Courtney is a freelance fashion, art and design writer and content creator for www.mrgift.com.au - an online boutique specialising in quality gifts for men. Read more of Courtney’s work at www.alittlepinkbook.blogspot.com.au
Published July 30th 2016
Belconnen is one of Canberra's best assets
Belconnen. Canberra's great city of the north-west has so much to offer. I've lived in this beautiful area for over four years now, and I'm still discovering new things to do. Here is a list of my favourites so far...
1. Eat out There are plenty of great places to eat around Belconnen. Most are family friendly and are great value for money. For something with a view of the Lake, you can't beat Black Pepper Café for breakfast and lunch, The Lighthouse Waterfront Pub for lunch and dinner, Bella Vista for delicious Italian cuisine, and Ha Ha Bar breakfast, lunch and dinner.
2. Grab a coffee Thanks to the number of government departments based in and around Belconnen, there's always a demand for high-quality coffee spots. For Immigration employees, Café Orange Bean is a popular haunt, as is Coffee Guru.
In Westfield Belconnen you're spoilt for choice with Café Cherry Beans, Coffee Club, Lido Café and more. The Myer Café is also a very family-friendly café. There's plenty of space with ample seating and a play area to keep the children entertained whilst you sip a much-needed coffee.
3. Go bowling Bowling is a fun activity for the whole family, especially on a cold, wet day. AMF Belconnen has 32 lanes, as well as 33 Arcade games.
4. Visit an art exhibition Belconnen is incredibly lucky to have a dedicated Arts Centre right in the middle of the town centre. Belconnen Arts Centre is a cultural hub and has an extensive program of art exhibitions, activities and events for the whole family.
5. Go shopping Westfield centres are synonymous with shopping. Westfield Belconnen has everything from fashion and accessory stores for men, women and children, as well and specialty retailers, Myer department store, and a great range of grocery and fresh food retailers. Some stores, such as Kmart are even open 24 hrs, and others have extended opening hours (especially on Friday night).
6. Belconnen Skate Park Belconnen's skate park on Emu Bank was the largest skate park in Australia when it reopened in 2011. The park has plenty of features to cater for all abilities and the park is a popular hangout for skateboarders (and scooters) of all ages.
7. Indoor playgrounds Those with small children will be familiar with the two indoor play areas in Westfield Belconnen. These are a life-saver on any shopping trip with little kids in-toe. The third floor play area seems slightly better for younger children (although the slide can be a bit steep for novices), whilst the downstairs play area has a bit more space for older kids. These play areas serve as a great "bribe" when you've got a bit of shopping to get through, or are a great place for kids to release some energy while mum and dad catch their breath with a take-away coffee.
8. iPlay Located in Westfield Belconnen, iPlay is also a great indoor option for cold Canberra days. Kids (and adults) will love the largest laser tag arena in Canberra, dodgem car track, 80 arcade games, 4 pools tables, and 4 full sized bowling lanes. iPlay is great for: 1. birthday parties 2. a school holiday activity 3. meeting up with friends 4. fun corporate functions
9. Hoyts Cinema
One of the best things about Hoyts Cinema Belconnen is that every seat in every cinema is now fitted with powered reclining seats, and they are divine! This is a fantastic cinema that never seems over-crowded and always has the latest releases (as well as some classics) showing. There is an Eagle Boys Express Pizza station, as well as a candy bar serving all the movie treats we love – popcorn, drinks, Choc Tops, and lollies. Customers can also receive an additional free hour of parking (in addition to Westfield's 2 hours free parking) when they present their parking pass at the Candy Bar.
10. Skyzone I'm not sure who loves Skyzone more – kids or adults?! This is one of Westfield Belconnen's finest additions yet! Not only is trampolining a great wet-weather activity, it's also a fun way to encourage the kids to get active. Adults can also release their inner child with activities such as Dodge Ball (the traditional game played on a trampoline) and Sky Fit (a fun way to work out). They also cater for kids' and adult's parties, work functions, and offer a discount for littlies under five during the week.
