Canb2016: Part 5 – More Walking Around the City

This post continues the random photos taken while walking around the city areas.


The Sydney Building looks very similar to the Melbourne Building, but is essentially a large bus interchange for all of Action’s bus services. They also use an NFC based ticketing system called MyWay, which I didn’t bother getting due to its two year validity period (from your last transaction) and a lack of time to catch any of their revenue services. There is a special tourist route which brings you to some of the attractions. Action’s fleet is made of single-decker buses, with the revenue buses being air-conditioned. The free loop seems to be running older buses which aren’t. There are also articulated buses in their fleet for their more heavily patronized services. Some buses carry names which depict their frequency – Red Rapid and Blue Rapid for example.

Because of the large number of departures from the Sydney Building, they have a larger departures board. However, in my opinion, it’s still not quite large enough. Some buses are outfitted with bike racks on the front as well, indicated on the departures board. The AFC system seems to be based on the Parkeon Wayfarer driver’s consoles which seem to be the near “universal” standard.

This reminds me of something – on their free loop at least, the internal LCD screens on the buses provide information about time, upcoming stops, estimated time of arrival, whether anyone’s pushed the stop button and some full-screen service information. There are also voice announcements. It all works well, the picture is very sharp and clear and the stop information is timely and accurate. In Melbourne, the display wasn’t quite as high-tech but still it was functional. This is in distinct contrast to Sydney Buses where the passenger information is very hit-and-miss and the video displays seem to use analog-composite video connections in with their CCTV systems resulting in hum bars, stripes and rolling picture in many of their buses.

One of the bus shelters even had an old mechanical 7-segment display based clock. You don’t see these around very often.

Nearby, I was greeted by another magpie, which didn’t seem too camera shy. It’s not as common in Sydney to walk around a bus area and be greeted by a magpie out for its morning feed.

A random aside – the Sydney Building houses The Pancake Parlour which is a well-established restaurant. I’ve eaten there once … but this time around, I didn’t have the time for it. Say hello to myself in my mirror, all dressed up in suit and tie!

Because the interchange is fairly busy, the area is under constant surveillance, and there is also a speaker for the camera operators to communicate back with. I didn’t hear them in use, however, it’s interesting to note that in NSW, the term “Safety Camera” normally refers to combined speed-and-red-light cameras used to police driving offences, rather than cameras designed to improve the safety of people.

Again, a light-post camouflage is often used, however, this is pretty well defeated by the sign. The wording of the sign differs depending on the area – some areas make it clear it is on a constant recording vigil, and others do not.

Car parking in most areas around the city is based on ticketed parking with ticket machines spaced rather conveniently. The machines themselves appear to be outfitted by Duncan Solutions and accept coins, card and contactless card. Interestingly enough, they have also embraced digital solutions in the form of the Parkmobile app which allows for parking to be paid using a smartphone without the need to issue or display a ticket. That’s pretty nifty.

Speaking of cars, it’s rather interesting on an afternoon to walk across a classic MG like the one above.

On the other hand, you walk across advertisements like this one for the Labor Club where their grand prize is a Kia Rio. Aside from the very-much 90’s feel of the commercial, I’m not sure how enticing a Kia Rio is … a big contrast indeed.

Arcades and Shopping

The whole district just towards the east of the Sydney Building is a sprawl of shopping areas consisting of arcades and Canberra Centre shopping centre.

The shopping centre is relatively large and slightly confusing, being made of four separate buildings with two floors each and some crossings at road level. As I wasn’t really there to shop, I just decided to take a walk-through just for the sake of it.

One of the things that caught my eye was an LED art installation called “A Light Touch” which consists of LED circles which change intensity and colours. It’s a little reminiscent of what you might see in an Apple store.

Outside Canberra Centre, there is a water feature which apparently lights up with LEDs at night, but I wasn’t there at a suitable time to see it.

Christmas makes its return as well, with a giant tree set up in the arcade.

Some of the areas around the shopping centre have roads which are accessible by car, especially Bunda St. In this case, clear signage which is relatively distinct, reminds drivers that pedestrians have priority. That’s not something I’ve seen in Sydney – we probably have more the blue-and-white “shared area” signs which are nowhere near as big or visible.

On the entrance to Petrie Plaza, there is this mobius-strip installation. Along this stretch is the merry-go-round pictured in the previous part.

