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A look around Canberra – Charnwood

By Alexandra Craig - 8 May 2015 31


Charny. Charnwood. Everyone’s heard of it, some people refuse to go there. Others say it’s their favourite part of Canberra.

Located in the Belconnen region, Charnwood was established in 1971 and boasts a population of 3068. Unlike many other suburbs in Canberra, Charnwood is not named after a Prime Minister but rather a forest in England; the Forest of Charnwood – how grand! It sounds like something out of an Enid Blyton novel.

Charnwood can sometimes have a negative reputation as crime levels used to be quite high, with the most recent big scale crime in 2008 when a woman stabbed her former friend to death outside a chicken takeaway shop.

While we’re on the subject of chicken in Charnwood, I’ve heard from numerous people that Regal Chicken has the best BBQ chicken in all of Canberra! Many also spoke highly of the store Charnie’s Noodles and Dumplings.

While some believe Charnwood to be the ‘dodgy’ end of town and they’d never allow their kids to play outside there, many Charny residents (past and present!) are so incredibly proud of the area they grew up in. One person I spoke to reminisced on the parties that used to be held up Mt Rogers, learning to drive their beat up Datsuns and Geminis on Old Charnwood Road (which is now Dunlop). He did mention there was the odd epic punch up behind the shops, often between the ‘boonahs’ – which he described as dudes in ugh boots and Metallica t-shirts – and the skaters.

Each year a fun event called the Charny Carny is held. And yep, you guessed it, it’s a carnival of sorts. Unfortunately I’ve never had the opportunity to attend but it looks like an awesome community day out. The most recent Carny even had dodgem cars!

Charny has its moments, good and bad, however I think it’s redeemed itself from the bad. The pros definitely outweigh the cons and I’m already planning a trip to Regal Chicken…

Did you grow up in Charnwood? Or maybe you were a participant in the boonahs versus skaters punch ups?

What’s Your opinion?

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31 Responses to
A look around Canberra – Charnwood
Darkfalz 12:51 pm 09 May 15

I grew up in Charnwood, in public housing. I’m glad I got out. It’s interesting though – I remember having neighbours who were “rich” (poor kid code ultimately for an in-tact family with one or more parents employed) and in some ways I feel bad for them that they had to live right next door to public housing. There was a house across that road from us that a nice man lived in for many years with his dogs – he eventually moved up north, the house was purchased by DHCS, and given to a family of Aborigines to live in. The house was unlivable within 6 months (smashed windows, gaping holes in walls etc.) and I suppose the “tenants” were evicted. The places in “Struggle Street” had nothing on the condition of that place. I’m glad he never got to see what became of it. Speaking of Regal, I remember when they first arrived, causing much rivalry at the previous existing takeaway. I think Regal put them under. Must have been the videogames in the back. But we were patrons of the other takeaway. Other fond memories were the $1 fresh bread of the Vietnamese bakery, and the old Chinese restaurant near the Video Ezy that we only got to have once or twice a year as Chinese food was “expensive” compared to our standard fare of chicken and chips. I took a stroll around Charnwood a few years ago and it’s funny how distances and scale have changed as I left while I was still a young teen. What seemed like a journey “down the shops” is a mere four blocks away now. I suppose there’s still a lot of Charnwood in me, despite living in a million dollar house and not having a criminal record. I wouldn’t want to raise kids there though.

Southmouth 12:27 pm 09 May 15

I moved to Canberra when i was 19 and rented a house in Rouse pl behind the (then) high school. Private rental, best land lady of my life. My street was great. The one to the west had a street party at Christmas and shared out all their church/charity food hampers i recall. They had lots of advice on how to score the best ones. Never any problems in the time i was there.

Kippax 12:11 pm 09 May 15

One of the most interesting things you could write about, is “what is Charnwood missing?” What needs doing in the area, by the ACT government? Sometimes areas are neglected by governments, and other areas are given priority. What does Charnwood need? What does West Belconnen need? How about an analytical study of what is missing? And who will get it done- which MLA/Politician will do anything for this are?. There’s a challenge for your site. Good luck.

dazzab 9:37 am 09 May 15

Regal Chicken has to be the friendliest place I’ve ever been too. Angelo and the staff there are fantastic! Sometimes I think they must feed half of Charnwood as it’s incredibly popular and always busy. The food is fresh and they have a wide variety of salads that I just love.

nomes707 4:25 am 09 May 15

The Charny Carny isn’t at all related to the church – it is the joint fete for the St Thomas Aquinas Primary, Charnwood Dunlop Primary and Mt Rogers Scout group!

