My husband made this box out of a 40-year-old Ironbark fence post - a bit of Marrickville's history that still lives on.

My husband made this box using a 40-year-old Ironbark fence post – a bit of Marrickville’s history that still lives on.

Planet Ark has a campaign called, “Make It Wood – Do Your World Some Good,’ which aims at encouraging people to use responsibly sourced wood when building or making things.

Trees absorb & store carbon dioxide (CO2) while they are alive. After it is harvested timber continues to store much of this carbon, therefore, using responsibly sourced timber &/or recycled timber is a way to do your bit for preventing climate change.

It is important to buy responsibly harvested timber because some timbers are logged illegally from forests or from endangered tree species such as Rosewood that is almost extinct in Madagascar.   To find new timber that is responsibly harvested look for those endorsed by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), the Australian Forest Certification Scheme (AFCS) or the Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Recycled timber can be bought in many recycled timber yards or even found dumped in the street. We found a lot of 100-year-old American redwood, Blackbutt & Douglas Fir when we were renovating.

The American Forestry Foundation says, Wood is better for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air & water pollution, & other impacts.  Steel & concrete consume 12% & 20% more energy, emit 15% & 29% more greenhouse gases & release 10% & 12% more pollutants into the air, & generate 300% & 225% more water pollutants than wood.”

To highlight Planet Ark’s campaign to choose responsibly sourced or recycled wood, they are holding a photography competition called, ‘Snap Some Wood.’

There are three categories –

  1. Renovation – includes do-it-yourself or professional renovation projects with a high use of wood like floorboards, stairs, kitchen or bathroom or window frames.
  1. Structures – includes photos of houses, frames, commercial or public buildings, sheds, piers or wharves or fencing.
  1. Miscellaneous – includes furniture, art, sculpture, unusual items, toys etc.

Your photographs must be taken in Australia. Photos of trees & forests are not eligible. There is no limit on the number of different photos that one person may enter.

Entries will be judged on their quality, beauty & uniqueness. Planet Ark says that they are particularly interested in photos that portray people’s relationships with wood.   The prizes are four ipads with wooden covers worth over $2,750 each.

The deadline for entries is midnight AEST on Wednesday 5th November 2014.

Entries can be uploaded via Facebook here –



Reflection in shop window

Reflection in shop window

In my post Report from the Gallery for 12th August 2014 one resident spoke about concerns regarding Marrickville Council’s apparent practice of disclosing to DA proponents the identifying particulars of people who make submissions on DAs.

The following is an excerpt of that resident’s speech to the Councillors at the Development Assessment Committee Meeting –

“Allowing access to identifiers creates a chilling effect on the community.  It creates a fear that personal information will be available to every developer. You get fewer submissions.   It is not for developers to be checking whether a submission is genuine & who made it.  This is Council’s function.  Identifiers do not improve a proponent’s capacity to respond to any community comments. People said to me this is not right.  I don’t want developers to know who I am, where I live, what my contacts are.  This is for Council to know.”    You can read the full speech here –

The following is a Guest Post by the same resident in response to the Question on Notice by Clr Phillips – Item 19: Consultation Practices & Personal Privacy for Residents & Persons Making Submissions in Relations to Development Applications that is on the agenda for this Tuesday’s Council Meeting of the 16th September 2014.


Guest post by Resident 3

I had a concern about how much Council may disclose to a developer who may just ask to view/copy submissions. This came up because Council’s advertisement said:

“It should be noted that comments received will not be treated confidentially and may be viewed by the applicant.”  In my conversations with Council I was told that the developer would need to view the submissions at Council.

Similarly, Marrickville Council’s Publication Guide January 2014 at page 20 says:

“Council considers, on balance, the public interest in protecting the personal information of submitters, overrides the public interest in web-publication of submissions. However, Council will make submissions available for viewing at Council offices on Informal Access Application.”

These suggest that Council does not allow exceptions: names, addresses, contact details are up for disclosure to developers when developers might just go to Council’s offices and want access to submissions when no-one else knows they are doing so.  The issue was not about what documents Marrickville Council may post on its website.

