Plan for enhancing the Hackett shops precinct
Over the years, the HCA has proposed various proposals for enhancing the Hackett shops precinct e.g. a sign/memorial about Sir John Hackett, clean-up of the gardens, and provision of a table on the grassy area near the bus stop. In June 2019, the HCA Committee sent the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, a plan which set out a range of actions that would enhance this area. These are listed below along with a report on their status.
|Remove weeds from gardens, plant with new shrubs and add new mulch.||Completed in July 2019. Two red oaks planted in grass area near bus stop and one in garden. Also see the section about Hackett shops garden.|
|Repair broken bricks and repaint walls around gardens in paved area.||The HCA surveyed residents on suitable colours, with ‘red mane’ being the most popular. Bricks fixed and walls repainted in late 2019.|
|Remove trip hazard between the pavers and concrete walkways.||Rows of pavers adjacent to walkways removed and re-laid in late 2019.|
|Repair and paint the metal frame in the garden on the north side of IGA and include some form of artwork in the frame.||HCA painted the frame black in March 2020. Blue Gum Community School is preparing a tile mosaic.|
|Provide table either in the paved area on north side of IGA, or under the tree near the bus stop.||Two new green metal seats installed near the grassy area in August 2019. Table yet to be provided.|
|Encourage use of the chess board area in the paved area. The HCA could buy an outdoor chess set.||HCA is still considering how to supply and manage a chess set.|
|Rebuild broken wall behind Rusty Mals.||Rebuilt in late 2019.|
|Log barrier erected against wall to prevent pedestrians walking directly across laneway and being hit by vehicles.||Built in late 2019.|
|New Hackett sign near the bus stop.||Yet to be done.|
|Paint a hopscotch pattern in the paved area.||Yet to be done.|
|Paint or replace the wooden seats in the walk-ways||Yet to be done.|
|Provide additional bike rakes on the south side of Rusty Mals.||Yet to be done.|
|Map of Hackett and neighbouring Mt Majura and Majura Pines, along with interesting facts about the suburb – key features of the suburb would be shown. Propose to go on wall of Siam Twist near the public telephone.||HCA is developing concept. To be funded by the HCA.|
|Information sign about Sir John Hackett.||Yet to be done.|
Toilets at the shops
As noted in the book about Hackett, the provision of toilets has been a case of ‘on again, off again’ since the suburb was first developed. In October 1966, the former National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) issued a call for tenders to construct toilets. Yet in 1971, the NCDC and the Department of the Interior advised that neither organisation ‘had plans to provide lavatories at Hackett shopping centre’.
The HCA took up this cause in 2007 by lobbying the ACT Government and members of the ACT Assembly. Hopes were raised when funds were allocated in the 2011-12 ACT budget and the site surveyed in April 2012. However, in mid 2014 the ACT Government did a reverse flip when it advised that there were no funds available for the toilets. While there has been broad support for the toilets, some residents have expressed their concerns that they would be an eyesore at the shops.
Party at the shops
Since 2003, the HCA has organised the very popular annual Party at the Hackett shops. The first one was held in May 2003 to celebrate the 40th birthday of Hackett with an estimated 800-900 people attending. The next one was held in May 2008 to celebrate Hackett’s 45th birthday.
But the biggest event was the 50th birthday in 2013 which was held over two days on 22 and 23 September 2013. Between 3,000 and 3,500 enjoyed the activities at the shops and nearby schools. The HCA has also organised parties at the shops in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The activities over the years have included food, music, dancing, information stalls, and attractions for children including jumping castles and face painting. Further details about the parties are provided in the book about Hackett.
Murals on the Hackett oval change rooms
At the southern end of the Hackett oval are change rooms which have been there since the late 1960s. Their drab appearance was not helped with the numerous graffiti painted on all sides. After the HCA contacted the ACT Government Graffiti removal program, the building took on a whole new appearance in mid 2019. This program is aimed at reducing the incidence of illegal graffiti across Canberra. One of the key activities is engaging artists to work with the community to paint murals on public spaces such as buildings at sports grounds.
Dai Cameron, the lead artist (https://www.daicameron.com), worked with Mikki Trail, Blue Gum Community School Art Director, and senior art students from the school, to develop the concepts. They were also assisted by several Silver Sprayers who had worked on other murals across Canberra. The eastern wall mural has kookaburras and a robin, while the back wall features an eastern spinebill, a robin and flowers.
