As prices soar in the popular inner north suburbs around the city centre, savvy buyers are shifting their focus to the inner suburbs of Belconnen, like Aranda, and with good reason.
Close to nature, near the city, in a beautiful bush setting at the base of Black Mountain, surrounded on two sides by nature park, and boasting homes on large blocks, Aranda has plenty to offer.
Thinking about visiting or moving to Aranda? Here’s what you need to know.
Aranda’s name is derived from the Arrernte tribe of Central Australia, previously known as Arunta, which means white cockatoo. The streets are named after Aboriginal groups from around Australia.
A small plaque at the Aranda playing fields, just near the suspension bridge over Belconnen Way, marks the settlement of the suburb as the first development in the Belconnen district.
In the late 1960’s, Aranda’s design was lauded as a model of town planning principles. The neighbourhood’s size was determined by residential density, walking distances from shops and schools, traffic patterns, the landform and the required size of a school. The design had roads laid out to suit, rather than dominate, the land, and the focus was on keeping through-roads on the outside of the suburb.
The design also sought to retain as much as possible of the original tree cover, with the bushland spine a vital part of the recreational open space and the walking access with its underpass. When an unfortunate amount of the tree cover was removed in the construction phase, a major planting of native tree species began. This was an unusual landscape treatment at the time and Aranda owes much of its character to that decision. (Aranda Primary School suburb history)
Shops and eateries
Aranda has a rapidly-evolving set of local shops. After being vacant for several years, the area has had a new lease of life with several new businesses and services now providing residents with local options for shopping and dining.
Two Before Ten opened in 2014 at the then-derelict shops, sparking the once-abandoned Bandjalong Crescent site’s return back to life. Along with the boutique cafe, the 50-year-old complex now includes a coffee roaster, Bolt Bar, a yoga studio and a boutique store supporting Australian designers.
The Jamison Centre is just down the road in neighbouring Macquarie and services the area on a much larger scale. It has supermarkets, retail and medical outlets, banks and cafes.
Places of interest and things to do
- Explore Aranda Bushland.With 100 hectares of eucalypt forest and woodland on the slopes of Aranda Hill, your chances of spotting birds, frogs and lots of different flora are high. Slightly further along, the bushland is next to Black Mountain Reserve and the Pinnacle Nature Reserve.
- Grab a caffeine fix at Two Before Ten. This delightful café in what was once a derelict building is now a busy community hub where the coffee is top-notch, the food delicious and there are plenty of spots to catch up with friends or neighbours without going too far from home.
- Learn a new skill or find the perfect gift. Meet Gather Collect is a suburban gem that brings together the best of Australian designers and makers. Not only can you shop up a storm, but you can sign up for classes or workshops or even order a piece of custom furniture built to suit your home and décor.
Parks and playgrounds
Lovers of the outdoors have a multitude of options to choose from in Aranda. There are walking tracks and mountain biking trails aplenty through the Aranda Bushland Nature Reserve.
Dog owners will enjoy this easy walk taking just over an hour through Aranda’s pretty parks, where stunning native flower displays can be seen at various times during the year. It winds through the suburb’s interconnecting green spaces, including the off-lease area at the playing fields, another off-leash area through the middle of the suburb, and the Aranda nature park, where dogs are allowed on leash only. Take in the lovely views across Canberra’s south and don’t miss the chance to check out suburban architecture from the late 1960s and 1970s. You’ll likely see houses with flat roofs, built from besser blocks and complete with fern courtyards, according to Canberra Dog Walks.
A number of playing fields are located in the north western corner of Aranda including baseball and soccer fields, and plenty of green space for kids and dogs to run around.
There is a playground at Aranda Primary School which is a local favourite after school hours and on the weekends. It’s completely covered and has a slide and plenty of activities for the kids.
Aranda is bounded by Caswell Drive, Belconnen Way, and Bindubi Street, so accessing major roads is easy. It’s just 4 km from the edge of Civic and slightly less than that to the Belconnen Town Centre.
For those heading towards Belconnen Westfield or the town centre on foot, there’s a pedestrian bridge crossing the six-lane Belconnen Way into Bruce. There’s also a walking track along Black Mountain which connects Aranda with the ANU and the CSIRO.
Cyclists in Aranda enjoy excellent facilities, with a cycle path that runs along Bindubi Street connecting local bike riders with the ACT’s extensive bike path network.
Why the locals love it
When it comes to Belconnen suburbs, Aranda tends to steal the show, says local real estate agent Sally Strang from home.byholly. “It’s the epitome of our bush capital with interesting homes on large land allotments integrated beautifully into the surrounding native bushland. The rejuvenation of the local shops has definitely contributed to the community spirit and love of supporting local.”
Long-term Aranda residents Neale and Julie shared their favourite things about the suburb. Julie says: “We have Canberra’s best cafe just five minutes’ walk away. It’s a wonderful place to go for breakfast or a coffee.”
Neale’s response was about the caring and supportive community: “We are living in an area where your neighbours are truly your neighbours, they’ll do anything for you.”
- Median age: 41 years
- Median weekly household income: $2,414
- Median weekly rent: $418
- Houses vs. apartments: 88.2% houses; 1.9% apartments
- Suburb sales record (excludes land sales): $1,430,000 in 2019
Source: 2016 Census.
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Do you live, or have you previously lived, in Aranda? 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.