When I called Marrickville Council on three occasions in May 2014 regarding my privacy rights for a submission re a DA, Council staff gave me inconsistent advice about Council’s disclosure practices.

At the Development Assessment Committee Meeting of 12th August 2014 a motion was passed for Council to prepare a report as to how it complies with the law and how it compares with other Councils.

If I asked an electrician what is the law about the thickness of wires for lights and power-points in my house, the answer will be only one: 1.5 mm for lights and 2.5 mm for power-points. If I asked a plumber for the size of the sewerage pipes at my home, the answer will by only one: 100 mm. This is because the professionals respect their clients’ rights to well-being and know the standards applicable in their profession. This does not seem to apply in various Councils when it comes to the community’s right to privacy.

Marrickville Council now published its report. This report does not refer to the advertisement I mention above.  It refers to pro-forma letters Marrickville Council uses and an advice sheet that says something different, namely that there are exceptions –

Your name will always be disclosed to developers, but if you do a statutory declaration to MC that yours and your family’s safety would be at risk, Marrickville Council will not disclose your address and contact details.  I was not told this when I spoke to Council staff on three occasions. I also did not receive a pro-forma letter, only the advertisement.

The report attaches and refers to the Information Commissioner’s Guidelines titled “Guideline 2: Development Applications – For local councils – Personal information contained in development applications: What should not be put on council websites.”  As I said above, the issue was not about what goes on Marrickville Council’s website, but about what Marrickville Council would show to a developer when asked directly.

The Guideline says: “ … the Guidelines deal only with personal information and only with the publication of the information on council websites. The Guidelines do not deal with or affect disclosure of personal information by other means.”  So why is Council referring to this as their guide?

Marrickville Council’s report quotes three paragraphs from the Guideline, but not from the next paragraph that says disclosure of DA related information contributes to transparent decision-making. And then says: “However, documents associated with DAs are likely to contain a significant amount of personal information. Local Councils are accordingly required to balance the disclosure requirements of the GIPA Act and the privacy provisions of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act…”

Marrickville Council’s report does not say how they would do this balancing when a developer goes in and asks to view/copy submissions from the community. The pro-forma letters seem to say your name will always be disclosed.  Only your address will be concealed and only if you satisfy MC about your safety.

But your fundamental right of privacy does not need protection only when you prove with evidence that safety is the issue.  It is there to protect you for a lot more reasons.  You give your Council your identifying particulars to enable your Council to check if you are real.  You have the right to claim anonymity from developers. Disclosing your identity to developers does not enhance Council’s transparency of DA processes. Such disclosure does more harm than good. Knowing that developers will be able to identify you discourages people from making submissions.

Marrickville Council’s report researched the practices of many other Sydney Councils.  The researcher quickly found huge inconsistencies, which the report described as “variability.”  It seems that the answer to the Question on Notice is: confusion and inconsistency.

Also the Question on Notice asked about compliance with the law. Marrickville Council’s report says nothing about whether the practices it describes actually comply with the law.  It just describes them, reveals the inconsistencies and relies on a Guideline that says people should not rely on it for the kind of situation that gave rise to this discussion.

It seems that the community cannot rely on how Marrickville Council (and some other Councils) interpret their privacy obligations.  As a minimum they are inconsistent.  Many practices are plainly contrary to the law because they don’t do the balancing of rights that the legislation requires.

And here is what seems to be the biggest problem with Marrickville Council’s practices:  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.

The only decent way to deal with developers asking for access to submissions is to require them to make a formal application under the GIPA Act.  This way those who may wish developers not get their identifying information can object and have appeal rights to the Tribunal.  It seems, in the confusion that reigns among Councils, only the Tribunal can be trusted to know the law and how to apply it in every case.  Councils’ practices should not be designed to deny the community this valuable right.

I literally gasped at the beauty when I first saw Williams Parade in Dulwich Hill.   It's also full of bird song, which adds to the whole wonderful streetscape.

I literally gasped at the beauty when I first saw Williams Parade in Dulwich Hill. It’s also full of bird song, which adds to the whole wonderful streetscape.

