The suburb of Braddon in Canberra’s inner north is one that is growing in popularity each day with every addition of a new restaurant, apartment block, or bar. I’m not sure why it’s taken me to long to do a write-up on Braddon, especially because it’s the suburb in which I currently live for another two weeks before I head south!
The suburb was named after Sir Edward Braddon; a Legislator, Federalist, and one of the Founders of the Constitution. Sir Edward was quite the overachiever, also holding a position in the State House of Assembly, spent 5 years as the Premier of Tasmania, and was elected as a Member in the first House of Representatives in 1901.
Braddon has had a real transformation in the last 6 or so years. I’ve lived here two years and even in that time it has changed a lot. I started exploring Braddon on Google Maps when trying to work out where a heritage listed building was (more on that later), and discovered that Google Maps hasn’t updated every image down the main strip of Braddon – namely Lonsdale, Mort and Elouera Streets. It’s super cool to see a before and after comparison from 2009-2010 to the present day, especially if you’re not from Canberra or hadn’t visited Braddon before until recently. It’s almost unrecognisable. Big shiny new buildings replace car yards, current construction sites replace small strips of shops.
While I believe urban renewal is important and can have a lot of benefits to the local economy, I really hope Braddon stays a bit ‘industrial’. I think it adds to the quirkiness and it would be kind of sad if the whole place was just shiny glass buildings.
There’s a lot of ongoing discussion around the future of Haig Park. It was initially created way back when (early 1920s) to serve as a windblock and about 7000 trees were planted there. It’s an enormous amount of space that is extremely under utilised. It has great potential, but at the moment the general consensus is that it’s a bit creepy. There’s not a lot of sunlight during the day, it’s poorly lit at night (wouldn’t walk through their on my own after dark!) and it’s poorly maintained – many people speak of finding used syringes, broken glass and other nasties among the grass and twigs. I think Haig Park could be a fantastic asset to Braddon (and also Turner as it the park continues on the other side of Northbourne Avenue) but it does need a decent freshen up before that day arrives.
As I mentioned earlier, Braddon has a heritage listed building on Mort Street, number 36, the former Coggan’s Bakery building, as well as Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres (formerly Gorman House and Ainslie Public School), the Hotel Ainslie (now Mercure Canberra), Ainslie Primary, and Northbourne Oval.
One main drawcard to Braddon is the food. So many restaurants and cafes to choose from – I don’t think I’ve even eaten at them all! My favourite is eightysix (Elouera Street). I’m not sure how I describe their style, it’s a modern twist on just about everything. While they have a seasonal menu that changes from evening to evening, I can highly recommend the duck buns, the black chicken with buttermilk slaw, and the caramel popcorn sundae – they’re pretty popular items and I believe they’re on the menu most days. There’s also casual eateries like Elk and Pea, Sweet Bones cafe (you must try a coconut brownie!), food vans including The Mandalay Bus (top of Lonsdale Street next to Haig Park) and a variety of options at The Hamlet, and more upscale restaurants like Italian & Sons. There’s a couple of fast food options – namely Wok it Up and Pita Pit, but if you’re wanting a good burger then head to Grease Monkey. I’ve only ever had The Nimbin (mushroom burger) there but it is to die for. Whoever thought that mushroom on a burger could be so amazing.
If you’re wanting to go for a drink, there’s a lot to choose from and something for everyone: trendy Hopscotch bar, an old classic in Civic Pub, and Braddon even has it’s own brewery, Bentspoke. Boutique type shops are popping up everywhere too. There’s a super cute store called Tip You’re It which mainly stocks childrens clothes/bedroom furniture/gifts but even as someone who doesn’t have children it’s so lovely to walk through and browse. If you’re looking for a gift for a child or for new parents Tip You’re It is definitely worth visiting. Up in the Ori building there’s lots of lovely gift shops and clothing boutiques. After a hard hour shopping you can also treat yourself with a delicious gelato from Frugii Dessert Laboratory!
Braddon is a great suburb to live in if you like close promixity to restaurants, shops and to the city. If you live in the area, it’s easy to get to the shops and the city on foot. If you’re visiting, it’s a busy area and the parking can be scarce so leave plenty of time depending on the time of day. I’ve loved my two years in Braddon, it’s been a lot of fun but time to part ways. Well, time to move to another suburb but I’ll probably be back once a week for dinner!
Street theme: Aborignal words, legislators, and pioneers.
Federal electorate: Fenner/Canberra (recent boundary changes mean that the suburb is split half half now)
Federal MP: Andrew Leigh/Gai Brodtmann
Territory electorate: Molonglo
Population breakdown: 53.1 per cent male, 46.9 per cent female
Average children per family: 1.5<
Crime: 1096 incidents in 2015 (not including traffic infringements)