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A look around Canberra – Aranda

By Alexandra Craig - 10 July 2015 10

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Aranda takes its name from an Aboriginal tribe of central Australia, also known as Arunta, which means white cockatoo.

I had never visited Aranda before I decided to write about it. The closest encounter I had had with this place was when I was driving on Bindubi Street a few years back and spotted the ARANDA suburb sign. Someone had put a sticker of a panda over part of the ‘R’ so the sign read APANDA. I took so much joy from this and laughed my head off for a good five minutes. The panda had been removed by the next time I drove by and I look every time, hoping that someone has replaced it, but to no avail.

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Aranda is one of those suburbs where the houses seem to be set way back in their blocks, and many are obscured by trees, which is quite nice. There is also an excellent view of Black Mountain Tower in parts of Aranda which could be a little confronting to some – I didn’t expect it to be right in front of my eyes so I was a bit surprised.

When I do write-ups on suburbs I haven’t visited before I often just drive around, stop when I see interesting things, and inevitably stumble upon the shops. Not this time.

I drove around for ages trying to find the shops before I gave up and used my GPS. I nearly drove my car off the road when the GPS took me to this big, huge, hideous white concrete thing that looked like a giant solar panel on a main road. I had driven past it five minutes before and thought what a disgusting building it was and wondered what it could possibly be used for.

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Yup, that building is the Aranda shops. It was designed by Dutch-born architect Dirk Bolt in the 1960s and due to planning laws at the time, he was not permitted to have a two-storey building overlooking a school, so instead just put a giant wall in. 

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When I heard people referring to the Aranda shops I wrongly thought ‘shops’ like your typical suburban shops; an IGA or grocer, perhaps a chemist, one or two cafes, and maybe a bakery. The Aranda shops has one cafe – Two Before Ten – and that’s it.

I thought surely there had to be more than that but Two Before Ten is it. I couldn’t find a lot of information online about these shops so I called upon the wealth of local Belco knowledge that is Tara Cheyne, Chair of the Belconnen Community Council.

Tara explained that the shops were previously home to restaurants and supermarket but it all died about a decade ago and have since been empty.

Chris Dennis, the owner of Two Before Ten, opened up a little caravan called The Juggernaut (which now hangs out in Braddon) there earlier this year and has since moved into the actual building.

There is a plan in place to revitalise the whole precinct, Two Before Ten-style. There is the cafe of course, which now also has a library, and will soon have a bar, providore, yoga studio, and a pizzeria. It sounds pretty cool to me – personally I’d like to see the giant wall being repainted with some kind of artwork or mural to brighten the place up.

From the road it just looks like an abandoned building. If I was a passerby I would have had no idea there was a cafe up there. I’m actually surprised, and quite impressed, that it’s not covered in graffiti.

There is also the Aranda Bushland which is 100 hectares of eucalypt forest and woodland on the southern slopes of Aranda Hill (the suburb Aranda is on the north). The Bushland adjoins Black Mountain Reserve to the east and the Pinnacle Nature Reserve to the west.

I haven’t been to the Bushland yet, but from the photos I’ve seen online it looks beautiful. I didn’t even know of its existence. According to the Friends of Aranda Bushland website, there are many species of birds that live here as well as various species of frogs, and lots of different flora. Definitely one to put on my list for walks during spring.

Quick stats
Streets are named after:  Names of Aboriginal Tribal Units
Federal Electorate: Fraser
Federal MP: Andrew Leigh
Territory Electorate: Ginninderra 
Population: 2483
Population breakdown: 48.3 per cent male, 51.7 per cent female 
Average children per family: 1.8
Crime: 147 incidents in 2014 (not including parking infringements)

What’s Your opinion?


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10 Responses to
A look around Canberra – Aranda
1
Matt Watts 1:10 pm
10 Jul 15
#

The Aranda community has had the odd sneak-peek at the shops redevelopment. I have also been on a couple of those private tours. I won’t ruin the surprise, but I will say I am very excited about the future of Aranda Shops.

I can’t comment on the quality of the Two Before Ten coffee because I don’t touch the stuff, yet I am reliably informed it tastes awesome. A lot of parents from the nearby school are pleased.