Warren Road Marrickville has looked like this for at least 5-years.

Warren Road Marrickville has looked like this for at least 5-years.

Once again inequity of the urban environment has been shown to impact the health of the community, this time pregnant woman & newborn babies.

New research published in ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’ by researchers from Oregon State University USA, the University of British Columbia Canada & Utrecht University in The Netherlands has shown that that a leafy environment in urban areas has an impact on birth weight & full-term gestation of human babies.

Live in a green leafy area & it is more likely that there will be fewer premature births & babies will be born with a higher birth weight. The opposite is true for pregnant women who live in areas with less greenery & less green space.

“The findings held even when factors such as socioeconomic status, walkability, & exposure to air pollution & noise were controlled for…”

The researchers think that reduced stress levels & depression, plus the ability to connect with others while out in green spaces are factors.

Mental health & connectivity have been the subject of recent research that clearly shows that street trees, leafy parks & green spaces all help raise the mental, physical & spiritual health of the community.  In contrast, areas with few trees, & I would include good-looking trees, & few green spaces increases the incidence & duration of depressive illness.

Not only does Marrickville municipality have the least green space in Australia, but in 2010, Marrickville was found to be the unhappiest suburb in Australia according to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index conducted by Deakin University. Add to this the incredible increase in traffic in some parts of the municipality & I think street trees & green leafy parks are once again showing their importance to public health.

The more street trees, green walls, verge gardens & leafy parks we can have, the better off the health of our community will be. I also think that new high-rise housing developments should include green space. Now it has been shown that trees & green space play a vital part in the start of life.

You can read the research in here –

Google map of Kendrick Park.

Google map of Kendrick Park.

Clr Leary has asked a Question on Notice regarding the location of WestConnex drilling sites across Marrickville municipality.  The following sites are included in the papers for next Tuesday’s Council Meeting of the 16th September 2014.

Apparently there will be 40 initial boreholes for exploratory drilling in Marrickville municipality.  The locations are as follows –

  • Kendrick Park Tempe
  • Princes Highway Tempe – near Kendrick Park
  • Princes Highway Tempe/Kendrick Park – near Bay Street (West)
  • 886-896 Princes Highway Tempe
  • Brooklyn street Tempe – near number 10
  • Samuel street Tempe – near number 20
  • Sydenham Green Sydenham – near Coptic Orthodox Church building
  • George Street Sydenham – approximately 30-metres from Princes Highway
  • Grove street St Peters – approximately 30-metres west of Princes Highway
  • Berne Street St Peters – approximately 30-metres east of Princes Highway
  • In or near 1 Canal Road St Peters
  • In 314 Princess Highway St Peters (Dial a Dump site)
  • Roberts Street St Peters – near Roberts Lane
  • Edith street St Peters – near number 9
  • 93A Church Street St Peters (St Peters Public School)
  • 110 Campbell Street St Peters
  • 4-16 Campbell Street St Peters
  • Barwon Park Road St Peters – or in adjoining Sydney Park.
A bird's nest seen in Marrickville.

A bird’s nest seen in Marrickville.

Every year I get emails or Facebook messages seeking advice about baby birds on the ground. Today I came across a great information poster about this issue produced by the Fauna Rescue of South Australia –  I reproduce the text here in full, as I find the poster a little difficult to read.

“Every year thousands of baby birds are needlessly rescued by well meaning members of the public. It is normal for feathered baby birds to be seen on the ground, as fledglings learn to fly from the ground, not from their nest. If you see a baby bird on the ground this spring:

  • Wait for up to an hour to make sure the parent birds are coming back to feed & take care of the fledgling.
  • If the parents do not return then something has happened to them & the bird will need to come into care.
  • Keep your domestic pets inside while baby birds are fledging, it only takes a few days for the bird to learn to flutter back up into the trees.
  • If feral cats are circling the fledgling, place the bird into a plant pot or a plastic container with holes in the bottom for drainage, & place sticks & leaves for their feet to grip & place out of reach of cats. Check to make sure the parents find & are taking care of the baby.
  • Returning fledglings to their nest is highly unsuccessful, as they will almost immediately jump out again.
  • Unfeathered birds should never be left on the ground. If possible return the bird to its nest. They myth that parents will reject the baby once touched by humans is untrue. If the baby cannot be returned to its nest, then it needs to come into care.
  • Only orphaned, unfeathered or injured baby birds should be rescued. Place the bird into a tissue lined margarine container sitting on top of a hot water bottle filled with hot tap water (no boiling water), & put into a box to keep it contained & contact Fauna Rescue to arrange a carer.”

