ACT News

Canberra Services Club secures home in ACT government land swap

Fire engulfs the Canberra Services Club in Manuka.
Fire engulfs the Canberra Services Club in Manuka.  Photo: Karleen Minney

The Canberra Services Club has finally secured a new home in Manuka.

The ACT Government has announced the new club will built on the current site of the Manuka Occasional Child Care Centre, which will be relocated to a purpose-built 100-place facility in Forrest.

The new child care centre will replace four tennis courts on New South Wales Crescent used by Telopea Park School.

Consequently, the government has committed $800,000 for the construction of new sporting facilities at the school. 

The Services Club was established on the corner of Canberra Avenue and Manuka Circle during World War II as a place for service personnel to gather as they passed through the capital and became a Canberra institution in the post-war decades.

The 65-year-old building was destroyed by fire three years ago and the club has been homeless ever since. 


The organisation decided to surrender its lease on the Canberra Avenue site as part of a land-swap deal with the ACT Government, forcing members to walk away from seven decades of military history. 

The deal, which has spent months in the pipeline, paves the way for the development of a Manuka Oval master plan.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr was pleased to see the services club secure a new home and said the agreement would boost urban renewal across a significant slice of the inner south.

"The Canberra Services Club has long played an important role in the life of this city" he said.

"We are now in a position to proceed with the development of the master plan for this area, leading to further improvements for both players and spectators who love playing and watching games at this historic venue."

The new, larger club, which will include Defence Housing Australia accommodation, will be built nearby on the corner of Captain Cook Crescent and Murray Crescent.

Club president Dennis Gellatly said members had come to terms with leaving the old site behind and were excited for a new chapter. 

The secured site follows the merger of the Canberra Services Club and the Canberra Club last year, ultimately saving the latter. 

"There were a lot of ifs, maybes and buts but finally this is starting to take shape. We're really pleased with the Chief Minister's announcement," he said. 

"The [old club] served as a great premise for more than 60 years. This has given us the chance to rethink what sort of service, what sort of accommodation our members and the community can use."

Mr Gellatly said it was early days in terms of planning what a new club will entail.

He expected a new building to open it's doors in two to four year's time.

"We do want to ensure there's a link between some of the traditions and the spirit of the Services Club as we take on a new era in an attractive, viable and vibrant place," he said.

But there is still uncertainty surrounding the movement of the club's 42-tonne Leopard battle tank on the Canberra Avenue site.

"I don't know if we'll be taking the tank with us [but there has been] interest shown to preserve the tank - we'll follow that up now," Mr Gellatly said.