Tag Archives: Belconnen

Heather’s House of Cake, Belconnen

19 Mar

I hear a lot how people would love to see better use made of beautiful Lake Ginninderra. More recreation. A variety of accessible water sports. More sophisticated paths and cycleways.

But the number one desire seems to be for restaurants and cafes – existing or new – to make better use of the lake. Along Emu Bank, many of the restaurants face the street, not the lake. (Ha Ha Bar and La De Da are notable exceptions.) The access point for the restaurants is from the car park next to the road, not the boardwalk which frames the water. People find the lake paradoxically energising and relaxing: there’s more and more going on around the lake, and it’s fun to be part of it, and to watch it – not to mention just enjoy the beautiful views.

I’d heard rumours about Heather’s House of Cake opening up for a little while. You might recognise the name: Heather’s been around the market scene for quite a while and creates – as you might have guessed – a wide range of pretty cakes. On the Friday of its opening week, I walk around the building which also houses 2 Yummy, Princes Palace, Sanur’s Balinese and London Burgers to the side which has Up 2 You restaurant.

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54 Benjamin, Belconnen

16 Feb

Five years ago people would have laughed if I’d said Belconnen would soon be home to some of the trendiest bars and cafes in Canberra – or that the service in these places would be among the best. But it’s happened. It’s come to Belconnen. In fact, it’s a close tie between La De Da, Chatterbox and newcomer 54 Benjamin on which has the best synergies with Cheers: everybody (at least the staff!) knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.

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Chatterbox Espresso Bar – Redux

26 Jan

My review of one of Belconnen’s breakfast/brunch locations Chatterbox was one of my most read posts in 2014. But I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I’m so pleased that it’s been of such interest to people, and I know my recommendations about Chatterbox – on social media generally, and also through the review – have encouraged people to get along, and inevitably they keep heading back after they experience it for themselves.

On the other hand, it’s taught me just how a review in the first few weeks of a cafe opening can quickly become inaccurate, and I cringe re-reading parts of it. The review talks about how the avocado isn’t particularly generous and the potato is a little stodgy, but soon after I posted the review, owner Charlie took that feedback on board: for a year now the avo helpings have been enormous, and the potato rosti is one of the most popular orders.

And while I’m overly picky in that first post, for all of 2014 Chatterbox has consistently been our go-to. In fact, anytime I suggest we go elsewhere I get a look from Boyfriend and usually a declaration at the end of the other establishment’s meal that it wasn’t as good as Chatterbox and why do we even bother trying elsewhere?

So, a year later, it feels time to re-review.

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Why the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan matters to you*

20 Nov

What makes you come to Belconnen Town Centre? What would make you come to the Belconnen Town Centre more often (or at all)? What would make you spend more time in it?

These are critical questions, and this is your opportunity to influence the answers – and, in turn, the future of the Belconnen Town Centre.

All the Town Centres in the ACT – as well as a few other distinct areas – have master plans. These are high level documents which set out an area’s character and quality, and how it can develop into the future (you can read more about master plans here). In 2015, the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan will be updated. Consultation has begun in earnest.

The thing about consultation is that people need to know that the consultation is happening, and that their views will be taken seriously. Often consultation is on something which has already been developed or fully worked up, which can give the sense that the consultation is a ticking the box exercise rather than views being taken seriously. Fortunately in this case, the three months of November, December and January is the ACT Government’s effort to gather as many views from people interested in the Town Centre as possible. There’s no plan to comment on, just a few documents with some key considerations to help guide your thinking. A 12 week consultation (the initial consultation on Woden Town Centre’s Master Plan was six weeks) is important – it’s enough time ensure the community knows it’s happening, and gives the opportunity for the community to really think through the issues and present their views.

You can meet the planners at Westfield on Saturday outside Max Brenner (what more motivation do you need?)

One of the common criticisms of master plans is they’re not binding. That they’re a guide. They outline how an area can develop, not how it will.

This is probably not going to change any time soon. But I believe in the power of the people:
– the more people who make their views known, the more these views can’t be ignored
– the more that views can’t be ignored, the more they’re going to be reflected in the master plan
– a master plan which genuinely reflects community views benefits from the community having a sense of ownership in it
– the more the community feels they own it, the greater the weight it will have, and the more attention it will be paid.

And that is why the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan matters to you. The Town Centre has some great amenities – an excellent Arts Centre, the Belconnen Community Services and its Centre, Lake Ginninderra, the library, wonderful restaurants, a new bus interchange, live music venues and, yes, Westfield – but it could have more.** And, these amenities could definitely be better connected. I strongly think networks of pedestrian and cycle paths could be improved. Do you agree? Tell them. There’s a real opportunity to have a street cafe culture – restaurants like Pho Hub, Lonsdale Street Roasters and Chatterbox have been a great start, as well as the Westfield restaurants on Lathlain Street – so where do we want to see more of it? If you’ve got ideas, make them known.

