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Route 72 Woden to Tuggeranong

Date: 2 February 2023

Route: 72 Woden to Tuggeranong via Wanniassa and Erindale

Sights: Glimpses of Lake Tuggeranong

Weather: 17 C - 28 C warm with cool wind

Time taken: 5 hours round trip

When Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin won the competition for the layout of the then unnamed federal capital territory in 1911 they could not have envisaged what Canberra has become. Heavily influenced by the Garden City movement that emanated from the UK in the early 1900’s, the Griffins came up with a plan that was people centric. Green spaces with communal gardens, heavy tree plantings and a spoke and wheel connecting the different bits made for a beautiful and elegant design. Garden City design dictates that all things people would want, shops, allotments, railway station, should be an easy 10 minute walk. Burley Griffin also had this in mind, and had even had an underground, like the London Tube, to connect the bits that were too far to walk to.

Ebenezer Howard, the man behind the idea of Garden Cities and responsible for Letchworth and Welwyn Garden Cities in Hertfordshire, UK, had the three magnets approach. This was a diagramatic depiction of what people wanted and needed from where they lived; having to make a choice between town living or country living. His diagram lists the benefits and downsides of each of the choices with the people in the middle. The third magnet has Town-Country where everyone gets a bit of both of the good aspects of town and country living.

Three Magnets approach - Guardian

His plan for a generic Garden City includes all the things anyone in a population of 32,000 on an acreage of 81,000 acres could want including railway stations, small holdings, sewerage farms, a grand avenue, a central park. I understand that he thought ‘asylums of the deaf and the blind’ were important but not sure what ‘Children’s Cottage Homes” were for. Maybe he was planning to farm children next to the cows?

Generic Garden City - Guardian

Burley Griffin’s competition winning entry shares many of the design features of the generic Garden City plan: spoke and wheel arrangement, water and green spaces (parks) in the centre, easy walking and connection to the other hubs, with public transport at the heart of this.

The Canberra Y plan developed in the 1960’s (more about this in a later post) considered the changing needs of the people who lived in the capital and made some major planning changes to accommodate this. Devolving where large federal departments were located, building up the satellite towns like Belconnen and Tuggeranong, and working with the modern phenomenon of the family car. Roads became wider and with many lanes to allow for the growing numbers of cars; bigger roads = more cars. Build it and they will come.

I understand that Howard and Burley Griffin operated in a time when not many people had their own cars and things have moved on, but there are still many people who rely on public transport and many more who would

Burley Griffin Plan - National Archives

use it more often if it went to the places they wanted to go, at times they wanted and they did not have to wait too long to take a trip that is half the time in the car.

The new bus timetable and network for Canberra came in last week. My social media has been heavy with the ACT government urging people returning to offices (after working from home) or going back to work (after school holidays) to use public transport, to plan their trips. This is great, more people using PT makes the roads better places for everyone, but this only works if the network and timetable work.

I know that new things take a little while to adjust to but there are many people who are not benefitting from the new timetable. This appeared on one of the community Facebook pages

Heey all, the new bus schedule has effected my ability to get home from work in the evenings.

I'm looking for some one with a bit of compassion, who is upgrading or just making space by throwing out a bike

Happy to work for it.

Would also be interested in other means of transport

And this photo of the R4 at 9.30 Friday night

With the comment underneath it,

“Guess no one wanted to wait for another 30 minutes”.

My journey the day before the photo was taken, on Route 72 from Woden to Tuggeranong was not as heavily used. I made my way to the new Woden interchange by tram then bus. The bus interchange has been moved to a site adjacent to the old one. This is part of the preparations for the new Woden Interchange that will house the end of the extension to the tram line (R1). It is new and shiny looking; shipping containers that have been adapted into bus shelters. Signage is all clear and large so easily read. There are designated places to cross the interchange, marked with new zebra crossings. I got off one bus to find the right platform to continue my journey, heading over the two wide

lanes with platforms on each side. I was berated by a man whose sole job it was to make people use the correct crossing points. Dressed in high viz and a pissed off expression, he yelled at me to move to the crossing, then he yelled at the people behind me. As I approached him he apologised and told me that was his job today, herding people to the right place, get them into good habits. A bit of a thankless task.

While waiting I chatted to a woman with a baby who told me how hard it is getting around by PT sometimes, especially when you have a pram. She brings her, now sleeping, baby to Woden to do the Giggle and Wiggle sessions at the library. She also uses a bus to pick up her older child from school. She told me about how she checks which bus is being used on her route, (Next There has a disabled symbol next to the bus listing). If it is not the right type of bus she waits for another. Buses are sometimes only two an hour. She told me that late last year the only bus on her route to pick her older child up was an “Orange bus”: no spots for wheelchairs or prams. She then had to call her partner to pick up the child. I agree the orange buses should be obsolete. (Although there have been many more of them spotted on the new timetable this week) The thing about making things, anything, more accessible, is that it benefits everyone, not just the people it was intended to help.

