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Route 180 City to Lanyon Marketplace

Date: 19 September 2023

Route(s): 180 City to Lanyon Marketplace

Sights: Mountains

Weather: 11-27 C

Time taken: 2.5 hours round trip

It has been a little over a week but the natural environment of the ACT has changed. The wattle is on its last days, the blossom is making way for fresh green leaves, and the temperature and pollen count have risen. Some trees are yet to show signs of the new season: Silverbirches, oaks and poplars but another week of warm weather will change that.

I have a friend visiting from Melbourne so most of my usual bus travel day is given over to visiting places of cultural interest: National Gallery, Parliament House, but we manage to fit in a bus trip from the city to Lanyon Marketplace. The 180 is one of the three commuter bus routes that only runs morning and evening. I usually like to travel the routes both ways but this is not achievable unless I want to get up very early and drive to Lanyon Marketplace to pick up the 180. I settle for the hour long ride, in one direction, with my friend to keep me company.

Of course, having someone as a companion does change the dynamic a little. I am less inclined to chat to anyone waiting and other people are less inclined to talk to me as I am already engaged. I do enjoy the company though. I point out the places of interest and we both marvel at the sight of the Brindabellas.

The journey starts with a wait at Platform 9. This is located outside the IGA with fruit and veggies stacked up along the outside. We have a while to wait and my friend is uncomfortable about the setting, describing it as ‘dodgy’. It is also in full sun. We move to another set of benches nearby watching the customers enter and leave the 24 hour convenience store. We can also see the bus stop. Two homeless people propped against the wall of the building are getting more drunk. Another man, in hi-viz, smoking like it is an Olympic sport, is just hanging out outside the entry. “Doing drugs?” suggests my friend. Possible, I think.

This area of the city does have many people who live on the edges of society. Homeless men and women take up regular spots to beg: outside Maccas, under the verandah of the Sydney Building, or outside the convenience store. One woman has set up an elaborate structure with blankets for privacy and a space for her dog. Many of these people have dogs. The dogs allow them to sleep better, knowing their dogs will alert them if anyone approaches. It is not safe on the streets.


Homelessness in the ACT

Homelessness is a problem across the country. In some places like the ACT it is increasingly visible. Not all people who are homeless sleep on the streets. Many are hidden as they bunk with friends and family, couch surfing. The services for people who are homeless are visible in the ACT too: Talk to Pat, a doctors surgery in a van, is parked in the city twice a week. The Orange Van, equipped with washing machines and dryers, does a regular route around the territory. Soup kitchen run by the Red Cross each week day evening. These services are helpful but do not fix the problem.

The Homeless Data Snapshot 2023 estimates there are between 1,500 and 1,700 homeless people at any one night in the ACT, with about 60 of them being rough sleepers. The number of homeless is an increase of 11.5% since the last time this report was published. There are growing numbers of both women and older people (55 plus) and young people (11-14) who reported as homeless since the last data collection. The ACT has almost double the national average of homeless people in supported accommodation.


The 180 is due at 16:13. We are at the correct bus stop on time. The bus pulls up with many people boarding. More get on at the next two stops within the city. The bus is nearly full. The bus will not stop again until we approach Tuggeranong.

As we head around Vernon Circle the rabbits are out in force. One lighter-coloured bunny looks more like a domestic escapee than a bush bunny. The roadworks for the raising of London Circuit, to allow for the new section of light rail track, slow the bus down, but the driver puts his foot down as we get onto Commonwealth Ave. The bus slows again to allow all the people flowing out of Floriade at Regatta Point to cross the road.


Floriade is the ACT festival of flowers that celebrates all things Spring. Located in Commonwealth Park the 32 hectares are covered in tulips, daisies, poppies and other spring-flowering plants. Over one million tulip bulbs are planted in planned temporary flowerbeds using over 100 different types of tulip, not just the standard red.

The first Floriade in 1987 was planned by Christiaan Slotemaker de Bruine, Landscape Architect with the Department of Capital Territory. He worked with Peter Sutton, Manager of Commonwealth Park, for a design that would reflect “Multiculturalism of the Nation”. They worked on all aspects of the festival: purchase of bulbs, design of layout, sculptures, marketing, music and the lifting of the quarantine quota for the bulbs. The festival is based on Koukenhof garden in the Netherlands.

The first event was such a success de Bruine and Sutton continued their collaboration for the next couple of years, changing the theme each year.

In 1987 the name was said to have meant “to decorate with floral design” but this was changed later to coming from the Latin verb “floreat” meaning “to be decked or covered with flowers”.

