16 April 2019

Historic hospitality opportunity in a slice of old Canberra

| Ian Bushnell
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Old Canberra House in Acton was built in 1913 and offers a premium setting for a hospitality business. Photos: Supplied.

One of Canberra’s most historic buildings, set in the picturesque grounds of the Australian National University, is available for an experienced restaurateur to stamp their name on a walk-in venue in need of new life.
Vacated about a couple of months ago by the owners of the Ivy and the Fox, Old Canberra House at Acton offers a ready-made space for a cafe, restaurant or functions centre.
Built in 1913 as the residence for the first Canberra Administrator, Old Canberra House’s ground floor is fully fitted out and available at what Laing and Simmons agent Chris Antos says is an affordable rent of $45,000 per annum plus a negotiable fee for the fit-out.
Mr Antos said that if marketed properly the site, with outside areas, lake views and oodles of history, would be a unique Canberra destination.

“Previously it’s been very popular with functions so it really comes down to whoever wants to take it on and market it properly,” he said.

The site would be a unique Canberra destination.

Many Canberrans would have fond memories of the site with the previous owners using it to host weddings, christenings and birthdays.

The outside areas are licensed and come with no extra charge. “Sit back and relax on the deck, while admiring Lake Burley Griffin through the gum trees,” Mr Antos said.

Old Canberra House is situated on the way to the National Museum on Acton Peninsula and would also attract visitors, particularly at the weekend.

For weekly trade, the ANU preschool and childcare centre is close by as is the Crawford School of Public Policy, which, with other University organisations, offers catering opportunities.

The ANU was looking for the right tenant, who will re-activate the space long-term and do something special in that section of the campus, Mr Antos said.

The space itself was only fitted out in 2010, and holds a liquor bar, takeaway cafe bar, furniture and kitchen, as well as a storage and cool room.

The building’s external facade is heritage listed but the internal space can be re-imagined, although very little needs to be done.


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Ah the old Canberra House. Remember it well when it was the ANU Staff Centre and managed by the late and much younger Jim Murphy. The journo Bruce Juddery was often found there. A pity the the Ivy and The Fox have now gone, wasn’t a bad venue.

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