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A look around Canberra – O’Connor

By Alexandra Craig - 7 August 2015 10

oconnor shops

The suburb of O’Connor is in Canberra’s inner north, squished in between Turner and Lyneham, with Northbourne Avenue and Gungahlin Drive on either side. It was named after Richard Edward O’Connor, a legislator, federalist, and one of the founders of the Constitution.

I think if you asked a handful of people what they know about O’Connor the first thing they would probably tell you is that they’ve played trivia at the Duxton before. The Duxton is somewhat of a local institution, famous for its Wednesday night trivia and top-notch pub foods (as well as a tapas bar upstairs). I hear the Duxton also does an excellent $10 lunch special.

oconnor shops canberra

The Duxton shares the dining scene at O’Connor with cafe 39 Steps, and Vietnamese restaurant Tu Do, which in June took out the crown for the Canberra’s best pho, according to RiotACT editor Amy Birchall.

If sitting around eating delicious food all day isn’t your scene, there is also a new-ish dog park in O’Connor, up in the parkland off Fairfax Street. I’ve never been up there as I don’t own a dog, but whenever I drive past there always seems to be lots of happy dogs having a blast.

Judging by one previous RiotACT post about five years ago, it seems that O’Connor had its own mysterious person going around damaging other people’s property a la the Narrabundah tyre slasher, however, this person was smashing letterboxes down. The O’Connor letterbox smasher just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Does anyone know if letterboxes are still being destroyed?

Back in 2001 the median property price was $250,000. In the present day, it’s over $826,000! However, it’s not so unaffordable if you choose to live in an apartment with the median unit price around $335,000. O’Connor is one of those pretty, leafy-green, a bit fancy-pants suburbs but it’s got a good entertainment and dining scene and I think it’s only going to continue to draw crowds from here on in.

Quick stats
Streets are named after:  Australian flora, legislators, pioneers and explorers
Federal Electorate: Fraser
Federal MP: Andrew Leigh
Territory Electorate: Molonglo
Population: 5251
Population breakdown: 48.3 per cent male, 51.7 per cent female
Average children per family: 1.8
Crime: 57 incidents in 2014 (not including traffic infringements)

What’s Your opinion?


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10 Responses to
A look around Canberra – O’Connor
1
Holden Caulfield 10:41 am
07 Aug 15
#

As a former resident I always used to think the O’Connor Shops were (and still are) ripe for redevelopment, or new opportunities is perhaps a better term. The Duxton (and All Bar Nun before it) are all fine and dandy, but it’d be nice to have more diverse food options there.

39 Steps was pretty average when it first opened and TBH I’m surprised it’s still open.

I’m still pining for Delicateating, which paved the way (in Canberra at least) in the late 1990s for contemporary casual dining in the burbs. Prior to Duxton taking over that whole corner, there were a few decent options.

Now it’s just one big pub. A good one for the most part, but give me a shops with a Flatheads at its prime, Delicateating and the old Vietnamese on the corner (which is now the Griffith Vietnamese) over one pub any day.

That aside O’Connor was a great place to live.

2
astrojax 10:53 am
07 Aug 15
#

Holden Caulfield said :

As a former resident I always used to think the O’Connor Shops were (and still are) ripe for redevelopment, or new opportunities is perhaps a better term. The Duxton (and All Bar Nun before it) are all fine and dandy, but it’d be nice to have more diverse food options there.

39 Steps was pretty average when it first opened and TBH I’m surprised it’s still open.

I’m still pining for Delicateating, which paved the way (in Canberra at least) in the late 1990s for contemporary casual dining in the burbs. Prior to Duxton taking over that whole corner, there were a few decent options.

Now it’s just one big pub. A good one for the most part, but give me a shops with a Flatheads at its prime, Delicateating and the old Vietnamese on the corner (which is now the Griffith Vietnamese) over one pub any day.

That aside O’Connor was a great place to live.

delicateating, yes, but the vietnamese [village?] used to be in duxton’s corner location was brilliant, with tudo down the block – awesome. bernadettes started in the old post office space now long swallowed by delicateating et al. there was quite a good traditional mexican in the same spot after her. and marinetti’s was an institution. yes, bring it back, the cosmopolitan choice it once was!

3
Antagonist 11:26 am
07 Aug 15
#

It is interesting to look back at the area to see how it has changed since I lived there in the 80s. I have many fond memories, but O’Connor has moved on and evolved somewhat these days. I would not say it is more busy (it has always been so), but the area definitely has a different ‘feel’ or ‘vibe’ these days. I recall an earlier attempt to rejuvenate the Shops in the 80s. The old and run down Shop-Rite was given a face lift and replaced with a flash looking Food Master (which remained remained dingy and unchanged inside). Meanwhile, the newsagent changed owners and I scored my first job delivering newspapers to all of the units on Northbourne Ave from Macarthur Ave down to Barry Drive for $5 a day. And boy did I pump some money into the ‘Ghosts n Goblins’ game machine in the old take away.

