. Most Americans don’t know it, but Australia has played a key part of the American space program for decades and this is just one example.

The antenna at Honeysuckle was relocated to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex where it is still used today before this site shut down. Here is what the complex looks like today:

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Honeysuckle is nothing more than foundation ruins today but the open area is a great place to view local wildlife like this wallaby:

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Besides the wallabies there are lots of kangaroos to check out as well:

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I think the wildlife was just as curious to check me out as I was checking them out. If you look closely you can see the kangaroo has a baby joey in its pouch. The wildlife of Australia to me is my most favorite aspect of the country. The animals here are just amazing to observe.

From Honeysuckle Creek the trail heads off into the dense bush land. Once you get into the forest you can still see much of the area is still damaged from the 2003 Canberra bushfires that actually threatened to burn down Canberra. The following graphic shows the progress of those bushfires and how they nearly burned down the Australian capitol:

As you can see below the forests have noticeably recovered from the epic bushfires of 2003:


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As you get deeper into the mountains you can actually find forest that was not harmed by the fire that surrounds some of the higher peaks:

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When get up to the higher altitudes you actually will find some boggy marshes as well as a number of running creeks. Nothing like wading in one of the creeks to make your aching feet feel a bit better.

I always enjoy hiking through the high country in the Australian Alps because of the spectacular scenery and solitude. There is just nobody up there. The whole day on this trail I saw two hikers and one mountain bike rider. Actually let me correct myself, there is solitude, if you don’t count the locals that like to pay you a visit from time to time:

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These guys are company I don’t mind having around.

Next Posting: Orroral Valley

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