Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre is the only ice skating rink in Canberra, located in Woden (10 minutes south of the CBD). For those who would like to learn how to ice skate, or already know how to, this ice skating rink is a fun place to meet up with friends during the school holidays and try it out. The rink is also part of a swimming pool complex, so it covers both bases for both Summer and Winter sporting activities. The ice skating rink, or the Brave Cave as it is known, is also home to the CBR Brave ice hockey team, who draw out the crowds every home game and brings the dark interior to life.
The ice skating and swimming pool complex was built in 1980 and unfortunately, it shows. Both the pool areas and rink are run-down and in need of a facelift, however this expensive redevelopment isn't backed by the ACT government (to date) so it remains in the current condition.
On the plus side however, our family visited the complex during the first week of Autumn school holidays and found it surprisingly busy with kids enjoying a skate and catching up with friends. It was pleasing to see that this rink also gets utilised by young girls with dreams to become professional figure skaters, with many young girls turning up with their own pink-laced skates and twirling on the ice.
When you visit, ensure you take your jacket as the temperature drops dramatically. Hire your skates ($3) from the skate hire counter where the rules of skating are stipulated on the signage - including no bad language and no throwing of ice. See prices and details here.
There is also an upstairs bar and viewing area, utilised at the CBR Braves ice hockey home games. Formed two years ago, the CBR Brave team replaced the previous Canberra Knights, who represented this state for over 30 years before the franchise folded. With public rallying, CBR Brave started up and have built up a huge following, with sell-out crowds each home game. If you love ice hockey, Phillip Ice Skating Centre will be the place to be this season starting in April and running to late August, early September. See the CBR Brave Facebook page here.
There are morning, afternoon, after-school and evening sessions to choose from as well as a Friday Night Disco to meet up with friends and have a skate off. Throughout the other session times, music blares from the speakers so skaters can enjoy some upbeat tunes while they skate the rink.
After your skating session, walk outside to view the 50 metre eight lane swimming pool and the 20 metres learning pool, with twisty slide down one end. There is also an undercover toddler pool (drained in the cooler months), kiosk and BBQ area. This area is also in need of an update, however if you are a local who lives nearby, it would be a handy place to come to pop in for a swim in their well-kept pools.
Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre unfortunately doesn't make the best first impression, with its faded signage and aged admissions counter, however it appears to be a popular place for teenagers and young children during the school holidays.
Our family walked away with mixed impressions. It is obvious from the outside of the building that the complex has seen better days (or years), however the potential is there for it to be a fun place for kids to get together. We left saddened that this rink has been left so rundown with no love given to it in decades. Our young daughter found it too cold and I have to admit I found it too dark - but neither of us are ice-skating experts. On a brighter note, the local kids were having a great time racing each other around the rink and it is a popular place for CBR Brave fans, creating a sense of community in Phillip's own Brave Cave.