The sought-after and affluent suburb of Forrest is home to some of Canberra’s most exclusive residences – from embassies to the luxury properties of high-flying business people and politicians.
The prestigious, multi-million-dollar-median hotspot offers a blend of beautiful older homes, modern architectural gems and some newer apartments and townhouses. Homes are often on generous blocks of more than 1,800-square-metres, making them some of the most spacious in the city.
Residents enjoy easy access to local parklands and schools, while Parliament House and the Kingston and Manuka centres are just a stone’s throw away.
Thinking about visiting or moving to Forrest? Here’s what you need to know.
Forrest is named after explorer and parliamentarian Sir John Forrest, who was one of the founding fathers of the Australian constitution. It was renamed from the earlier suburb Blandfordia and gazetted as a suburb in 1928. The first residents of Forrest were mostly senior public servants who were moved to the nation’s capital from Melbourne.
Forrest is one of the few suburbs built to the original Canberra plans, which explains why there are so many circular or geometric street patterns.
Shops and eateries
With Manuka and Kingston shops a short walk or drive away, the fact that Forrest doesn’t have its own local shops or restaurants isn’t a deterrent to prospective residents.
The area is a haven for lovers of fine dining. Ottoman Cuisine in Barton and Aubergine and Rubicon in nearby Griffith are often booked out when parliament is in session. In Kingston, drop in to Canadian ice hockey sports bar Caribou, visit fine dining restaurant Pomegranate and a host of other eateries catering to just about every taste.
Nearby Manuka Arcade is a popular fashion precinct full of boutiques. Some popular shops include Mania Shoes, which sells special-occasion shoes and headwear; Things of Desire, which sells Europe fashion labels; and Momento Dezigns, which stocks a wide range of fashion clothing and accessories from Australia and abroad.
Kingston Shops is the home of Canberra institutions like Kingston National Bakery (don’t miss its black forest cake), Portia’s Place (the preferred dining venue for federal politicians during sitting weeks) and Silo Bakery + Cafe.
There’s also a well-stocked IGA which has a huge range of gourmet products as well as the essentials, and foodies love gourmet cooking and kitchenware hub Essential Ingredient.
Places of interest and things to do
- Visit St Christopher’s Cathedral. St Christopher’s Cathedral is the main place of Catholic worship and the seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. It’s also the largest church in Canberra.
- Soak up some 20th-century architecture. Take a stroll past Manning Clark House (11 Tasmania Circle), which is listed on the Australian Institute of Architects’ register of significant twentieth-century architecture. It was designed by Robin Boyd in 1952 for Professor and Mrs Manning Clark.
- See how Canberra’s elite live. If you feel like a little stickybeak, take a drive through Forrest and admire the grand properties with beautifully landscaped front gardens.
- Check out a slice of history at the Forrest Fire Station Precinct. In the block bounded by Canberra Ave, Empire Cct, Manuka Circle and Fitzroy St, you’ll find buildings including a former fire station which were completed in 1938. They are significant examples of Australian early modern architecture and are the last remaining examples of government-sponsored functionalist residential architecture in Canberra.
Playgrounds and parks
Forrest’s wide, leafy streets are dotted with large parks and green spaces. A stroll through the quiet neighbourhood offers the chance to take in the beauty of the sprawling, verdant gardens and watch out for a variety of birdlife, including cockatoos, magpies, wrens, rosellas and parrots.
Lake Burley Griffin is nearby. It has several play areas and a popular cycling trail.
Telopea Park in neighbouring Barton is one of the oldest parks in Canberra, and has vast shaded grassy areas, picnic facilities, a mini skate ramp and play equipment.
Forrest is close to public transport, so getting around without a car (or at least into the city) is relatively easy.
Forrest Primary School is the only school in the suburb. Telopea Park School is a bilingual Australian-French Kindergarten to Year 10 school in neighbouring Barton, while Narrabundah College caters to Year 11 and 12 students.
Catholic schools St Clare’s College, which caters for girls in Years 7 to 12, and St Edmund’s, for boys in Year 4 to Year 12, are both nearby. St Bede’s Primary School in Red Hill provides education for students in Kindergarten to Year 6.
Why the locals love it
“Forrest is such a beautiful piece of Canberra,” says Belle Property Kingston broker and Forrest resident Louise Harget. “It has incredibly large blocks, and I think the heritage precincts in particular people like because they aren’t going to have a huge house built next door that looms over their block.”
- Median age: 44 years
- Median weekly household income: $3145
- Median weekly rent: $500
- Houses vs. apartments: 42.7% houses; 17.3% townhouses; 38.9% apartments
- Suburb sales record (excludes land sales): $4.5 million in 2018 for a five-bedroom, four-bathroom home on Tasmania Circle
Source: 2016 Census.
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Do you live, or have you previously lived, in Forrest? 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.