What beauty is there to Belconnen?
No one thinks of Belconnen when listing Canberra attractions. Located in Canberra's north-east on Ngunnawal-Ngambri land, the Belconnen district is clustered around the man-made lake Ginninderra. Boasting a popular skate park, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and a university, Belco is a hot-spot for not much in particular. It's a bit crass. A little bit gentrified. A tad blemished. And so during Canberra's 2020 covid lockdown, I decided to know it better.
2020 was my second year of living in the Belconnen district and in the central suburb of Belconnen itself. The illustrious owl sculpture a short walk from my flat – known fondly to locals as the 'penis owl' – was the first thing I saw of Belco when I first moved to the ACT in 2016.
It was love at first sight. But if this avian guardian represented the entire district, what did that say about the other 26 suburbs?
At first, I only photographed suburbs which were in comfortable walking distance from my flat. The lockdown meant that public transport wasn't an option. By time Canberra had emerged from the worst of the pandemic and buses were viable, I had already visited Florey, Scullin, Lawson and Melba.
The edges of Belconnen are the stretch marks of Canberra. After the first few suburbs, I would walk out to the suburb from my flat – regardless of distance – and then catch a bus back home. In two hours, I would traverse from the towering Geocon developments near my flat, through stretches of winding bike tracks, until I reached farmland and mountains out west. The quick changes in the landscape were surreal.
But at the end of day, it really was the scrummier elements of Belco that really drew me in and made 2020 more bearable. I'm not one for sanitised white picket fenced suburbs. I like the dirt and grit that make a place grossly human. I hope I'm not the only one.
I'm sure I'll be back soon...
I live and work on stolen Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung land. I pay respects to elders, past and present. I acknowledge this land was never ceded, sold, or given up and extend warmth and solidarity to all First Nations people. Always was and always will be Aboriginal land. Give it back. [-o-]