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Route 59 City to Woden

Prince of York Tree Archives ACT

Date: 7 March 2023

Route: 59 City to Woden

Sights: ANZAC Parade, Old and New Parliament Houses

Weather: 14 C - 25 C warm and sunny

Time taken: 4 hour round trip

Since my return from my short holiday I have noticed a distinct change in the air. The days are still warm but shorter. The air has changed somehow; a sharpness in the wind, which there has been much of in the last week. We live on the 10th floor so any wind at ground level is accentuated at this higher level. My trees bend and bow, I fear for them snapping a stem one day; they are proving to be more robust than I imagine.

On my bus trip, on route 59, I noticed many more crepe myrtles

in many different colours; pink, white, rose, cyan. They are a popular street tree in Canberra as they like the cold and give colour at the end of summer. They do offer some shade but nothing like the old oaks in many avenues in old parts of the city.

Route 59 takes me to one of those avenues at the Barton Bus Interchange. The dense shade is a welcome relief for the many bus passengers that use public transport, and the office workers who pop out for coffee or lunch during the day.

Oak trees are feature in this part of Canberra. As well as the dense planting along National Circuit there is a little area known as York Park, with an oak tree planted by the Duke of York in 1927. This was one of three trees planted in the royal visit, but this tree had the name of the Yorks added to the surrounding park. Many people who drive, cycle or run past this little pocket of land may not even notice it.


York Park

The Duke and Duchess of York 1927 at the opening of the Provisional Parliament House - ACT Heritage Library

The first tree in York Park was planted by the Duke and Duchess of York when they came to open the Provisional Parliament House in 1927. A stone wall was erected around it in 2011 with another re-opening in 4 May 2011. The park was added to the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004 and the National Capital Authority (NCA) took over the management at that time. The wall, new paths and seating were added between 2008 - 2011 to add to its amenity. This may have been prompted by the addition of a new building for the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet just across the road. The park needed to look a little more glamorous.

The first tree was planted by a king to be, but most of the trees were planted, in rows, by men on an employment scheme during the Great Depression.

Unemployed men outside Parliament House - National Library


In 2017 the ACT government commissioned a report “Values of Street Trees in the Urban Environment” it concluded that street trees are beneficial in a number of ways:

  • Improve the ethestics of a street

  • Add value to homes

  • Improve the environment

  • Improve shade increasing amenity

  • Improve wellbeing of humans

This report also assigned a value to each tree to encourage others to see the tree in a different light and to discourage vandalism and residents wanting removal.

At the end of the report is a handy pamphlet “Grow your community with street trees” (link to said pamphlet did not work for me today) that informs the reader as to picking the right spot for a tree, design considerations, looking after trees once planted and getting your community involved so more trees can be planted.

Across the ACT 54,000 trees will be planted in 2023-2024. There will be community planting days (to get it done quicker/cheaper?) and we, as residents, are encouraged to start a tree planting group. If that sounds too much residents can contribute by requesting where a tree could be planted and help water trees outside their dwellings.

Before I reached Barton the bus travelled along Constitution Ave and intersected ANZAC Parade. With the War Memorial at one end and a sweeping vista of Parliament House with Old Parliament House tucked neatly below, it is one of the the most stunning views in the capital. The wide median strip which allows for commemorations and other military based events like ANZAC Day services, also allows the viewer a clean and clear line of view to the Parliamentary Triangle. It takes my breath every time. I know it is coming but it is still so impressive I wonder in awe.

Shortly after this stunning moment the bus enters the Russell Defence Complex with its 80m marker; the Australian-American Memorial. Impressive in its own way, this landmark of Canberra is one to navigate your way around by. At one end of the Kings Ave Bridge it can be seen from most of the Parliamentary Triangle, unlike York Park.


Australian-American Memorial

This tower 79m tall with an eagle on the top stands in Thomas Blamey Square. It was offered as a gift to the Australian capital by the Australian-American Association in the 1950s to mark and commemorate the Americans aiding the Australians in World War II and to act as a symbol of the enduring the relationship since then.

The Association, as seems to be the way in the ACT, held a competition for the design of such a memorial. Richard M Ure won from the 32 entries received: the octagonal aluminium pole holding the eagle with upswept wings in a V for victory stance impressed the judges.

Several sites where considered for the memorial with the present one chosen and agreed to the the federal government. It sits on the northern geometrical point of the national triangle which was open bushland in the 1950s and is now the centre piece for the Defence complex in Russell.

