I should declare up front that I’m a Kambah girl.
I haven’t lived there for two decades, but I grew up there. I even went to Kambah High back in the day. I know, maybe not always something to crow about, but I survived – new kids getting their heads flushed in toilets, smoking in dunnies and general hard a** teenaged behaviour.
Kambah is Canberra’s largest suburb (at 1130ha) and was the first suburb of Tuggeranong. It breaks with tradition in its size and that it is sliced in half by a main road – Drakeford Drive. But, nestled in the bosom of Mount Taylor and Urambi Hills, it includes some gorgeous elevated properties with beautiful views across the valley, along with some fairly dicey looking government housing (which might now be privately owned). I grew up somewhere in the middle, probably closer to the flats than the heights.
Now that I go back, it is the vast difference in the two landscapes that strikes me most: from the dizzying heights of Learmonth Drive (where properties backing on to Urambi Hills have been known to sell for $1m) to the graffitied shops on Livingstone Avenue (which are now boarded up) and the ‘not for the faint hearted’ Kambah Tavern. It’s a clash of cultures and outlooks and in many respects it produces a pretty cool community, well served with local amenities.
Kambah once had four government primary schools although only one of them (Mount Taylor) still exists along with the newer Namadgi School which was built on the old Kambah High School site and opened in 2011 for Pre School to Year 10. There are tennis courts, a Scout Hall, the Burns Club, loads of ovals, a BMX club, a swim school, a couple of petrol stations and a number of shopping centres (although the Kambah Village on Drakeford Drive is the largest).
Kambah is also home to the Adventure Playground. I remember it first opening years and years ago, although back then it was tree houses and less ‘safe’ play equipment that seemed to be more popular with snogging teenagers than kids. These days it’s been refurbished and my kids love it (review to come soon!).
Back when I was local, Theo’s at the Carleton Street Shops, sold the best burgers and pizza around and you could while away your wait on the old school pac man (or was it space invaders?) machine in the corner. If looking to get out a bit, it’s not far from the Murrumbidgee River and popular Kambah Pool (and nearby nudist beach) and a pretty quick bike ride to hit Lake Tuggeranong for a pretty nice bike ride. In the early 90s the new area of Gleneagles opened to expand Kambah even further and add a golf course.
Named after the Kambah Homestead (which was located near the Adventure Playground), in 2009 the suburb was named one of the top ten bogan suburbs in Australia, according to Punch Magazine. I take it the voters hadn’t ventured further south.
With a median house price of under $500,000, it is one of the more affordable suburbs to buy into particularly given its relatively central location (these days).
Whether you’re a lover or a hater, for me, Kambah was a great place to grow up. And you can’t argue with the availability of local amenities. It’s just a shame more investment isn’t given to the areas that are falling into a bit of disrepair.
Territory Electorate: Murrumbidgee (having recently changed from Brindabella)
Average age: 36
Crime incidents (excluding traffic infringements): 888 in 2014