You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Brush Box trees’ tag.
In February 2010 I wrote about the resplendent Morton Bay Fig at St Stephen’s Church in Newtown for Festival of the Trees. See http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/st-stephens-fig/ With this post, I aim to describe the cemetery as I have experienced it. To separate the graveyard & the trees is almost impossible as they intermingle & both are quite beautiful.
Once you walk past the massive Morton Bay Fig planted in 1848 & the 2 large clumps of Giant Bamboo, also planted more than a century ago, you follow the dirt road that takes you to the heritage protected Gothic Revivalist St Stephen’s Church & immediately into the cemetery. The graveyard itself starts within metres of the entrance on both sides of the dirt road.
The current cemetery is about 4 acres (1.6 hectares) & is bordered by a high sandstone wall. The land, 4 kms from Sydney’s CBD, purchased by a group of businessmen in 1845, was originally 12.5 acres (4.8 hectares). It was the main cemetery for Sydney until it closed in 1867 because it was full. Even so, a few people were buried here up to the 1940s. All up, about 18,000 people were buried here, though the true numbers are not known because many of the graves hold multiple people, all buried on top of each other. A significant number of the famous are buried here.
In 1948 Marrickville Council reclaimed ¾ of the cemetery land to create a public park & Camperdown Memorial Rest Park opened in 1951. The headstones and other fixtures were brought inside the cemetery wall & I guess the thousands of interred are still under the park while the dog walkers & others play overhead. Rather a gruesome thought, though I know others who question why I think like this.
The tombstones from outside the new boundary were removed & placed inside & against the sandstone perimeter wall & fixed in place with steel nails. Unfortunately, the nails have rusted over time & split many of the headstones. Most of the graves & headstones are made of Sydney sandstone & have seriously weathered over the years.
The graves surround the church, then spread out through the cemetery. I have not been on one of the regular guided tours, so I do not know much about the individuals who were buried here. Directly behind the church is an impressive grave in the style of a boat. My favourite tombstone is a tree stump made of cement. Over time it has weathered & appears real until you look closely.
The cemetery is also special because of the trees. There are Brush Boxes (Lophostemon confertus) planted in the 1960s, Blackwoods (Acacia melanoxylon), a Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora), a Port Jackson Cypress Pine (Callitris rhomboidea), 2 African Olive trees (Olea africana), a number of Melaleucas, a grove of Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia), Canary Island Palms (Phoenix canariensis), a Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), a few Birch trees & a number of Camphor Laurel trees (Cinnamomum camphora). There are also 2 clumps of Giant Bamboo.
If I were to take you on a tour, we would walk down the dirt road passing many graves & a row of Canary Island Palms planted in the 1930s. There is a circular road behind St Stephen’s Church & many of the gravestones in this area are impressive.
From here we would walk into the small area beside the church on the other side. It is somewhat off the path, but it is well worth it because of the enormous Oak that spreads its boughs here. The last time we went it had been raining heavily & the ground was very boggy, which I think would discourage people from going in this direction. In this area the gravestones are sparser, though I would guess there are people buried in unmarked graves. The Oak is magnificent & would be one of the trees that were planted in 1848. The Oak tree spills out claiming a lot of space & I can easily imagine the kids playing on it after church a century ago.
A few metres away a big tree has recently been chopped down. Judging by the side of the stump, I imagine this tree also filled the space now open to the sky. Interestingly, the stump is one of many which is directly next to a grave & over time it has dislodged part of the stone. I would guess there was a tradition of planting a tree where a loved one was buried.
The cemetery did have many Peace roses, but Marrickville Council removed them because it was felt they required too much care. I found one old rose bush planted in a grave, so perhaps it is a remanent of the original roses.
Moving away from this area & rejoining the dirt path that meanders around the left side of the cemetery following the sandstone fence, you pass very old Brush Box & Camphor Laurel trees. Their trunks are massive & they have been left to grow naturally with minimal pruning.
