Looking to rent or buy in one of Canberra’s best value suburbs? Charnwood, in outer west Belconnen, delivers great return on investment. Affectionately known as Charny, it has easy access to a range of facilities, is close to several schools and sports fields and has a decent-sized local shopping centre that acts as a hub for the community.
Charnwood consistently appears in the rankings of the ACT’s most affordable suburbs for both buyers and renters. According to the most recent census data, it was the third-cheapest Canberra suburb to rent. Research by sellorhold.com.au predicts that investors will be better off by more than $120,000 in the next three years if they buy a property in Charnwood.
While Charnwood is popular with those entering the property market, particularly families, many residents are older people who enjoy the quiet life and proximity to services. At the top end of the suburb near the border with Fraser are mostly privately built houses, some with lovely views to the mountains. Charnwood certainly has plenty to appeal to buyers or renters aside from the affordability factor.
Thinking about visiting or moving to Charnwood? Here’s what you need to know.
Charnwood was established in 1971. Unlike many other suburbs in Canberra, it is not named after a Prime Minister but rather a location in England: the Forest of Charnwood in Leicestershire. Its streets are named after New South Wales pioneers.
Charnwood is also the name of a significant homestead for the district’s first residential landholder, Henry Hall, and his family. He was a pastoralist in the 1800s who was said to have imported some of the best Arab horses that came to the young colony. The olive trees and other exotic trees that mark where the homestead once stood can still be seen near Dunlop Grasslands.
Charnwood was intended to be one of Canberra’s most innovative suburbs based on the Radburn design principle, where homes faced common parkland and garages were accessible from the street. But the initiative proved to be less than successful when many residents built fences between their houses and the parks, creating a network of narrow walkways.
Shops and eateries
The Charnwood Group Centre is located just off Ginninderra Drive near the junction of five suburbs: Charnwood, Flynn, Macgregor, Dunlop and Latham, and can be accessed from Lhotsky Street.
The shopping complex includes several fast food outlets, a servo, and a Woolworths.
When it comes to dining, Regal Charcoal Chicken has a reputation as the home of the best potato scallops in all of Canberra, and many locals in the know are long-term fans of Charnies Noodles and Dumplings. Charnwood Turkish Pide serves up delicious Turkish flavours while Oriental Kitchen and Crust Pizza, Subway, McDonalds and other takeaway food outlets also keep residents well-fed.
Places of interest and things to do
Here are some of our favourite activities in and around Charnwood:
- Get involved with the community garden. The Canberra Organic Growers Society runs one of the ACT’s 12 community gardens in Charnwood. It’s been going strong since the 1980s and has 45 individual plots where you can make your dream of growing lush zucchini plants or awesome tomatoes a reality.
- Enjoy the fun of the fair at the annual Charny Carny. It’s a great day out that promises rides, sideshow alley, food, stage, market stalls and fun for all ages. Profits from the event go back into the West Belconnen community.
- Grab an op–shop bargain at Barney’s Boutique. It’s home to a variety of high-quality second-hand clothing, books, and household items at very reasonable prices. Just be sure to check opening hours before you go.
Playgrounds and parks
When it comes to sport, Charnwood is well set up. The suburb has a large set of playing fields which are home to a Little Athletics club. There are two full size soccer fields, a combination field and two football fields, as well as a cricket wicket. At the northern end of the ground is the Belconnen Netball Centre which has hard and grass netball courts. The playing fields come to life on the weekends, especially when large carnivals and competitions take place.
One of Canberra’s oldest skate bowls, constructed in the late 1970s and with a signature skate run, is in the suburb.
There are seven playgrounds for the kids to enjoy, with those in Donnison Place and Landale Place particularly popular with local youngsters and their parents. Charnwood’s design means that there’s a network of paths running through the suburb that make it easy for the local kids to get around on foot or on their bikes safely.
Charnwood is located near several major roads, so drivers often have an easy run getting where they need to. Ginninderra Drive offers a smooth commute into the city.
There are three schools in Charnwood and several in the surrounding areas. Charnwood-Dunlop School in Bettington Circuit caters for students in Years K to 6. St Thomas Aquinas in Lhotsky Street also takes primary school students. Brindabella Christian College has a junior campus in Charnwood, which caters to students from Kindergarten to Year 4.
Why the locals love it
“We bought a large, modern house for a very reasonable price that we could not have afforded elsewhere (and yes, we looked at plenty of suburbs both Nth and Sth). Our place is so quiet and we have lots of native birds visit – just today was watching the first kookaburras of the season playing on our back fence. There are walking/cycle paths behind most blocks which is great for our daughter as she doesn’t have to be on the footpath or road on her bike. Our neighbours are mostly older retired couples who have lived in the area for 25+ years and they all keep an eye out for each other.”
– Thailand71, via RiotACT.
- Median age: 34 years
- Median weekly household income: $1,486
- Median weekly rent: $300
- Houses vs. apartments: 0.3% apartments; 11.3% semi-detached houses (i.e. townhouses/terrace house); 88.5% separate houses.
- Suburb sales record: $985,000 in 2010.
Source: 2016 Census.
Do you live, or have you previously lived, in Charnwood? 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.