These shops were also the place I first fell in love – when I first saw Tony Brown’s 1981 XD ESP, which I would own many years later. And I fell in love a second time a few years later when the owners of the Food Master pulled up in their 1983 XE ESP. Sweet memories.

And I often wonder whatever became of Dr Harris. Not only was he the family doctor, but he delivered quite a few people from our family at the Canberra Hospital. I heard rumours that he was still working in the late 90s, but have heard nothing since.

4
Nilrem 1:22 pm
07 Aug 15
#

Actually with Northbourne Avenue and Barry/Gungahlin Drives on each side. Gungahlin Drive is disliked by O’Connorites because it cut through the lovely native bushland on Bruce and O’Connor Ridges.

Agree with the previous rioters on the perils of the megapub taking over the shops. They recently closed down a perfectly good fish and chip shop (Flatheads) for their own …. private dining room. I just don’t know how we survived without one of those!

The Polo (Polish Club) is a great venue, and pokie free (hooray), but technically in Turner, because it is on the other side of David Street from the shops.

5
MERC600 1:46 pm
07 Aug 15
#

Alexandra I enjoy reading your ‘Look Around’ articles. Even after 36 years in this joint there are suburbs I’ve not been to, and you certainly do dig out interesting facts..

Doesn’t seem to have any statues in the park. Perhaps one of Todd Carney would fill the void. He helped put O’Connor on the map.

6
Zan 3:40 pm
07 Aug 15
#

When I moved to O’Connor I was about 8 years old. We lived in the last street of O’Connor then which was the corner of Wonga Street and Coolibah Crescent. We played in the drain opposite. The Govie houses were not quite finished as drainage and fencing was not completed. I trod on a nail on a fence post that had not been put up. We used to walk up the hill (where Banskia Drive/Brigalow Street is) and stood on the top and away in the far distance was a little stone church. I would say that would have been the early 1950s.

7
Nilrem 4:32 pm
07 Aug 15
#

Zan said :

When I moved to O’Connor I was about 8 years old. We lived in the last street of O’Connor then which was the corner of Wonga Street and Coolibah Crescent. We played in the drain opposite. The Govie houses were not quite finished as drainage and fencing was not completed. I trod on a nail on a fence post that had not been put up. We used to walk up the hill (where Banskia Drive/Brigalow Street is) and stood on the top and away in the far distance was a little stone church. I would say that would have been the early 1950s.

Cool! Was that the little stone church in Lyneham near Mouat Street?

8
Zan 7:24 pm
07 Aug 15
#

Yes, St Ninian’s Church. It was so far away from O’Connor across the sheep paddocks.

9
Kalliste 7:28 pm
07 Aug 15
#

Zan said :

When I moved to O’Connor I was about 8 years old. We lived in the last street of O’Connor then which was the corner of Wonga Street and Coolibah Crescent. We played in the drain opposite. The Govie houses were not quite finished as drainage and fencing was not completed. I trod on a nail on a fence post that had not been put up. We used to walk up the hill (where Banskia Drive/Brigalow Street is) and stood on the top and away in the far distance was a little stone church. I would say that would have been the early 1950s.

When I moved to O’Connor I was about 4 and we lived in Way street in that government housing I imagine was going up when you lived there, based on minimal research it looks like they were part of the Tocumwal Precinct which I never knew about O’Connor.
We would play in the long strip of grassed area between the cul de sac and I remember losing a kite there one day. That was back in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

10
Fairs 6:27 pm
12 Nov 16
#

Holden Caulfield said :

As a former resident I always used to think the O’Connor Shops were (and still are) ripe for redevelopment, or new opportunities is perhaps a better term. The Duxton (and All Bar Nun before it) are all fine and dandy, but it’d be nice to have more diverse food options there.

39 Steps was pretty average when it first opened and TBH I’m surprised it’s still open.

I’m still pining for Delicateating, which paved the way (in Canberra at least) in the late 1990s for contemporary casual dining in the burbs. Prior to Duxton taking over that whole corner, there were a few decent options.

Now it’s just one big pub. A good one for the most part, but give me a shops with a Flatheads at its prime, Delicateating and the old Vietnamese on the corner (which is now the Griffith Vietnamese) over one pub any day.

That aside O’Connor was a great place to live.

The Duxton have not only taken over the corner, with their outdoor seating and forcing pedestrians to funnel through the drunks on either side of the pavement (a few of us nicknamed this “The Duxton Drunken Alley”) to get to the shops but are now trying to drive residents out with their new outdoor terraced area for DJ’s and bands and their continual push for 2am opening hours! Bring back “Delicateatting”, bring back the Vietnamese Restaurant… bring back decent pub owners who didn’t try to take over the area!

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