Petersham Oval where Sir Donal Bradman played

Petersham Oval where Sir Donal Bradman played

If trying to remove a chunk of historic Ashfield Park was not enough, now the WestConnex Authority is after a chunk of historic Petersham Park.

This park is famous because Sir Donald Bradman had his first appearance in grade level cricket in Petersham Oval that is in the park in 1926 when he was just 18-years-old. This local sporting history is one that many people refer to with pride. The Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre located in Petersham Park has recently been upgraded.

Petersham Park also has many significant & veteran trees, plus stands, gate & pagoda that many would consider heritage & worthy of protection.

Even though a short distance from Parramatta Road, this area of Petersham/Lewisham is a lovely green oasis of mostly Federation houses & leafy tree-lined streets.

From the ‘Save Petersham Park’ Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/savepetershampark/timeline

“We are concerned residents of Petersham.  On 23 November 2014, the NSW State Government, Urbangrowth, released a proposed plan for Parramatta Rd, to build a tunnel underneath it, called westconnex. They propose an entry/exit from the tunnel at Petersham Park.  (A similar entry/exit proposed at St Peters will cover all of Tempe tip and also take 80 houses around that area.  It is not just a couple of ramps).  Urbangrowth also proposes 10 storey highrises on all of Station St, and 24 storey highrises behind the old Lewisham Hospital.   See page 31 of the draft strategy document under “new parramatta rd” on the website “www.urbangrowthnsw.com.au.  There is also word unofficially of an unfiltered emissions stack at Fort St High School. Where there is a tunnel exit there has to be an emission stack.”

A view of historiv Petersham Oval

A view of historiv Petersham Oval

It is not surprising news, but frankly, it is appalling.   Same for the 10 & 24 storey high-rise apartments & the unfiltered stack planned for this area.

I tried to open the UrbanGrowth website, but was greeted with the following –This site is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance and will be back online shortly. Please check back soon.”  Hopefully it will be back online quickly as I imagine there will be many local residents who are very interested to read this document.

Thankfully Marrickville Council & Mayor Gardiner have been forthright in their opposition to WestConnex Motorway, so hopefully they will have more to say against the stripping of public green space in the municipality that is famous for having the least green space of any municipality in Australia.  We should not be losing precious green space to roads, tunnels or smoke stacks.

As for the 24-storey high-rise apartment blocks….. this will be a boon for developers. High-rise development has not been allocated for this area as per the recently completed Local Environment Plan (LEP) that cost ratepayers $2 million.  Development is not bad & I am not against it, as long as it sticks to the heavily consulted Marrickville Local Environment Plan.  Anything outside the LEP will destroy the area as far as I am concerned.

You may also want to become friends with Save Petersham Park on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/savepetershampark/timeline & also The WestConnex Action Group Inner West – another resident group in Marrickville LGA, also on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/westconnexactiongroup

There is also the ‘No WestConnex Rockdale Group’ on Facebook, who are opposing the Motorway going through the Landing Lights Wetland, a very important habitat & home to many species of migratory birds.  This group of residents are also campaigning against the ‘Tempe to President Avenue feeder road,’ which will funnel tens of thousands extra vehicles every day on to the already busy local roads in Rockdale & Kogarah.

- https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-WestConnex-Rockdale-Group/721691264579871

The community will be far more powerful & influential if we all gather together & support each other’s peaceful campaigns rather than separate into little areas only looking after our territory. WestConnex will have a phenomenal impact on Marrickville LGA.   I find it very interesting that the government would prefer to remove a chunk of an historic park than purchase private property along Parramatta Road.

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved.

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved.

 

New trees for Marrickville Golf Course

New trees for Marrickville Golf Course

Marrickville Council donated 4 trees to Marrickville Golf Club recently. They are 1 x Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta) & 3 x Forest red gums (Eucalypts tereticornis).

