When first planned, the Weston Creek area was designed to house 34,000 – at the July 2006 census the population was 22,886. The then National Capital Development Commission described Weston Creek as ‘one of the most picturesque parts of the National Capital’ and time has proved the Authority correct. The ‘Creek” is situated in a well treed valley some 3 kilometers wide and 4 kilometers long.
Mt Taylor rises some 900 feet above the Valley floor to the south-east and is the dominate feature of the area. Other hills and ridges define the valley on the south and west, while to the north, the view was contained by the Mt Stromolo pine forest, north of the Cotter Road; the pines were destroyed in the 2003 bushfire and will be shortly developed into the residential area of Molonglo.
The hills have been reserved to preserve the natural landscape setting of the district and to provide for future recreation of the residents and visitors to Canberra. However, the ACT Government announced after the 2003 bushfire that the area in the north-east corner will be developed into the suburb of North Weston.
The original plan called for neighbourhood shopping centres in all suburbs with a group shopping centre to be in the centre of the district. While the neighbour shopping centres were built, they relied on the passing trade to be generated by the infants-primary schools, pre-schools and high schools that were built in each suburb. Baby health centres were also constructed on school grounds.
The area has some 528 employing businesses with a steady growth in the number of employing businesses being recorded from 2004. In 2009, the Cooleman Court Shopping Centre underwent an extensive renovation and extension that will provide further opportunities for businesses to be established in the area.
While the planned schools in all the suburbs were built, the majority have now been closed. The changing demographics of the ‘Creek’, together with the ACT Government’s decision to rationalise the schools following the 2003 bushfire and a major review of ACT schools, has now left the area with only Stromlo High School and Arawang (Waramanga), Chapman and Duffy public primary schools. However, the area still retains its five independent schools; the Orana School, Montessori School, Islamic Scool of Canberra and St Jude’s and St John Vianney’s primary schools. The Stirling College for Year 11 and 12 students was converted to an in-teacher training facility, the Centre for Teaching and Learning.
Arawang at Waramanga was the first primary school in the area opening in 1970 and Weston Creek High (now Stromlo) was opened in 1972.
There are also a number of pre-school facilities within the district.
There are eight suburbs in Weston Creek; Waramanga, Fisher, Weston, Rivett, Duffy, Holder, Chapman and Stirling. All suburbs have a post code of 2611. All suburbs are named after a head figure in Australia and the street names have each a local theme such as rivers and creeks of Australian and native flowers.
Waramanga and Fisher were developed in 1968, followed by Weston and Rivett (1969), Duffy and Holder (1970) and Chapman and Stirling (1972). The first government housing was available in Waramanga in June 1969 with residential blocks for private building being made available in October 1969. Stirling had further land released for residential development in the 1980’s.
The land for the Waramanga shopping centre was auctioned in December 1969 and the centre opened in 1970.
The area has been well serviced by public ovals, but in recent times a number have been ‘let go’ due to the ‘drought’. The Stirling Oval complex is the dominant sports feature in the area, comprising 3 ovals, an outdoor netball complex and a greens bowling club. This facility supports Weston Creek Cricket Club, Weston Creek Wildcats (AFL), rugby, Weston Creek Indians (baseball), Arawang Netball and lawn bowls.
Elsewhere in the district Chapman oval hosts the Weston Creek Little Athletics, the oval complex at Waramanga supports the very active Weston Creek Soccer Club and Rivett oval is also home to touch football and rugby.
Other facilities in Weston Creek include a tennis complex (Weston Creek Tennis Club) and a skate park.
Within Weston Creek Communities@Work provides a range of support services centred around the Cooleman Court centre.
Of the 22,886 people living in Weston Creek for the 2006 census, only 20% were over 60 years, but the area is aging with 35% over 50 years, but a healthy 24% still being under 20 years. These figures have varied very marginally from 2002. Of the residents some 22% have been born overseas, predominantly in North-West Europe with 1% identifying as being indigenous Australians. The census identified 6,234 families in the area.
The number of births in the area has recently averaged 277/yr, with the last there years being in the higher range of 284 to297.
Some 30% of the residents are university qualified with a total of 62% having post school qualifications.
In its short life, the district has suffered a major disaster. Canberra is often described as a bush capital with wide planned open spaces between suburbs and surrounding pine plantations, pastoral and nature reserves. However, in 2003 a number of significant bushfires combined to attack Canberra resulting in the loss of life and the destruction of over 500 homes. Duffy bore the brunt of the bushfire losing over 200 homes with parts of Chapman, Holder and Rivett also suffered building losses. A report of the fire is available on Wikipedia.
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Version: 17 Oct 10 – Lance Williamson