Hope7776 11:25 pm 08 May 15

I have lived in Canberra for over 30 years and used to think the worst of Charnwood due to the reputation it once had. However, I bought my first house there and it was the most beautiful little house, I had no trouble and only happy memories. My boys now attend the Christian School in Charnwood which is full of wonderful people. There is also a Catholic Primary School in Charnwood which has one of the best principals in Canberra and the most dedicated bunch of teachers. The bad reputation that once was has long gone.

Pork Hunt 11:07 pm 08 May 15

Some time ago I worked in the water meter exchange program and as a meter reader for the same company. As a result, I worked in almost all Canberra suburbs at one time or another.
My recollections of Charnwood are that the wealthy residents had not one but two broken down cars in the front yard and that they had the angriest dogs in Canberra.

scarecrow 10:19 pm 08 May 15

JC said :

Just two thee things Charny carny is a church carnival (think related to Hill Song so not exactly mainstream Christianity)

Ah no, the Carny is run by the 2 local schools (1 government & 1 private religious) and 1 local scout group with the aim of raising money for the 3 associations. The only link to a local church is the use of the grounds.

If you’re going to bag it out, at least do it accurately.

creative_canberran 7:37 pm 08 May 15

It’s not named after a forest in Britain.

JaseM 6:11 pm 08 May 15

Lived in the area as a child through to late teens. Was in the second year of Charny High (we used to do school exchanges with Mount Druitt!), went on to Copeland. My mum taught at the Primary school for 20 years. I’ve done OK.

I think part of that is that I learned to related to a broad range of people (although I still have a problem with entitled toff’s 😉 ).. I understood that circumstance and character are usually two different things (and what the SBS is trying to show with it’s current StruggleStreet)…

I used to be embarrassed where I came from – but now I wear it loud and proud.

Basilbrush 3:29 pm 08 May 15

I remember when Hall was called struggle village. Charnwood is still tainted as the poor suburb and over the years, it has changed.

I have lived in Belconnen for over 10 years and utilise Charnwood shops. Yes, it attracts a diverse range of people – but so does every shopping centre in Canberra.

I think changing the tavern to the club has helped. The vet has moved there. A gym. It IS changing and people will always make jokes about Charnwood but its up there with all the other suburbs.

Matt Watts 2:42 pm 08 May 15

I love Charnwood. I can’t talk of what it was like to live there years ago, or what it was like to grow up there, but right now I have no problems at all with it.

There was a young bloke waking up on some playground equipment last weekend as I walked past around 10am Sunday, but that can happen anywhere 🙂

JC 1:50 pm 08 May 15

A talk about Charnwood and not one mention of the Radburn design principle that Charnwood was famous for and which many believe led to the disproportionate level of crime Charnwood experienced in the past. Radburb was extensively used in the public houses estates south of the primary school.

Just two thee things Charny carny is a church carnival (think related to Hill Song so not exactly mainstream Christianity) and as for regal chicken who can forget the time they closed due to maggots in the chickens. Yeah so guess that makes them special. Years ago now but I still remember and would never rich one ever. Much prefer Bernies but not for BBQ chicken.

Did I grow up in Charnwood no, but I did grow up in Macgregor in a place that backs onto the reserve that separated Charnwood and Macgregor until Gininderra Drive went in. So the charnie shops were my local and the old Charnie tavern where I sunk my first schooner when I turned 18.

Weatherman 10:56 am 08 May 15

Weatherman said :

Gininderra Drive

Correction: Ginninderra Drive

Weatherman 10:25 am 08 May 15

The suburb of Charnwood had a reputation for being a less affluent part of Canberra in the past, however, Charnwood is still more affluent than many other suburbs and towns in Australia, as it is located in closer proximity to major centres, such as Belconnen and Canberra city. Charnwood is known to be one of the leading group centres in the West Belconnen area. Charnwood is located nearby one of the major regional traffic thoroughfares in the Belconnen and West Belconnen area, which is Gininderra Drive. Charnwood is known to be a goods and services town situated in the Belconnen area. The Charnwood community is also associated with the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity initiative.

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