The Swamp Mahogany grows to 20-30 metres, a straight trunk with a dense canopy & produces white to cream flowers in in the cooler months. Native to native to eastern Australia, the Swamp mahogany likes to grow in swampy areas & can live for at least 200-years. Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden has some Swamp Mahogany trees that were planted in 1813. The flowers provide food for birds, koalas (we have none locally) & bats, especially the Grey-headed Flying Fox (we have a few).

Forest red gum is another tree native to eastern Australia. It grows to 20-50 metres & flowers from June to November. The flowers are good for honey production. It is fast growing & often used for erosion control.

All trees are planted at the Mahoney Reserve end of the golf course.  It will be wonderful to see these trees grow to a grand height. Marrickville Golf Course has space for many more large trees in my opinion.

Half a dozen new trees all growing well.

Half a dozen new trees all growing well.

Looking over the 'bowl' of the rain garden to Bruce Street

Looking over the ‘bowl’ of the rain garden to Bruce Street

The path through the rain garden & up the hill in Marrickville Golf Course

The path through the rain garden & up the hill in Marrickville Golf Course

Recently we went to visit the Bruce Street Rain Garden in the Marrickville Golf Course. I last wrote about this garden in February 2014- See – http://bit.ly/NnGOd9

Sign in the rain garden

Sign in the rain garden

We have had a lot of rain, which has benefited the new plants & trees. The changes are substantial. It looks wonderful. I also read a post from Marrickville Council on Facebook saying that the rain garden works perfectly.

We also had a look at the planting site at Wave Rock This was Council’s National Tree Day site in July 2013. See – http://bit.ly/1u8v1Nz. It has filled out with plants & is looking terrific. You can easily see the changes from the previous photos.

Lots of logs from tree removals have been placed in the garden offering areas of habitat & protection for small creatures. There appears to have been no vandalism in either site, so it is great to see the community respecting these places. The work done by Marrickville Council & the volunteer Mudcrabs is wonderful.   The Wave Rock site is between 80-100 metres long & on a steep slope, so it can’t be easy work to maintain & manage this garden. If you get a chance, it is worth a wander to have a look. Both these sites are close to each other & easily accessed from Bruce Street Marrickville.

Wave Rock garden with the Cooks River behind.  This is a special spot on the Golf Course.

Wave Rock garden with the Cooks River behind. This is a special spot on the Golf Course.

Plants & logs offering habitat & beauty.

Plants & logs offering habitat & beauty.

Looking east.

Looking east.

Another section

Another section

All photos have been taken from above due to the weather & the puddles on the path below.

All photos have been taken from above due to the weather & the puddles on the path below.

One of the very sweet Bandicoot scuptures at the entrance on Davis Street.  This is a very classy way to raise consciousness about the environment.

One of the very sweet Long-nosed Bandicoot sculptures at the entrance on Davis Street. This is a classy way to raise consciousness about the environment.

More art on the back wall of the Station building.  Very nice & again, a wonderful & beautiful way to connect people to their environment

More art on the back wall of the Station building. Very nice & again, a beautiful way to connect people to their environment. The Greenway is visible helping to maintain connection with the environment.

The entrance from Davis Street with the Greenway on either side.

The entrance from Davis Street with the Greenway on either side.  I was impressed with the beauty.  This is a lovely way to travel.

Recently while looking at a street tree to be removed in Davis Street Dulwich Hill I came across Waratah Mills Light Rail Station.  I think it may be the greenest leafiest railway station in Marrickville LGA.   I cannot say for sure because I have not been to all of them, but I will.

I entered from the cul-de-sac of Davis Street, which in itself is a very pretty area.  One side of Davis Street has tiered garden areas, hedges & a number of very tall trees.  Houses are on the other side & beautiful heritage Hoskins Park is across the road.  The entrance to the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station is subtle. I had no idea it was there until I was actually in the street.