11. Belconnen Fresh Food Markets
The Belconnen Markets was one of the first places I visited after we moved to Belconnen, and I wasn't disappointed. The markets really are a one-stop-shop for all your fresh food – fruit, veg, meat, bread, cheese and more. It's very easy to lose a morning or afternoon at the markets purchasing fresh produce, enjoying a coffee at Knead or Beppes, letting the kids play in the one-of-a-kind mushroom playground and perusing some of the specialty stores, such as the bookshop Book Passion, organic shop and café As Nature Intended.
Delicious fresh produce from the Belconnen Markets. Image from Belconnen Markets Facebook page.
I don't know many people who don't love a trip to Bunnings. Even if you're not into DIY or gardening, Bunnings really has something for everyone. And if you are into DIY and gardening, be prepared to lose a lot of time (and money) at Bunnings! Bunnings Belconnen is easy to get to (it's just off Belconnen Way), has ample parking, and enthusiastic team members who have a sixth-sense knack of knowing which aisle to find something in. And you can't beat a Bunnings sausage sizzle for charity.
13. Walk or cycle around Lake Ginninderra
The asphalt path around Lake Ginninderra (approx. 6.5km) is a great surface for cycling, walking or running on. If you fancy a shorter distance, you can just complete the peninsula (approx. 1.5km) or part of the Lake. It's beautiful at any time of the year and the water looks different every day, depending on the weather.
14. Playgrounds and feeding the birds around Lake Ginninderra If you're running or walking around Lake Ginninderra with little ones, the numerous playgrounds around the Lake, as well as the birdlife are welcome distractions and a good opportunity to catch your breath and let the kids out of the pram. The three main playgrounds are located at John Knight Park, Didhams Close and Western Foreshore. Just watch out for the enthusiastic black swans!
15. BBQ around the Lake You can't beat a BBQ outdoors during Canberra's warmer months – especially around Lake Ginninderra. There are several permanent BBQs set up in picturesque spots around the Lake, including John Knight Park (close to playgrounds and toilets), Didhams Close, and the Western Foreshore.
All BBQs are free and are a fun, inexpensive way to meet up with other family groups and make the most of this gorgeous Lake and the great outdoors.
16. Learn something – Lake night learning Lake Ginninderra Secondary Collage hosts a range of evening and weekend courses through the Lake Night Learning program. Course disciplines include: arts and crafts, business and finance, computing and technology, cooking, health and wellbeing, recreation and relaxation, as well as languages and creative writing. These courses are perfect if you want to learn a new language, learn how to meditate, cook something new, try a new style of dance, or get creative. We're never too old to learn something new.
17. Belconnen Library
Canberra libraries are really moving with the times, offering a number of events and activities for people of all ages and interests. In addition to the large selection of books, CDs and DVDs Belconnen Library has available to borrow, there are kids' programs such as Giggle and Wiggle (0-2 year-olds) and Story Time (3-5 year-olds), Chess and Scrabble group, as well as plenty of one-off events and talks from authors and other experts. I recently attended a free meditation course at Belconnen Library, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Keep an eye on Library's events page for upcoming events.
Belconnen Library has an extensive program of events and activities to suit everyone. Image from www.library.act.gov.au
18. Hit the gym
If you have any energy left at the end of this long list of things to do in Belconnen, perhaps you could fit in a quick workout. Belconnen has several gyms on offer, such as Fit n Fast, Fernwood, and Club Lime. All gyms offer 24 hours access via token for members, so you can work out at any time of day (or night). All gyms are located within a block from the Westfield centre, so are easily accessible and offer a variety of classes and equipment. Fernwood and Club Lime have a crèche, so are great for mums to squeeze in a workout, and Fit n Fast have a large cardio zone, so you can always find a free treadmill.
I thought it was interesting that you included Bunnings in your list but then it is somewhat bliss to many blokes. I have a friend whose prescholl grandaughter absolutely loves to visit Bunnings with him.