See Watson Differently

18

Zoe enjoys the pottery classes at the Canberra Potters Society Inc in Watson. “I find the art very relaxing,” said Zoe. Photo: Daniella Jukic, We Are Found.

Haven’t been to Watson? Chances are you’ve driven past on the Federal Highway before crossing the ACT border on the way to Sydney.While it might feel like the edge of town when you’re leaving Canberra, Watson is really just a stone’s throw from Civic, Mount Majura Nature Reserve, Dickson Shops, the Australian Catholic University and Exhibition Park in Canberra.

Watson is a charming, residential suburb populated by students, families and retirees. It’s also a suburb in flux, as developers introduce townhouses and apartments at its north, including on the site of the old Starlight Drive-In cinema (though the developers did keep the original drive-in sign on display outside the complex).

Thinking about visiting or moving to Watson? Here’s what you need to know.

History

Watson was established in the 1960s and is named after Australia’s third Prime Minister, John Christian Watson.

The suburb has an active community association, which has fought for local environmental conservation and opposed high-density developments, particularly in North Watson, since the early 1990s. Its campaigning is one reason why there’s still an 18 hectare native grassy woodland in the suburb, now called Justice Robert Hope Park.

Ken loves living in Watson because it is close to everything. Photo: Daniella Jukic, We Are Found.

Shops and eateries

Watson has its own local shops with a Supabarn, takeaway and post office.

The shops are also home to a couple of hidden gems like Filipino eatery Lolo and Lola (try the double-fried crispy pork belly followed by the halo halo espesyal, a tropical shaved ice dessert that’s as Instagram-worthy as it is delicious), and cafe The Knox Made in Watson. The Knox welcomes families and four-legged friends, and serves local produce, all-day breakfast and goodies from its on-site bakery.

Still hungry? Watson is a four minute drive to Dickson Shops, and an eleven-minute drive or a short tram ride to the Canberra Centre.

Zeb from the Knowx loves the areas commenting on how lovely her customers are. “Our customers also love that we are super family and pet friendly”. Photo: Daniella Jukic, We Are Found.

Places of interest and things to do

Watson is just over the road from Exhibition Park, meaning residents can enjoy a calendar of varied events all year round.

  • Stock up on fresh produce at the Capital Region Farmers Market. Every Saturday morning, you can sample fresh regional produce from over 100 stallholders at Exhibition Park.
  • Indulge at the Handmade Markets. Held over a weekend in March, June, September and December, the Handmade Markets regularly attracts over 20,000 visitors from Canberra and the region. Over 270 local designers and producers showcase gifts, homewares, fashion and food.
  • Explore Mount Majura Nature Reserve. It’s a tough climb to the top, but the locals insist the views are worth it.

Playgrounds and parks

Parks in Watson include:

  • Justice Robert Hope Park (Watson Woodlands), access off Antill Street. Connecting to Mount Majura Nature Reserve, Justice Robert Hope Park has over 500 box gums and protects a variety of vulnerable species.
  • Harding Street Playground (Harding Street). Slated for a refresh in 2019, Harding Street playground is an older-style playground in the middle of grassland.
  • Mary Kitson Playground (Mary Kitson Street). Suitable for younger children, Mary Kitson playground has simple equipment surrounded by grass.

Lola and Lola’s delicious Filipino cuisine. Photo: Daniella Jukic, We Are Found.

Getting around

The closest light rail stop to Watson is at the Phillip Avenue/Federal Highway intersection. Transport Canberra bus routes R9 and 50 also service Watson.

Watson is right on the Federal Highway, so it’s a much shorter drive to Sydney. Heading the other way, the same road will take you past Dickson and Braddon into Civic.

Schools

Watson has two primary schools: Majura Primary School is a public school for preschool to Year 6, and Rosary Primary School is a Christian school for kindergarten to Year 6. The nearest high schools are Lyneham High School (Year 7 to 10) and Dickson College (Year 11 and Year 12).

The Australian Catholic University has a campus in Watson, while Canberra Technology Park is home to training providers like the Academy of Interactive Entertainment and Key 2 Learning College.

Why the locals love it

The Knox is pet friendly. Photo: Daniella Jukic, We Are Found.

“When you live in Watson, you can choose to feel like you’re in the centre of all the action, since it takes zero time to get into Dickson, Braddon or Civic. But you can also choose to feel like you’re escaping from the hustle and bustle of it all, since you’re on the edge of the city, Mount Majura is basically in your backyard, and if you’re like me, you have to drive past a cow paddock to get to work. It’s a funny little suburb like that, but it’s a nice place to live.” – Jack, 27.

Quick facts

  • Median age: 34 years
  • Median weekly household income: $1962
  • Median weekly rent: $370
  • Houses vs. apartments: 58.3% houses; 24.9% apartments and 16.6% townhouses
  • Suburb sales record (excludes land sales): $1.57 million in 2017

Source: 2016 Census.

