Covering suburbs like Braddon, Dickson, Campbell and Lyneham, Canberra’s Inner North is an affordable residential area that is popular with students at ANU, ACU and CIT.
Canberra’s suburbs were designed so that each one has its own shops, usually including a supermarket, cafe and other services. Depending on where you live and study, these local shops will likely become your go-to for groceries and other daily needs. Plus, if you’re planning on making the most of Canberra’s booming food scene, the Inner North has got you covered.
Just north of the city centre, you’ll find Braddon, the hipster heart of Canberra. Here, Sweet Bones cafe serves up the city’s best vegan food, while the expert baristas at Barrio Collective pour freshly roasted espresso.
Craft beer fans should head to BentSpoke Brewing Co. for an IPA or swing by Grease Monkey for mind-blowingly good burgers (including a vegan option). For a cocktail and fresh, Japanese and Korean-inspired dishes, Lazy Su is Braddon’s coolest late-night eatery.
Dickson is the largest shopping hub in the Inner North, with a supermarket, library, pharmacy and Asian grocery stores. It is also the best place in the city to find cheap eats, especially when it comes to Asian food. Au Lac and Kingsland have delicious vegan menus, while the Asian Noodle House is ideal for a night out with friends. There are also plenty of Korean, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian options.
The Inner North is packed with unique local flavours. In Ainslie, for example, the IGA supermarket is famous for its incredible selection of local and international cheeses. At the O’Connor shops, the tiny Tu Do Vietnamese restaurant serves up the city’s best pho. The Polish White Eagle Club in Turner is a local favourite for live music, trivia and authentic pierogi.
Although it’s close to the city, the Inner North has lots of parks, sports fields and bike paths, making it a great place to live or visit if you enjoy spending time outdoors. Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura are both excellent spots to go hiking and see Australian wildlife like kangaroos, echidnas and wombats. If you ride your bike to the city centre or ANU, you’ll probably come across Sly Fox Coffee set up on the bike path.
One of Canberra’s newest areas, Gungahlin, is located even further north of the city centre. It has a large shopping centre, as well as cafes, restaurants and a public library. Thanks to the light rail, Gungahlin can be a good choice for students on a budget. Keep in mind that the commute to the city centre takes around 30 minutes.
The Dickson Library is open seven days a week, with study spaces, computers, printing and free wi-fi. There is also a free English conversation group from 10 to 11.30am on Wednesdays. The librarians are always happy to help if you have questions about how to access services.
Dickson General Practice has doctors available Monday to Saturday, and YourGP@ Lyneham is open Monday to Friday. You can often get an appointment at short notice if you call as soon as they open.
In summer, the Dickson Aquatic Centre is a great place to cool off. Entry for students is $5. Haig Park is another shady spot where you can hang out during the warmer months. Gyms like Club Lime, Anytime Fitness and Next Gen Canberra can also be found in the Inner North.
In the Inner North, there are Anglican, Catholic and Christian churches, including the Canberra Chinese Christian Church, as well as Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre and the Buddhist Thai Temple of ACT.
If alternative art is more your thing, the Front Café & Gallery in Lyneham hosts rotating exhibitions as well as live music and workshops. In Watson, you’ll find the city’s tiniest gallery, the Gallery of Small Things, exhibiting the work of local creators including jewellery, homewares and visual art. ANCA Gallery and Studios, in Dickson, also supports local visual artists. All these spaces are free for visitors. Groovin the Moo music festival will take place on 25 April at Exhibition Park in the suburb of Mitchell (just above Dickson).
Every Friday night at 7.30pm, the Canberra Dance Theatre near ANU is completely dark and full of people dancing like no one’s watching. This event is part of No Lights No Lycra, a worldwide dance phenomenon that encourages participants to let go of their inhibitions and get a good workout at the same time. You can attend alone or with friends and wear whatever you feel comfortable in. Entry costs $8.