The structure is a hollow tube made of aluminium which has been sand blasted to make it resemble stone. Two copper relief murals adorn the base. The hollow tube has 22 ladders inside. The whole thing, including eagle, has nine tons of aluminium. The eagle was made in Sydney by sculptor Paul Beadle, had to be transported to Canberra by truck and added to the construction on a clear night with clement weather.

Money had to be raised to build this enormous edifice. Robert Menzies launched an appeal in 1950 to raise 50,000 pounds. The pubic responded with over 63,000 pounds being pledged in the first week, this from a population of just over 8 million. The rest of the 100,000 pounds was found by the federal government. Work started in 1952, the monument was finished a little over one year later. Vice-President, Richard Nixon, found time to visit the work in progress early in its manufacture.

The memorial was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth in her 1954 visit.


The bus pursues its route behind parliament, with the flag flying high, and the leafy suburb of Forrest until it reaches Adelaide Ave where it picks up speed without another stop until Lyons. As we come off Yarra Glen I can see the landmark buildings of Woden; tower blocks, the cut-out building, as I like to call it, and the shopping centre.

I have not visited Woden Westfield before; it appears to be the same as all the other Westfield shopping centres. The same shops: Sportsgirl, David Jones, Coles and Woolies, Prouds, Big W and a range of generic optometrists, men’s clothing shops, and shoe shops. I could be anywhere in the world. I follow the signs to the Fresh Food and find a nice surprise.

Tucked into a corner there is a real fish shop, just as you find at the market. Fresh Seafood Fish and Chips offer fresh fish, shellfish, yabbies and cockles in deep containers of ice. This may not be such a wonder in most places in Australia, as we mostly live around the edge of this huge island, but in Canberra, 3 hours from the nearest sea, it is amazing. They also do fish and chips to go. I make a mental note to return to try next time I am this way. This will be soon as many of the buses end up at Woden.

I return to the new Interim bus interchange. This space is still clean and new looking. No graffiti, chewing gum on the ground, and the tarmac is still smooth on top with no potholes. The walk is longer than before and high Colorbond fences now edge the walkway through, making it a little uncomfortable. I am glad I do not have to do this at night. Narrow pathways with 90 degree angles are not comfortable places. The other side of the fence, the site of the old bus interchange, is being readied for the building of the new Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) campus. It will house 6,500 students and there is no car parking for students in the plan. It is adjacent to the shopping centre which has plenty of parking.

I wait at Platform 5 for the return of the 59 bus. In an attempt to make conversation I point out, to a fellow passenger, that the map of the new network is not very helpful as it is only the south side of the lake. The older woman tells me, with an edge in her voice, that it does not concern her as she is only interested in the southside buses, she never goes to the north. A number 58 arrives and she hops on the bus.

I wait, determined to have a conversation with someone. If the conversation does not emerge naturally I will engineer it using the technics offered in the Ted Talk by Keo Stark, (Route 53). As it turns out there is no need for the technics as a woman eating spring rolls sits next to me to tell me how expensive they were. She says “Pfff”, with a shrug, when I ask if they are nice.

She tells me she has a class at the CIT City campus and she likes to go early so she can feel she is ready for the class when it starts. She is studying Accounting, Administration and Business. She tells me she is doing this as she now too old to do the physical work she has been doing for Australia Post up until now. She demonstrates lifting heavy boxes that people order online. It is her job to sort them into something that can be delivered by the postie. She tells me she is getting the bus as the first week she was arrived in Canberra her car got hit by another car running a red light. She tells me there should be more cameras and police watching what drivers do. She also tells me about the places she has lived in Australia: Darwin (too hot), Perth (also too hot), Melbourne (too cold), Sydney (just right) and currently Canberra (to study). She tells me about how she likes to go out of places she is living to travel around to see the sites. We work out, with the aid of my bus map, how to get to a few tourist spots in the ACT. She also wants to investigate the NSW buses that travel to Googong and Cooma.

I check Next There to see where our bus is. When I sat down it was only a few minutes away but that listing has disappeared and I see we have to wait for at least another 20 minutes. I look at it again. A new message has appeared, real time data has a problem. Do not rely on it. This is so disappointing. I like to see where the bus is and now I know it does not always work so I feel I can not trust it.

Another 58 arrives.

My new friend assures me our bus will arrive and sometimes you have to be patient. Then goes on to say how she likes public transport but does not like the waiting.

Finally, the 59 arrives. We both board. My fellow traveller sits up at the front and I return to my favoured position at the back. Homeward bound.


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