A special site is on your left where those from the shipwrecked Dunbar & the Catherine Adamson in 1857 are buried. I know it is important because these graves are painted white & are well looked after. The dirt path becomes a track & takes you to & along the back wall of the cemetery. Tombstone after tombstone are lined up against the perimeter wall. Some are detailed & very beautiful while others are simple affairs.
The trees in this area are different. They too are tall, but their branches sweep just above the ground & in some cases require you to dodge & walk around them. Some of the graves here are different as well, being just headstones & you have to assess where the grave would be if you don’t want to tread on them.
This part of the cemetery has remanent Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) left over from when the whole area to Botany Bay was covered with this species of grass. It’s nice to look at & I can easily imagine following the walking trail to the sea over miles of this soft grass that would have caught the light & changed colour throughout the day.
To your right is the centre of the cemetery & my favourite area. It has no path, is dense with tall trees & you cannot see the church. Apart from the odd gravestone, you could be anywhere. The grass is long & many of the graves are overgrown. There is a birch wood covering a few metres that have sprung up naturally after the initial trees were planted. There is also some Wattle, a very large a Port Jackson Cypress Pine, more Oak trees planted in 1848 & a grove of Chinese Elms.
In the middle is an old Oak stump that stands about 6 feet high with a natural hollow that ascends to the top. Here I found a piece of hand-made jewellery that has been carefully placed inside. It made me think that I had come across some sort of wishing ritual, so apart from taking a photo, I did not touch it.
One branch from this tree has been left on the ground. It had the most amazing pattern & to me looked almost like rivers taken from space. Interesting that pictures of earth from space can look similar to what we can see in nature & even the same as inside the human body. The patterns repeat again & again. I hope the church authorities leave this stump as it is very beautiful.
Leaving the centre of the cemetery, you return to the path, which widens & takes you back to St Stephen’s Church. Here there are many other tall & old trees, mostly Brush Box.
The most filigree tomb is right in the front left-hand corner behind the Giant Bamboo. Here 4 figures act as columns for a roof structure. Each figure looks different & holds something different. We did not notice the bees that started to gather & had to run away because these bees were quite territorial. There are at least 2 hives situated at the back of the Lodge located a few metres away.
Once you pass the Giant Bamboo & the massive Morton Bay Fig, you return to the front gate & are in the heart of busy Newtown with it’s tiny terraces & narrow streets. If you follow the perimeter fence to your left, you come to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park where a few of the original Brush Box trees can be seen at the edge of the park. This much-used park is where the cemetery was originally, so remember to be quiet. There are people sleeping under your feet.
NOTE: I have tried to create a visual walking tour of Camperdown Cemetery. The photos are labelled 1, 2 , 3 etc & they follow the path as I walked it. You can view this at the following link – http://www.flickr.com/photos/savingourtrees/sets/72157623601096089/detail/
Last Friday, I was called to Excelsior Parade Marrickville, home of ‘The Pride of Excelsior.’ (see Shame Page) “Energy Australia are pruning the trees.” I arrived just as they were finishing. Whether due to recent bad publicity plaguing the energy companies or just a good crew of contractors, they had done a good job.
I always give credit where when it’s due. This is one such occasion. I have been worried about these trees knowing that Energy Australia were due. This time there were only a few branches on the road & they had taken care not to over prune.
Interestingly, a small crowd had gathered to assess the work, indicating that others hold these trees in high esteem as well.
The trees are Brush Box, large & old, just the type that Council have recommended to be chopped down & replaced in their Tree Strategies Issues Paper (see last post). No one knows when these trees were planted, but the housing was built in 1915. Older residents said the trees went in around that time. They form a canopy over the street & support a myriad of wildlife. Everyone who comes to this street mentions the beauty of these trees. Even the real estate agents mention them in their advertising when a house is up for sale & I am sure the house prices reflect their presence.