The whole sculpture.  I thought this was stunning,

The whole sculpture. I thought this was stunning,

There is a large attractive concrete & wood slat bench at the entrance.  On & below the bench are two small life-size sculptures of Long-nosed Bandicoots, which live in the habitat along the light rail line (called the Greenway). Long-nosed Bandicoots are critically endangered in the Inner West, so The Greenway is of extreme importance.  The sculptures are very beautiful & are a perfect example of using art as an educator.  I was impressed.  These would be a delightful sight to see on the daily commute to & from work.

Credit goes to the Inner West Environment Group & to Railcorp for creating such a beautiful area in & around the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station.

To enter the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station from Davis Street you walk along a 15-20 metre raised metal bridge.  On either side are small areas of really lovely bush.  There are lots of trees & even a nesting box is visible offering passive education about the importance of homes for wildlife.

I saw people leave the train & then lean against the railing looking at the bush for a few minutes. This must be a pleasant way to end a working day.

The Greenway volunteers have done an awesome job here.  It is obvious how wonderful it would be to have bicycle & foot access along the whole corridor from the Cooks River to Iron Cove.  Hopefully, the state government will fund The Greenway soon.  This route is needed for safe travel for cyclists/pedestrians & the benefits to the community would be even greater still with this area a green corridor full of wildlife.

The actual light rail station is very attractive & clean. Railcorp has planted many trees & native plants around the station. They have also planted trees & created verge gardens at the entry in Weston Street. It looks terrific now & in a couple of years it will look even better.

The work to green the station & surrounds clearly shows what can be done with our streets & parks.  There have been numerous recent studies proving that green environments have a positive impact on the mental & physical health of the community.  Anyone who uses this mode of transport will benefit from the green environment & this has to be applauded.

The back walls of the station buildings have images of wildlife, which add beauty, as well as educate on the importance of wildlife.   I personally love any public art that encourages people to acknowledge & respect nature & think this approach to public art is underutilized in Marrickville LGA.

There were plenty of bike racks too. I also noticed the attractive bins. They were being used because I did not see one bit of litter.  Again this shows that people are respecting the natural environment that surrounds & is a part of this rail station.

Everything about the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station screams respect for the natural environment & the wildlife that lives there.  It is a great example of how trees, plants, even a small area of bush can enhance an area & make it a lovely peaceful place to be in.  The more our municipality is made greener with trees, verge gardens & traffic islands, the nicer it will look.  Personally, I think the days of concrete as a quick solution are over. More of this please.

View of the Greenway from the bridge.  This is a nice place to be.

View of the Greenway from the bridge. This is a nice place to be.

The other view of the Greenway from the bridge.  The Inner West Environment Group has created something wonderful for the wildlife & for the community.

The other view of the Greenway from the bridge. The Inner West Environment Group has created something wonderful for the wildlife & for the community.

Waratah Mills Light Rail Station. You can see some of the streetscape work in Weston Street.

Waratah Mills Light Rail Station. You can see some of the streetscape work in Weston Street.

Looking at the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station

Looking at the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station.

Native plants are everywhere around the Light Rail Station,

Native plants are everywhere around the Light Rail Station,

Even the area behind the Station building have been planted with trees & native plants.

Even the area behind the Station building have been planted with trees & native plants.

Public space corner of Malakoff Street & Marrickville Road.

Public space corner of Malakoff Street & Marrickville Road.

Marrickville Council is holding community consultation for their Public Domain Study.  The public domain is the –

  • streets
  • lanes
  • footpaths
  • verges
  • public plazas &
  • public squares.

Council has “suggested” priority actions for Marrickville Centre, Dulwich Hill shops, Petersham, Addison Road, King Street & Enmore Road.  Now is the community’s opportunity to comment on these, as well as add some ideas of their own.  The dates & locations are as follows.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Public space Petersham shops

Public space Petersham shops

Grey Gulls at Tempe

Gulls at Tempe

On 12th August 2014 I reported on concerns about Marrickville Council’s apparent practice of disclosing to developers identifying particulars of people who make submissions on Development Applications.   See – http://bit.ly/1kADcV1

Marrickville Council then produced a report about its practices of what personal information it discloses to developers.

