Ailinga Street (City Walk) and Ainslie Avenue
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Australia's first fully-enclosed shopping complex was not located in either Sydney or Melbourne but in the capital city of Canberra. MONARO ["muh-NAIR-oh"] MALL, which was also the earliest 3-level retail hub in the nation, was designed by Sydney's Whitehead and Payne firm and was officially dedicated  -by Prime Minister Robert Menzies- on March 6, 1963.

Encompassing a city block, situated 1.8 miles northeast of the Australian Parliament House, the 2.5 million dollar MONARO MALL enveloped 270,000 lettable square feet and sixty-one stores and services.

Its main anchor was a 3-level (125,000 square foot), Sydney-based David Jones'. Other shops in the original tenant mix included a Marcus Clark (of 35,000 square feet) and Coles New World Supermarket (of 15,000 square feet).

Retail rivals in the vicinity of MONARO MALL included WODEN PLAZA / WESTFIELD WODEN [1971] {5.2 miles southwest, in the Canberra district of Woden Valley} and BELCONNEN MALL / WESTFIELD BELCONNEN [1978] {4.7 miles northwest, in the Canberra district of Belconnen}.

A 220 million dollar expansion was built between 1987 and 1989. The existing MONARO MALL was worked into a new complex known as CANBERRA CENTRE, with three adjacent city blocks being developed with new retail structures.

To the southeast, the block bounded by Ailinga, Ainslie, Bunda and Akuna was filled by a 3-level (145,400 square foot), Sidney-based Grace Brothers, three floors of inline store space, including an 18-bay Food Court on the Lower Level, and 12-storey commercial tower. The section of Ainslie Street running between the existing MONARO MALL and new retail structure was closed off, with a fully-enclosed mallway connecting the two components into one.

To the east, the block bounded by Bunda, Ainslie, Ballumbir and Akuna became a 1-level (75,000 square foot) Target, with a single level of exterior-entranced retail spaces stretching along the southwest side of the structure.

The block bounded by Bunda, Petrie, Ballumbir and Ainslie was also filled by a new structure. This portion of the shopping precinct was known as the CITY MARKET, as it was tenanted by various fresh food vendors. The nation's first Supabarn Emporium supermarket was to open here in 1991.

CANBERRA CENTRE was officially dedicated on November 1, 1989. The following March, the Brisbane-based Queensland Investment Corporation acquired an interest in the property. In March of 1995, they established full ownership.

In the 2 previous years, further redevelopment of the shopping centre had been carried out. In 1993, the interior of the original MONARO MALL structure was reconfigured, with a new mallway and entrance cutting though to the corner of Bunda and Petrie Streets.

In 1994, an Upper Level "Fashion Mall" was added to the existing CITY MARKET structure, with a multilevel car park built over the CITY MARKET and Target structures.

The first banner conversion at the centre involved the Marcus and Clark store, which became a Sydney-based Waltons. This, in turn, was "rebannered" by the Venture discount chain, which folded in 1994.

A 50 million dollar renovation commenced in November 2001. Three of the CANBERRA CENTRE / CITY MARKET structures were joined by an enclosed Upper Level link bridge. This connected the David Jones and Grace Brothers mall with a new Ground Floor and Upper Level mallway built over a section of Ainslie Street, which joined the CITY MARKET and Target structures.

The official dedication of the renewed CANBERRA CENTRE was held November 7, 2002. The complex now encompassed 613,500 lettable square feet. A third banner conversion at the complex took place when Grace Brothers stores were given a Myer nameplate, on February 13, 2004.

The most recent enlargement of CANBERRA CENTRE got underway in 2005. The existing CITY MARKET structure was gutted, with a portion of its car park decks being refashioned into retail spaces. Moreover, the enclosed, Upper Level mallway was extended toward the northwest, with Upper Level link bridges being installed across Petrie Street and Scott Crossing.

The area, previously known as Section 84, was redeveloped with a 2-level, subterranean car park beneath 2 levels of new retail spaces. A new 1-level (40,900 square foot) Supabarn Supermarket was a Ground Level anchor of the 355,000 square foot "North Quarter" expansion.

Above Supabarn was built a 1-level (97,000 square foot) Big W discount department store. This was joined by tenants such as Fitness First, Borders, JB Hi-Fi, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream and the 9-screen, state-of-the-art, Dendy Cinema.

Stores and services in the new North Quarter addition began trading to the public on November 7, 2006, with completion of the project taking place on August 30, 2007. The CANBERRA CENTRE complex now encompassed 963,300 lettable square feet, with a tenant directory of three hundred and ten stores and services, making it the largest shopping centre in The "ACT" (Australian Capital Territory).


"Canberra Centre" article on Wikipedia (National Archive of Australia) (Norman, Disney and Young architects)