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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.

Canberran Russ Brindley, co-owner of Sweet Bones cafe and bakery, and keen BMXer, has had a career that’s taken him across the world.

The former professional BMXer began riding in Canberra when he was four years old. He soon transitioned into freestyle riding, specialising in dirt and trail riding. The wild bike paths around the capital – like the ones at Majura Pines – helped hone his skills.

And his career led to him meeting his American wife, Emily, at a bike event in the United States.

“I’ve been to a lot of places,” Russ says, “but I’m always drawn back to Canberra. It’s the pace of living here, and the ease.”

Perhaps counterintuitively, it’s the more relaxed pace of the capital that thrillseeker Russ values.

Everyone’s shifted down a gear here, compared with the bigger cities. Everyone’s got their own space.

Co-owner of two thriving cafes – one close to the city and one in the suburbs – and a busy dad-of-two, Russ can leave work and be tearing down a mountain at Australia’s premier
multi-use recreational sports facility, Stromlo Forest Park, within minutes.

“Ten minutes after work you’re somewhere amazing, you can go riding before it gets dark. It’s never too hard. It’s not a whole day ordeal to go and ride a spot or meet up with people. Everything is within reach — it’s unreal,” he says.

Russ and Emily’s other shared passion is vegan food. When considering where they’d settle in Australia after their travels, they saw a gap in Canberra’s hospitality scene for a vegan cafe. Russ knew Canberrans would absolutely embrace their idea, so staying in the capital was a no-brainer.

The pair launched cafe and bakery Sweet Bones in 2011, opening their first brick and mortar shop in Braddon in 2012, and a second cafe in Scullin in 2022.

We felt pretty early on that Canberra had our back.

“When we started Sweet Bones, we crowdfunded it, so we had a lot of support. You could see that the community really wanted to get on board and help out, and that’s definitely a feel that you have in Canberra; that we’ve got a loyal customer base and the community is behind us.”

Now raising a young family, there’s plenty to love about Canberra.

“With the kids, the city’s great as well. So many parks and bushwalks,” Russ says.

“There are a lot of skate parks and they’re all pretty close to one another, so it creates a good community around being able to ride with people from different areas of Canberra. There’s BMX tracks and lots of facilities here.”

With a thriving business and staff who “feel like family”, and unrivalled access to nature, Russ and Emily don’t seem in any hurry to move on.

“Canberra is big enough that there’s a good community here, but it’s small enough that you know a lot of people,” Russ reflects.

You’ve got everything at your fingertips but it’s not a real rat race.

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