The Australian Capital Territory is the capital territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and its smallest self-governing internal territory. It is an inland enclave in New South Wales, situated in bushland. It is bounded by the Goulburn-Cooma railway line in the east, the watershed of Naas Creek in the south, the watershed of the Cotter River in the west, and the watershed of the Molonglo River in the north-east. Despite its small size, 2,358 square kilometres (910 sq mi), its population of 339,000 makes it the most densely populated of Australia's federal divisions.
Before European settlement the area now known as the ACT was inhabited by three Aboriginal tribes: the Ngunnawal, Walgalu, and Ngarigo. White exploration and settlement did not occur until the 1820s. The ACT was conceived during the federation conventions of the late 1800s as neutral location for a new National Capital. The Australian Constitution provided that following Federation in 1901, land would be ceded to the new Federal Government. The Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by the state of New South Wales in 1911, and construction of the capital, Canberra, began in 1913.
The Australian Capital Territory's population is largely concentrated on Canberra, with only 869 people living outside of the city as of the 2006 census. Canberrans are relatively young, highly mobile, and well-educated, with most employed by the government. The main industries are government administration and defence.
The floral emblem of the ACT is the Royal Bluebell and the faunal emblem is the Gang-gang cockatoo.
Namadgi National Park
is located in the southwestern part of the Australian Capital Territory
, bordering Kosciuszko National Park
in New South Wales
. It lies approximately 40 km southwest of Canberra
, and makes up approximately 46% of the ACT's land area.
The park protects part of the northern end of the Australian Alps with its spectacular granite mountains. Its habitat ranges from grassy plains over snow gum forests to alpine meadows. The fauna is also varied: Eastern Grey Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, magpies, rosellas and ravens are commonly seen. The water catchment area of the park supplies approximately 85 per cent of Canberra's water.
In this sub-alpine region the weather ranges from cold winter nights to warm summer days, and it can change very quickly. Snow normally falls on the Bimberi and Brindabella Ranges during winter, and is not uncommon throughout most of the park. The highest mountain is Bimberi Peak (1911 m) which is the highest peak in the Australian Capital Territory. There are numerous Aboriginal sites in the park including paintings at Yankee Hat dating from at least 800 years ago. The area is one of cultural significance to indigenous Australian people of the Australian Alps region, and in particular the Ngunnawal, and the park's management plan is exercised with their consultation.