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Routes R7 City to Weston Bus Terminus, 65 Weston to Woden and 60 Woden to Woden

Date: 25 July 2023

Route: R7 City to Weston Bus Terminus, 65 Weston Bus Terminus to Woden, 60 Woden to Woden

Sights: Arboretum in the distance, Parliament House, Mawson Shopping Centre

Weather: -4 to 17 C

Time taken: 5.5 hours round trip including lunch in Mawson

We are very fortunate in Canberra to be blessed with amazing weather at this time of year. The last week has seen a run of cold but sunny days reached maximums that cause people to strip off their black winter clothes. The mornings are cold, we had a minus 7 C recently, but the day unfolds into bright sunshine. Cold weather is something to be endured but there is always something that can be done about it: warmer clothes, more layers, walk into a heated place. Hot weather is also to be endured but sometimes there is nothing that can be done to get cool. Europe is experiencing its hottest weather ever this month. Fires in Spain and Greece had made tourists flee and locals to lose homes and businesses. This is a scenario I am familiar with. I am hoping that the warmer days we are getting now do not bode ill for the next few months.

I am standing in the shade at Platform 2 in Alinga Street opposite Smith’s Alternative. It is cold this morning, -4C. The kind of cold that eats into exposed flesh; my hands and face feel tingly. Everyone on the tram was sniffing, including me; that going from cold to hot. I feel like I should do the mum thing and hand around a box of tissues. It appears my stops are never in the sun. The tram stop was in full shade and now, here I am under the bus shelter out of the mild breeze. The sun is tantalizingly on the other side of the street. I watch passengers wait and then board buses in their winter attire: black puffer jackets, coats that look like checky shirts and one woman in a pink cable knit jumper with matching ankle warmers, both with pink fluffy poms-poms, think tribbles.

NextThere tells me my bus, the R7, is 12 minutes away, a bit too long to wait in the cold, but it can be endured.

Three bendy buses arrive at the same time; R2, R10 and R7. The last one has to wait for the first one to leave so it can get onto the bus stop. Bendy buses are so much longer than a normal bus. Most of the 20 or so people get on the first two buses; it is just me and one young man on the R7. He is tucking into a small box of chocolate chip cookies, presumably for breakfast. The driver slows as we turn the corner and gestures to another driver who is heading across the road with a coffee in hand.

The Winter Festival is having the last bits put on trucks. We approach Vernon Circle and the rabbits are out sunning themselves; the hill looks covered. Most of the frost has gone but the shadows of the pencil pines hold onto the ice a little longer. A group of pole walkers power along the Lake. Bike riders, in small groups, and mums with prams are doing the Bridge to Bridge walk. It is all go. The grass on the slopes of Parliament has been recently cut leaving diagonal stripes. The wattle on either side of Commonwealth Ave is now in full flower.


Known as acacia in other parts of the world, the 960 wattle species in Australia mainly flower in winter. The national symbol Acacia Pycnantha or Golden Wattle flowers at the end of August or beginning of September signaling the end of winter and coming of spring. The Acacia genus is the biggest group of trees and shrubs in Australia and they come in all shapes and sizes. Wattles are often the first thing planted in new gardens as they grow fast, but do not live long. Other slower growing trees can be planted underneath so when the wattle finally dies it has something to take its spot.

Wattles are also the first trees to recover or emerge after bushfires. The nitrogen fixing roots assist other plants to get established, and they give shade to young saplings of other varieties.

These trees have made themselves perfect for the harsh Australian environment; small leaves that are drought tolerant, showy balls of pollen called anthers, that attract insects in a time of year without much other competition.

Wattle Day has been celebrated in Australia since 1910. The wattle became a symbol of a growing national identity appearing in designs on furnishings, crockery, and other household items. In 1889 in South Australia the Wattle Blossom League created a flag.

In Victoria in 1891 an article in the Melbourne Herald suggested wattle as a national symbol in response to the Canadians picking the maple leaf as theirs. In NSW in 1901 the Wattle Day League passed a motion that a national day should be held with the wearing of wattle in public to be encouraged. The wattle had been chosen above the Waratah as the national symbol because wattle occurs across the country and Waratah is confined to certain areas.

The first Wattle Day (1 September 1910) was observed with tree planting in schools, classes on botany and wearing of wattle. Small bunches were sold for charity. The wattle was incorporated as part of the coat of arms in 1913 and the colours, green and gold, adopted as the national colours for sporting events in the 1980s.

The date of Wattle Day has changed a little, in different states, a national day not being settled until 1992, when 1 September, first day of spring, was picked. Schools still use this as an opportunity to plant trees and teach botany. Golden Wattle was proclaimed the national symbol in the European Bi-centenery year, 1988.


