For good reason there are very strict rules as to what development and what retail activity is permitted on the shoreline of Lake Burley Griffin. This has resulted in very little development and, in the main, a totally unspoilt shoreline. All good.

A few years ago the powers that be decided to construct a couple of small kiosks on the southern side of the central basin (by the International Flag Display and near to the High Court) and expressions of interest were called for tenants, conditional upon their offerings being innovative and non run of the mill.

After a ridiculously lengthy period of negotiations and bureaucratic red tape (by which time all but the must stubborn or patient business-person would have given up or set up elsewhere) a Segway company and Dom’s Coffee Bar were selected. The hassle the Segway company had to go through to set up had to be seen to be believed. This is reflected, even today, in their high prices for a ride – though the fact that they have a government sanctioned/created monopoly may also be a factor in that too.

Without being unduly disparaging about the coffee bar, I have yet to determine what is so innovative or unique about it that it got this cherished spot by the lake. Perhaps it’s the fact that the tables are not cleaned – there is a sign to this effect which also asks customers to place their rubbish in the bins which are generally overflowing, perhaps it’s that they only accept cash (in this day and age –really ?) though there is a fee attracting ATM available, or perhaps it’s their somewhat erratic opening hours which means that those out enjoying the lake before 9am in summer (10am in winter) or after 2-3pm in the afternoon cannot get a drink or morsel to eat by the lake. They sometimes stretch to 4pm of a weekend. If it’s raining all bets are off !

A mobile kiosk on the other side of the lake adopts similar trading practices. Perhaps they are related!

Above said and assuming you come not to early, not to late, equipped with cash and your own cleaning gear they actually serve a very decent coffee and have a reasonable range of sandwiches, cakes, slices and the like for a business of its size with limited food preparation space. The gelato on offer is also of a reasonably good quality. Certainly enough on offer to recharge the batteries.


Of course what makes the coffee bar is its location right on the lakeshore. While it can be difficult at busy times to secure one of the café’s half dozen or so tables this is not an issue as there are loads of benches and other places to sit and enjoy your purchase in very close vicinity. A drinking bowl, regularly topped up with fresh water, is thoughtfully provided for their canine patrons – though my dog prefers her own portable (by me!) drinking bowl.

Takeaway is available – if fact everything is served in this manner. If you want something a bit more formal you will have to go back from the shore a hundred metres or so to cafes in the various galleries, etc along this side of the lake.

If it’s open and I am out enjoying the lake I seldom pass by the opportunity to have a coffee or more here. Prices are higher than average (ok given its location and, no doubt, extortionate rent) and similar to the nearby gallery cafes.

Note: attached pictures were not taken on same day or indeed same year. The main picture was taken in Aug 2016.

Address: Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Parkes
Directions: On Lake Burley Griffin southern lakeside next to the International Flag Display and High Court
Phone: +61 412 192 109

For other Canberra reviews click HERE.


One thought on “Dom’s Coffee Bar: “Coffee by the Lake – Southside”

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