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Routes 64 Woden to Weston Creek Terminus & 73 Woden to Tuggeranong


Date: 3 October 2023

Route(s): 64 Woden to Weston Creek Terminus & 73 Woden to Tuggeranong

Sights: Mountains

Weather: 3 - 24 C

Time taken: 6 hours round trip


Over the last weekend, which we spent in Sydney, the leaves on the trees have all unfurled. Most European trees now have a covering of leaves, even the later starters like Silver Birch and Ash. Arriving home after only four days away the landscape from our window has changed from trees with branches and twigs to green leafy shapes hiding the houses beneath. This change of weather (warmer day time temperatures) has led to a change of attire too. Gone are the black puffer jackets, beanies and scarves and out with sandals, shorts, crop tops and sun hats. The hues have moved from dull greys and browns to bright colours: pink and purple are in.


This warmer weather has given me an extra spring in my step, but warm to hot days do bring danger too. This week has seen the beginning of the Bush Fire Season. A total fire ban day was declared in north-western Victoria following days of high temperatures and wind. There are fires being fought in NSW, nearer to home, with Too Late to Leave orders being given near Bermagui. Overnight there was some respite with lessening winds and lower temperatures expected today. There is also a storm warning with flooding expected in Victoria.


I have lived in Australia for over 30 years and each summer I am surprised by the warm wind that comes with hot days. This wind is not the same as cold wind; it can be just as furious but there is something menacing about a wind that feels hot and dry, like a hairdryer, and brings the threat of fire.


The wind today does not feel menacing but it is making the new tree plantings in Woden bend in the direction it is coming in. I imagine grown trees all leaning in one direction. The wind changes everything: he blossom from the pear trees is like snow falling, and the birds, magpies mainly, are having a hard time flying against it, weaving and steady themselves as they take off.


The containers that are now bus shelters at Woden Temporary Interchange could have been better designed. They have no ends: the wind whips through them. One container states “You can do anything in a Wolfe”. Anything except shelter from the elements, it seems.


The bus I am waiting for, the 64, arrives with an abrupt pulling into the stop, and a jerk of the brakes. The driver wishes me a good morning. He takes off before I have sat down. I will learn, by the end of the journey, this driver is heavy on the brake and lazy on the corners. The first corner he takes, to get out of the temporary interchange, the rear wheels mount a kerb, plop down again and all on the bus, including me, lurch to the right. I hold on.


I do not usually write detailed descriptions of the driving as I figure all the drivers are doing their best and all want to be the best driver they can be on the day. I always comment to them if they have driven well, but refrain from saying anything if they have not driven well.


As the bus heads into a now familiar intersection of Athllon Drive the bus pulls up abruptly behind a small white car with the number plate “Woof”. The bus inches forward to be as close to the car as possible at the lights. As the lights change to green the car does not pull away. The bus driven moves forward, brakes again; forward, brakes. Woof moves off with the bus driver hooting. As we get to the other side of the intersection Woof pulls into the left-hand lane to get out of the way of the bus, that roars off overtaking three cars.

 

Form One Lane

Road rules in the ACT are different from other states and territories. One of these differences is the way the cars are forced to merge into one lane. In other states this is done with slip lanes. One lane tapering forcing cars to the right. In the ACT the lanes do not taper; they just disappear; Form One Lane instruction on the road and the traffic all merges. This is often done in an orderly way: one car

Image: Canberra Times

slipping behind any vehicle in front, often with a warning from the forward traffic by way of an indicator, although this is not required.


 

This bus driver is moving to form one lane after an intersection. The driver does not give way to the car in front but speeds up to manoeuvre around the car and push in front.


As we pass through the suburbs of Weston, Holder, Rivett and Chapman we lurch from one side to another, mounting curbs on roundabouts and corners and hitting drains at bus stops. The driver speeds up at amber lights to just make it through intersections and then brakes hard to stop when requested to do so or if hailed by passengers. This driver is in a hurry. At Chapman I am the last person on the bus. We pull up at the interchange at Weston Creek. He whistles at me, indicates with his finger that I have to get off, which I do, with the doors slamming behind me, the bus moving into gear and then leaving barely before I have two feet on the ground. I am glad that is over.


As I was spending more of my time holding on and concentrating on not falling out of the seat, it was not until the return journey to Woden I noticed the gardens; wisteria, iris,

African daisies all newly emerged and looking stunning. One garden with an arbour along the drive has purple and white wisteria intermingled with large clumps of flowers dangling from the roof of the structure. The grass in many gardens is dying off, changing from the bright green of a few weeks ago to a green brown with patches of weed or die off. The grass on nature strips outside gardens is often the first to change colour as they do not always benefit from watering of flowerbeds. One garden, with a barren nature strip, is planted with a variety of lavenders each in full flower. A variety of pink, purple and white flowerheads adorns this front garden looking stunning in the sun. No lack of water on these plants. There could not have been one more plant squeezed into this space.