Want to find the latest real estate listings for sale and rent in Watson? Zango can help you find them:

Do you live, or have you previously lived, in Watson? 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.


What's Your Opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
18 Responses to See Watson Differently
Filter
Order
JC JC 4:43 pm 10 Jun 15

Alexandra Craig said :

PCB said :

I wish my suburb had a Supabarn and a post office! It is a genuine plus to a suburb in my eyes 🙂

Suburbs like Braddon and Turner are of course within walking distance of the City Superbarn. And people forget Braddon has a post office 🙂

Yeah, it’s walking distance but when you have a whole heap of shopping it’s not. 🙁

Oh yeah, I forget about that post office because every time I have to pick up a parcel it goes to that giant post office in Civic where there’s no parking and you have to drive around for 10 minutes or park illegally.

That is because Braddon is an LPO, like Watson. Braddon it is in the Newsagent. With LPO basically the owner is private and they are licenced to sell Aus post products. Not all LPO’s (in fact most) will accept parcels from Aus post for customer pickup.

Likewise many LPO’s don’t do accept passport applications and the like. They are there to provide the basic services like sell stamps etc.

Alexandra Craig Alexandra Craig 1:25 pm 10 Jun 15

PCB said :

I wish my suburb had a Supabarn and a post office! It is a genuine plus to a suburb in my eyes 🙂

Suburbs like Braddon and Turner are of course within walking distance of the City Superbarn. And people forget Braddon has a post office 🙂

Yeah, it’s walking distance but when you have a whole heap of shopping it’s not. 🙁

Oh yeah, I forget about that post office because every time I have to pick up a parcel it goes to that giant post office in Civic where there’s no parking and you have to drive around for 10 minutes or park illegally.

pierce pierce 8:43 am 10 Jun 15

Watson was named after Prime Minister Chris Watson – yes his first name was John but he was known as Chris. (Just like Gough Whitlam’s first name was Edward)

PCB PCB 5:28 pm 08 Jun 15

I wish my suburb had a Supabarn and a post office! It is a genuine plus to a suburb in my eyes 🙂

Suburbs like Braddon and Turner are of course within walking distance of the City Superbarn. And people forget Braddon has a post office 🙂

oh_ oh_ 5:14 pm 08 Jun 15

You forgot to mention the shops has Watson takeaway does great pizzas and greasy food if you need a fix, Satis vegetarian/vegan restaurant (with its nonchalant service) and Cherryripe Brasserie. Farmers Markets is also nearby on the weekends. The Starlight sign is overdue to be reinstated, the Apartment complex donated it to ACT Heritage who commissioned a design firm to work on restoration a year or so ago (proposal was that it be lit in a non intrusive way and placed adjacent to where it was as the heritage value was apparently that it was one of the few drive in movie signs of the era (1950s?) that stood in its original spot). Its also a bit of a split suburb (by the powerlines) – the northern side is newer and mostly apartments, the southern side is mostly houses, ACU, and the Canberra Technology Park which has the Academy of Interactive Entertainment and a lot of local screen companies (as well as the TV studios). Ted Noffs Foundation on Antill St is a juvenile drug and alcohol recovery facility, and the Carotel Motel is popular with visiting school trips and Summernats revellers.

Zan Zan 7:28 am 08 Jun 15

The society, a not-for-profit community organisation, was established in Canberra in 1975. A friend gave me this brief history of the building.

It used to be the Crafts Council with the Gem Society in one wing and the Potters Society on the other., and before that it was a Horse Era Musuem
and they used to rent out horse and carriages for weddings etc. When the Potters got the building it only had a roof and the Potters built the walls etc.
The Place where the shop is has an ensuite bathroom with a shower recess and there was a laundry out the back which has been made into the disabled toilet now.
It was used for emergency housing in the 1970’s after Cyclone Tracey.

Alexandra Craig Alexandra Craig 8:23 pm 07 Jun 15

JC said :

Gee didn’t know having a Supabarn and a post office made a suburb fancier. Must add a few thousand the price of a house out there I reckon. Maybe the estate agents can start mentioning this in their blurbs.

Ps don’t get too excited it is a Supabarn express not a big one and as for the post office it is an LPO what makes it different is it is standalone whereas many LPOs are part of newsagents and the like.

I wish my suburb had a Supabarn and a post office! It is a genuine plus to a suburb in my eyes 🙂

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 7:07 pm 06 Jun 15

Zan said :

. . Last, but not least, there is the Potter’s Society which incorporates the Watson Arts Centre Exhibition, which holds the fabulous Bald Archy exhibition.

I wonder if anyone else remembers what it was prior to the potters moving in?

