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We were thrilled to see a pair of Black Swans & their three cygnets in one of the lakes in Sydney Park last weekend. The parent birds closely guarded their babies, at one stage corralling them into a section of the reeds that protected them on three sides so they could have a sleep. The parent Swans remained guarding the entrance to the reeds while also watching the people who were watching them.
This is the first time I have seen cygnets. The story, ‘The Ugly Duckling’ is not true. There is nothing ugly about cygnets.
I know there are Black Swans in Centennial Park, but it was great to see them so close to home in Sydney Park. I was also very pleased to see that both lakes were fenced to prevent both people & dogs from being able to get into the waterbirds habitat. The fencing was necessary after dogs in two separate incidents had mauled two Black Swans resulting in their death. See – http://bit.ly/W2Eom
We haven’t been to Sydney Park for a couple of years so it was nice to see just how much the trees & vegetation has grown. It’s obvious that the City of Sydney Council keep adding to this park. They haven’t just planted & walked away.
Anyone know how many Fig trees in Sydney Park? I can imagine how glorious these will look when they have grown. I was also impressed with the amount of colour, with Callistemon hedges & Grevillias dotted all around the park.
I was pleasantly surprised to see & speak to a couple of Council Rangers who were cruising slowly around the park in their car.
Also surprising was the lack of litter anywhere, including around the food kiosk. Even the toilets were clean. The people who use this park respect it, making me wonder why the same doesn’t happen along the parks along the Cooks River in Tempe & Marrickville. I wish it did. It was great to be in a park where one wasn’t confronted by lots of litter & black bags filled with dog poo.
Sydney Park is a beautiful park. There are some very large trees & quite a few are flowering at the moment. I had the best toasted cheese & tomato sandwich I’ve had in years at the kiosk (they use real bread) & I was told that even the coffee was good. It’s worth going to see the swans & especially the cygnets. They are incredibly beautiful with their fluffy grey down & it is a joy to watch them.
About 3 kms from Sydney’s CBD is a glorious emerald jewel called Sydney Park. If you live in the Inner West & own a dog you probably go there often because it is leash-free & offers an incredible amount of room for dogs to run themselves into happy exhaustion. There are even water bowls for dogs to have a pit-stop drink. I knew of Sydney Park’s existence, though I had no idea just how wonderful this park is. My impression over the years was garnered by what I
could see as I drove along Sydney Park Road in St Peters – a lot of trees near the road, the old brickworks buildings & an enormous grass hill that I didn’t feel like climbing. Then I read an article in the Inner West Courier in 2009 about the killing of a black swan by a dog. Black swan……in Sydney? This enormously sad news item & the subsequent letters from the community was the prompt I needed to finally visit.
That first visit in 2010 is something I will not forget. We stood at the bottom of the park at the Harber Street entrance & surveyed an enormous park with multiple lakes, masses of normal-shaped large trees, patches of woodland & birds everywhere. We were hooked. How had this wonderful place been unknown to us for so many years? If you haven’t been, you must go at least once. I doubt it will be your last visit.
Okay there are hills, but most are easily walked. Many people run up them. Wide bitumen footpaths meander through the park. If a hill seems too much for today you can easily head in another direction. The bulk of the park is wheelchair accessible though better if you have someone who can help you up those hills if needed. Prams are a cinch. There is an ‘all-abilities’ playground, accessible toilets & a kiosk, though I haven’t seen these yet.
The 44-hectares of Sydney Park is less than 20-years-old & was built on a former clay extraction & waste disposal site. It is a prime example of how industrial & landfill land can be turned into something beautiful. It was created by the City of Sydney Council who continue to manage it. They not only have created something that is beautiful & entirely useful for the current population, but everything they are doing is creating something for our children’s children & beyond. I don’t know how many Fig trees the City of Sydney Council have planted, but I’d guess at least 200 trees. I’ll have to find out. The Figs are planted reasonably close to each other to create a continuous canopy when grown & to provide shade. They are all young, but in 2-3 decades time, these Fig trees are going to provide phenomenal beauty. Just imagine how lovely this park will look in 100-years time.
Sydney Park has tree precincts. There is the Palm area, the Grevillea woodland, the Tea tree & Callistemon woodland, the Eucalypt woodland, the Casuarinas woodland, the Acacia woodland & so on. We have not seen all the park as yet so there is bound to be more woodland areas. Trees within the park are used to great effect to screen neighbouring factories & surrounding roads. There is no philosophy of maintaining sightlines into this park. Sydney Park is an oasis & provides refuge from busy city living. As much as possible, the noise of busy Princes Highway & surrounding main roads has been kept out, both visually & audibly.
