Weston Creek, Molonglo Valley and Woden (sometimes called Woden Valley) are three districts of Canberra just west and southwest of Acton and South Canberra. They are just on the edge of Country ACT home to the National Arboretum, some of the most impressive greenery one could find in Canberra (without going to Country ACT that is...).
Although Weston Creek, Molonglo Valley and Woden are three reasonably sized districts, in many ways, they are often treated as one. They have a single bus network, and Canberra's official tourism website categorises the three districts as one.
Whilst the name of this article might be very lengthy, this article also covers the District of Stromlo, essentially a rural district that starts at the western end of Weston Creek and borders the Murrumbidgee River to its west. It may be rural and devoid of large-scale human activity, but Stromlo is a great place for mountain biking.
The following districts that are covered in this article listed from northwest to southeast.
Unlike some other parts of Canberra, these names are commonly used in daily speech, both in government and colloquial conversation. When it comes to signage Woden and Weston Creek are two major focal points, but Molonglo Valley rarely appears; often because you would normally have to enter through Weston Creek. Stromlo, being entirely rural sadly has no mention on the poor, unaesthetic signs; just head west of Weston Creek and you'll eventually arrive at Stromlo.
|Molonglo Valley |
One of the newest developments in the Australian Capital Territory, and home to the prime attraction of this district: the National Arboretum. Most of Molonglo still has an "under construction" feel as you'll see quite a lot of construction trucks around. It's near many important points of interest in Country ACT (in particular, Mount Stromlo), and one of the few places that feel so far away from a central business district, but yet only 10 km from Civic.
|Weston Creek |
Mostly a residential area that looks and resembles any other part of a typical suburban district of suburb in Australia. It used to be a rather smelly area in the mid-20th century when a sewerage was in operation, but it's been closed since 1978 and has since grown as a residential area.
|Woden (Woden Valley) |
Makes up one of the five major town centres of Canberra (with the other four being Civic, Belconnen, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong), that is mostly taken up by one mall: Westfield Woden, which contains many cafes, restaurants (and the most diverse range in this area) and stores.
Just to the west slowly engulfed by the growing, residential Weston Creek, it's a semi-rural district of Canberra. Most of the district is taken up by the Stromlo Park a great place for mountain biking and Mount Stromlo Observatory, an Australian National University site that's a great place to see the stars and planets – and if you do happen to come here during the day, be prepared to see hundreds of roos wandering around.
Get in edit
By car edit
All three districts are well connected by road: there is a freeway that runs through the centre of the three districts, also making it convenient to get around.
If you are coming from Tuggeranong, use the unnumbered Drakeford Drive up northwest, and the continue on Tuggeranong Parkway once the freeway grade road begins. From here, depending on which district you are intending to visit, you'll have to take different exits. If you are intending to go to either the districts of Weston Creek or Woden, exit onto Hindmarsh Drive, while if you are intending to visit Molonglo Valley, exit onto either Lady Denman Drive or Hindmarsh Drive. The Lady Denman Drive exit has all the important points of interests clearly marked on a brown tourist sign, so make sure to look out for the names of tourist spots, not the ones of the suburbs or Molonglo Valley.
By bus edit
To get into Molonglo, use the R10 ACTION bus from Civic – it too passes South Canberra but passes by the Australian Defence College to the north of the district. Meanwhile if you're looking to get into Weston Creek, use the R7 ACTION bus which runs parallel to R10 until Streeton Dr. After passing Cooleman Court Interchange, the line terminates at 2 Weston Creek Terminus.
There are no bus services to Stromlo – if you don't have a car, your best bet to reach Stromlo is to catch a taxi or an Uber. Walking is not advisable due to the long distances involved on non-existent paths. Just to give one example, the distance between the Mount Stromlo Observatory and Weston Creek Town Centre is 9.4 km, on a steep and requires you to walk on the road and you'll be a nuisance to drivers were you to walk on the road. Cycling is a better alternative to get around, but you'll often have to rent one closer to Civic.
|“||The wide brown land for me!||”|
—Dorothea McKellar, My Country
National Arboretum edit
How many arboretums does the ACT have?