Graffiti at other locations
Unfortunately, graffiti continues to damaged fences, walls and buildings in other parts of Hackett. The HCA is liaising with the Graffiti program to identify key areas to see if they can also be painted with murals or removed.
Clean Up Australia
Since 2012, the HCA has organised the annual Clean up Australia days in Hackett during March. Coordinated by the HCA Treasurer, Terry de Luca, the nature strips, pathways, parks and neighbouring Mount Majura, have had many bags of rubbish removed by volunteers of all ages.
In 2004, the HCA received complaints from residents in Madigan and Maitland Streets about their inability to exit their driveways during peak hours, and from other parts of the suburb about their difficulties exiting e.g. Rivett Street. It was increasingly obvious that, because of the continuing growth of Gungahlin and the development of North Watson, this situation could only get worse.
As the traffic statistics were way out of date, the HCA Committee decided in March 2004, to conduct its own traffic census at Antill and Fison, Antill and Madigan, Maitland St and at Phillip Avenue. The results were worrying, and an approach was made to ACT Roads who carried out their own (mechanical) survey which not only confirmed the HCA results, but showed a slight increase had occurred.
A number of public meetings were held to discuss the matter, including one attended by ACT Roads, but these created ‘more heat than light’. Many options were canvassed. Most options were considered objectionable by one section or another of the community. Traffic calming was opposed by Maitland and Madigan residents as being ‘too noisy’. The suggestion of closing Stott Street during peak hours brought a great deal of criticism from Hackett residents; banning left and/or right hand turns into Madigan ‘would badly affect the shops’ and besides there were the buses that travelled along Madigan St.
Finally, traffic lights at the intersection of Phillip and Majura Avenues, pedestrian lights on Antill St opposite the Australian Catholic University, and some raised pedestrian crossings on Madigan St near the shops seemed the best achievable. Even here, there was some dissent, with one resident wanting a round-about instead of lights at the Majura Avenue which ACT Roads quickly knocked on the head. The Phillip and Majura Avenues intersection lights were installed in mid 2011.
Community Fire Unit for Hackett
In 2018, the HCA began working closely with ACT Fire and Rescue to establish a Community Fire Unit (CFU) in Hackett. Ten people are required to volunteer before a trailer will be allocated. The Hackett trailer was launched at the Party at the Hackett shops on 26 October 2019. If you would like to get involved please visit the CFU website http://esa.act.gov.au/actfr/community-fire-units/.
Tables for our parks
There are five parks in Hackett, (none have official names but are simply known by the adjacent streets – Gilruth, Bragg, Caldwell, Tryon and French Streets) which have swings and chairs, but no tables at which people can sit and enjoy a picnic. As part of the ACT 2020-21 Budget consultation process, the HCA put in a submission requesting funding for a table for each park.
Fund raising for communities impacted by 2019-20 bushfires
Around 130 adults and children got together on the afternoon of 8 March 2020 at Rusty Mals to celebrate its opening. For a $10 entry donation for adults, people enjoyed half price drinks and delicious pizza throughout the afternoon. They were entertained by Jen and Jim and many other musicians from North Canberra Music. Through the entry donation, other donations, face painting for children, and raffles, a total of $2,465 was raised and donated by the HCA to the Friends of Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens, Batemans Bay – this important south coast tourist attraction was burnt by the summer bushfires. The raffle prizes of various wines were kindly donated by IGA and their suppliers. A very special gold wrapped toilet roll, with lock, fetched $200!
A selection of photos and reports on the Parties at the Shops events held by the Hackett Community Association
The Hackett Compost Collective, run by HCA Committee member Brook Clinton, was successful in receiving a grant from the ACT Government under the ACT Community Zero Emissions Grants Program 2019-20. The project called ‘Small measures count for a lot with community composting’, has involved setting up composting bins on the north-west side of IGA, near Mills St. As well as collecting kitchen scraps from across Hackett, Brook provides information sessions for residents. The end product is a nutrient rich product that is given back to participants to add to their own gardens.
Caring for our suburb’s parks
Two of the five parks have residents who have come together to help improve these valuable open spaces. These groups are registered with the ACT Government’s Urban Parks and Places Volunteering (UPP) program which is managed by the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate (TCCS). Another group has formed to enhance the gardens at the Hackett shops.
In late 2018, the ACT Government held community consultative forums as part of developing its Better Suburbs Statement https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs
One of the priority areas was looking at improved play spaces across all suburbs. The Better Suburbs Play Spaces Forum comprised community representatives from across Canberra. It made recommendations for the allocation of $1.9 million to upgrade and improve play spaces across Canberra in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Two parks in Hackett were included in the list for action:
- Bragg Street received six large logs and twelve large rocks near the swings in mid 2019.