After the shops went out of business, there was a community church and op shop downstairs. The owners of the building had considered replacing it with apartments, but they decided giving something back to the community in the form of this exciting development was a better bet.

A bit of trivia regarding the unique building design: there used to be a post office at the site, downstairs, yet this posed a logistical problem, solved via a conveyer belt! The conveyor belt that transported mail between the downstairs post shop front and the upstairs car park is still in the building. I was not prepared to test it…

Matt Watts
Deputy Chair, BCC

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2
Dame Canberra 2:15 pm
10 Jul 15
#

Matt Watts said :

A bit of trivia regarding the unique building design: there used to be a post office at the site, downstairs, yet this posed a logistical problem, solved via a conveyer belt! The conveyor belt that transported mail between the downstairs post shop front and the upstairs car park is still in the building. I was not prepared to test it…

That is seriously awesome.

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3
rubaiyat 5:25 pm
10 Jul 15
#

That isn’t a wall, it is just a steep roof.

There used to be a very good Chinese dumpling restaurant back twenty years ago. I assume the people who ran it retired long ago.

Aranda was one of the more successful suburban designs in Canberra, with parts designed in the Nuts and Berry school and completely submerged amongst the trees, a real delight. How it survived all the bushfires is a miracle.

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4
Alexandra Craig 12:40 am
11 Jul 15
#

Dame Canberra said :

Matt Watts said :

A bit of trivia regarding the unique building design: there used to be a post office at the site, downstairs, yet this posed a logistical problem, solved via a conveyer belt! The conveyor belt that transported mail between the downstairs post shop front and the upstairs car park is still in the building. I was not prepared to test it…

That is seriously awesome.

So cool! It would have been so interesting to go through the building while it was still classed as abandoned.

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5
GardeningGirl 12:53 am
11 Jul 15
#

I always thought the Aranda shops were really quirky and interesting.

Matt Watts said :

A bit of trivia regarding the unique building design: there used to be a post office at the site, downstairs, yet this posed a logistical problem, solved via a conveyer belt! The conveyor belt that transported mail between the downstairs post shop front and the upstairs car park is still in the building. I was not prepared to test it…

Matt Watts
Deputy Chair, BCC

Interesting!

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6
babyface 1:50 pm
11 Jul 15
#

rubaiyat said :

That isn’t a wall, it is just a steep roof.

There used to be a very good Chinese dumpling restaurant back twenty years ago. I assume the people who ran it retired long ago.

Aranda was one of the more successful suburban designs in Canberra, with parts designed in the Nuts and Berry school and completely submerged amongst the trees, a real delight. How it survived all the bushfires is a miracle.

they had to move after a fire to a new shop at jamison, they have another restaurant at hawker shops under a different name now too

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7
Weaselburger 6:19 pm
11 Jul 15
#

Unfortunately next to Aranda is Jamison….I often drive past the little café but I’ve never stopped….Do they have food?

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8
Weatherman 9:58 am
12 Jul 15
#

Aranda, Australian Capital Territory is an upmarket suburb of Canberra situated in the Belconnen district of Canberra. It is situated at the foothills of Black Mountain. It is quite a bushy suburb with a lot of wildlife too, as it is located near the Black Mountain nature reserve. Aranda, ACT is mostly a residential suburb with close access to Belconnen central district and the Jamison commercial precinct, as well as having access to major thoroughfares in the Belconnen area, such as Gungahlin Drive / Tuggeranong Parkway and Bindubi Street

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9
Junglejack 10:09 pm
12 Jul 15
#

I grew up in Aranda from its first days around late 1968.
The shops over the years, had;
– a supermarket on the Bandjalong Cres ‘lower’ side.
– up the back there was originally a hardware store where the café is now, it then became part of the Young’s Department Store group for a while then a restaurant I think..
– also up the back (at various times) a bank, chemists, fish n chip takeaways, hairdressers, a record store, music teacher, Post Office, greengrocer, butcher, Chinese restaurant and probably a few others that have slipped from memory..

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10
JC 10:12 am
13 Jul 15
#

Weaselburger said :

Unfortunately next to Aranda is Jamison….I often drive past the little café but I’ve never stopped….Do they have food?

They do have food.

As for the coffee, stopped by a few weeks back and it was bitter. Much prefer the coffee at O’connor shops.

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