I’d only add -

  • If you are calling a wildlife rescue organisation, put the bird in a dark, quiet place away from children & pets & resist the urge to check on it too often.
  • Do not attenpt to feed the bird.
  • The National Parks & Wildlife have a list of all wildlife rescue organizations across Australia with links to their contact details. See –

A free event not to miss.   The Cooks River Catchment Community Forum is on this coming Saturday.  There will be lots happening, including presentations on the work being done on the river, all-ages entertainment, stalls & a sausage sizzle.

When:    Saturday 13th September 2014.

Where:    Canterbury Public School, Church Street Canterbury.

Time:    Starts at 12 noon until 4pm.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Showing the boundary of the proposed Victoria Road Precinct. Click to enlarge.

Showing the boundary of the proposed Victoria Road Precinct. Click to enlarge.

This was the Infrastructure, Planning & Environmnetal Services Committee.  All Councillors attended.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Haylen/North, Woods/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Ellsmore/North, Brooks/West, Leary/South.  LIBERALS: Gardener/North, Tyler/West INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Hanna/South.

The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

Status Update Report preliminary planning proposal for part of the Marrickville/Sydenham Industrial Area – Victoria Road Precinct. – The proponent wants to amend the Local Environment Plan (LEP) to change the zoning of 18-hectares of industrial zone ‘employment lands’ to provide “creative industries” & residential housing to a “maximum building heights to 14-stories” with a 3:5:1 floor/space ratio.

The Council staff’s recommendations concluded with – “By submitting a planning proposal to Gateway, Council would signal to the Department that it considers that the proposal is justified & has strategic merit prior to it being able to reasonably conclude this to be the case.  It is self evident why the proponent would prefer this approach.”

Clr Macri put up an amendment to send the proposal to Gateway for assessment. FOR: Clrs Macri, Hanna, Iskandar, Woods, Tyler & Gardiner. AGAINST: Clrs Brooks, Leary, Phillips, Ellsmore & Haylen. The proposal now goes to Gateway.

The debate lasted around 2-hours, so would be too much content to post here. Instead I will quote some of the more memorable comments by Councillors in the order of speakers.

Cr Macri: Our staff are reading the rule books. I can see merit in the proposal. I grew up in the area. I hope this proposal can move us to a better outcome. I can see overhead pedestrian bridges & open public space. When I was Mayor we made things happen. I haven’t given up.   We have to move forward. We are the Councillors & we drive the agenda. In Arlington, our kids are out there playing soccer, while others are stuck at home. Clr Phillips: Clr Marci doesn’t even live in the area. Clr Macri: I work in the area.

Clr Gardiner: The Greens Press Release says it will drastically change the area & it will. This area is a disgrace – an urban blight.

Clr Phillips: It stayed an employment area in the LEP because it was close to the airport & Port Botany. Where will the employment lands be?  Staff say if we send to Gateway this gives the message that Marrickville Council endorses the plan. We shouldn’t endorse a plan that has serious flaws that the community doesn’t know about.  It cost Council $2 million to consult with the community to develop the LEP & the LEP did not have this area rezoned for 3,000 extra dwellings. 3:5:1 floor/space ratio is rarely found in this area.

Clr Ellsmore: We are exceeding our housing dwellings.

Clr Hanna: I am sick of residents coming to me & saying my kids can’t buy in the area. The RSL units were bought for $500,000 & now selling for $750,000. Do we want people buying from the Eastern Suburbs & the North Shore & not the kids of Marrickville?   The petition was a waste of my time because the postcodes were not in the area. Last time I was told, you will lose, but I got more votes than before. I am running again. [for a position as Councillor].