Okay, it might not be a question you might be thinking, but the answer to this rather trivial fact may in fact surprise you. Obviously, your first instinct would say "one"; after all, Washington, D.C. has one, Ottawa has one, Wellington has one, so it'd be natural for the ACT to have one.
But no, instead, there are three. Yep, not one, not two, but three. The obvious first one is the National Arboretum, the second is the Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum only a few metres away down in Yarramundi Reach; it was the national arboretum before this new gigantic arboretum opened.
The third, Bendora Arboretum isn't quite in Canberra, but a one-hour drive from the National Arboretum, but still within the ACT in Namadgi National Park. It's so far out that it's hard to even tell that Bendora Arboretum is an arboretum given it's in the midst of the bush (and often covered in snow during winter), but it was used to test which plants and trees would successfully grow in Canberra.
The National Arboretum opened in February 2013 as part of the celebrations of Canberra's centenary. While the plants still need a bit more time to grow, the site has good views over Lake Burley Griffin. If you need to contact the arboretum, try emailing email@example.com or calling ☏ . It's open 6AM–8:30PM during daylight savings and 7AM–5:30PM during non-daylight savings, though individual sections of the garden may have different opening hours.
You can enter the National Arboretum free of charge, but you will need to pay for a parking ticket if you want to park at the village centre. Parking is very inexpensive – the max you'll have to pay is around $8 and funds usually go towards maintaining the arboretum.
- 1 Dairy Farmers Hill, 95 Forest Dr. If you're here for the good views, this hill is a must-see. Situated within the southwest of the arboretum, this viewpoint offers spectacular scenery looking east along the length of Lake Burley Griffin.
- 2 Village Centre and National Bonsai and Penjing Collection, Forest Dr, ☏ . Daily 9AM–4PM. It has an extensive collection of miniature trees and forests along with 70 artworks (ranging from modern, to artworks that are over a century old). The village centre also contains a restaurant, a cafe, an information centre, toilets and a small souvenir store called 1 The Curatoreum.
- If you've got small children, the National Arboretum perhaps has one of the most creative-looking playgrounds. The 3 Big Acorn or Pod Playground is one of Australia's big things right next to the village centre between the carpark, village centre and the start of the Central Valley Path. It's kind of hard to not notice it while leaving towards the Central Valley Path and often does dazzle your mind a bit as to who designed it.
- The 4 STEP Botanic Garden, with "STEP" short for Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park, is perhaps the closest that you could find in the region to bush tucker – there's a good albeit rather small bush tucker botanic garden along with the typical grasses, shrubs and trees or anything you would find in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. There's a short 1.5-km walk that you can take starting from the village centre where parking your car shouldn't pose issues.
- Another must-see in the arboretum, especially during winter is the 5 Himalayan Cedars. Apart from the impressive sculpture that reads "wide brown land", symbolising what inland Australia is like (but not Canberra though), these cedars are about 100 years old (as of 2022, that's more than 10 times older than the arboretum it's located in) and is the most well-grown out of the relatively new arboretum. There's a 2.1-km loop trail starting from the village centre, but alternatively you can take your car up to the lookout and do a shorter walk if you're not feeling like walking the entire trail.
- The 6 Cork Oak Forest is the furtherest planting from the village centre; it also has the fewest number of plantings. You won't miss much if you leave the arboretum without visiting it, but if you've got the time, it's still worth a visit.
Yarramundi Reach edit
- 7 Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum, Barrenjoey Dr. (opposite the National Arboretum), ☏ . It's a smaller version of the National Arboretum and in fact it's just opposite the freeway, but beside Lake Burley Griffin instead named after Lindsay Pryor, an Australian botanist. It's a great place to see some autumn colours and have a nice stroll by the lake, but maintenance has been a bit poor.
- 8 National Rock Garden, Forest Dr., Molonglo Valley (cnr Barrenjoey and Lady Denman Dr), ☏ . A new precinct with an abundant amount of rocks displaying the rick geological heritage from all over Australia. There are two main rock collections on display; the Federation Rocks and the Featured Rocks. Free.