Over the years the festival has expanded. Still with a base of flowers there are also entertainment, craft and gardening stalls, food trucks and live entertainment, sections for children and the “paint a gnome” now run by Rotary. The festival has free entry so all are encouraged to visit. There are other ways to spend money once inside: on food, goods and a train ride or amusements. The ferris wheel always offers a different view of the layout of the site. There is also a night festival, this year with the Spiegeltent, lights, entertainment aimed at adults and more up-market food trucks.

During the Covid years the festival was divided up into 100 smaller plantings around the ACT for people to enjoy when they were allowed out for exercise. Some of this has remained with wheelbarrows filled with tulips dotted around the suburbs.

This festival is the largest flower festival in the southern hemisphere with over 300,000 people visiting from around the country and the world. The associated tourism brings in over $40 million to the ACT. It employs a team of people, full time to produce a month long event.

This year the day after the festival closes there will be a Big Bulb Dig. Buy a festival bag and you can dig up as many tulips and other bulbs as you can fit into your bag or bags. Nothing will go to waste.


The people on this bus are a mixed bunch. Some young, some older, all look like they have been at work or school. Some look at their phones, some read books, a couple sleep. A boy in school uniform with attentively gelled hair, nods off as soon as we pass Regatta Point. He looks practised at this: neatly folding his body over his school bag so his head touches the top. He looks comfortable. No one is talking on their phone. These passengers appear to be regulars who know how to spend the one hour on the bus.

As I point out the sights to my friend I notice new signs on the bus, they are attached to many of the bus stops too. As well as the notices telling passengers that violence is not to be tolerated there is a new sign about the change of timetables which will coincide with the new school term on October 9. The routes will remain the same but some of the bus routes will have more frequent buses going from one an hour to two. More buses, more frequently is great but it will only apply to the weekdays. The Sunday timetable will still be infrequent buses (one every two hours in some cases).

As we approach Kambah Shopping Village my friend points out the sculptural sheep. A Google search tells me the sheep are part of a larger collection of sculptural animals that hark back to the rural heritage of this area. A sheep dog made of rusted steel watches over the life-sized sheep. A Christmas beetle made of granite is used as a piece of play equipment and found objects such as nails, wire, wing-nuts and saw blades are embedded into hard wood poles. The sculptures were commissioned by ACT government in 2002, designed and made by artist Matthew Harding. They add to the entrance of the shopping area.

A few people request bus stops and get off. None of the stops has car parking nearby or houses. I wonder where the people alighting are heading to?

As we head towards Isabella Drive the bus slows behind a line of traffic. This is the first of many roundabouts along this road. The bus driver is a little heavy on the brakes and seems to like to travel very close to the car in front. As the bus slows again, for the next roundabout I hear “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons on the radio. I have been aware of the driver listening but could not make out words or music. As we travel past trees in bloom with blossom and new leaves having spent a day doing cultural, filling things, dressed for 28 C with no coat or boots but just a summer dress and sandals, I feel this is the most appropriate song.

The bus stops at Lanyon Marketplace. This is the final destination but it will do a loop around Conder and Banks before it finally stops. Most people alight here. We are left on the bus with a few people who are looking more engaged and alert. The sleeping schoolboy has woken and presses the request button just after Conder Community Wetlands.

Conder and Banks are the southernmost suburbs of the ACT. The make up part of the area of Tuggeranong. These suburbs are home to almost 10,000 people who mostly live in the standard three-bedroom, two-car garage homes. The gardens are cared for. The views to the Brindabellas are stunning in some of the higher roads. On this warm day they look hazy in the evening light; pink wispy clouds appearing above the peaks.

As the bus tours around Banks, my friend and I are the last people on the bus. The readers, the phone watchers and the sleepers have all got off. The bus pulls into Lanyon Marketplace on the other side of the road. We alight.

We will have to get the R5 into the city. Although this is a rapid route it will still take 45 minutes. Our wait is rewarded by an electric bus. This one still smells new. The bus has the air-conditioning on full bore which makes the bus cold. By the time we arrive at Mawson or Southlands I am cold. The bus clips along towards the Woden Temporary Bus Interchange and then onto the city.

We are meeting people for dinner at Verity Lane, just a very short walk from the city interchange bus stop in the Sydney Building. Set out like a very posh food court with tables and chairs, food outlets and a long bar, this is my place of choice to eat at the moment. The choice of food is a little overwhelming; pizza (very good, just like Italian pizzas), Indonesian, Vietnamese Bao, Chinese noodles, or Spanish paella. Each attendee can eat what they choose or we can all order different dishes, from different vendors and share. A fitting end to a great day.


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