Craighall Park: Urban convenience and suburban tranquility - Craighall Park, an amazingly central suburb in the huge sprawling city of Joburg, is a great mix of urban convenience and suburban (at times almost rural) tranquillity. Gerald Garner in his book Spaces and Places Guide to Joburg’s Hidden Gems 2010 labels it: ‘the closest to the countryside you will find in the heart of Joburg’. Being 10 minutes from Sandton as well as Joburg Central and close to restaurant and shopping nodes of Rosebank & Parkhurst, it’s an ideal base for the business and leisure traveller. The Gautrain Station is between 2 and 3km away making for easy access to O.R. Tambo International as well as Pretoria.
There are several neighbourhood shopping centres in the suburb itself: Lancaster Village, The Lancaster, 9 Grafton Ave, The Colony, Hewstone, Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, The Valley Shopping Centre, and several more. And for those who want a larger mall, on the other side of Jan Smuts is Hyde Park Mall which offers chain stores, movie houses, bookshops, a Woolworths and boutiques galore. There are excellent restaurants and pavement cafes: Cnr Café on Buckingham Ave has consistently been voted one of Joburg’s best neighbourhood restaurants. And my favourite restaurant is DW 11-13 in the Dunkeld West shopping centre, voted in the top 20 SA restaurants by Eating Out. Then, if you want to meet locals, go to Giles at 9,Grafton Ave – it’s a great TGIF watering hole and it pumps on a Thursday and Friday evening. There is a great deck which overlooks Craighall Park but people also spill out onto the street side as well. And for an excellent pasta, Pronto at the Colony is always good as is Tre Nonni at 9, Grafton Ave. At Burnsides you can have a quiet meal at tables with crisp white cloths in the most tranquil surroundings on the stoep overlooking the garden – a little haven. Hodges at the Colony is a great place to meet for coffee and afterwards pop in and browse the second hand bookshop next door. Also in the Colony is The Video Spot, probably Joburg’s best video store.
And it’s a suburb where the river runs through it. Despite its central urban location, in the heart of Craighall Park lies Delta Park - 104 hectares of parkland on either side of the Braamfontien Spruit, with lovely dams and bird hides and a well-frequented childrens’ playground area. The park is well-used by a mix of dog-walkers, cyclists, joggers, bird-watchers and even horse riders. I find it amazing that in a suburb less than 7km from Sandton Central Business District there are people who go horse-riding before work! On a Sunday afternoon when small groups of African Independent Church members meet for their open-air ceremonies their singing and dancing to the beat of drums can be heard across the park. And on a quiet summer night we can hear the Cape Eagle Owls calling. Unexpected sounds for a location right in the very heart of Joburg.