Other attractions edit
- 9 National Zoo and Aquarium, 999 Lady Denman Drive, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM–5PM. This privately owned zoo and aquarium offers the standard service plus special tours that allow interaction with the animals. The range of tours offers opportunities to interact with animals (feed or touch) including tigers, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, bears, dingos, elands and snakes. The tours are quite special and certainly worth it if you love animals. Make sure that you turn up at the 'Check in time' for a tour instead of the start time as the two are different. Adult $45, senior/student $37, child $25.
- 10 Scrivener Dam, Lady Denman Drive (next to the National Zoo and Aquarium). This small dam across the Molonglo River was completed in 1963 in order to create Lake Burley Griffin. A viewing platform is located off Lady Denman Drive near the eastern edge of the dam.
- 11 Stromlo Cottage, Noffs Cres, Coombs, toll-free: 1800 777 952, email@example.com. A cottage built in 1926 that once served as accommodation for an officer. Today, it tells the story of how Canberra became the way it is.
- Government House Lookout is on the border of South Canberra and Weston Creek, but as Government House (the official residence of the Governor-General) is in South Canberra, see South Canberra § Government House for details on Government House.
- 1 Mount Stromlo Observatory, Cotter Road, Weston Creek, ☏ . See the stars and planets in Australia's premier astronomical observatory. Badly damaged in 2003 bushfires, the partially rebuilt observatory reopened in October 2004. They run a Saturday night star gazing event for the public, call ☏ . The site's damaged buildings and equipment remain and may be fascinating for tourists. While you will certainly get better views out in the midst of the Outback, there are few observatories where you can get great views and yet still be so close to civilization at the same time!
- 2 Escape Rooms Canberra, 2/24 Dundas Ct, Phillip, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Th 9:30AM–9:30PM, F Sa 9AM–10:30PM, Su 9AM–10PM. A fun way to challenge yourself with many different escapes. There's also a cocktail bar near the end. $40 per person.
- 3 Oakey Hill Nature Reserve, ☏ . A small nature reserve nestled between the suburbs of Weston and Lyons that separates the districts of Woden and Weston Creek. This park contains several short walking trails, many of which pass through what was once land used by farmers before Canberra was built, and it is now a good place to see kangaroos without going too far away from the city.
- 4 Stromlo Forest Park, Dave McInnes Rd, Stromlo, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 6AM–9PM. Though the park has nothing appealing in its name, this park contains a whole network of trails – it's your choice on whether you would like to explore these trails via foot, mountain bike or even by horse riding! There is one nearby bike rental shop; Cycle City Hire My Bike, with mountain bikes available for rent.
Shopping malls edit
- 2 Cooleman Court, Brierly St, Weston, ☏ . M–W 9AM–5:30PM, Th 9AM–7PM, F 9AM–8PM, Sa 9AM–5PM, Su 10AM–4PM. A shopping centre with about 80 specialty stores, though as it is not a mall, don't expect the range to be as great as what you'd find in a mall. There are a couple of cafes in the shopping centre, though the range is not the best. If you are looking for a better range, some of the nearby malls will have a better range.
- 3 Westfield Woden, Keltie St, Phillip. A reasonably sized Westfield featuring a David Jones department store, a Big W, two supermarkets, approximately 200 specialty stores, and a food court.
- 4 Southside Farmers Market, Launceston St., Phillip (Woden CIT (formerly Woden High School) (Ainsworth Street near Hindmarsh Drive, Phillip)), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su 9AM-noon. While most markets are in the north or Canberra Central, this one is more conveniently in somewhere-not-the central or north. In this market, the sellers are the producers and all stalls are all food related.
- 5 Alexander Fax Booksellers, Shop 10, Mawson House, Southlands Shopping Centre, Mawson (near the post office), ☏ . W–Su 10AM–3PM. Second-hand bookshop which specialises in military history.
- 6 Harry Hartog, Ground floor, Westfield Woden, ☏ . An independent bookshop with a good range, though focused mainly on fiction.
