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Routes 76, 80 and R5

Date: 23 June 2023

Route: 76 Woden to Tuggerangong, 80 Tuggeranong to Lanyon Marketplace & R5 Lanyon Marketplace to City

Sights: Glimpse of Tuggeranong Homestead

Weather: 5 - 9 C cold, damp, cloudy clearing to patchy sun

Time taken: 6 hour round trip

To get to Woden to get to Tuggeranong I have to take the tram into the city and then the R4 or R5 to Woden. Two tourists talking in Spanish get on the bus and try to pay with their credit cards. It does not work. This does work in Sydney, where they have just come from. Place your credit card on the ticket reader and the amount for the trip will be deducted. This system is coming to Canberra but not yet. The bus driver waits while they buy paper tickets from the machine located close to the stop. They are grateful.

The British High Commission located on Commonwealth Ave, nearly as close to Parliament as you can get, and next to the Canberra Croquet Club, is having some work done on its drive. Four men, all in fluoro vests with a digger, a truck and a van, are standing in a circle looking at a hole in the middle of the driveway.

As I wait at Woden Interchange for the first of my buses this day I have a strange interaction with a young man. (At the age I am now, most people are ‘young’ people.) He must have been in his mid-20’s. I am waiting at the platform to get the 76 that will take me on a trip north from Woden to Garran, then south towards O’Malley, Isaacs towards Erindale, then on a loop around Gowrie, Chisholm, Richardson, turning north towards Lanyon Marketplace through Isabella Plains. I am wearing clothes to suit the weather: puffer jacket, tights, boots. The young man is dressed in a similar puffer jacket (Canberra Winter uniform), a bright beanie and socks pulled up over the end of his long pants. He is looking at my legs. He is a bit fidgety. He seems fascinated by the pattern on my tights; a realistic print of crochet granny squares in bright colours. He is staring now. I gaze back. I see his hand stretching out from his body. He not going to touch my legs is he? He would not, would he? He does! I tell him, in a slightly raised voice, he invaded my personal space; he recoils; he is now looking sheepish. I know, sorry, he mumbles. He looks at his feet, no longer interested in the tights. He tells me he has been told not to touch other people. I tell him lots of people, including me, don’t like it very much. I also tell him not to worry about it, he is looking very anxious, but not to do it again. The bus arrives.

The ride through the suburbs may be undistinguished from other rides I have taken along this road but I see many things that take my interest on my journey, both good and bad. The bright murals of Erindale are always welcome. Situated along the bus platform they depict many different people (real) young and old, from places around the world. My favourite is of a Sikh with a big smile surrounded in

Photo: Canberra Times

flowering gums painted on some kind of telecom utilities box; a change from the normal green.

There are ugly things too, also telecom related: giant mobile phone stations. I understand we all want to be connected, all of the time, and Canberra is a hilly place, more so as I head down to the south, but location of these ugly towers in prominent positions like the middle of roundabouts, and on pedestrian bridges and painted white so they stand out more,

Photo: The Riotact

has to have more thought. I am sure as the technology moves forward and everything shrinks in size they will disappear, but for now they are an eyesore.

As I ride towards Tuggeranong two school boys get on the bus. They are in the uniform of a school I do not recognise. Neither of them pays, and they tell the driver they have forgotten their passes. One is more impatient to sit down than the other, encouraging the other, “Come on. Sit down.” They talk to each other about their gym regimes; how many squats, pull ups and planks they can do. They move onto what time they are going to get back to school. One of them is unsure about missing Science. They are learning about the planets. The bolder one asks him how much he has learnt this semester, then answers his own questions with, “Mars, red, small. Jupiter, big with moons and a ring. Earth, got people, why?” His friend agrees; this is the sum of his knowledge too. They both agree to be back for Maths. They move onto the girls they would like to ask out and then ‘have’. The language hangs on the edge of being disrespectful; I wonder if their mothers know. I wonder if my son (17) talks like this with his mates. I am amazed they are wagging school for the gym; I can think of many other things I would have wagged school for. As they get off to head for the Club Lime Gym, they both yell a thanks to the driver.

I get off at the next stop, the terminus, and the Tuggeranong Shopping Centre. It is the least inviting place, even as shopping centres go. I head for TK Maxx as I am on a mission. I have nearly half an hour before the next bus I, the 80, arrives. The last time I was here I got the bargain of all dresses (two dresses $7 each) which I love to wear. As I scan the shop I read the signs above the clothes to locate the desired items. Kitchenware, Handbags, Tops, Bottoms, Active Bottoms(!). I relate this to my son later in the week. He and I have totally different interpretations of this: me thinking Active Bottoms = farting, he telling me that if you are under 25 and inhabit any part of the internet it will have a sexual connotation. It does not take too much imagination on my part to work it out but I feel old.