- Tyron Street swings were repainted, new mulch added, deck repaired and old timber borders replaced.
Bragg St Park
In 2016, a group of local residents formed the Bragg St Park Volunteers Group with the aim of working with the ACT Government to improve the ecological and recreational values of this space. The group is registered with the Urban Parks and Places Volunteering program. In the same year, the group developed the first plan for the park called “Managing the Bragg St / Brennan St Park in Hackett. A plan for action today…to enhance the options for tomorrow”. Since 2016, the group has undertaken the following activities:
- 2016 – staking many of the self-sown young eucalypts and wattles scattered across the park to prevent them being mowed by government contractors. These have proliferated and many now stand 1-2 metres high.
- 2018 – applying for a grant ($4,500) from the Nature Play Grants Program to build a small scale nature play area near the existing swings. This proposed the provision of rocks and logs for sitting and stepping logs, but was unsuccessful.
- March 2019 – contractors installed 12 boulders near the swings, and two sets of three large logs under the Better Suburbs Program.
- September 2019 – Transport and City Services (TCCS) gave the group, 60 native plants (tube stock size) which the group planted on the Brennan St corner. Most importantly the government has agreed this to be a No Mow Zone. An additional six larger eucalypts were planted across the park. These and many of the self-seeded eucalypts and wattles were mulched with wood-chip provided by TCCS. For several months from September to February 2020, volunteers watered the plants.
- April 2020, the group applied for a grant under the 2020 Nature Play Grants Program to provide additional nature play features in the park such as stepping logs, sand play area, human sun dial and a paver maze. They were unsuccessful.
- In 2020-21, the group received a grant of $9,100 under the Nature in the City program to construct swales in the park. These swales were built in August 2021. The HCA administers the funds in partnership with the group. To view a leaflet about the swales click here or to see a more detailed report about the project click here.
- In early 2022 they received a $2,860 grant from Inspiring the ACT program to make and install a sign about the swales. The grant was provided by the CSIRO.
- The group also received a 2021-22 Adopt a Park grant of $3,000 to purchase more plants to plant in the swales and other parts of the park.
The Gilruth Park Supporters Group received a grant through the 2019-2020 Adopt-a-Park Community Grants Program for a project called “More Shade and Seating – Gilruth Park, Hackett”. The HCA administers the funds in partnership with the group. The project has involved:
- community consultation and site planning;
- purchase and planting of six shade trees and thirty bird attracting shrubs;
- painting existing benches; and
- purchase and positioning of ten large rocks.
The group undertook much of the work themselves, except for positioning the large rocks which was done by a contractor.
The group received a 2021-22 Adopt a Park grant of $3,335 to purchase more plants.
Friends of Mount Majura
Friends of Mount Majura(FoMM) was founded in 2003 with the main aim to ‘promote the wellbeing of the natural and cultural heritage protected within the Mount Majura Nature Reserve.’ As at August 2018, FoMM had close to 250 subscribers on their mailing list, although between 10 and 15 people are more actively involved in on-ground conservation work. The group holds regular working parties which attract between 1 and 10 participants.
FoMM’s main activity is controlling herbaceous and woody weeds which the group carries out within the whole Mount Majura Nature Reserve. In addition, the group undertook more intensive conservation work at 6 project sites that cover a combined area of approximately 30ha. They have planted around 800 local trees (Eucalyptus species, Drooping she-oak), over 2,000 local shrubs to replace woody weeds and well over 5,000 native ground cover plants that had been lost in the grassy woodlands. On top of the plantings, they have collected and direct-seeded a combined area of approximately 15ha with thousands of native grass and forb seeds; unfortunately the forbs and grass do not prevail due to overgrazing by rabbits and kangaroos.
Mount Ainslie Weeders
The Weeders are active in the Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve, especially on the old Ainslie rubbish tip.
Meg’s Toy Library
Meg’s Toy Library offers toys, puzzles and games for children aged from three months to five years. Toys can be hired for as little as 50 cents per week to member families. They strive to provide toys that are non-branded, durable and supportive of child development. Meg’s Toy Library is a not-for-profit community organisation run by members, volunteers and a management committee. It is located behind St Margaret’s Uniting Church, corner of Antill Street and Phillip Avenue, Hackett.