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#showusyourCBR: A love letter to Garran

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This story is part of HerCanberra’s #showusyourcbr project, which encourages Canberrans to send us words and photos of their neighbourhoods and backyards.

A love letter to Garran

I never thought I’d fall in love with the suburbs.

As a former apartment resident living on the city fringe for years, I had always yearned for proximity—it was about being close to the buzz, the best cafes, the best nightlife, as my car collected dust in the downstairs garage.

I’d roll my eyes at the sleepiness of the suburbs—the humdrum routine of bin nights, the nosy neighbours, the drawing of the curtains once it hit darkness. Bring on the city lights.

But like so many, once we had kids all that changed. With an active two-year-old we suddenly needed space and found our piece of land in Garran, with a 1960s house in need of renovation.

Garran felt like a compromise, close enough to the city and inner suburbs, yet with the character and space we needed.

I never thought it would be true love.

As one of Canberra’s more established suburbs, Garran has the best of both worlds. Its shops are buzzing almost every day of the week, with crowds soaking up the morning sunshine at Little Garran café over a coffee or hearty breakfast.

Nearby there’s a dry cleaner, bakery, lingerie and swimwear store, post office, IGA, hairdresser, butcher, Chinese restaurant, and a large medical centre.

Its popular Italian restaurant, Orto, is an ode to the suburb, with pizzas named after Garran’s streets.

The once ageing demographic has shifted in recent years to include young families keen for an established area. Residents are now a blend of young families and retirees, corporate and creative types.

There are plenty of doctors and medical staff due to the proximity to the hospital—every second person is in scrubs riding or walking to work. If you move here, chances are you will be living next to a doctor or surgeon (just don’t try and ask for medical advice over the fence).

Streets are filled with kids riding bikes and making friends just like I once did growing up in the 1990s. Halloween is big here; we couldn’t quite keep up with demand last year as groups of excited children came knocking throughout the warm evening. Parents watched on, lingering for a chat and a laugh. Street Christmas parties are a thing; often held at the local shops.

Neighbours look out for one another, smile and say hello when you walk by. It’s that warm, old fashioned neighbourhood we so desperately need in our new socially distant world.

As a resident you’ll get used to the soft hum of the ambulance rescue helicopter in the evenings, taking patients from rural areas to the nearby hospital.

But for me it’s the walks.

Birds signalling the onset of morning and evening. Big, leafy trees. Blooming cherry blossoms in spring. Elevated streets. Interesting old homes with character or beautifully renovated 1960s builds with a nod to the Hamptons. And above all, some of the most beautifully maintained gardens you’ll see anywhere.

There’s easy access to the Red Hill lookout, with a view that overlooks all of Woden and Manuka, Parliament House and the city. During lockdown, I’d walk to the top, breathe in the fresh air and somehow feel connected to the rest of the city even though we were all apart.

Now I approach bin night with a sense of glee, seek out neighbours for a chat, find solace in the quieter nights.

Thank you Garran for igniting my love of the suburbs—I’m well and truly converted.

WANT TO SHOW US YOUR CANBERRA?

Write us a short piece (up to 400 words) on what you love about where you live and send us some piccies to editor@hercanberra.com.au or take us out with you next time you walk around and show us where you live on Instagram using the hashtag #showusyourcbr.

We want the lowdown on the best walks, the best local shops, prettiest views, cutest houses and favourite hangouts—whatever you love about your locality. And now that it’s spring, there’s no excuse not to be outside and soaking it all up.

Inspire the rest of us to come visit your Canberra!

FAQs

Do I have to live within the ACT to take part?

Nope! We love our surrounding “sister suburbs” of Bungendore, Braidwood, Yass, Queanbeyan, Sutton and beyond. If you feel like part of the HerCanberra community, we want to see your neighbourhood.

I have a private Instagram account; can I still take part?

It might be easiest for you to write us something about your suburb, as we can’t guarantee we’ll see the @hercanberra/#showusyourcbr tag in your stories if the Instagram account is set to private.

Images supplied by author

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