Over the weekend, Westside Acton Park finally opened up on Lake Burley Griffin. I remember first reading about this cultural park made out of shipping containers back in early 2014 with an original grand opening date of sometime in Spring 2014. It’s taken a tiny bit longer than we all hoped, but now the launch date is upon us, along with some really cool architecture and great little food stalls.
Having said that, Westside Acton Park still looks far from finished, so there might be some big changes from the pictures you see here. There is construction equipment everywhere and the food outlets aren’t quite in their shipping containers yet with most still serving out of tents and booths. Maybe it’s all part of Westside Acton Park attempting to be derelicte. Nevertheless, once all the this construction is done, Westside Acton Park should be a great place to grab a snack or drink and sit back and chat the weekends away.
Westside Acton Park presumably takes its inspiration from Christchurch, where after the earthquake in 2011, the city decided to bring in shipping containers that could be set up quickly to fill in the void of eateries, cafes and shops while the city was being rebuilt. Here in Canberra, this cultural village has been built to bring life to the west side of Lake Burley Griffin, which no one really goes to unless you want to hire a paddle boat, canoe or bike to go around the lake.
Well, if you’re one of the few people who only really need to go around that lake once, you now have a reason to wander around the right side of Lake Burley Griffin! Westside Acton Park brings together culture, food and lifestyle all in one place. The shipping containers are three stories high, with a Gold’s Gym and bar called Aviary on the top level. While the ground level hosts a variety of eateries as well as a basketball and futsal court. There’s a lot of empty space so it seems quite multipurpose too. Yesterday while we were at Westside Acton Park, the futsal and basketball courts had been turned into a stage with a DJ and dance floor for the Art, Not Apart after party.
But for this visit, I was interested in the food. Art isn’t really my thing. Nor is dancing. So you’re stuck with food.
During my visit to Westside Acton Park, I decided to grab a couple goodies even though we had just come from a filling breakfast. These included this chicken skewer ($3) from Miss Van’s. On the day, Miss Van’s was offering just a handful of items including Lao’s chicken skewers, Thai sausages and Vietnamese spring rolls but their promo material seems to suggest that they’ll be serving pho as well. If they do serve pho, I’ll be one happy camper, especially if it’s tasty! Miss Van’s catering menu also including pork rolls and other traditional Vietnamese treats. I absolutely cannot wait to see them in action. So far, its been promising.
This chicken skewer that we got on the day was pretty nice. The chicken was soft and tender. It was flavoured in a simple but tasty satay sauce. Plus, they didn’t even have a proper kitchen. On the day, Miss Van’s was one of the stores still cooking out of a tent. So, can’t see what they have installed for us when they move into their container.
While at Westside Acton Park, I also decided to visit Stomping Grounds. I believe they’re the actually group behind the whole actual park, so thats kind of cool to see that they also have a shipping container selling food. I didn’t see this on Westside Acton Park’s website so I’m not sure if this is here to stay or if it was only something for the opening. Nevertheless, I hope they stick around, because their food and drinks offering were pretty cool. They served a range of things including gelato ice creams, drinks, coffees and American food as well. Oh this particular day, I decided to try their ice cream and drinks. I’ll save the American food for next time.
I’m assumed this gelato wasn’t made in house judging from the ice cream cups that it came in. Upon further internet research, I found that the gelato at Stomping Ground comes from Bertoldo’s Gelato Mio down in Tuggeranong. I’ve seen a lot of their stuff on Instagram so it’s nice to finally get a chance to try it out.The gelato comes in two sizes, one scoop for $4 or two scoops for $6. The flavours are scribbled on a white board outside the shipping container, which changed throughout the day for us. We opted for two scoops, the salted caramel and vanilla. The ice cream was quite tasty with plenty of creaminess and flavour to it. Though, I must say our vanilla ice cream tasted like a very delicious pistachio (it was also a mild shade of green), so either their vanilla recipe has some problems, or they just gave me pistachio instead. Luckily I really like pistachio, so that was absolutely fine.
Stomping Grounds offers hot coffees, and we were thinking of grabbing one, but just couldn’t after seeing this bottle of Dutch Courage chocolate milk ($6) and a similarly branded cold brew coffee. I must say, this chocolate milk was amazing. I’ve never really been a massive fan of chocolate but I would definitely get this drink over and over again. The chocolate milk was just full of cocoa flavour with very little sweetness to it, and to be honest, I imagine some people would describe it as bitter. Not me though, it was great and very refreshing! I normally don’t find milk very refreshing but here coupled with the strong cocoa flavour it just hits you in the face as you take a sip and really gets you up and going. So I guess, although I absolutely loved this drink if you’re a massive fan of really sweet chocolate milks like Oak or Moove, then this might not be the drink for you. Plus, its not bad for $6, you actually get half a litre of chocolate milk goodness in a really hipsterfied bottle.
According to Westside Acton Park’s website and what we saw on the day, the park will see a variety of different eateries including Miss Van’s which will cook up a South East Asian storm with Vietnamese, Thai and Lao food. Damn Fine Roaster which serves coffees and other drinks. Apparently, they’re meant to do drive through coffee as well! I didn’t see that on the day but again there were still construction gates up and around. There is also a juice bar, O’ So Smoothie offering fresh smoothies and other healthy goodies for all those gym junkies from Gold’s Gym. On the day, we also saw the Mandalay Bus serving their awesome eggplant dhals and chicken rotis. A store called Stomping Grounds which offers gelato, coffees and American goodies including ribs, buffalo wings and hot dogs. I think I also saw a couple of bars scattered around the place as well but that may have just been for yesterday’s event.
Outside of those stores, apparently there is also meant to be a store offering Middle Eastern BBQ and crepes but I saw no sign of those. But a Middle Eastern BBQ sounds awesome.
I’m happy to see Westside Acton Park finally open, its got some great food and great vibes as well. I know I haven’t posted many decor pictures but this place is completely different to anything else I’ve seen in Canberra. There’s random pictures, drawings and graffiti art scattered throughout the park and there lots of seat chairs, tools and tables to sit around. My favourite part was probably the swing sets they had which was made out of skateboards, really cool stuff. I can’t wait to come back in the next couple of weeks and see things in full swing. So many things to eat, so many things to see. It is a bit of a shame that this wasn’t ready as hanging out here over Summer would have been really nice. I guess I’ll have to knuckle down and bring out the coats to see this place over Autumn and Winter.