Clr Woods: We struggle with most employment lands & we don’t employ anyone.  The heavy lifting is in the South Ward. Item 5: a 10.8 hectare rezoning near Sydenham Station to become a light music hub. I will be interested to see if this gets the same response to the Victoria Road Precinct.

Clr Leary: Do we really think that these properties will be selling at an affordable price? We are talking about thousands of new residents. I catch the bus to work & the buses go past full. Recently some of our bus stops have been closed down. Our transport is to capacity. If you bring in 6,000 to 9,000 people, where are they going to stand to catch the buses? Clrs voted to LEP that increased density beyond what we thought comfortable & now we have a whole new ball game.

Clr Brooks: Property economists will tell you that buildings like this will not help single people or families. There is no evidence that affordability will be achieved at all.

Clr Macri: Marrickville is evolving. I’ve been around for 45-years & it is changing. If you want to know what Sydney will look like, look at other cities.

Tempe Wetlands - now safe from the WestConnex Motorway

Tempe Wetlands – now safe from the WestConnex Motorway

A Press Release from Marrickville Council says that the NSW state government & the WestConnex Delivery Authority have recognized the importance of Tempe Lands, Tempe Reserve & the Tempe Wetlands telling Council that, “they agree the areas have important recreational, environmental, social & economic value.”

“Planning for the WestConnex M5 Extension route between St Peters & Beverly Hills is now expected to be revised accordingly.” Hopefully, this will save the Wolli Creek bushland & some 400 mature trees & a vital & important habitat for urban wildlife.

This is wonderful news.  The Tempe Wetlands are an important ecological area for the wildlife. The ‘Tempe Birdos,’ a local group of bird-watching volunteers have spotted nearly 60 birds species, three frog species, two reptile species & one species of dragonfly since starting to document the wildlife in November 2011.  For more information, including how to join the Tempe Birdos, see –

Tempe Lands, Tempe Wetlands & Tempe Reserve are all important areas of green space for the Marrickville community, especially as we have the least green space in the whole of Australia. To have a motorway go through these areas would have been a disaster for the residents of Tempe, the wildlife & the users of this green space. It makes me very happy to be able to write that it is not going ahead. Thank you to Marrickville Council for all the lobbying they undertook to obtain this positive outcome.

This is in the section of Wolli Creek that is under threat  Hopefully it will be untouched by the WestConnex Motorway & safe for future generations.

This is in the section of Wolli Creek that is under threat Hopefully it will be untouched by the WestConnex Motorway & safe for future generations.

Tempe Reserve - safe from WestConnex.

Tempe Reserve – safe from WestConnex.

The brand new Carrington Road cycleway in Marrickville South.

The brand new Carrington Road cycleway in Marrickville South.

Safety at last for cyclists.  Shame about the Fig tree massacre though.

Safety at last for cyclists. Shame about the Fig tree massacre though.  Half the canopy is gone.  These branches used to arch over the road.

I had the best & safest bike ride that I have ever experienced along Carrington Road in Marrickville South today. Previously using this road felt like I was risking my life, but as a main route, it meant a significant detour when I chose not to travel this way.   Trying to cycle along the footpath was not really an option, as it was very difficult due to the many parked cars.

After a long campaign & many Council Meetings, Marrickville Council has created a separated cycleway.  It is not yet totally finished, but it is open to cyclists & we are using it.  I passed five bike riders in the three minutes I was riding along the route.

I thank Council for this initiative. It has certainly increased safety for cyclists & I think it will prove to be very popular once people learn about it.

As I was cycling along Carrington Road I noticed that Council’s recent work to replant the lovely & distinctive verge garden in front of New Directions looked like it had been vandalized. The verge garden was made up of French lavender & rosemary – totally appropriate for a company specializing in the production of botanicals.

Council recently planted 55 lavender & rosemary plants to recreate the look. However, today, there are 31 holes where plants used to be & only 24 plants remain.  If they were stolen, it is really poor form. I wonder how Council can ever get ahead with streetscape improvements when this is the outcome.

Verge garden outside New Directions - with

Verge garden outside New Directions – with 31 holes where plants used to be.

