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Published April 17th 2016
Update April 28th 2018
Skate Nation is now closed in this Fyshwick location.
Go retro at Canberra's only roller skating rink
Skate Nation is Canberra's only roller skating rink, located in the industrial suburb of Fyshwick, 10 minutes south of the CBD. This industrially cool skate rink is located inside a large-scale warehouse and is the ideal place to bravely strap on the skates and learn to skate. With school holidays throughout the year and cooler weather on its way, it is also a handy place to keep in mind for when the kids start to say "I'm bored!".
Opened in 2014, Skate Nation offers a range of skating options with evening session times during the week (ideal for after work or school) as well as daytime weekend sessions, popular with families and parties. They also hold "Learn-to-Skate" classes for Over 16's (Skate Skills), as well as for Under 16's (Skate Crew), fitness classes (Skate Fit) and private lessons. If you have children interested in learning how to skate, there are school holiday programs for them to join and meet new like-minded friends. If they love it so much they want to hold a birthday party here, there is also a small birthday party area to take over at the back of the rink.
Please note that Skate Nation is a cash only venue.
School holiday classes. Source: Skate Nation Facebook
Learning to skate isn't easy, however with some perseverance it eventually clicks - hopefully within the one session. For adult novices, it can be hard work to get around the rink, however younger kids seem to pick it up easier - and they don't have as far to fall!
On the day our family visited, there was a teenage birthday party in progress with kids and adults of all ages teetering and tottering around the rink, trying out their skills. With pumping retro music, disco lights and laughs heard around the rink (and the occasional "Oomph!" as someone fell down), it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. For the adults, a highlight is the music, with tunes from the 80's and '90's that will have you singing along to old school Kylie Minogue, INXS and older disco hits.
Needing some advice, we asked the owner behind the counter for some tips on how to help our daughter, almost 5, learn how to skate. She suggested we only hold one hand for support and for her to use a walking movement with her feet, with little steps, to gain her balance and confidence. With this advice in mind, our daughter started off with several wobbly laps glued to the walls and cutting off the circulation in my hand, before stepping along on her own only an hour later. She had a smile on her face the entire time.
If you are visiting for a general session, the entry price covers the whole session time, however it costs $3 extra to hire the skates and $2 for helmets. Although safety gear is recommended, it isn't required to skate on the rink. I would however, suggest a helmet is advisable for younger children and you can also take your own safety equipment with you.
Skate Nation is tucked away amongst the warehouses, only a short distance away from the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets. The outside of the building looks like any of the other industrial warehouses in the district, however once inside it is an intriguing place to explore. Skate Nation takes up half of the warehouse and shares the rest of the space with Adrenalin Boardstore, PowderPak Park Canberra and Eight Track Skate Co. This huge skate, snow, surf and roller skate store is an interesting area to browse in itself, with an indoor skate ramp inside the store for customers to show off their tricks.
When you walk in, there is a rustic coffee outlet to grab a takeaway and also a chill-out area with comfy couches, pool table and arcade games to challenge your mates. Another large area in the centre is the PowderPak Park - an indoor snowboard park, where snowboarders can practice their skills all year around.
Games and chill out zone in the centre of the warehouse
Skate Nation is an interesting place - it is industrial, it is rustic and it is basic - but it's fun. With coloured disco lights, retro dance music and blackened windows, it makes for an enjoyable escape for a couple of hours having a laugh and learning a new skill. Although some people were serenely gliding around the centre of the rink, most people were hovering and wobbling around the outskirts, so don't be afraid that you will make a fool of yourself. We all will, and that is half the fun. There is also a nice comradery between skaters on the rink when someone falls down - the other skaters will wince and "ouch" in sympathy - before someone offers a helping hand to pick them back up again.
Lastly, if you are looking for some disco glam in your Friday evenings, why not check out the Friday Disco ( 5:30pm – 9:00pm) at Skate Nation - and start your weekend off with a retro bang!