Though these three districts are often categorised under one in many contexts, in the culinary world, what you find in each district radically differs. In Woden, you will find many modern Australian restaurants, along with various restaurants serving ethnic cuisines just like Canberra's four other town centres. Weston Creek only has the typical scene that you would find in a rural town in New South Wales; in Weston Creek’s case, most restaurants are in Cooleman Court Shopping Centre. Meanwhile, Molonglo barely has any eateries because it is a newer housing development with only fast-food chains. Stromlo? You'd be foolish to think so if you've read § Orientation — as of 2022, no restaurants have opened their doors, only a cafe at the observatory.
- 1 Burger Villains, 24/2 Antis St, Phillip, ☏ . Daily noon–9PM. A small burger restaurant with not many options, but are cheap and for the most part, tasty and value for money. However, the chips have known to be soggy at times.
- 2 Chapman Cafe, Perry Dr., Chapman, ☏ . A fish and chip takeaway cafe with some great hot dogs, burgers (be aware that it comes with beetroot), pizza, seafood or any classic Australian hot food.
- 3 Hansel & Gretel, 40 Townshend St., Phillip, ☏ . M–F 7AM–4PM, Sa 8AM–4PM. Great European-style shop and cafe. Has a couple of easter bunnies during the easter season.
- 4 Pitch Black Cafe, 14 Rivett Pl., Rivett, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 7:30AM–2:30PM. Serving great Seven Mile Roasters coffee, it is known for its variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets available. However, a must-try of this cafe is the tradies breakfast special, which is not just for tradies, but for everyone.
- 5 Turkish Pide House (Pide House), Woden Plaza, 97-99 Corinna Street, Woden, ☏ . Daily 10:30AM–9PM. A nice, inexpensive Turkish food in a proper restaurant that is open all day – one of the very few places to eat in Canberra that are open all day.
- Fast food is available in all three urban districts. You'll find a Maccas in all three and a few other fast food chains like Oporto in Molonglo Valley or KFC in Woden, but these are generally not hard to find.
- 6 Bruno's Truffels, Unit 2, 106 Mawson Place, Mawson, ☏ . M–F 9AM–4PM, Sa Su 7:30AM–2PM. Nice cafe and shop for locally made chocolates and pastries. The building might look a bit dated though.
- 7 Canberra Southern Cross Club, 92-96 Corinna St, Phillip, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9AM–4AM. Casual dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with several dining establishments within it. Breakfast is usually served until 11AM though there are no limitations after that. It does get a little bit crowded afterwards, so it might be wise to make an online booking, but a credit card booking guarantee applies; $5 per person.
- 8 Daana, 83 Theodore St, Curtin, ☏ , email@example.com. M–Sa 5:30–9PM (closed Sundays). A vibrant South Indian restaurant but the chefs here have taken it further and blended Indigenous Australian ingredients (bush tucker) into their traditional recipes – creative!
- 9 Dumpling Social, Shop R02/9 Bradley St, Phillip, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 11AM–9PM. A modern Chinese-Australian restaurant with a very cozy and relaxed atmosphere with some yummy and flavourful dumplings! However, the price is rather expensive for what you actually get, but you'll get the true taste of dumplings compared to a $8 dumpling in Civic.
- 10 Lemongrass, 88 Corrina St, Phillip, ☏ . M–F 11AM–2PM, 5–10PM; Sa Su 5–10PM. A borderline budget–mid-range restaurant with simple Thai food that doesn't really differ from any other Australianised Thai restaurant, let alone its few branches elsehwere. Unfortunately, takeaways tend to get overly prioritised so you might have to wait a while before you get your meal.
- 11 Maestral Seafood Restaurant, 13 Trenerry Street, Weston Creek, ☏ . Serving Mediterranean and Croatian cuisines with lots of fresh seafood and steak. Offers dine-in, takeaway and BYO options.
- 12 Namaste India Restaurant, 28 Corinna St, ☏ . W–M 5–9PM (closed Tuesdays). Perhaps one of the most finest authentic Indian restaurants one could find outside Canberra Central. The most popular meal in this restaurant is their butter chicken, but their garlic naan is also popular.