Have you ever noticed the huge amount of outside space at Westfield?

What would you like to see along the lake front, particularly at Emu Bank? Do you want more restaurants that face the lake? If so, tell them. Are there places where you regularly walk where there isn’t a proper path? Or there’s a path but people are using a shortcut? Identify it. What could improve the trade services area and ensure it remains viable? Submit your ideas. And just how do you make your ideas known?

      • You can meet the planners at Westfield Belconnen between 10am and 2pm at the bus waiting area on Saturday (22 November)
      • You can also meet the planners at the Belconnen Markets between 10am and 2pm on Saturday, 29 November
      • You can view a poster display at Belconnen Library until 30 January (or check it out here), and one at Westfield until this Saturday
      • You can come along to a design workshop at the Belconnen Arts Centre on Thursday, 4 December from 6pm. You have to RSVP to belconnen@act.gov.au. I’ll be there!
      • You can e-mail your submission to belconnen@act.gov.au
      • You can get in touch with the Belconnen Community Council
      • And of course I’m always happy to talk about it in detail!

AND, if you’d like to read more in the meantime
– I first wrote a post on this back in February
– The Belconnen Community Council conducted a survey earlier this year; this report summarises the views of over 200 respondents.
Her Canberra published a lovely interview with me about the report
– Some historical resources are available here

Decisions are made by those who show up – or in this case, make their views known. If there’s something you want to see in the Town Centre, or want to see changed, you have to get involved now.

What would you like to see around the lake? How can we best make use of this beautiful amenity?

* I am currently serving as the Chair of the Belconnen Community Council. The views above are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council or the Committee.

** Here’s one such idea:

Pho Hub, Belconnen

14 Nov

There are two things you should know before I start this post:

1) I loved Pho Viet on Beissel Street in Belconnen. I was saddened when it closed (but couldn’t be unhappy when Belconnen got its own Asian Noodle House in its place).

2) I think Belconnen has great amenity. The high rises – whatever you think of them – have space underneath, and many of the newer ones like Altitude and Sentinel, and even Oracle (Benjamin Way facing) have the potential to create a real street and cafe culture. Remedy by Lonsdale Street Roasters and Chatterbox have helped to kick that off.

Look, Belconnen will never be a Braddon – hell, we don’t want to be; we’ve got our own vibe – I think there’s the same sense that opportunities are emerging. There’s space to do things – not land to be developed necessarily, but there’s room to move and create. And hey – compared to Braddon, Belconnen has tonnes of parking. 🙂

With that in mind, here’s the review:

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La De Da Sunday sesh*

23 Oct

*In The Taratory is a sponsor (non-financial) of La De Da’s Sunday seshes.

I’ve made no secret how big a fan I am of Ha Ha Bar and its upstairs venue La De Da in Belconnen Town Centre. Ever since I first set foot in La De Da I thought it’d be a great place to have a Sunday sesh (for the uninitiated: drinks on a Sunday afternoon), but for a long time its opening hours were restricted Wednesday-Saturday nights. Well, that was the case until one night, deep in the winter blues, Belco bloke James Tew (the mind behind Tweet Canberra and the Social Media Revolution) and I started a small social media lobby for it – and suddenly, it was happening!

What was proposed was even bigger than I expected: not just opening up the venue on Sunday arvos, but launching it with a six week competition for singer-songwriters playing 15 minute sets to be in the running to win a recording contract with local business Studio Sixty-Eight. I love the idea of supporting local, and so the opportunity to be a sponsor of a Belco event run by Canberra locals, showcasing local artists and giving them an opportunity to record a single with a local business was an absolute no-brainer. Plus: Sunday sesh!

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Remedy by Lonsdale Street Roasters, Belconnen

25 Aug

There’s a new kid cafe in (Belconnen) town (centre).

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Brod Dogs, Belconnen

5 Jul

***AS OF 7 NOVEMBER 2014, BROD DOGS IS NO LONGER IN BELCONNEN. IT WILL BE REOPENING IN BRADDON IN DECEMBER.***

You might not know it, but Belco has a lot of cool things. So much so, that other cool things in Canberra are coming to join the existing cool things in Belco. It’s true!

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One of these is Brodburger. Well, not quite. But it IS the folks behind Brodburger, and the best part is the notorious red caravan is BACK! It’s been restyled as Brod Dogs. Yup, hot dogs with the same attention to detail as the burgers for which Brod is famous. But how do they taste?

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Up To You Restaurant, Belconnen

15 Jun

There’s a new restaurant in Belconnen, I’m told, taking up space in one of the spaces on Emu Bank which has been empty for years and years. No one really knows anything about it – and I’m equally dubious about going there – but in the interests of research…

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Outback Jack’s, Belconnen

18 May

I don’t expect Outback Jack’s in Belconnen Mall to be packed, but it’s so busy on a Friday night that we’re told there’s no table for at least another hour. If so many couples, friends and families are convinced, we’ve got to check it out, so we schedule in lunch the next day.

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