A closer look. Such a shame.

Such a shame.

The following is a guest post by Hasmukh Chand, a local resident interested in environmental protection & conservation through science & policy research.

This post is part of his candidacy to be selected to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru in December 2014.  See –

I wish Hasmukh success. J



Marrickville: leading the way in climate action


I have been living in Marrickville for over five years now and I have been noticing that Marrickville Council and the people of Marrickville are becoming increasingly progressive towards climate change and environmental issues. At first I thought that it was odd that all this good work that was going unnoticed. A close friend of mine who has lived in the area has made similar observations on a number of occasions. Perhaps, this is because the political and mainstream media cycles these days are dominated by conservative news when it comes to Australia’s position on climate change and the environment.

Harnessing the sun’s power has been long recognised as an important mechanism for reducing our current reliance on conventional fossil fuels which contribute to climate change. According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Australia receives about ‘58 petajoules worth of sunlight each year, approximately 10,000 times Australia’s annual energy consumption’.

This was taken on Thursday afternoon (28.8.14). The sun provides energy that drives life on earth and it's free.

This was taken on Thursday afternoon (28.8.14). The sun provides energy that drives life on earth and it’s free.

Marrickville Council has recognised the importance of the sun. For example, part of Marrickville Council’s Community Strategic Plan includes ‘the uptake of energy efficiency and low carbon, renewable energy in homes, businesses, street, public spaces and Council facilities and operations’ forms a core part of the Council’s Community Strategic Plan. The Council Administration building in Petersham, for example, is sporting eighty new solar panels, which will collectively save nearly thirty tonnes of emissions per annum. Solar panels have also been installed on the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, the Council Depot, Tillman and Deborah Learning Centres and the Chrissie Cotter Gallery.

In an effort to further reduce the impact on climate change, Marrickville Council is also actively encouraging its constituents to embrace the power of the sun. To achieve this goal, information such as Your Home: Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes as well as other fact sheets are available through the Council’s website. I think that the leadership shown by the Council has been one of the driving forces behind the uptake of solar power by residents in Marrickville Local Government Area.

In fact, the people of Marrickville should also be congratulated for embracing the Council’s vision and helping do its part in addressing greenhouse gas emissions. Anyone commuting by train (particularly between Marrickville and Sydenham train station) would have noticed an increase in the number of households with solar panels on their roofs.


Solar panels on roofs near my place. Good on these households.

Solar panels on roofs near my place. Good on these households.

The benefits of solar and other renewable energy systems go far beyond that of addressing climate change. Earlier this year, a research by Pew Charitable Trust and the Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that in 2013, $4.4 billion was invested in renewables in Australia alone. Nearly half of this came from household investment into solar technologies. In other words, investing in renewables means more jobs and innovation.

A second and perhaps over looked benefit has been highlighted by Marrickville Council’s Green Equity Paper (2009). The Council found that solar panels and other solar technologies not only reduced emissions, but also reduced the cost of electricity. This is particularly important for those from low income households. This is why I feel greatly heartened by the fact that Marrickville Council has added its voice to many other stakeholders such as climate change activists, conservationists, political parties and the renewable industry, asking the Federal Government not to alter the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Under the RET, the Government set goals to generate 20% of national electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro, by 2020. To meet this goal, the RET provided financial support to households and businesses through the sale of renewable energy certificates for those installing solar panels, solar water heaters and heat pumps. Unfortunately though, as I write this the Federal Government’s RET review panel has released their report. The panel is recommending that the Renewable Energy Target either be ‘scaled back or scrapped entirely’. If the Government adopts this, it would be a significant obstacle for renewable technologies uptake and emissions reductions.

Regardless of the outcome, while the higher levels of government drag their feet on acting on climate, I congratulate Marrickville Council and the people of Marrickville Local Government Area for doing their bit (whether small or big) towards making a positive difference. I personally find these acts encouraging, as the news on all things climate change and environment related continues to be bleak and depressing. I look forward to seeing more solar panels and other great initiatives taking root all over Marrickville.

By Hasmukh Chand


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