- 13 Rama's, Shop 6, Pearce Shopping Centre, Hodgson Crescent, Pearce, ☏ , . Tu–Sa 5PM–8PM. Serving Fijian and Indian cuisine (and sometimes a mix of both), and has been long established with some of the finest curries in town. However, it can be very noisy at times.
- 14 Space Kitchen, 12 Furzer St., Phillip (cnr Furzer St and Worgan St), ☏ . M–F 7:30AM–5PM, Sa 8AM–3PM (closed Sundays). If colourful meals are your delight, then this cafe has got plenty of it – cakes, deserts and even salads. Apart from the very jolly looking meals, this cafe also has plenty of breakfast items and burgers.
- 15 Kickin'Inn, cnr Hindmarsh Dr and Ball St, Phillip, ☏ , email@example.com. Su–Th 11AM–9PM; F Sa 11AM–11PM. Why visit a seafood restaurant in an inland city you ask? It's a kajun seafood restaurant so food is quite spicy (a good place if you want to spice up your tastebuds) but prices soar up to $170 at times but in return, the portions are quite large. Sometimes the starters might be enough as a meal for one person.
- 1 The Alby, 45 Furzer St, Phillip, ☏ . 11AM–11PM (closed Mondays). While it has a restaurant too, the Alby is most known for its bar. The bar contains several other activities on some nights too.
- 2 , Keltie St, Phillip. M–Th 10:30AM–5PM; F 10:30AM–8PM; Sa Su 10:30AM–6PM. A bubble tea store, perhaps quite an unusual sight for Canberra. Most of the favourites consumed here is any drink that has the name "Tiger" in it (such as the Tiger Milk Tea).
Unusually, accommodation within all three districts are very limited and nearly all accommodation can only be found in Woden – the closest point to South Canberra. If you're looking for a better range, you might be better off trying in nearby South Canberra.
- 1 Abode Woden, 10 Bowes St, Phillip, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Contains several types of rooms including a studio room, a king studio and an executive studio. The former two are designed for two visitors, while the latter is for three. From $150.
- 2 A Home Away From Home, 16 Wynter Pl, Hughes. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Accommodation in a rather unusual residential area which includes free Wi-Fi, a garden view and parking. The hotel does not have any sort of contact info, and unfortunately the only way to make bookings is through booking agents – not directly. From $133.
- 3 Jamala Wildlife Lodge (within the National Zoo and Aquarium), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Rest your head next to wildest animals, often next to African or Asian wildlife. The three precincts; uShaka Lodge, Giraffe Treehouses and the Jungle Bungalows each give a unique experience in the fact that you can get really close up with some wild animals such as giraffes, feel like you're in the midst of a jungle, but still feel very safe at the same time. The owners do tend to get a bit defensive though, it's costly and seeing wildlife isn't always guaranteed.
- 4 The Statesman Hotel, 14 Theodore St, Curtin (cnt Theodore St. and Strangways St.), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A reasonably sized hotel though its building may look a bit old and dated. It is also right next to a bottle shop, so take it for what it's worth. From $106.
Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all have good connection in all three districts. Wi-Fi isn't as freely available in other districts, and you might have to head over to South Canberra for that, but there are still many CBRfree public Wi-Fi locations within Westfield Woden.
|END ←||SW YARRA GLEN NE||→ becomes ADELAIDE AVENUE → Capital Hill|
|Tuggeranong ←||S NE||→ Civic|
|Lanyon ← Erindale ←||S NE||→ Civic|
|END ←||WSW ENE||→ Barton → Civic|
|Tuggeranong ←||S NE||→ South Canberra|
|Tuggeranong ←||S TUGGERANONG PARKWAY N||→ Belconnen → Gungahlin|
|END ←||W E||→ Civic|
|END ←||W E||→ Civic|
|Continues as Gungahlin ← Belconnen ←to||N S||→ Tuggeranong|
|Civic ← Acton ←||↻ (E) ↺ (E)||→ South Canberra → North Canberra|