- For the Canberra suburb of Belconnen see: Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory
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Belconnen is situated to the north-west of Canberra's city centre, and surrounds an artificially created, ornamental lake, Lake Ginninderra. Lake Ginninderra was made possible by building a dam at an elbow of Ginninderra Creek. Exiting the lake, via a simple overflow, Ginninderra Creek continues, and runs north-west to its confluence with the Murrumbidgee River just beyond the north-western ACT border.
Lake Ginninderra provides a central and well-used visual and social amenity for the surrounding urban area.
Belconnen consists of 25 suburbs, the majority of which are predominantly characterised by detached single family homes on suburban blocks. Many suburbs now also have pockets of medium density units or town houses, such as Hawker and Holt, Kaleen, Melba, Cook, Macquarie, Scullin and Page. In the suburbs of Bruce, Emu Ridge and within the Belconnen Town Centre, the bulk of housing is medium density. Residential development is still taking place in the central suburb of Bruce and the outer suburb of Dunlop in 2012. A new suburb named Lawson is proposed for development shortly, with infrastructure works already underway.
There is almost no 'heavy' industry in Belconnen, however there is some light industry and manufacturing, including automotive repair, plumbing, electrical, building, and similar services as well as small arts and crafts manufacturing and sales outlets. A variety of medical practitioners and veterinarians also service the region. There is an established artistic community which includes aspiring performing musicians, theatre groups and visual artists.
Belconnen houses a recycling industry, involving organic as well as plastic and metals collection which takes place at the Parkwood Recycling Estate on the outermost western boundary, and at the ACT government facility in Mitchell. Mitchell is zoned to allow medium to heavy industry. The Parkwood Eggs poultry farm is also situated on the western boundary, it is a significant primary industry producer providing eggs to the surrounding district.
The Westfield Belconnen shopping centre, and the surrounding Belconnen Town Centre are locations for a great deal of local commerce with large and smaller department stores, clothes retailers, car dealerships, homeware, supermarkets, and specialist grocery outlets. There are numerous restaurants and a variety of licenced premises within the Belconnen Town Centre, many close to the shores of Lake Ginninderra. The Belconnen Markets are a fresh food market area within this commercial district operating from Tuesday to Sunday during business hours. The Jamison Centre in the suburb of Macquarie is a small retail Plaza which houses two major food retailers. Kippax centre in the suburb of Holt, and the Kaleen shopping centre are of similar size, and provide similar services. The surrounding suburbs were designed each to have their own smaller shopping areas, with small supermarkets, chemists, hairdressers etc., and these continue to perform well in many suburbs, however, have failed in a number, this has been presumed to be due largely to competition of the growing town centre and oversupply of services.
The Calvary Hospital is a Public Hospital which sits within the suburb of Bruce, on the eastern side of Belconnen. As one of Canberras two public hospitals, it is a major item of public infrastructure.
The University of Canberra (UC) stretches on an area between Calvary Hospital and the town centre, and the Canberra Institute of Technology (or CIT) occupies its own stretch of land nearby.
The primary mode of transport within the District is by private vehicle. The District of Belconnen was planned in the 1960s and was guided by a philosophy of reliance on private personal transport and an abundance of roads. Public buses serve the district and a bus interchange that used to exist in the Town Centre, in its place is a bus station that services all suburbs, City/ South Canberra as a way point for passengers exiting the nearby Westfield shopping town at Benjamin Way.
Belconnen is well served by a network of near-freeway-quality roads located between suburbs and intersecting the district. The main roads between suburbs are typically landscaped with mounds of earth and vegetation to form ‘parkways’.
The main roads connecting the district with North Canberra and the city centre are Belconnen Way and Ginninderra Drive. These roads are 6 lane parkways for the majority of their length and run in an east-west direction. Belconnen is situated south of the Barton Highway which leads to Yass, where it connects with the Hume Highway to Sydney and Melbourne. To the south of the district is William Hovell Drive which connects the southern and western suburbs of Belconnen with Parkes Way and the Tuggeranong Parkway which lead to the city centre and Canberra’s southern districts respectively.
The ACTION bus service which provides public transport throughout Canberra is the only form of regularly scheduled public transport in Belconnen. Services from the various suburbs generally pass through a bus interchange at Belconnen Town Centre from where they continue to Civic and the other town centres to Canberra’s south. Some services travel to Gungahlin. There are also express services which connect directly with Tuggeranong.