A Fire-Wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus, Wheel of Fire, White Beefwood, White Oak for those of you who like botanical names) had to be topped for the cables. This native species of tree can grow to 40m, but more commonly to 15m in cultivation. Question is, why was this tree planted under electricity wires around 5 years ago? It will continue to grow & by the time Energy Australia return, the trunk will have grown taller. Routine pruning will then turn this tree into a flat umbrella & Council will probably chop it down. In Los Angles, Fire-Wheels are classified as heritage trees & they are described as a ‘fragile tree.’ So, well done Energy Australia. Thank you for leaving the trees looking beautiful. I am sure the community will be happy you did.
Not so for the residents of Valentine Avenue Blacktown & Browning Crescent Lalor Park, who complained about the pruning practices of Integral Energy contractors recently. (see my posts More butchering of street trees & Bakers dozen or it dozen matter). Curious to see just how bad the damage was & to compare with what has happened in Marrickville LGA, we took a trip there last weekend to see the trees. What a shocker! They were butchered & the residents were entitled to complain.
The visit was worthwhile on a number of fronts. I now know that Blacktown Council took action to prevent savage over-pruning, whereas in cases of severe over pruning in Marrickville LGA no action seems to have been taken. Marrickville Council also can intervene in the future, rather than sit back & allow our assets to be destroyed.
I haven’t been on the M4 for a while. After leaving the eyesore of Parramatta Road, which seriously needs the intervention of multiple councils, we reached the expressway. This has become a green corridor as the trees planted for the Olympics have grown & now present a tall, lush, green screen. It is quite an achievement to make a highway look nice, but they have done it.
I also discovered that Blacktown, Seven Hills & Lalor Park are as green as Eastwood. There are tall trees everywhere, many of them Eucalypts & it is impossible to count the trees on the horizon. I think Blacktown Council has done well regarding street trees. I found other articles about the recent pruning of street trees & in other locations the Blacktown area. From the Blacktown Sun - http://www.blacktownsun.com.au/news/local/news/general/pruning-vandalism/1729453.aspx & another from the Blacktown Advocate – http://blacktown-advocate.whereilive.com.au/your-news/story/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/ & from the Cumberland Courier – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/your-news/comments/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/
During my research I was stunned to read that Blacktown City Council gives away 70,000 trees every year free to residents as part of the Visionary Greening Of Blacktown Program. It’s working. Then I came across “more than 7,000 native trees have been planted in Fairfield as part of Blacktown City Council Council’s Regenesis Project.” (Aug & Sept 09) http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/showPost.cfm?bid=11987&mycomm=WC A look at Blacktown Council’s web-site revealed more. Over 500 residents & businesses people helped plant 23,370 native trees, shrubs & grasses over 8 month period ending June 09. http://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/news-releases/wow-23370-trees-planted-since-october.cfm
Even the Sikh Centre, a massive temple, has been given an Environment Grant ($4,200) to rejuvenate the local streetscape, as this is a new housing development with building still under way.
Blacktown City Council has done a Tree Inventory & they also have a Significant Tree Register. Our Council has neither & at present have no intention to do so.
I’m going to stop now because I sound like I have set up the Blacktown City Council Fan Club. http://www.bccfanclub.org.au for your free t-shirt! (NOTE: no such web-site) This research started because I wanted to know why our Council ignores what happens to our street trees & Blacktown Council doesn’t. Now I can see why. It’s also good to know what other Council’s are doing about street trees & over-all greening of their municipality so we know what is a reasonable expectation.
Back to the Brush Box trees on Excelsior Parade. These trees are also at risk of being damaged by passing trucks. Residents in the area are campaigning on a number of issues & one of their concerns is that long semi-trailers on Excelsior Parade will destroy the trees. Considering the damage heavy vehicles have caused to trees in the nearby Carrington Road (see post -http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/) I think their concerns are justified. To view their concerns go to the Council Gripe web-site at – http://councilgripe.com/content/marrickville-council-police-inaction-re-traffic-safety-warren-road-marrickville