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Route 182 City to Lanyon Marketplace


Date: 28 March 2023

Route: 182 City to Lanyon Marketplace

Weather: 12 C - 24 C warm and sunny

Time taken: 4 hour round trip


At the beginning of this adventure I was undecided as to how I was going to make my way through the 64 bus routes in the ACT. Was I going to work my way through the numbers in a numerical order or was I going to do the bus route I wanted to on that day? I took the latter option because sometimes I like to work on a whim.


I knew at some stage I was going to tackle the commuter buses: travelling from the south to the city in the mornings and from the city to the south in the evenings. They are long bus routes, more than an hour end to end, and they only go during the week; three in the morning to the city and four in the afternoon/evening from the city.


Just as in London, where I lived the first 27 years of my life, people have strong feelings about where they live. The inner North is referred to as the Lentil Belt, and that gives an idea of the demographics: left leaning, educated populace, which lives in established suburbs with mature trees, green spaces, and great small shops. We live in a mixture of old (for Canberra) housing and recently built modern blocks of apartments. This day I was really heading for the unknown, out of the Lentil Belt and my comfort zone by travelling to the furthest south you can go without being in NSW. I was heading for Banks. (Named after Joseph Banks, Botanist)


The ACT does extend some way beyond Banks and to the west but much of this is the Namadgi National Park. The Park is 106,095 hectares of alpine, sub-alpine and mountain bushland that makes up nearly half of the ACT.


I wait for the bus in the city at Platform 9. This stop is located by the city IGA Express. Fresh fruit and veggies are stacked in containers outside the shop’s window with everyone who walks on the footpath, tempted by the goods. A large purple plum has rolled from the display across the pavement to my side of the bus stop. I am not sure whether I should return it to the others or just leave it. I am distracted by someone yelling and forget about the plum. The yelling I hear is what appears to be a team meeting of the staff of the IGA with their manager. It turns out to be a berating by him, the manager, on the footpath. The four men standing in a circle in their IGA badged jumpers look at each other from bowed heads while this man tells them what’s what. “I don’t want to see the pumpkins on top of each other. They should be laid out in a single layer.” “Don’t chop the edges off the pumpkins.” He demonstrates with his hand, holding one half pumpkin with a top chunk missing and slicing it with his other hand. He moves onto the plums. The three men follow him. The plums should not be stacked so they roll off. I think it is in the nature of plums to roll. These men are not young students but older men with grey hair, one has very gnarled hands. “The new plums go at the back, so the older ones go first” he yells above the noise of the buses. “I know it is easier to put them at the front but I pay you to do it right”. The instruction has finished and he tells them, in a kinder more moderate voice, to go get their break: they will get the hang of it, and everyone makes these mistakes to begin with.


I am tempted to go into the store to look, but decide to do it on the way home. I will arrive at the same bus stop again before the shop closes at 8pm.


Fifteen minutes before the bus is due to leave people start arriving at the stop. One young woman, Maccas milkshake, strawberry from the look of the colour, can not stand still. She jiggles and wiggles from foot to foot, willing the bus to arrive. Another couple of people arrive; dressed smartly in office outfits with government lanyards around their necks.


A noise I have not heard before intrudes into my thoughts; beep, beeeep, beeeeeep. It is the electric bus. This is the noise it makes when approaching a stop, just so we know it is there. Judging by the look on the faces around me, we all need a little training.


By the time the 182 arrives where we are waiting there are enough people to fill the bus. I take my favoured position at the back to watch the comings and goings. There is not another person who joins the bus the entire journey, just people getting off.


The bus travels the route around the roadworks raising London Circuit for the extension of the tram, towards the lake. The enormous flag on the pole above Parliament House is barely moving. No wind today. The bus does not stop until we get to Marconi Crescent in Kambah. That is a 6km run with no stops; must be a record.


I like to take photos as we speed along but this bus is covered with ads on the outside that look like small dots over the windows from the inside. It does not make for great photos, so I don’t bother.


 

Canberra Y Plan

The planning of the ACT has changed over the years. The first plan, the winning entry by Walter Burley Griffin, was adhered to until the mid 1950s. Canberra is and was a garden city but with the new Y plan this changed as it expanded.