In a follow up post on 15th September 2014 I reported on a resident’s response to Marrickville Council’s report.  See – http://bit.ly/1y4lwag

The following is a Guest Post by the same resident.

____________________

The reasons for my involvement in this were three :

  1. Marrickville Council’s advertisement of a DA bluntly said that comments received from the community “will not be treated confidentially and may be viewed by the applicant.”   It seemed to me that Council was not allowing for any anonymity and was not proposing that contact details (address or email or telephone number) were going to be treated as confidential.
  1. When I rang Marrickville Council three times about that, I received inconsistent information about Council’s practices and ultimately it was confirmed that Council releases submitters’ contact details, not just the essence of what one may have submitted.
  1. I thought that such practices were contrary to a public agency’s obligations under information access and privacy laws, and more importantly, when the community knows that developers will be able to identify each individual submitter, the community will be discouraged from exercising its democratic right of expressing its views about developments.

Marrickville Council’s report added some new information that was not at play when I responded to the particular advertisement for that particular DA.  Namely, that Council has letters and guidance materials, which are not as blunt as the advertisement.

They seem to say that a person may satisfy the General Manager that there is a need to keep the contact details of a submitter confidential, but only if the submitter provides a statutory declaration that satisfies the General Manager that the submitter’s safety or their family’s safety would be at risk from a release of their personal information. None told me about that when I rang Council.

I then thought and I still think that this is inconsistent with Council’s obligations under the relevant laws.  In my previous guest post I wrote:

“The General Manager is set to decide what identifying information will be revealed to developers for the asking. This is called under the GIPA Act an informal disclosure.  The person who would not want their identifying information revealed will have no appeal rights. The General Manager will be judge and jury. Quite a dictatorial power. And your privacy just gets tossed out the window.”

Marrickville Council’s report highlighted the fact that many other Councils also have confused and inconsistent practices, with the ultimate outcome being that they violate people’s privacy as they please.

The NSW Privacy Commissioner now completed enquiries into Marrickville Council’s practices.   In her letter to Marrickville Council dated 7 November 2014 the Commissioner expressed concerns about Council’s practices.  The letter included the following:

“The Council’s current approach of releasing all information (except the submitter’s address) only where there is a statutory declaration attesting to concern of safety for that person or their family, does not appropriately capture the requirement of the public interest test to be conducted under the GIPA Act by Council prior to disclosing personal or any other information.

Having considered the guidance made available by the Information Commissioner, I am not satisfied that Council’s current approach of publication of all submitters personal information (except where there is a statutory declaration attesting to concerns of safety) is a requirement of the GIPA Act or regulations.

I am also concerned that the current approach adopted by Council in relation to the publication of submitter’s personal information does not take into account the obligations imposed upon councils under the PPIP Act.”   (PPIP Act is the NSW privacy law).

In our times we see many of our rights washed away by governments who think of them as mere red tape.  Our privacy is an important right and as long as we do not say offensive things our anonymity allows us to offer our opinions about issues that concern us without the fear that those who may have different opinions, such as developers in this case, will identify us or obtain our home and contact details.

If a public authority is planning to violate our rights by revealing our identity to developers, as a minimum, we should have the right to say no and the right to appeal to a proper body that will make an impartial decision.

Any revealing of our identity and contact details should be done only when a developer makes a formal application, so that we can have the right to appeal the General Manager’s decision. Anything short of that is dictatorial and causes tremendous harm to us as a collective of people who place our trust in those to whom we grant some powers to manage public affairs on our behalf.

I hope this becomes an example to Marrickville Council, and the other Councils that appear to be just as arrogant in managing our privacy, and I hope that the General Manager takes control of this issue, so that he can adopt the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendation to mend Council’s ways and so that Council staff learn what the law requires of them and cease providing inconsistent and wrong information when people contact them.

End of Guest Post.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Galah feasting on Dandelion flowers in Sydenham Green.

Galah feasting on Dandelions in Sydenham Green.

