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Breathtakingly Beautiful National Parks Around the ACT

The ACT boasts incredible national parks you won't find anywhere else.

Brindabella National Park (Image Credit: @air.down/Instagram)

One of the things locals truly appreciate in Canberra is the bounty of national parks that cocoon the city. There's something so grounding about setting foot in nature and connecting with the great outdoors. 

The ACT boasts some of the most incredible national parks with stunning coastlines, magical mountains and unique flora and fauna you won't find anywhere else. So, if you're looking for an outdoor adventure, these national parks in ACT are the ticket to unplugging and tuning into the natural rhythm around Canberra.

Namadgi National Park (Photo credit: ACT)

Namadgi National Park

Namadgi National Park is a sweet (and very large) slice of heaven located in the sacred Ngunnawal Country and only a 30- to 45-minute drive away from the capital. This national park is a cultural heritage site for the Aboriginal people and is absolutely gorgeous.

The park is more than 100 hectares, almost half the size of the ACT! Expect to spot hundreds of species of plants and wildlife. Namadagi National Park is perfect for both short and long walks and hiking, with 160 km of marked walking tracks. Camping is available at Woods Reserve, Mt Clear, and Honeysuckle Campgrounds.

Naas Road, Tharwa 

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (Image Credit: Visit Canberra)

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Ask any Canberran and they will tell you that Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a childhood favourite. A place of historical and ongoing significance to the Ngunnawal people, Tidbinbilla comes from the Ngunnawal word ‘Jedbinbilla’ which means ‘where boys become men’. This refers to the sacred relationship Ngunnawal men have to the valley and its use for ceremonies and passing on traditional customary men’s law.

Also around a 45-minute drive from Canberra, this nature reserve has something for everyone. Spot koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, reptiles and various birds while meandering along a short walking trail, or turn it up a notch with a full-day marked trail. If you’re bringing the kids, they’ll have a ball at the Nature Discovery Playground while you pick the perfect picnic spot.

Paddys River Road, Paddys River 

Shepherds Lookout

Woodstock Nature Reserve, Shepherds Lookout

Just a 30-minute drive from Canberra lies Shepherds Lookout, nestled within the serene Woodstock Nature Reserve. This spot offers breathtaking sunset views over the Murrumbidgee River, Australia's second-longest waterway and one of the region's most stunning natural landmarks.

The lookout is easily accessible with a leisurely 600-metre walk from the car park, taking around 15 minutes. As you stroll, keep an eye on the treetops — you might spot rosellas, adding a splash of colour to your journey. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply in search of a stunning sunset, Shepards Lookout is a must-visit destination.

Shepherds Lookout Walk, Holt, ACT

Yarrangobilly River Walk, Kosciuszko National Park (Image Credit: Destination NSW)

Kosciuszko National Park

If you are looking for an action-packed weekend, Kosciuszko National Park has it all. During winter, this area is known for its ski fields, boasting the highest runs in the country. In the warmer months, the national park offers stunning hikes, climbs, camping, cave exploring, mountain biking, horse riding, fishing and more. Stretching from Jindabyne to Tumut, Kosciuszko National Park is about a two-hour drive from Canberra.

Alpine Way, Kosciuszko National Park

Brindabella National Park (Image credit: @air.down/Instagram)

Brindabella National Park

Brindabella National Park has so much to offer. Approximately 30 minutes from Canberra, make a day of it or stay the night at one of their four campgrounds: Flea Creek, McIntyres Hut, Lowells Flat, and Coree Camp – note that only Flea Creek currently has basic facilities; the others have no provided facilities.

This national park is home to several threatened species including the regent honeyeater, powerful owl, yellow-bellied glider and Northern Corroboree and Booroolong frog. Brindabella National Park is the perfect place for keen bird watchers (around 80 types of birds have been spotted), bushwalking, fishing and those who love to take the 4WD out.

Mountain Creek Rd, Uriarra 

Australian National Botanic Gardens (Image Credit: @rich.pixel)

Australian National Botanic Gardens

For those in the know, the national parks in the ACT aren't just patches of green—they're urban oases, and the Australian National Botanic Gardens takes the lead. Tucked near Black Mountain, it's a chill zone away from the city hustle.

Picture this: strolling under the Rainforest Gully's canopy, sipping coffee surrounded by native Aussie plants, and maybe even catching a rosella having a casual bath. With over 4,500 native plant species on display, it's the ultimate showcase of Australia's green treasures. The Gardens also features the Eucalypt Lawn, where you can lay out a picnic spread and enjoy outdoor gigs.

Clunies Ross Street, Acton, ACT

National Arboretum Canberra

National Arboretum Canberra

Ditch the city chaos and discover the chill side of the ACT at the National Arboretum Canberra, located only 6km from the CBD. This 250-hectare haven isn't your average park – it's a tree-lover's dream with 94 forests and the only monocultural arboretum of its size in the world, and it has killer panoramic views to boot.

Sip a latte at the award-winning Village Centre, explore the tiny wonders at the Bonsai Collection, and get your art fix at the Forest Sculpture Gallery—all free for the public. Top it off with a 360-degree view at Dairy Farmers Hill—perfect for a casual picnic or just contemplating life among the treetops.

Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Molonglo Valley ACT

Loved this edit of the best national parks near ACT and up for more unforgettable moments? Take a look at our comprehensive wrap-up of the best places to visit in Australia in 2023 and our ultimate guide to the most iconic Sydney experiences to tick off your bucket list.

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