RECON: BELCONNEN, ACT
Text: Luke Brown
Photos (except where noted): Luke Brown
Video: Jack Dowden
Belconnen Skatepark got a facelift. I wish I was fifteen again; it's as simple as that. Canberra is known for its great range of skateparks and lately it's had its fair share of attention. With the recent construction of Woden's Eddison Park only a year or so prior, Belconnen's now been revamped to include tasty titbits for any pursuit whether you're dropping hammers, getting tech, going fast or just cruising. The fact that the old park was still well used even after its twenty years of glory is testament to the original design at the time. It's fantastic that the keyhole bowl has been retained, and it's no wonder given its iconic status as home of the infamous "Belco Bowl Jam".
Murmurs of government interest in upgrading some of Canberra's outdated facilities sparked skateboarders to get together to form a united voice and draw their attention to progressions available in skatepark technology. Loads of amazing things have happened in twenty years! During the last hurrah of K-Rudd as Prime Minister, Belconnen received some Federal Government Infrastructure Funding combined with ACT Government monies to upgrade the foreshore area in conjunction with other works happening in Belconnen. A lot of players in this have made it the success it is with ACT Government's Territory and Municipal Services running the show. The Project was managed by building company Manteena, with Oxigen Landscape Architects, Convic designing and Concrete Skate Parks completing the main skatepark build.
Given that the upgrade of Belconnen occurred only a short time after the creation of Eddison Park there are now options to run more events. The recent SbA Am series qualifier in January 2011 at Eddison Park was the first time in ten years where Canberra was included in a National Open Series giving up and coming skateboarders an opportunity to qualify for the national final in Melbourne. Belconnen is already flagged as being the next potential venue for the next round of these events and other similar events. If the Vert Ramp goes ahead this will enable capacity for competition level vertical skateboarding events to occur, and again raise the potential for Canberra to be part of events that occur across Australia.
Belconnen's newly upgraded skatepark is already a recognised as a national achievement with the enormity of the park and diversity of creative and unique obstacles that exist nowhere else in the country. This puts Canberra's youth at an even greater advantage to develop advanced skills in their chosen area of pursuit. Belco local lad fifteen year old Edwin Flynn has been hassling me for months like a young fella should wanting to know when the park was opening. I asked him what he thought of the park, "It's just so rad that there's so many different street obstacles. Canberra skateparks really haven't had that before."
Since the fences came down on July 15th it's seeing record numbers of attendance. Most of the serious skateboarding has been occurring at night under lights due to the amount of kiddies on it during the day. Coloured features litter the large waterfront street plaza with plenty of banks, hubbas, ledges, curvy things and wavy things. There's a replica half crater in memory of the old one at the previous park. A snake run style series of three bowls adjoins the plaza. There's also a 33-foot wide mini ramp with a cinder block vert wall on the back. Really there's far too much fun stuff to mention without turning this story into a novel! You'll only understand the enormity of the park once you visit; yes it is the biggest in Australia.
* Belco's second take at their official opening is tomorrow 10.09.11.