Marrickville Council has given post-notification of the removal of two street trees in Marrickville.

Tree number 1:  A Brittle gum (Eucalyptis mannifera) outside 17 Premier Street Marrickville.

Council gave the following reasons for removal -

  • “Primary branch failure resulting in 50% canopy loss.
  • Storm damaged tree.
  • Tree presented a risk to public safety & property.”

They say they will replace this tree with a Brushbox (Lophostemon confertus) during 2015 planting season.

_______

Tree number 2:  A Narrow-leafed peppermint (Eucalyptus nicholii) adjacent to 499 Illawarra Road Marrickville. (Premier Street frontage).

Council gave the following reasons for removal -

  • “Failure of a major structural root during high winds.
  • Previous termite damage & extensive internal decay.
  • Movement of tree already leaning towards power lines & property.
  • Tree presented a risk to public safety & property.”

They say they will replace this tree with a Sydney red gum (Angophora costata), but not when this will happen.

The biggest news to hit Marrickville municipality happened two days ago when the St Peters Interchange for the WestConnex Motorway was announced.  Prime Minister Abbott arrived to do streetside TV media saying how wonderful the Interchange would be, especially to the residents of Western Sydney.

The St Peters Interchange requires the forced acquisition of 80 houses, utterly devastating to all those families who found out that they were to lose their home only after WestConnex representatives knocked on their door to give them ‘Acquisition Packs.’  Those who were at work came home to find these in their mailbox.

The following are some points regarding the St Peters Interchange from the WestConnex website –

  • “The 16 hectare industrial site at St Peters as a key interchange…” This is Dial a Dump, made famous because it was to be the site for coal seam gas mining exploration drilling, until massive community opposition put a stop to this.
  • They have acknowledged the failure of the M5 East – “…lodging the planning application for higher, wider, flatter & future-proofed tunnels to end the daily battle on the M5 East. The new tunnels will more than double capacity of the M5 East, with the New M5 tunnels built to accommodate three lanes in each direction ….  The current M5 East was arguably Sydney’s worst tunnel project with design flaws that have created frustration for the 100,000 motorists who use the corridor every day.” It was only opened in 2001.
  • “The St Peters Interchange will provide access to key roads in the area, such as Euston Road & Campbell Street & the project will include widening these roads as well as a new bridge over Alexandra Canal to Bourke Road.”  I understand that part of Simpson Park will be lost. This is not good for our municipality, which already has the dubious fame of having the least green space in Australia.

You can read the full information here – http://bit.ly/1tCIuQJ

The following is a Press Release from Marrickville Mayor Gardiner who does not mince words, expressing Marrickville Council’s outrage over the plans.  Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville.

Litter left by one group of people at Steel Park Marrickville.

I just came across a wonderful initiative by the Victorian Department of Environment & Primary Industries called, ‘Love the Yarra.’

‘Love the Yarra’ is part of a large-scale education program, aimed at all ages, to prevent litter & other rubbish entering the Yarra River via stormwater & also by general littering.  The initiative is designed to educate the whole community about the environmental aspects, wildlife & benefits of the river, as well as each person’s responsibility for the health of the Yarra.

Twelve artists were contracted to spray-paint images beside stormwater drains to educate the passing public that the drain they are looking at actually carries stormwater all the way to the Yarra River & that includes any litter & other substances.

I really like that these are beautiful images of nature & the wildlife that live in & around & depend on the river.  I think that the artworks will instill pride in the environmental & have enormous educational value.

There is also a self-guided ‘Stormwater Art Trail,’ which would appeal to both residents & tourists alike.  Already Melbourne tourism includes street art & this is just another level.  This is something I would definitely do when I next visit Melbourne.  You can watch a short video on the Stormwater Art Trail here – http://bit.ly/1u2k2tH

Another component of ‘Love the Yarra’ is the creation of a large sculpture created by children & environmental artist Peter Day.  Being involved in such an initiative educates young people & goes a long way to creating environmentally responsible adults.  You can watch a short & very beautiful video about the sculpture here – http://bit.ly/1GrWtzP

In the past Marrickville Council has had signs spray-painted on some stormwater drains alerting people that litter ends up in the Cooks River, but I think most, if not all of these have worn away.  It was one of the first things I noticed when we moved here.

