Canberra Unlocked: Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo | HerCanberra

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Canberra Unlocked: Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo

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“Go west, young man! Go west and grow up with the country” is a famous quote from New York Tribune Editor Horace Greeley around 1865. But I think, with respect to history, that it’s just as applicable nowadays to our western suburbs of Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo.

As our city expands to suit our growing community, west is where you’ll find some of Canberra’s youngest suburbs, brimming with the spoils that expansion brings.

They’re also some of our wildest and most adventurous suburbs, with natural spaces that look very different to their northern counterparts. In Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo you’ll find sprawling Stromlo Forest Park’s nationally recognised facilities, local shops with space for boutique ventures to thrive (hello, Under Bakery), parks built for the next generation of Canberrans and swimming spots that are a must-visit in the warmer months.

It’s all part of Canberra Unlocked—our series that brings you the best local secrets of each of Canberra’s seven regions.


From sleek local gastropubs to tiny boutique bakeries, Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo have a burgeoning dining scene that mirrors their growing community.

The Alby is the newest jewel in the southside’s crown. Commanding a whopping 1,000m2 of space in the heart of Woden town centre, this multi-level venue offers outdoor seating for cocktails on a summer evening, indoor dining spaces for large groups to enjoy the extensive menu of elevated pub favourites and a downstairs games hall where you’ll find Duckpin Bowling (a 10-pin game popularised in the United States), pinball machines and pool tables.

The Alexander and Abermarle precinct that’s home to The Alby will soon include a southside chapter of Braddon favourite, eightysix—a move sure to excite the region’s foodies. And just minutes away in Furzer Street, the bustling Space Kitchen serves up inventive breakfasts and lunches (not to mention a Willy Wonka-esque range of desserts!).


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Over in Weston Creek, The Meating Room offers a similar ‘locals eat here’ atmosphere, with plenty of weeknight specials that give the perfect excuse for a trip southside.

Brunch, lunch and coffee are taken seriously in Farrer, where Fox and Bow serves up all three with aplomb in a bustling suburban atmosphere. Make sure you try the Spanish Eggs—chilli scrambled eggs with Rodriguez Chorizo, avocado and Guindilla Peppers on toast—a delicious nod to owner Alex Piris’ heritage.

Another suburban gem is Chifley’s A Bite To Eat, a sprawling café filled with mixed-and-matched retro furniture that bustles with energy seven days a week.


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Just up the road, Mawson Shops is home to two must-visit purveyors of pastries. The first, Under Bakery, is a curated space where Scandinavian-style cardamom buns

and sourdough bake to perfection in minimalist surrounds, while a couple of shops along at The Italian Continental Bakery and Café, long cabinets glisten with traditional pastries, and tables bustle with loyal clientele—quite the feat for a café that opened in 1987.


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Rama’s Restaurant is another stalwart that Woden locals will always recommend—the Fijian Indian fusion restaurant has been pleasing palates at the Peace Shops for 30 years and shows no sign of slowing down.

Craving contemporary international flavour? Dumpling Social in Woden’s Bradley Street dining precinct offers delicious modern Asian fusion with a fresh twist—Wagyu cheeseburger spring rolls or Nutella bao, anyone?


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Recent years have seen a rise in watering roles for southsiders, with Fenway Public House being the first. Cocktails, beers and an extensive menu of sharing plates and elevated pub favourites make this a colourful destination for a night out.

If you have a hankering for hearty fare and generous serves of beer, you’ll find The Bavarian at the other end of the Bradley Street strip. This ‘contemporary Australian beer garden’ has its foundations in Bavaria—think pork knuckles, pretzels, Hofbrau & Franziskaner!

The southside is also the place for excellent boutique coffee. Lava Coffee can be found in both Phillip (the original location) and Weston (and Kingston, but that’s another guide). With moody industrial interiors, you get the feeling it’s serious décor for serious coffee—and we mean that in the best way possible.


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Another birthplace of a Canberra icon can be found in Curtin Shops, where Redbrick Coffee started out. Now a household name with a handful of cafés sprinkled across the city, and their pastel packaged coffee available for you to take home, Redbrick’s original Curtin digs still host a bustling crowd of devoted locals.

The suburban shops of Woden and Weston Creek also hold their own for exceptional coffee, with Wildflour in Weston, Stand By Me in Lyons, Little Garran in Garran and Morning Dew in Denman Prospect all local favourites.


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The twin to their northside counterpart, the Southside Farmers Market has become something of a Sunday ritual for southsiders. Held on the grounds of Canberra College in Phillip, head there from 8am each Sunday to experience the buzz of buying fresh produce direct from the grower.

Keen for some retail therapy? Phillip is an op-shopping mecca. You can shop sustainably and find a bargain or a rare treasure at Vinnies Phillip, Salvos Phillip or the Red Cross Shop.

If you’re really wanting to slow it down, Woden is float-tank central, with FloatAbove, Astral Float Studio and Pure Zen Flotation all waiting to soothe away your worries—and there are dozens of massage places where you can have any kinks or knots worked out. Not to mention some of Canberra’s best yoga studios, including Wild Studio and Canberra Yoga Space, who have classes for every body.


An icon of Canberra’s west, the National Arboretum Canberra has blossomed (literally) into one of the Territory’s best-loved green spaces. It can be experienced in a variety of ways, with plenty of walks and meandering strolls to be had through their jaw-dropping range of international and indigenous tree varietals.

Have little ones in tow? Head straight to the giant acorns of the POD Playground and if snapping a sunset for the ‘gram is your game, Dairy Farmers Hill offers sweeping views across the lake, Black Mountain and southern Canberra to the Brindabella Ranges.


Weston Creek is where Canberra’s suburban borders blur with the wild edges of Mount Stromlo’s foothills and this is where you’ll find Canberra’s pride and joy—Stromlo Forest Park.

A multi-sport venue that boasts world-class mountain biking facilities, a 2.5 kilometre grass cross country running track and equestrian trails across 1200 hectares, it’s a must-visit for outdoor sport lovers. Finish up with locally-brewed BentSpoke beer and coffee at Handlebar Café.

If your idea of getting active is a more indoor pursuit, head to the newly opened Stromlo Leisure Centre. The heated indoor Olympic pool and splash park for kids are just the tip of the iceberg for this state-of-the-art facility and offer impressive views across western Canberra and the lake beyond.

If you like your exercise with a large serve of fun, DC Fit offers a range of dance fitness classes from Bounce to Broadway, Chair to Club Cardio. After a truly cool (sorry) experience? Hit the ice rink or the pool at Phillip Swimming & Ice Skating Centre. Or for something a bit different, try your hand at Disc Golf at Eddison Park.


Located a stone’s throw from the suburbs of Wright and Coombs—and just 30 minutes from the city centre—the Cotter River is a Canberra summer icon, with families and friends flocking to its banks in the warmer months.

Cotter Bend is an excellent spot for families, with barbeques, toilets, shaded grassed areas for picnics and plenty of shallow swimming spots.

Make sure you consult City Services ACT before heading out to make sure the water is safe for swimming, and be aware that water levels may have risen to unsafe levels after rainfall.

After something a little more exotic? The National Zoo & Aquarium is home to hundreds of varieties of animals and fish, including lions, tigers and bears (oh my!).

Traverse 2.6 kilometres of shady zoo walking track as you wind between red pandas, cheetahs, capuchin monkeys and otters before heading into the underwater exhibits to discover turtles, frogs and even sharks.

This year, spend and support local as you explore Canberra unlocked.

See for more inspiration.

Feature image: The Alby. Credit: Pew Pew Studio.

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