Not only is it a place of beauty, but Sydney Park also functions as a stormwater collection & filtration site. Stormwater from surrounding suburbs comes to a large holding pool where it is filtered & sent on to the first of 5 fairly large lakes. From there it is filtered into the next lake & so on, until it finally filters through the ground into the watertable. The lakes provide 5-star habitat for a wide range of water birds, including migrating birds & Spoonbills.
There are birds everywhere in Sydney Park & they are both wary & curious of people which means you can have a good look at them, but not touch. City of Sydney Council has almost completed fencing the lakes to prevent another dog attack. Wooden poles attached to the cyclone fencing have made the fences look beautiful & a part of the landscape as well as being functional. This is just one example of how artistic, but functional design has been used in Sydney Park. Nothing here is ordinary in my opinion. Everything has been done with beauty in mind & to provide food & habitat to urban wildlife.
There are a number of swales that take stormwater from the park itself into the lakes. We last visited while it was raining & it was easy to see the design that had been implemented to capture runoff down the hills. Much had been directed into woodland & garden areas & the remainder channeled to meet up with bio-swales that took the water to the lakes. To prevent soil erosion, great long snakes of coir encased in rope were laid around garden beds or in front of vulnerable trees. Some of the pathways are permeable.
While there are areas of lawn for informal ball games, City of Sydney Council have not created yet another park that is essentially paths & lawn surrounded by trees around the periphery & a few along pathways. They have recognized that people want & need shade & desire areas to sit where they can be in the shade. There is not a Crepe myrtle to be seen. They have planted a range of bird-attracting trees & shrubs making this park useful to urban wildlife & there are many areas where it is difficult for people to enter allowing wildlife to have safe habitat.
Much of what has been done in Sydney Park could also be done along the Cooks River. If it were, it’s likely that a greater range of water birds would live along the river. Poles have even been sunk upright into one of the lakes to allow birds to perch as well as making an artistic statement for humans. Trees have side branches offering other places to perch. Few plants are ornamental only. While there are grasses around the lakes, grasses are not the main feature of any planting. Even groundcover is of the type that produces food for small birds. There is loads of colour from flowering trees & shrubs & this will change seasonally. The ground is healthy as there were a range of gorgeous mushrooms & toadstools growing after the rain.
I am in love with Sydney Park. It would have been expensive for City of Sydney Council to create, but this is money well spent & the park is going to only get better as it matures.
There are other features, such as a memorial woodland, that I will post about later. Sydney Park is a prototype of a people-friendly, dog-friendly, wildlife-friendly green space that is not ordinary in any sense & that will only improve as the decades pass. City of Sydney Council have probably won awards for Sydney Park. If they haven’t as yet, then they should. They deserve it.
I have posted a short YouTube video – Birds at Sydney Park Wetlands & will upload more videos of various aspects of this park later – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsHvuGPBjk4
Today is the 40th anniversary of the signing of the ‘Convention on Wetlands of International Importance’ in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. This year the theme is ‘Wetlands & Forests.’
Australia has 62 wetlands listed as internationally significant under the Ramsar Convention. There are 1,911 other listed wetland sites around the world.
The East Asian-Australasian Flyway travels from the Arctic to China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore & down to Australia. Birds migrate annually up & down this flyway stopping at wetlands along the route.
Unfortunately many of the wetlands along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway are being destroyed by urbanization. Wetlands are being reclaimed for housing, for farming & many are being drained to irrigate farming land. Also, many of the trees in the wetlands are being chopped down to make charcoal. Consequently bird numbers are declining, in some cases dramatically.
Hunting & watersports are also a big problem for the birds. Experts agree there is a need for well-managed bird sanctuaries along the migratory flyways where hunting is prohibited & watersports are limited & controlled.
“The IUCN Red List of threatened species has the following categories –
- Extinct in the Wild
- Critically Endangered
- Near Threatened or Least Concern.
Over 40,000 species have been assessed for the Red List, of which more than 16,000 are considered threatened with extinction (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable). In the latest assessment in 2010, 1,240 species are considered threatened with extinction (i.e. in the categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered & Vulnerable). This represents 12.5% of the total of 9,895 extant bird species in the world. An additional 838 species are considered Near Threatened & 4 are Extinct in the Wild, giving a total of 2,082 species that are urgent priorities for conservation action. Of the threatened species, 190 species are considered Critically Endangered & are therefore at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.” http://www.birdlife.org/index.html
You can follow the migration of 9 Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwings that have been tagged with satellite transmitters, from their breeding grounds in Kazakhstan to their wintering areas in Africa here – http://www.birdlife.org/sociable-lapwing/?utm_source=digitalspring
We have our own little wetland in Tempe that was created by Marrickville Council on what was once a tip. It’s a gorgeous place that offers habitat for a range of birds, insects & small animals. I made a YouTube video of Tempe Wetlands here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WaCth6mwPk
Today, around 300 people attended a protest walk across Tempe Reserve to the RTA’s community consultation about the planned 4 lane arterial road. The walkers could be heard chanting as they approached. Then with a roar, they came around the trees & stood facing the tent where about 20 people were listening to a talk by the RTA on the ‘road to nowhere.’
