Culture //

There and back again (very, very slowly)

Mary Ward writes an ode to the one and only Hillsbus.

Illustration by Aimy Nguyen.

Across the rolling plains of Sydney lies the mystical and enchanting Hills District. From Fiddletown to Forest Glen, and from Pennant Hills to West Pennant Hills, the good people of the Hills District are a hearty and vigorous lot.

If there’s one thing that binds these communities together, it’s Hillsbus, the private public transport company beloved by those who think that such a description is not an oxymoron.

Here’s to living the simple, semi-rural (read: probably just rather remote suburban) life. Why have a ticket machine when the driver can just cross out each trip on your MyBus10 with a pen? Does this provide the opportunity to get 20 trips out of your MyBus10 by using it on a mix of Hillsbus and government bus services? Yes, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Here’s to the forced consumption of 2GB each morning. If Alan Jones were a vehicle operated by a private, metropolitan public transport company, he’d be a Hillsbus. If Ray Hadley ever were to catch a vehicle operated by a private, metropolitan public transport company, he’d be on a Hillsbus.

Here’s to Beryl, the driver often found on the Cherrybrook to City routes who pulls off the Hillsbus ladies uniform so effortlessly. What, you didn’t know that Hillsbus had a ladies uniform? That would be because the other women of the Dural depot do not demonstrate as much commitment to the corporate chiffon scarf and pencil skirt as dear Beryl. They don’t know what they’re missing.

Here’s to Hillsbus’s more obscure routes. Who wants to travel from Pitt Town to Pennant Hills? One bus-worth of people a day. And they want to do it at quarter to nine in the morning.

Here’s to running into five people you know on every trip. Those who question how Hills commuters put up with sitting on a bus for two hours each day clearly do not understand how many of your mother’s friends or people who were in your Year 5 class you can have a conversation with during that period: Have they fixed the church ceiling? Did you hear that so-and-so’s started a personal training business? Allow me to provide you with 184 reasons why the North-West Rail Link will be a disaster, 99 per cent of them involving the cutting down of ten trees near Castle Towers …

Here’s to the early morning services over the weekend. The aforementioned small talk is always better when attempted after stumbling out of Scary Canary at 2:30am.

Here’s to giving your bag a seat as you pull into Lane Cove on your way into town. Get your own bus, Lane Cove. You don’t know us. You don’t know our struggle.

Here’s to Hillsbus, the golden chariots of losers who still live with their parents.