One of Canberra’s most sought-after addresses, the North Canberra suburb of Ainslie is known for its unbeatable location, leafy green streets, big blocks and gorgeous heritage-listed homes.
The suburb has a diverse population of students, retirees and families, who know they’re onto a good thing. Most homes are detached single-dwelling houses, but Ainslie’s increasing popularity has led to in-fill development in recent years.
When it comes to drawcards, Ainslie has plenty: its thriving local shopping centre, busy restaurants, strong community vibe, local football club and one of its most unique features – its location nestled right at the base of Mt Ainslie with reserve and bush as the stunning backdrop.
Thinking about visiting or moving to Ainslie? Here’s what you need to know.
Established in the 1920s, Ainslie is one of Canberra’s oldest suburbs (which you can tell from the twentieth-century homes throughout the suburb). It is named after James Ainslie, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, and its streets are named after pioneers and legislators.
Ainslie’s first residents were workers and public servants who moved to Canberra before the Old Parliament House was constructed, and some of the early red-brick homes, prefabricated workers cottages and 1960s government dwellings are still standing alongside more recent knockdown/rebuild properties.
Shops and eateries
Ainslie is renowned for its local shops, which have an IGA, bottle shop, chemist, pub and various other small, independent and locally-owned stores.
Ainslie IGA is particularly well-known for its range of gourmet local products, high-quality fresh produce and stocking the largest range of cheese in Canberra. A local favourite is Shop Girl, Flower Girl which is packed with gorgeous giftwares and things for the home.
Feeling hungry? Mama Dough is the place to go for pizza. Enjoy a changing menu based on fresh local and seasonal ingredients at Pilot or relax with a beer and a pub meal with mates at Edgar’s Inn. Breizh Cafe offers a charming slice of Brittany and authentic Breton cuisine, while Ainslie Football Club has several dining options and a packed calendar of events.
Places of interest and things to do
- Climb Mount Ainslie. There’s a popular track behind the Australian War Memorial that takes walkers, runners and dog-walkers directly up Mount Ainslie where they’re rewarded with stunning views over Canberra. This is a must-do activity for anyone living in the vicinity.
- Sample the extensive range of cheeses at Ainslie IGA. Ainslie IGA has a cheese cabinet with over 150 specialist cheeses, including French cheeses that you usually can’t found outside of a specialist deli. It’s worth a trip to the IGA for the cheese alone, but there’s plenty of other local delicacies to tempt you.
- Take your furry friend on the Ainslie Dog Walk. It will take you and your pet on a gentle 4km stroll that ends at the dog-friendly Edgar’s Inn.
Playgrounds and park
Ainslie’s environment is influenced by the ‘garden city movement’ with parks and gardens integrated into the suburb’s plan, so there’s no shortage of places to experience the wide outdoors.
- Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve is on the doorstep and an abundance of native birdlife and wildlife make their home there.
- Corroboree Park is a heritage-listed area with tennis courts, basketball court, cricket pitch and kids playground.
- Wakefield Gardens is a park where there’s space galore for the kids to run around.
- Bill Pye Park has a small set of play equipment and lovely shade trees that are the perfect spot for a picnic on a warm day.
- Calvert Park has lots of open space and native trees, some equipment including a ladder, a slide and swings, and is particularly well suited to toddlers.
Whether your preferred mode of getting around is car, bike, foot or public transport, Ainslie residents have plenty of options. The suburb is served by bus route 31, which travels to the city, Dickson and Belconnen, and route 53, which takes commuters to the city, Dickson, and the National Museum of Australia.
Many parts of Ainslie are within walking or cycling distance to the light rail corridor, and with a light rail station and new bus interchange at neighbouring Dickson shops, getting around is easy.
If you enjoy cycling, Ainslie is close to a network of bike paths and on-road cycling options which will connect to nearby suburbs and the city.
It’s a short walk along wide, tree-lined streets into the city from many parts of Ainslie.
Nearby secondary schools include:
- Campbell High School – a public school for Year 7 to Year 10 students, located in neighbouring Campbell.
- Merici College – a Catholic girls school for Year 7 to Year 12 students located in Braddon.
- Daramalan College – a co-educational Catholic school for Year 7 to Year 12 students located in Dickson.
- Dickson College – a public secondary college for Year 11 and Year 12 students.
Why the locals love it
“Ainslie has access to heaps of facilities, the city and museums all within a five minute drive or quick bus ride. The pool, restaurants and schools are second to none and offer a wide variety of choice. For those without kids, it is close to the city night life, restaurants and theatre. It is a close community where everyone knows everyone. It is a green environment with a large push to do the right thing. Local street carols and markets combined with the Gorman Arts Markets and Ainslie/Dickson neighbourhood market make this a fabulous place to live.” – ajandnj, via Homely
- Median age: 41 years
- Median weekly household income: $2,027
- Median weekly rent: $275
- Houses vs. apartments: 70.7% houses; 17.5% townhouses, 10.3% apartments
- Suburb sales record (excludes land sales): $2.15 million in 2018
Source: 2016 Census.
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Do you live, or have you previously lived, in Ainslie? What are your favourite things about the suburb? What advice would you give to people considering moving there? Share your thoughts in the comments below