The ‘No WAY RTA’ banner carried by local residents led the walk closely followed by the Marrickville Council banner carried by Councillors O’Sullivan, Olive, Peters, Phillips, Byrne & Mayor Iskandar. State Greens MP Lee Rhiannon also attended. Many people expressed disappointment that other State & local MPs were not in attendance.
After a few minutes the crowd progressed to the tent & listened to the speaker. The protesters respected that the RTA staff had a job to do & did not interrupt. Besides, the information about this road has been vague, so everyone wanted to know the details of what was being proposed.
I asked about the location & height of the 4 lane arterial road & how many trees will be chopped down to achieve this. The staff member said he had no idea, acknowledging, “Some trees will have to go.” He did however, show me the route of the road & said, “It will be at least 10 metres above the ground, higher in some places.” He said the road could not travel along the Alexandria Canal because it will cross the flight path. Another person pointed out that the intended route put the road on top of a hill travelling in the same direction & this would also affect the flight path so the rationale didn’t make sense. I think there is a plan cooking somewhere to build units along the Alexandria Canal.
The details of the proposed 4 lane arterial road as I understood are:
- The road will require the removal of many mature trees in a park on the Rockdale Council side of the Cooks River (do they care?)
- It will cross the Cooks River & travel between the mature Fig tree situated on the point of Tempe Reserve & the Robyn Webster Sports Centre (the white building with the brown drawings designed & painted by Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft as part of the Marrickville Council Public Arts Strategy in 2004)
- 2-3 mature Fig trees look to be in the way of the road, however the staff member said this was only a guideline & may change
- The road will go through & above the seating in rotundas, the barbeque areas & the extensive & well loved playground
- It will then follow the curve of the park along Alexandria Canal cutting off access to the water (I doubt people will want to sit under a 4 lane highway)
- Then it will cut through the urban forest on the city-side of the park before it travels along the crest of the hill just above Tempe Wetlands, & beside a golf driving range. It will overlook houses in Tempe & most certainly be visible from the Princes Highway
- The road will stop at Sydney Park & much of the 15,000 vehicles/day will end up on King Street & Euston Road
This road is of great concern because of pollution, noise, impact on the community, respiratory illnesses, damage to Tempe Reserve & the park on Kogarah side & both the Cooks River & the Alexandria Canal & will increase traffic through Newtown, St Peters & surrounds.
Community group Tempe 2020 are there to provide details about how this road will affect their community (see What’s on page). SoT is concentrating on the impact it will have on trees, wildlife, the river & the Tempe Wetlands.
The well-utilised beautiful park on the Kogarah side of the river will be massively affected. Here, I have photographed cormorants drying off their wings on the banks of the Cooks River. It is filled with wildlife that will be severely impacted by the making of this road & the addition of thousands of vehicles speeding past each day.
Tempe Reserve is a beautiful park in its infancy. Marrickville Council have spent millions repairing it & creating biologically diverse areas such as a salt marsh & ephemeral wetland to provide habitat for flora & fauna. In about 10 years it will look significantly more beautiful as the current works will have established themselves & the trees will have matured. It is used by many people 7 days a week & not just for sporting activities. I do not think the community can afford to lose either park to a major road.
Most people are attracted to the point of the peninsula & Marrickville Council knows this because that’s where they put the barbeques, the playground & the seating & this is exactly where the RTA intend to put the road.
I feel annoyed that the State government & the RTA have so little respect & appreciation for these areas. I can only assume that they, as many people in Sydney, don’t realise just what a jewel this area is. Friends glaze over if I mention the Cooks River. Years ago they heard it was ugly & dirty & this has remained in their consciousness. Now it is full of lovely regrowth areas.
The State Government should be doing everything in their power to protect Tempe Wetlands & the Cooks River, which is also highly visible as one of the gateways to Sydney from the airport. Sydney also needs to keep places like this for future generations & for wildlife. This is a densely populated area of the inner west with few parks per capita.
The wildlife in my opinion is quite stressed with the rapid urbanisation & the continued loss of where they can live & find food. Stopping on the perimeter of Tempe Wetlands to take photos today, the air was alive with the sounds of insects humming away. Walk inside & you could be in a national park.
Not everything of beauty should be destroyed for more roads. In my opinion, the State government are continuing to build this city for vehicles, not for people. As long as you encourage cars, roads will always be filled. Spend the money earmarked for this project on public transport, not for a road system that ends nowhere & is going to force drivers into crowded Alexandria and King Street that is barely coping now. Let the wildlife have a little pocket for themselves. Future generations will thank you for it.