The R7 takes a direct route to Weston. It stops at Albert Hall and then not again until Cooleman Court where the boy eating biscuits gets off. The bus does a circuit of the shopping centre giving the few passengers a closer encounter with the Irish Club, Canberra Church, an aged care facility and The Raiders Club. We turn left at the Meating Room located under the Indoor Sports Centre co-located with a Lime Gym. This part of the ACT has something for everyone, all in one spot. As we head back onto Hindmarsh Drive we are back in suburbia.


This area of the ACT was developed from the late 1960s as an extension to the Woden Valley. First settled by Europeans in the 1820s and divided into seven large homesteads: Weston, Avondale, Cooleman, The Rivers, Blundell’s, Allowa and Illoura. The last two as soldier settlement arrangements. All land was transferred to the ACT government in 1911.

In 1915 some of the land was set aside for a sewage treatment plant. This was built in 1924 starting operations in 1927. It operated until the 1970’s. It was closed in 1978 after the smell from the site became a problem. Alterations were made to the design, the sludge drying beds were abandoned, but it did not fix the issue. In 2010 when the site was excavated, 90,000 tonnes of builders' waste, mainly asbestos sheets and pipes, that had been dumped in the 1970s and 80s, were discovered.

The Stromlo Forest pine plantation was located near these suburbs and all were affected with the bushfires of 2001 and 2003. The latter caused 500 homes to burn with four people losing their lives. This forest area is now the site of the National Arboretum.


The bus winds its way to the bus terminal with great views and a number of buses. My driver jumps off the bus to chat with another driver in the layby. I am a bit lost. I can see three bus stops and none of them has any indication of which way the buses go from that stop. Reading the attached timetables does not help either. Next There tells me there are buses at the stop and what time they go but not which one to stand at to get the 65. The bus I was on has changed from a R7 to a 65. Another 65, already in situ when I got off, heads to one of the stops. I ask the driver. This bus had been a 65 and was now a R7. The driver tells me she is heading back into the city, not to Woden. I enquire if other buses, just behind her will head to Woden. She has no idea. I ask the chatty drivers instead. The driver I had tells me his bus is now a 65 and is going to Woden.

These stops should not be this confusing! Clear signs as to which direction the bus is travelling would be helpful. The only consolation was the view, and the bus stop was in the sun.

As we head back into suburbia and around narrow streets the bus driver keeps his cool. The terrain is hilly and getting the longer than normal bus around tight corners is no mean feat. These suburbs were built with families in mind; pathways under roads, playgrounds in parks and pavements wide enough for prams. One park we pass has large signs with “Too Wet to Mow” on it. Maybe this is an attempt to save the ACT government complaints about long grass. We have not had any rain for a few weeks.

An older woman gets on. She is pleased to see the driver; they are known to each other; they converse in Spanish. As we return to Cooleman Court the driver slows to let people cross at the crossing, waiting patiently for others to scamper across. The Spanish speaking older woman gets off and the driver has a chat with someone else at the stop. He does not get on the bus but the conversation is in Italian.

We arrive in Woden. The driver asks me, in English, if I enjoyed the ride. I did.

I get to the bus platform to see my next bus, 60 standing there. This is a loop bus. It is either the 61 or 60 depending on which direction it is going. I usually take the buses for the full length of the ride, not getting off to investigate shops or other places of interest, but this bus takes in Mawson shops so I am going to make an exception.

Mawson shops is full of the most exciting places: Al Manoosh, Indian and other Asian supermarkets, the best butchers in the ACT (they know their customers by name), florists, a bargain bazaar, newsagents, hairdressers and a Woolworths supermarket. I alight to find a bite to eat and tea at Al Manoosh: Lebanese bakery. The choice is huge here and I find it hard to make up my mind. I settle for fatteh, breakfast of champions; chickpeas, bread chips, spices, nuts covered in yoghurt. I add Arabic tea to my order. I sit in the sun, outside, listening to the chat of the Arabic speaking family on the next table. The toddler with them, strapped into a pram, is delighted by the pigeons diving under the plastic walls to find tidbits dropping from tables.

I join another 60 to return to Woden. At the Interim Bus Station 6 teenagers are crossing between platforms with a Woolworths shopping bag each. The two girls are clearly in charge issuing instructions to the boys who lag behind. They wait until a 77 appears. By the time they get on the bus they all have ice creams from the shopping, in their mouths. Four of them get on the bus, another two agree to meet later, “once the work has been done,” to eat together. I wonder who is to do the cooking?

At this stage I could just get a bus that will return me to the city, an R4 or R5 if I want to do this quickly or 59 if I want the more leisurely route. In the end I decide to retake my route; 65 back to Weston Bus Terminus and then R7. I will be able to take photos as the buses do not have ads on them, and I like the routes.

Arriving back in the city it has warmed up. Not quite hot enough for me to relinquish one of my layers but close. As I pass the ABC building the sign outside tells me it is 17C.


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