Waiting at Woden for the second of my bus trips, the 73, I am struck by the lack of people. It is school holidays and fairly warm but usually the interchange is more busy than this. I watch a man with a Foodbank box balance another on top and try to carry both onto a bus at the opposite platform. A woman in a sari, with a pronounced limp, walks across the road to be told off by a Transport Canberra employee; she should be using the crossing, he yells. He told me off too. The crossings are at either end of the platform spaces and if you are in a hurry, or it is hard to walk, it is tempting to just flout the rules and maybe get a bit of a serve.


The 73 turns up. It is an e-bus, my second of the day. The driver is listening to REM. As we climb Farrer Ridge I get my first full view of the mountains. Today they are sitting in a haze, maybe the debris from the fires nearby or just heat haze.


Tuggeranong is just the same: shops, ugly bus interchange and magpies. I watch a family of 10 or so jostle with each other playing with the younger ones. They take orderly turns drinking from a pool of water. They all get interested when a young man with a pie turns up dropping bits as he sits and eats at one of the benches. The older

Image: Swooping Magpie, Australian National Museum

magpies push the younger ones out and scoff the crumbs. One younger magpie sits in front of another waiting passenger, hopeful. The younger ones have grey plumage which will turn darker over time. There is much fluttering and flouncing around using feet to keep a distance from each other or to swipe the more immature birds. A young woman with a bike and a helmet covered in zip ties walks past the avain gathering keeping an eye on them. The zip or cable ties are a popular discouragement to ward off swooping magpies but there is not much evidence to say it works. Eyes painted on the back of helmets and reflectors are also supposed to help but people still get swooped, especially if on bicycles. A large brown butterfly flutters towards the birds. It is swept up and eaten by a crow I could hear cawing but could not see until it descended for the morsel. This prompts the magpies into high agitation. They take off, as one, to regather at a distance. The woman looks relieved.


The return 73 turns up at the appointed time. The Eagles are blaring out of the radio. Do all 73 drivers like Classic Rock? Lake Tuggeranong is choppy today. Waves lap the shoreline with few walkers on the path that edges the water. Just like at Belconnen, not much is made of the lake. Nothing much faces it although it is always busy with birdlife.


As we pass through Wanniassa I notice a seat at a bus stop covered with neck ties. Each had been neatly tied along the back upright, with large knots. Some look like old school ties, others from sports clubs and one with Mickey Mouse.


AC/DC is now playing, the driver enjoying it, head bobbing in time to the beat. The bus is filling up.

 

Change of ACT Zoning Regulations

As part of the ACT Plan new regulations have come into force changing what and how many dwellings can be built on one property title. The ACT has generous garden sizes but it also has a huge problem with not enough places for the growing population to live. New suburbs have been developed over the last 10 years but many people do not want to live that far from the city centre. One of the ways to solve this problem has been to change regulations so that larger gardens can be subdivided to accommodate a new smaller dwelling particularly in the inner north and south suburbs.

 

As we get closer to Woden the development is more obvious. New residential high-rise, an over-55 village and a multi dwelling development are all within easy walking distance of Woden centre. It will also be close to the new bus interchange and CIT when they are

Image: Woden Masterplan ACT Government finished.


Development is a contentious issue here in Canberra. The ACT is made up of a centre with satellite areas with all their own amenities. Each of the areas has its own feel, but there is also something about them which is the same, especially once out into the housing areas. The centre was designed and is kept as a garden city, the National Capital Authority ensuring the vision of the Griffins is maintained. The larger new development is contained to the edges or satellite towns. A recent change in zoning regulation means more houses will be able to be built in both the inner north and south, increasing the number of dwellings in the garden city. Many people are against this change, or change and development in general. My feeling is that this is a city. It should feel like a city, even a garden one. Change can be accomplished with the same feeling but also allowing more people to live in this place. Cities should change and grow. Great cities like Sydney, London, Paris, Athens, Delhi, Bangkok all develop and change, but they also retain the essence of what that particular city is. Cities that do not develop and morph start to feel old and tired and then start to die. Parts of the ACT do feel old and worn; Dickson is in need of some work and that work is planned to be done. Dickson will change but have improved pavements, better pedestrian access, more amenity for everyone but will still be Dickson.


On my return trip into the city (R4 e-bus) I am reminded of what a great vision the Griffins had. The ride on Commonwealth Ave across the bridge with the landmarks of Black Mountain with the Telstra Tower standing out against the blue sky, Parliament with the huge flag, limp today, the National Museum with the orange and red loop de loop sculpture, and even Vernon Circle with the rabbits did not exist 120 years ago: well, the rabbits might have been here. This city is people-sized, has green spaces in all suburbs, can be travelled around with ease by bike, car or public transport and is a great place to live.


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