JC JC 5:27 pm 06 Jun 15

Gee didn’t know having a Supabarn and a post office made a suburb fancier. Must add a few thousand the price of a house out there I reckon. Maybe the estate agents can start mentioning this in their blurbs.

Ps don’t get too excited it is a Supabarn express not a big one and as for the post office it is an LPO what makes it different is it is standalone whereas many LPOs are part of newsagents and the like.

Zan Zan 10:41 am 06 Jun 15

There is also the Valour Park memorial park, part of the Remembrance Drive, just north of the old Canberry Fair. Watson is also the gateway to lots of walks up around Mt Majura, just north of the memorial park. There is also Youth With a Mission Canberra is part of the greater family of ministries called YWAM (why-wham) just before the roundabout where the BP petrol station is. Sometimes you might see cattle there. Last, but not least, there is the Potter’s Society which incorporates the Watson Arts Centre Exhibition, which holds the fabulous Bald Archy exhibition.

creative_canberran creative_canberran 11:27 pm 05 Jun 15

Most people don’t seem to realise Canberra has 5 universities, but speaking with some bias, they all know the two that matter.

There’ more than just newsrooms at the SC and Prime7 installations, last decade they became the playout facilities for both networks. Everything people see on those networks well beyond Canberra goes through there. Originally SC’s predecessors CTC wanted to stay on Black Mountain and expand their studios, thankfully the planning authorities told them no so they moved it all to Watson in the 70s.

Ezy said :

Watson also used to have an amusement park! Canberra once had a roller coaster!

Yep, the old Canberry Fair. Part owner of the Hermitage Restaurant got out of the food business and decided to make an old fashioned country themed attraction with a restaurant, animal park and blacksmithing. The amusement park things were an add on. Poured over $7m in todays money into it in the late 70s, but by the 83 it had already gone broke once, was in trouble for dodgy financials and the creditors were calling. It’s fair to say the predictions they would attract over three quarters of a million people a year were optimistic too. And perhaps people were put off when the steam train failed it’s safety inspection meaning it could blow up. It struggled on for a while until new owners rebranded it Australia Park in 87. That went bust too, millions being owed.

Then it became Australian Heritage Village, a group of nine local investors buying it and one of them said “it would definitely work” this time. Well, that many Canberra’s will recall it sitting their desolate for years and it’s now replaced by houses, they were famous last words.

Paul0075 Paul0075 10:35 pm 05 Jun 15

Watson was my first taste of Canberra as a kid in the 70s and 80s, as Dad’s best mate lived there. So every few months or so, we’d load up the car for the long drive from Sydney.

It wasn’t until I got my licence that I discovered everything else outside of the northside.

These days I live in Canberra, as a result of my time spent in Watson as a kid. I live in Spence for now, but the plan is to buy a place somewhere around Watson, Dickson, Downer or Hackett in the next couple of years.

Alexandra Craig Alexandra Craig 8:40 pm 05 Jun 15

astrojax said :

jesus, i wish my annual income was $162k! this is ‘household income’, surely?

Apologies – I should have written household income.

Dondon Dondon 5:50 pm 05 Jun 15

switch said :

arescarti42 said :

“Until a long time after I moved to Canberra I had no idea there was a third university here. The Australian Catholic University (ACU) campus in Watson is relatively small compared to UC and ANU, but it has over 1000 students enrolled.”.

And ADFA…

ADFA is part of UNSW, for those that didn’t know you can complete post grad studies at ADFA and not be part of the Military

We also have campuses for:
* Charles Sturt Universtity (in Barton)
* Queensland University of Technology (in Deakin)

astrojax astrojax 4:47 pm 05 Jun 15

jesus, i wish my annual income was $162k! this is ‘household income’, surely?

Ezy Ezy 2:33 pm 05 Jun 15

Watson also used to have an amusement park! Canberra once had a roller coaster!

switch switch 12:55 pm 05 Jun 15

arescarti42 said :

“Until a long time after I moved to Canberra I had no idea there was a third university here. The Australian Catholic University (ACU) campus in Watson is relatively small compared to UC and ANU, but it has over 1000 students enrolled.”.

And ADFA…

arescarti42 arescarti42 12:46 pm 05 Jun 15

“Until a long time after I moved to Canberra I had no idea there was a third university here. The Australian Catholic University (ACU) campus in Watson is relatively small compared to UC and ANU, but it has over 1000 students enrolled.”

You may be surprised to know then that Charles Sturt University also has a Campus in Barton.

The median age of residents in Watson is 33. This was younger than I would expect, however I imagine due to the university and the number of students living on campus the median age is brought down a bit.

I don’t believe ACU has any on campus accommodation. I’d suggest that the lower median age has to do with the high percentage of units in Watson relative to other suburbs in Canberra, with young people tending to live in units.

Watson is also home to the Canberra Technology Business Park, which is located on the grounds of the former Watson high school.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top

Search across the site