There was also this artwork, named “The Big Little Man” by Dean Bowen (1999). In fact, around Canberra, there are many public sculptures which are on display, some of which are on loan.

What did I do? Well exactly what this painting on one of the concrete walls suggested – I photographed it! It really is a case of “life imitating art”.

Some of the pieces are even “interactive” in the sense of this “Before I die …” chalkboard wall where people have scribed their wishes. Examining it closely, it is a mixture of mundane, surprising, pointless, inspirational, silly, stupid, incomprehensible, irrelevant, misguided and encouraging all in the one piece which reminds us just how diverse our goals and aspirations might be. It’s a fascinating look into the human psyche.

Towards the back of Canberra Centre, there is a skate park area which is currently under a development application/proposal to install shade-cloth. It’s interesting to see that it was totally devoid of people, although I suppose weekdays around noon aren’t a popular time for this kind of activity.

Odds & Ends

Even though there is a shopping centre taking up the heart of the city, there is also Glebe Park right next door. In this park, there is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

Opposite Canberra Central on Ainslie Ave, there has been a whole row of semi-abandoned flats and buildings sold for redevelopment. In fact, Canberra is undergoing a big change where a lot of areas bordering Northborne Ave and surrounding areas are being hastily sold off and redeveloped into new, high-density apartments from what I’ve been told. Things will probably look a bit different the next time I’m down here.

Yes, I’m guilty. I went to McDonalds – more than once. Down there, it seems they really want users to use the self-service order terminals as much as possible, so you literally have to walk through a gauntlet of them before you get to the counter.

Not being shy of using these terminals, and being well familiar with them, I went up to order when I managed to break it.

All I wanted was some food. All it wanted was for me to login as a user. A rather perplexing error, I tried again but couldn’t succeed. I suspect something went wrong in starting up the kiosk, so it wasn’t ready to accept orders despite appearing to be serviceable. After that waste of time, I had to deal with a human behind the counter. To his dismay, the other machines seemed to be faultering as well, so the order load of six kiosks was being served by the one guy behind the counter. Predictably, service was slow as a result. It really highlights the need to have a proper “backup plan” in case technology goes wrong … and the need to make things resilient and easy to restore in case of outages.


I really only had about a day’s worth of time to walk around, and I was quite happy that managed to take a few odd photos in addition to the experiments I had conducted. They say that you don’t really come to Canberra to have fun … and I agree with that somewhat. Even so, my posts are not done yet – after all, I don’t leave home without my radio gear! All of that will be in the next installment …

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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3 Responses to Canb2016: Part 5 – More Walking Around the City

  1. cheapie says:

    I work at a McDonald’s over here in the US, and that error message is a bit more in-depth (and dumb) than it might seem.

    First of all, the registers run POS (point of sale, and also the other meaning) software called “NP6”. It’s not exactly known for being all that stable, easy to use, fast, or at all good.

    One of the many error messages that the software can give is the one you saw. It appears if you try to ring up an item when nobody is logged into the register (as far as it’s concerned, the register is closed). It would appear that something is causing the kiosk to display that message, and messages like that are simply displayed full-screen on those (my store doesn’t have them yet, so I’m not 100% sure about what they do).

    Now, this would therefore mean that the kiosks require a cashier to be logged in (which makes no sense), and the store manager didn’t do that for whatever reason.

    I suppose this is a “fail” on 6 counts:

    1. Nonsensical requirements causing issues
    2. Badly-worded error message
    3. Managers don’t know how to operate equipment
    4. None of them saw “please login a user” and thought “hey, maybe I should log in a user”
    5. Kiosk appears “open” even when it’s not
    6. Nobody thought to put an “out of order” sign on it

  2. matson says:

    > the Sydney Building houses The Pancake Parlour

    I never-before saw a ‘T’ made of “NOW OPEN”. (‘BURRITO’ in next-door
    window.) What is that stuff behind window between The Pancake Parlour’s
    chalkboard and door?

    • lui_gough says:

      Uh, I have absolutely no idea. Your guess is as good as mine. It looks like a table with some sort of maybe sewing/overlocker-like machine with a stand-up lamp in the rear. Maybe it’s something else entirely. Related to pancakes? Doubtful. I didn’t even notice its existence until you mentioned it :).

      – Gough

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