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A shopping and cafe precinct in Canberra, Australia, Manuka is one of the little quirks of the city. Located in the suburb of Griffith, just south of Parliament House, visitors struggle to find the shops because the area has never been officially called 'Manuka' and therefore doesn't appear on maps.

The shopping and cafe area is one of the oldest in Canberra. Shops opened in the area in the 1920s, about a decade after the city was founded. The present buildings are generally much newer, and include several open air streets and some small single and double story arcades. The surrounding suburban streets also date from the first half of the twentieth century and most of the nearby houses are now dental surgeries, real estate agents and other small businesses. In a relatively new city with a transient population, Manuka is one of the few places you will find restaurants or businesses to have served three or four generations of the same family.

Adjacent to the shopping area is the Manuka Oval, used for cricket and AFL football (Aussie Rules) since the 1920s. Manuka Oval hosts the Prime Minister's XI cricket match annually. Next to the oval is the Manuka Pool, an outdoor swimming pool with some especially pretty Art Deco style buildings opened in 1930.

Manuka Oval was the home of local football team the Manuka Bull Ants from 1928 until 1991, when they merged with Eastlake Football Club. Team colours were red and black (like a bull ant) and they won 16 premierships, including the year I was born. The merged Eastlake club (now the Canberra Demons) retain Manuka Oval as their home ground, wearing the A.C.T. colours of blue and yellow.

Another local peculiarity is the pronunciation of Manuka. The name comes from a tree native to New Zealand, where it is pronounced muh-NOOK-uh. You may come across manuka honey sold in health food shops, or the manuka species of tea-tree pronounced like this. In Canberra, however, we say MAH-nick-uh. There is a local story that the difference came about when the Queen visited. She said MAH-nick-uh and rather than correct her, Canberrans adopted it and kept it. This story is probably not true, but it sounds nice.

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