Route 80 takes me to the most southerly part of the ACT without leaving to enter NSW. Conder and Banks. Gazetted in 1987 and developed in the early 1990s, these are some of the newer parts of the ACT. The attractive scenery, very hilly, and valley outlooks make this a sought after place to live. It has all amenities; GPs, schools, childcare, library, sports clubs and facilities, shops; but it feels like a long way from the centre. Google maps tells me it takes 27 minutes to drive from the City centre to Conder. This is 7 minutes outside the limits of car travel for most Canberrans. It takes longer than that by bus, even the fast commuter buses that run mornings and evenings to Lanyon Marketplace, and most people would still have to do part of their journey by car.

This day, though, it looks beautiful; as we meander up and down the hills I view neat gardens with camellias, the first hues of wattle and the early signs of spring with daffodils and irises starting to move. Many gardens have agapanthus that look like they got frosted by the -7 C morning we had earlier in the week. They will recover but they are looking sad and droopy just now.

Two girls get on the bus, about the same age as the boys from the last bus. College (years 11 & 12) has finished for Semester One so there are many more teenagers on the buses during the day. At first I think both of them have large red birth marks down their necks and onto their cheeks, not identical but close. Neither of them pays, they too have forgotten their passes. As they move past me I see they both have wet dye in their hair. The buns tied at the base of their necks, a strange colour and wetness. They talk about the colour their hair will be when they wash it out. One has blonder hair so it will be brighter. They compare their boring jobs: one working in a cafe, one in a supermarket. They agree working in a cafe has perks; cakes and coffee; but they also agree they would not eat them: ‘too many carbs’. They get off in the middle of suburbia and head down a path between two houses. They thank the driver as they get off.

We pass a garden with umbrellas ‘planted’ in the ground. Each one painted red with white spots looking like giant toadstools. Is this just a decoration? Or a way to keep children entertained one afternoon? Or does it keep away the possums?

The next stop sees a man with a Fu Manchu mustache. He is not as tall as Christopher Lee, nor does he wear a long outfit with a high collar. He is also not as elegant: the hooked handle on the umbrella in the outside pocket of his backpack gets caught on the handhold pole. He swings around and the rest of the contents on the outside of backpack; waterbottle, gloves and a hat; spill out over the bus. There is a rush to assist him to pick them up.

The rest of us left on the bus, about 5, get off at Lanyon Marketplace. No murals; no bus interchange but a couple of bus stops, one on either side of the road, which is very hard to cross; but has a very good view across the valley. I can see the attraction of this place.

The R5 comes as I am dithering about which side of the road I should be on. There is no indication of which buses head into the city. The R5 bus has its destination across the front, so no need to cross the road. I timed that nicely. I like to think that this was part of the plan by the people who do the timetabling: buses connection to each other, but it was probably just luck.

As we approach Woden town centre, I notice, for the first time, at the base of the Sky Plaza building with a hole in it, a Ger, part of a Mongolian restaurant. That is the highlight of the trip. The R buses take the main roads with few diversions so I get back into the city in little over 30 minutes.

As we pass the British High Commission there are still four men in fluoro but now an extra truck, a larger hole and part of a new layer of asphalt on the driveway.


This homestead sits on the southern edge of the Ngunnawal land. There is evidence it was used as a meeting place for local peoples with a corroboree documented by white settlers in the 1860s. The Aboriginal people who lived in this area were shepherded to missions in Yass and Tumut until the 1950s. The land was used by white settlers for sheep pasture. First by Thomas McQuoid, who came from Ireland to act as Sheriff; then by his family. McQuoid named the area Wanniassa after an area in Java where he had grown coffee crops for the East India Company. After his death his son, Hya, took over the running of the property, extending the original convict built dwelling.

Hya died at sea on a return trip to the UK. Wanniassa was purchased, in 1858, by Andrew Cunningham who allowed the name to return to Tuggeranong. Andrew’s son Jim and his wife added to the homestead as they produced more children. By 1903 with eight children, all born at the homestead, the additions to the stone built cottage could accommodate them all. The Cunningham’s left the property in 1914 to move into the neighbouring one of Lanyon, bought after the death of Andrew’s other son. The land was acquired by compulsory purchase by the Federal Capital Territory in 1911.

Between 1919 and 1925, the property was used to accommodate Charles Bean and his team of historians and secretaries. He used the space to write the official war history of Australia’s involvement in World War I. His contribution was to add a concrete cricket pitch, the first in Australia, and a tennis court and hold regular matches of both.

Between 1927 - 1992 the McCormacks became tenants, turning the property into a fully working farm using modern and mechanised methods. There was an addition of a race track. The land was reclaimed by the Commonwealth Government in 1974 when it was earmarked for suburban development. Only 70 of the 1500 acres remains. After this time the property fell into disrepair: fires, theft and vandalism with overgrazing by tenant farmers left it in very bad shape.

In 1992 the government proposed a development that was successfully opposed by a newly formed community group Minders of Tuggeranong Homestead (MOTH). The development was never built but the action of the community group highlighted the significance of cultural and historical value of the homestead. A grant helped restore the original buildings and gardens. It is now a viable commercial enterprise for small conferences, weddings, events and functions. There is a community market monthly run by Lions.



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