The suburb of Braddon is located just a short walk from Canberra's city centre, off the main Bunda Street that runs through the city. Years ago, the only reason you went to Braddon was to get your car fixed, washed or to buy spare parts from the many auto shops in the suburb. Over time, the main street of Braddon, Lonsdale Street, started to change from cars to cafes and now it is one of the most bustling, popular café strips in the city. You can still see hints of its auto past, with a large carwash still on a corner and a Repco sign amongst the cafes, but they are sitting alongside some of the most modern cafés and architecturally-striking new apartment buildings in the city. Braddon is more than up-and-coming - it has arrived. Below are 5 reasons why you should check it out this weekend.
Striking street art, in the laneways down Lonsdale Street
1/ Lonsdale Street in Braddon may only be less than 500 metres long, however it packs in a wide range of quality cafes, restaurants, gastro pubs, bars, ice creameries, barber shops, boutique gift stores, takeaway shops and organic bulk produce stores into the one area. If you walk up from Bunda Street in the city you will first discover factory outlets for adventure stores, with Kathmandu, Macpac and Paddy Palin all near each other (which are particularly popular places to buy warm jackets in winter). You then start to see the whole spectrum of eateries in the street, which run all the way up to the end, past the rainbow-coloured roundabout in the middle - painted in celebration of the Marriage Equality vote in 2017.
2/ Modern Architecture around Braddon is forever evolving, with new apartment buildings getting erected all around the Lonsdale Street heart. Each road you walk down has construction going on, with new and modern buildings literally on the rise. Two particularly striking ones that have already been built are at the far end of Lonsdale Street - one is called Ori and across the road is the gold-featured Nibu. Ori has strong triangular lines inspired by origami, hence its name, which are softened by the vertical gardens out the front of the building. Nibu, on the opposite side of the road, is all gold, angles and reflection, which is also reflected inside each apartment. The result is an interesting walk along the end of Lonsdale Street - rubber-necking between the two!
3/ Street Art in Braddon is an ideal way for local street artists to express themselves, in a legal and collaborative way. The ACT Government supports street art around the Capital and even appointed a Street Art Co-ordinator in early 2016, to co-ordinate the artists, businesses and locations. Braddon is an ideal place to show off this art-form, as it is modern, grungy and "hip" - with many people stopping to appreciate each artwork down the laneways. For example, down the alleyway next to Chez Frederic cafe, there is a collaborative mural by local street artists who worked together for this piece - as well as for a mural one street over in Mort Street. See here for details.
4/ Gormon House Arts Centre is located a short walk from Lonsdale Street and the city centre. It is a historically-significant building from the 1920's, which exhibits a wide range of creative art forms which includes dance, visual arts, theatre, literature and more. See here for their current exhibitions and take note of the opening hours. It is also home to the fine dining restaurant Sage Dining Rooms and The Mint Garden Bar (open in summer only).
5/ Canberra Beer and Cider Festival is held at the gardens of the heritage Canberra Mecure hotel in Braddon every March, much to the excitement of beer-lovers all across the region. Festival-goers purchase a pass which gives them 5 tastings from up to 200 beer and cider producers and they can then take part in beer/cider food matching sessions, hear guest speakers, enjoy beer-matched food and meet the brewers themselves. Additional tasting tickets can be purchased on the day. There is always a jumping castle for kids and a family friendly environment. Now in its 11th year in 2018, this festival highlights Canberra's growing brewer scene, with BentSpoke Brewing Co, Capital Brewing Co and Pact Beer all making headlines. See here for details of the next event.
The Canberra Beer and Cider Festival, at the Mecure Hotel Braddon. Image: Mecure Hotel website
Braddon's history, present and future is a fascinating story, which seems to be evolving and growing on a daily basis. Cafes close down and within weeks another new one is open. It keeps the area fresh and exciting - every time you walk through the streets you don't know what you will discover. Although Lonsdale Street is the heart of Braddon, its quieter cousin Mort Street on the next block is getting a serious makeover, at the time of writing. It seems that large sections on both sides are getting rebuilt, so keeping walking on over to see what else is "popping up" in Braddon this year - and every year.
Braddon - a suburb that deserves to be under the spotlight!
An interesting combination of modern architecture, street art and street food!