The bus interchange is spread across the Belconnen town centre in three different locations. The previous interchange, which is now one of those locations, was connected by footbridge to large shopping centre and to office buildings occupied by major Government departments. It was an ageing facility which was criticised for being unsafe, particularly at night, and for being dirty and prone to vandalism. For these reasons it was subject to major renovations.
Gungahlin Drive Extension
In November 2004 construction commenced on the Gungahlin Drive Extension (GDE). This road is to connect Gungahlin Drive in Gungahlin with Parkes Way and the Tuggeranong Parkway at the Glenloch Interchange at the south eastern corner of the Belconnen district. The proposed road will run north south passing through forest and woodlands within the Canberra Nature Park, including parts of the Black Mountain Reserve. It will also pass beside the Australian Institute of Sport. The project had been a major political issue across Canberra from the mid-1990s until construction was so far commenced that all damage to the environment which had been objected to was done. The 'Save the Ridge' group had campaigned against the proposed road since that time and took legal action which stalled the project until October 2005. The ACT Government had legislated to prevent further legal delays from community groups however this did not affect Save the Ridge continuing action which they had commenced in the Federal Court. After several cases before the ACT Supreme Court and the Federal Court, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the road construction project going ahead. On 15 October 2005 Save the Ridge announced that they would not be appealing the decision to the High Court and would not be further opposing the construction of the road.
Belconnen was previously occupied by Ginninderra, the former agricultural lands that corresponds with the watershed of Ginninderra Creek. The Belconnen district is named after one of the earliest land grants made in the district during colonial times. Belconnen a land grant totalling 800 ha in size was made to explorer Charles Sturt who eventually sold the property to Robert Campbell who owned the nearby Duntroon Estate.
A stone plaque located at the sport fields in Aranda, Belconnen's first suburb, commemorates the commencement of urban development of the Belconnen district.
The inscription reads:
- "This tablet marks the inauguration of development of the district of Belconnen by the Minister of State for the Interior The Honourable J. D. Anthony, M.P. 23rd June 1966"
The Australian Capital Territory Government operates 23 Preschools, 19 Primary Schools, 5 High Schools and 3 Colleges (Senior Secondary Schools) within the District of Belconnen. There are also 8 religious schools and one Government special school for students with disabilities. Prominent High schools include Radford College and Canberra High. Belconnen is also the home to the ACT's only government operated Year 7-12 school, with the dual campus Melba Copland Secondary School located in the North-Eastern suburb of Melba.
Places of note and interest
- The Belconnen Town Centre has a major shopping mall operated by Westfield, surrounded by government and private offices, and a light industrial area. Belconnen Mall was opened to the public in February 1978.
- Belconnen Fresh Food Markets is home to the Giant Mushroom playground, featuring a six metre high pink, yellow and blue mushroom.
- Government offices headquartered in Belconnen include the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), ComSuper and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
- In the suburb of Bruce are:
- The Royal Australian Navy established a very low and high frequency radio transmitting station in Belconnen in the 1930s, as part of the naval communications base HMAS Harman. Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station operated until 2005, with its transmitter towers felled in 2006, and part of the site marked for the new suburb of Lawson.
- Belconnen Remand Centre was a remand custody facility that operated for more than 30 years. It was decommissioned in April 2009, replaced by the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Belconnen (Statistical Area Level 3)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
- J. Kay McDonald (1985). Exploring the ACT and Southeast New South Wales. Sydney: Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-049-1.
- Chronology of the ACT, Canberra & District Historical Society, archived from the original on 12 September 2013
- "Giant Mushroom, The". Australian Capital Tourism. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012.
- Jo Laverty (21 May 2009). "The Belconnen Remand Centre". 666 ABC Canberra. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013.
- Nicholas Kittel (26 November 2008). "ACT prison built to meet human rights obligations". 666 ABC Canberra. Archived from the original on 1 May 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory.|
- Brian Rhynehart (27 February 2008). "Belconnen's History". Belconnen Community Services. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013.
- Belconnen suburbs map - links to ACT Government street-level maps.
- Canberra region map - all districts
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Video of Belconnen Naval Transmitting Towers being felled (20 December 2006):