Prior to Self Government in 1989 the Commonwealth managed all land in the ACT.

The ACT Government now manages all land in the Territory except those areas gazetted as National Land, which the Commonwealth retained for its own use.

National Land areas are administered by the National Capital Authority or the Department of Finance on behalf of the Commonwealth.

The areas of National Land areas administered by the Authority include the Parliamentary Zone, Lake Burley Griffin and parts of the foreshore, Anzac Parade and Diplomatic Estates in Yarralumla, Deakin and O'Malley. These areas have been declared for the special purpose of Canberra as the National Capital.

National Land managed by the National Capital Authority

The Central National Area map include the Parliamentary Zone, Lake Burley Griffin, areas around Yarralumla (Diplomatic Estate).

Diplomatic leases

Ninety eight foreign missions are represented in the national capital. Seventy leases have been issued to foreign missions over sites on which chanceries, consulate facilities and head of mission residences have been constructed or are proposed.

The diplomatic missions maintain the formal relationships between Australia and the governments of other nations. Some missions are known as embassies and others, those which belong to the Commonwealth, are known as High Commissions.

The NCA's management of the diplomatic estate involves the sale and issue of Crown leases for diplomatic purposes, rent collection, rent reappraisal, lease variations, development compliance and approval, and lease compliance. These Crown leases are issued under the Leases (Special Purposes) Ordinance 1925.

The NCA encourages foreign governments to design their missions to reflect their country's national architectural style. This practice is quite unique and allows the embassy to be easily identified by visitors to the national capital.

Embassies are also represented in a unique way through the International Flag Display on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin which provides a colourful and permanent display of the flags of all nations represented in the capital.

Leasing and lease management

In addition to diplomatic leases, the NCA issues and administers crown leases for other purposes on national land. These include:

  • The former National Museum of Australia site at Yarramundi Reach (Block 1343 District of Canberra Central) for the purpose of an ACT Indigenous cultural facility;
  • The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies site (Block 4 Section 55 Acton).

The NCA also manages licence agreements for use of its departmental properties at Commonwealth Place, National Capital Exhibition Centre, Commonwealth Park, Acton Peninsula and the Lobby Restaurant.

Activities on Lake Burley Griffin, such as the operation of hire boats and ferries, water abstraction, and boat permits, are also managed using licence agreements.