I think it would be great if Council considered doing something similar.  The ‘Keep Australia Beautiful’ campaign needs to be revived in my opinion, but smaller projects like these can create positive change.

The riverside parks are bursting with people on the weekends  & litter is a big problem in a number of these parks.  Thankfully Marrickville Council has been doing extra work to try to keep the mess under control.  But the fact remains, if the people who used these parks were helped to consider their impact on the river, there might be less littering.  This “Do the Right Thing’ anti-litter campaign ad from the 1990s shows how little has changed with this issue.  See – http://bit.ly/1s7HYGG

Lastly, watch this 2-minute video, ‘All the Cups – by Jack,’ a 6-year-old Texan boy about the stormwater pollution that entered Corpus Christi Bay after only one-inch of rain. See if it doesn’t move you. http://bit.ly/1xhg1R6

A confronting anti-litter sign. Source unknown.

A confronting anti-litter sign. Source unknown.

Floating wetland in Scarborough Park Central in Monterey

This is what I saw from the car. 

Looking back towards President Avenue

Looking back towards President Avenue

Last weekend we were driving down President Avenue towards Brighton Le Sands & I did as I always do & looked at Scarborough Park on the way past.  I saw something in the pond that made me decide to stop there at the end of the day.  And we did.

I love Scarborough Park.  It’s full of big beautiful trees, but the major attraction for me is the pond in the middle, which is part of the ‘Wetland Highway’ that goes all the way to the Georges River at Sans Souci.

If you like nature & especially birds, anywhere along the Wetland Highway is a great place to wander.  There is a lot of wildlife living here & although houses are close by, the surrounding trees & the naturalness allows you to feel as though you have left the madding crowd.  It’s also quiet.

What we found was a floating pontoon secured to the banks by ropes, which appeared to be a coir mix planted with native grasses.  This was so intriguing that I decided to call Rockdale Council to find out what it was & I am glad that I did.

The pontoon is a floating wetland designed to control & prevent algal blooms by consuming the excess nutrients that enter the pond through groundwater.  Scarborough Park was built in the middle of what was once a rubbish dump.  When it rains, groundwater seeps into the pond bringing with it nutrients that can result in algal blooms.

An algal bloom can completely cover a body of water, clogging the gills of fish & blocking sunlight from reaching underwater plants, which can result in their death.  Decomposition of the algae produces bacteria that consumes much of the dissolved oxygen in the water.  The lack of oxygen & plant die-off creates toxic water killing the fish, insects, other aquatic animals, as well as birds & other land animals.  This is not what you want in any water system, particularly a prime area of biodiversity.

I think the floating wetland is a brilliant initiative.  Not only will it help keep the pond clean & prevent algal build-up, but it also offers another place for waterbirds to perch to watch the water.  The birds may not take up this opportunity in this location because there are lots of trees around the pond that have branches that cascade over the water, but for the Cooks River, there are very few places where tree branches reach over the water.

It would be great to see a few floating wetlands along the Cooks River, as the river has a massive nutrient polluton problem from stormwater entering the river.  I also think it would be quite easy & cheap to modify a floating wetland to allow waterbirds a place to perch.

The floating wetlands not only have a positive impact on the health of the water & biodiversity, but also offer an educational opportunity to anyone that sees them.  Rockdale Council placed their floating wetland in a section that was visible from a high traffic road, which resulted in us deciding to stop & look, as well a phone call to Council to learn more.  I’d say that educational approach worked.

Almost beside the floating wetland.

Almost beside the floating wetland.

A closer view

A closer view

The park was full of waterbirds.

The park was full of waterbirds.  This branch is a favourite for the Cormorants as it juts out over the pond.

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