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.
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.
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.
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.
Streets are named after: Names of Aboriginal Tribal Units
Federal Electorate: Fraser
Federal MP: Andrew Leigh
Territory Electorate: Ginninderra
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)