We also talk about the new electric buses. There are now two being used on routes. They are quieter, and all accessible. There are going to be 90 by the end of the year with the whole fleet (486) being replaced over the next few years. The charging stations will be at Woden and Tuggeranong with some tentative plans for others down the track. These buses really are a game changer; not just for the environment but for all the people that use them.

The bus interchange has filled up with young people, students I think. Dressed in a variety of modern looking clothing; young women with cropped tops, short shorts and purple hair. Young man with purple dreadlocks, a Bob Marley t-shirt and many holed Doc Martins. Purple is in, it seems. More young people spill off another bus and make their way to the platform I am at. Tartan skirts, fishnet stockings, a thing I have not seen in a while, large back-packs, yelling goodbyes or hellos to others. All of them plugged into a device. Two young women stand next to me debating whether to walk to shopping centre for something to eat. (It is now a little further from the bus interchange) One of them admits to complete laziness and says it is too far, preferring to remain hungry. They board the bus with me, getting off two stops later.

Tuggeranong is hilly. I had not noticed this before. As the bus winds its way through Wanniassa towards Erindale the driveways of the houses are at 70 degrees with houses below the road on one side and high above on the other. Most of the dwellings have spectacular views to the Brindabellas, looking dark and menacing today, even though the weather is good.

Tuggeranong is on the south west edge of the ACT. The Murrumbidgee River is just beyond its boundary. The topography of the ACT means its weather is variable. Today although warm it is extremely windy. I have remembered my hat, and water-bottle, but stuff the hat in my bag as it has been blown off my head at least once. Running around chasing a hat is not a good look. Nor holding on to it while it's on my head. I get completely out of the sun at Tuggeranong shopping centre. I have been here before, on a previous trip, but must have missed most of it as it does not look like I remember it. To access the shopping centre you have to, as a pedestrian, enter through the car park. I notice huge murals on the far wall; each a different style. There is one I can not decide if it is not finished or the sketchyness of it is part of the design. They do not appear to tell any stories or make any points but do add colour to an otherwise drab space.

I grab a coffee and a toastie sitting in a space that could be anywhere. There are no windows looking towards the mountains. The designer wanted people to enter and forget the outside world to spend their money and then re-enter their car without giving a thought to anything else.

Tuggeranong has about 90,000 people living there in a number of suburbs. Most of the satellite town is situated on the banks of Lake Tuggeranong which was brought into existence in 1987 by damming a tributary of the Murrumbidgee. From inside the shopping centre there is not much evidence of any body of water. Next time I am this way I will investigate the lake.

Back outside to the bus interchange. I make the decision to return to the city by the first bus that turns up. Usually I like to ride the buses from one end to the other, both ways, but the 72 has a similar route to both the 76 and 77 so I know I will see more of the southern suburbs when I ride those buses. The R4 turns up first so on I hop.

We pass a Club Lime Gym with a Hungry Jacks underneath it. I imagine people working out getting sweaty, feeling the burn, then piling into Hungry Jacks to undo all the good work. Or people with the intention to get to the gym but getting side-tracked by a Whopper burger and chips. That would be me.

The bus driver is listening to commercial radio. I can’t hear everything that is being said over the noise of the bus, but I do hear the Black Sorrows belting out Never Let Me Go, and the upbeat sounds of the ads.

A posse of nine posties, all on electric bikes, head back to their post office at the end of the day; the yellow high viz a bright slash of contrasting colour against the green, oh so green verges.

The bus driver whistles along to Harley and Rose (the radio station must be having a Black Sorrows special). A large group of boys from a private school get on all with blazers, footballs and long black socks. They still have shiny new shoes at this stage in the year, we are still in the first week. The shoes will be scuffed and ragged by the end of the term.

I spot a fellow passenger who is also taking notes in a book on his lap. He is looking around then jotting things down. Is he doing the same thing as me? There could not be more than one of us, surely? I start to pluck up courage to tap him on the shoulder and ask, but he stands and leaves the bus. I will keep my eye out for him.

I arrive back in the city to make my way to the tram to get home. As far as I am aware there are no buses that travel from the Lentil Belt to the south side. The tram extension will fix this, but we have a few years to wait, and probably another few changes in timetables, routes and numbers of buses before then.


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