Until the NewActon neighbourhood really established itself in 2013 with the opening of the striking Nishi building, ‘urban’ was not a word used to describe Canberra.
NewActon changed that by elegantly combining doses of art, culture and design that revitalised and helped put Canberra on the map as a hip and cool destination worthy of the discerning local, interstate, and international visitors.
Situated north of Lake Burley Griffin within walking distance of the city, NewActon continues to be a thriving precinct housing a mixture of residential and commercial buildings with a quirky mix of hotels, bars, cafes, micro gallery and an arthouse movie cinema, but still with plenty of green space throughout.
On a small scale, it has always given me a Meatpacking district in New York vibe, which is also a precinct that has undergone a transformation that has impacted the rest of the city. Like the Meatpacking district, the treasures and eateries in NewActon aren’t lined up neatly in a row on one street, they are scattered throughout to be discovered around every corner.
Michael Liu has spent the last five years as the Communications and Connections Lead at Dionysus, local cultural development and placemaking business based in NewActon and has seen firsthand the renewal of the neighbourhood and the city in action.
“Over the best part of the last decade, I’ve watched NewActon become one of Canberra’s most beloved destinations and with good reason. I never tire of coming to work here every day or recommending the precinct to interstate friends looking for somewhere to visit,” he said.
“I love the sense of community and getting to know all the residents, business owners, and employees who I bump into – and all their cute dogs! Though NewActon forms part of the wider Canberra CBD, what sets it apart is its unique sense of identity and architecture. It makes me proud to show it off!”
A meander around NewActon is not complete without having a good meal, whether you stop into the excellent Parlour for delicious Spanish-inspired tapas or Mocan and Green Grout for simple, flavourful all-day dining dishes or Monster Kitchen and Bar to soak up the atmosphere of the beautiful Ovolo Nishi. When you are thirsty, seek out High Jinks for a cocktail making or spirit tasting class or pop into the Palace Prosecco bar for a pre-movie drink.
For your exploration of NewActon, Michael recommends adding these must-try dishes and experiences to your list:
Fekerte’s is a tiny little delicious hole-in-the-wall on the ground floor of the Nishi building. On weekdays you will see a long line of punters keen to tuck into a tasty and affordable bowl of authentic Ethiopian cuisine served with a smile from Fekerte herself. Several different meat and vegetarian options are available each day, served either with rice or injera bread.
Fekerte’s Ethiopian is located on the ground floor of the Nishi building at 25 Edinburgh Ave, NewActon. Open Monday to Friday from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm.
Since opening Rebel Rebel in 2019, chef Sean McConnell, previously from Monster Kitchen and Bar, has been making magic in his own kitchen. Rebel Rebel has a constantly evolving innovative menu and an enviable wine list. As a fan of nose-to-tail cooking, one of my absolute favourites are the mini pig’s ear sandwich – moreish without being too unctuous, it is a great way to introduce apprehensive diners to new cuts and flavours.
Rebel Rebel is located at shop 21 – 23 Marcus Clarke St, NewActon. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and breakfast on the weekend.
From the team behind Narrabundah’s XO, I cannot go past the brekky at Morning Glory, though they also do a cracking lunch and dinner. Their silky smooth and beautifully twisted scrambled eggs on a simple sourdough slice is one of the best in Canberra. The coffee is A1 as well.
Morning Glory is located at the NewActon Pavilion at 2/15 Edinburgh, NewActon. Open Sunday to Wednesday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, and Thursday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Visit NewActon for more details.