In the early 1950s a Select Committee was tasked with investigating the development of Canberra. It reported back in 1955 with a recommendation a national authority should be instigated to ‘plan, develop and construct’ the national capital. The National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) was established in 1958 to do just that. Prime Minister Robert Menzies was fully supportive of this move and appointed John Overall to the position of Commissioner. Overall was not committed to the spirit of the Griffin plan and the newly established authority with him at the helm, released the planners from the Griffin plan restraints. Overall was keen to get on with his job, “If you have authority and expert advice, don’t seek public approval, just do.”


Sir John Overall appointed William Holford (town planner) and Sylvia Crowe (landscape architect), both poached from the UK, to work on the development of the area. Holford wrote a report (it appears nothing can be done without a report in Canberra) “Observations on the Future of Canberra” which offered three objectives for the development:


  • It should remain a Garden City;

  • It should develop a modern system of communications by road and air; and

  • It should eventually become a centre for several aspects of Australian culture.

The plan relied on growth: more people (many public servants relocated from other capital cities), jobs, recreation and culture. This plan, known as the Y Plan, guided the development of Canberra for more than 30 years and made way for the townships of Woden-Weston Creek (1961), Belconnen (1966), Tuggeranong (1987) and Gungahlin (1998). Each of these townships were to be as self-sufficient as possible with schools, jobs, services and retail located in the centre. The towns were to be interconnected by public transport and parkways (using the American term meaning landscaped highways, and not to be confused with Parkes Way which is neither in Parkes nor a highway.)


This planning relied on an assumption that each household would have easy access to a car, but probably just one and not one for each member, cheap fuel and the wanted low-density living; single storey houses with gardens and a garage.


The NCDC was abolished in 1989 with the advent of self-government for the territory and replaced with the National Capital Planning Authority (NCPA), now known as the National Capital Authority (NCA) to work in conjunction with the new Territory planning authority.


It was not until 2002 that another strategy plan, The ACT Planning and Land Act, was developed and passed. It looked towards reducing carbon emissions (less car travel), enabling easier use of public transport (buses and tram) and encouraging walking and cycling. There was also the inclusion of a wider range of dwellings; a mix of higher and low density housing. This can be seen in the development of Gungahlin.



 

The traffic on this road is heavy, so heavy it has crawled to a stop. I have travelled down Drakefield Drive during the day, before, and not noticed much by way of traffic. All the cars slow down at the many roundabouts: the bus waiting a full two minutes to get onto one of the bigger intersection.


The landscape has also changed. Travelling towards Tuggeranong I notice the hills both in the distance and as the bus struggles up a large one. As we drive past Lake Tuggeranong I see the hills in the distance. It is very beautiful here, especially in this golden hour before sunset. The autumn coloured trees, yellow, red, purple, pick up the light and shine. The clouds are often spectacular at this time of day too. The grey clouds have parted to show clear blue with a crisp white cloud pushing up from between two hills. It is aligned to the end of the road so we all get a good view.


Most of the passengers on the bus have things to do: book reading, film viewing on their phones or still working on their laptops. One guy is having a long text conversation. His phone gives a rendition of the first few notes of Beethoven’s 5th: da, da, da, daaa, every time there is a new message and then he responds working both his thumbs at speed. When he gets off the bus at Calwell, the bus is quiet.


The bus stops at Lanyon Marketplace. A few people get off and head straight to their cars in the shopping centre car park. The rest of us do the loop around Banks with one or two people getting off at each stop. I am the only one left when the bus returns to Lanyon Marketplace. I go to investigate.


Nothing much to report, really: Woolies, chemist, a number of takeaway places that seem to be doing a roaring trade. The shopping I want to do can wait until I return to the city. I head off to look for the bus stop. I walk around the shops and there is nothing obvious. An indent in the paving and “Bus Stop” written on the road is not, in fact, a bus stop: just a relic of a time past. After 20 minutes of walking around aimlessly, I walk back to the bus stop I got off at to find someone to ask. I get the directions; other side of the road where the sign and seat are. I wait.


I have to get a different bus on the return journey as the 182 only travels one way in the PM. The R5 turns up in about 5 minutes and makes a speedy journey to the city. No incidents, detours around suburbs or many stops for passengers. It took me over 1 hour to get to Lanyon Marketplace and 35 minutes to return. Both journeys disprove the rule that all places in Canberra take 20 minutes to get to. But Lanyon Marketplace is the exception that proves that rule.


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