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The Duxton: your new local

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We peeked inside The Duxton’s refurbished new spaces, to find out where Canberrans will be spending their summer.

Walking into The Duxton’s newly refurbished lower level is kind of like seeing someone from high school five years after graduation. They’re immediately familiar and you can remember the good times you shared, but they’re also different – older, more refined and with better clothes.

“Obviously when All Bar Nun changed to The Duxton, not much was done downstairs, but that was always part of the plan – to make it a bit more modern and enticing,” says David Quinn, General Manager and owner of The Duxton. We’re sitting in the downstairs area near the sports bar and through the many open windows, a breeze moves through the bar.

The new space reminds me a lot of the pubs of discerning Melbourne or Sydney suburbs – true to their pub roots in food and atmosphere but the furnishings are luxe and well proportioned, the spaces are airy and modern. No beer stained carpets here.


“Before, it was just the local pub for sports and burgers and we wanted to change the demographic and include families and cater to a wider market,” says David. “In doing that we needed to create a bigger kitchen to deliver a better product and service.”

“We really struggled to work out of the existing kitchen so we’ve been planning the renovations for three years now to create what you see today. The kitchen is about four times the size. It’s not the local ‘boozer’, it’s so much more.”


To take full advantage of their new kitchen, David appointed Executive Chef James Privett to oversee the creation of a modern pub menu.

“It’s an exciting prospect, to launch a new venue and stretch people’s imaginations as to what pub food can be,” says James. “I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in that.”


James and David both agree that alienating the venue’s regular customers would be detrimental to the new launch, so they set about creating a menu that appeals to everyone.

“In the old days it was pretty black and white — you went to the pub for a few drinks with your mates,” says James. “These days people go there on dates and for family meals and for special occasions.”

“We wanted to stay true to our roots – it is the local pub,” says David. “We wanted to keep the food quite traditional pub fare but with a lot more flair and interesting dishes.”


One of the most unique additions to the new kitchen is a charcoal rotisserie grill and pit. James explains that he went out of his way to make sure salads earned their place on the new menu.

“They’re not light, fluffy, leafy salads — they’re hearty, grain-heavy, vegetable heavy salads that are quite hearty and filling and substantial,” he says.

“If you want to eat something a little healthier than classic pub food, we can offer that,” explains James. “It’s being able to offer them a healthy, flavoursome dining experience or whether they’re coming in for a parmy or a hearty salad.”


David says one of the renovation’s main focuses was to make the venue more family friendly.

“People love walking down the road to their local venue. They like the idea of ‘keeping it in the neighbourhood’,” David explains. “There are a lot of schools in the area so parents often drop by and grab a kids’ menu after school. It’s quick and easy and approachable – we’re now more a community-focused pub.”


Upstairs is The Loft, which reopened after extensive renovations two years ago and is now the go-to spot for functions or a cheeky cocktail during their weekly Suits and Sips events.


The space feels cosy but not stuffy, thanks to some creative furniture choices and lots of wood panelling; but if you think it sounds too ‘wintery’ for the summer months, you’d be wrong. One of David’s favourite aspects of the renovation is the new rooftop terrace that opens off The Loft – perhaps the only bona fide rooftop bar in Canberra – and I can already see how popular it will be in summer.


David explains that low-key DJs will play relaxed tunes there each night from Wednesday to Sunday during the summer months and it will be able to be hired out as part of The Oak Room or The Loft function spaces.


“What we’ve created are six different venues within The Duxton,” explains David. “The Loft Bar, the rooftop terrace, the pub and sports bar, the bistro, The Oak Room and the outside gazebo area.”

With these six venues now open, staying local during the summer months won’t be too difficult. What might start out as lazy afternoon drinks in the air-conditioning can flow to dinner outside with mates while you listen to live music, followed by some cocktails on the rooftop terrace as the DJ plays without even leaving your neighbourhood.


“We did want to create a bit of a destination venue,” says David. “People can come here and experience the different areas as the night goes on.”

To add yet another offering to the area, The Duxton has inherited the space next door formerly occupied by the beloved Flatheads which closed in early 2012 and there are plans to reopen the iconic takeaway within the year.

David encourages the community to keep an eye out for the shopfront, which will operate out of the same kitchen as The Duxton and will offer a series of ‘grab and go’ options such as healthy smoothies, bircher mueslis, salads and whole rotisserie chickens with sides.


As James puts it, “It’s giving the people of Canberra something we think they deserve.”

the essentials

What: The Duxton
Where: Corner of Sargood and Macpherson Streets, O’Connor
When: Open Monday-Thursday 12pm till late, Friday 11.30am till late and Saturday and Sunday 11am till late
Live music seven days a week downstairs and DJs up in The Loft rooftop terrace from Wednesday-Sunday

All images by Ashley St George

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3 Responses to The Duxton: your new local

Aidan says: 12 November, 2016 at 12:01 am

I don’t think the local residence DESERVE The Duxton wanting to change their operating hours to 2am – how’s that supposed to be family friendly?!!!? This is the second time the owners have tried to increase their profits by increasing their floor space and opening hours. The locals signed a petition to stop them previously and hopefully will again. Who wants to live in the vicinity of a noisy pub with an outdoor Terrace with DJ’s (which most people would class as a nightclub) pumping out music until 2am. The owners and their families don’t have to live across the road from a nightclub that’s open until 2am, why should we!!??!! We already get the midnight drunks wandering the streets causing trouble and vandalism. Increasing hours and noise is definitely not going to increase the value of our properties.
We are a quiet, sleepy suburb and we’d like to keep it that way. 🙁

Christina Garcia says: 12 November, 2016 at 6:04 pm

I totally agree with you! How can “The Duxton” possibly justify extending their opening hours in such close proximity to a residential area. It’s already bad enough they blocked off the side walk with their outdoor seating – causing locals (and Turner school kids) to be funnelled through The Duxton “Drunk Alley” to get to the only zebra crossing in the area. Also last time I looked there was no handicapped access to “The Loft” upstairs.

Ella says: 13 December, 2016 at 9:05 am

The ‘family friendly’ venue has not increased its hours, just its noise from patrons and amplified music from bogan party bands. It’s even worse than before. In a suburb where we’re entitled to enjoy 35 (a whisper) to 50 (a dishwasher, just above a conversation) decibels at ALL times under the law, weekends entail ringing the EPA. What fun! And people have the nerve to say ‘What do you expect when you live near a pub?’

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