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We went to Berowra Waters today, which required driving up the Pacific Highway. The last time I did this I wrote about the street trees. This time I wanted to see specifically what the differences were between the Pacific Highway & the sections of Princes Highway & Parramatta Road in Marrickville LGA.
There were a number of noteworthy differences. The Pacific Highway has thousands of street trees along its length. A significant number of these trees are Eucalypts. They cascade over the highway, many having branches which cross over 3 lanes & sometimes as far as the opposite side of the highway.
Bottle Brushes are not the dominant street tree, with most trees being of a taller growing species. Many of the street trees are 1/3 higher than the power poles & thick trunks are quite common.
Far less than 50% of the trees have trunks that are as thin as an upper arm. Many street trees were planted around 3 metres apart, which helped create a decent canopy. Most of the trees have a natural shape & I did not see a single tree in a cage even within the shopping strips
The street trees planted in shopping strips spilled out from under the awnings & loomed over the highway. Naturally to achieve this they did not have straight trunks & they have not removed because of this.
Much of the Pacific Highway has a grass verge with a narrow footpath. Only the shopping strips are paved or cemented. The grass verge serves to soften the environment, which is quite an achievement considering the Pacific Highway is one of the top 10 heavily trafficked roads in Australia. I watched the verge of the Highway for its length wondering how they were managing with far less cement. I noticed the footpaths were narrower than in the Inner West & many trees hung over the path requiring any pedestrians to either duck or weave their way around the tree. I actually saw this happen & it appeared to cause no difficulty for the pedestrian who was a woman over 50. So very different from here, where just last week a council worker took to our fence with a whipper-snipper to hack away 20 centimetres of errant camellia which protruded out from under the fence. Considering the footpath outside our fence is a wide one for the area, I thought this was overkill.
So do we sanitise & control nature more than they do on Sydney’s North Shore? I think we do.
In direct opposition is our section of the Princes Highway & Parramatta Road, both of which are an eye-sore in my opinion. The Princes Highway cannot possibly get uglier & being so close to the airport, it is one of the gateways to Sydney. The roads directly surrounding the airport were heavily planted with street trees, shrubs & flowers for the 2000 Olympics. In the main, they still look good & are maintained by Botany Council. I doubt once the visitor leaves these roads & comes to the Princes Highway that they will have a favourable impression of the area. The Princes Highway is in the main a worship of cement. Soot stained, dirty cement. One can count the street trees & they are a sad, straggly lot. There is a gross lack of green infrastructure. This changes when the Princes Highway comes under the jurisdiction of City of Sydney Council at one end & Rockdale Council at the other. For a green council, Marrickville seems to be ignoring this stretch of highway.
The same can be said for Parramatta Road, which is stark in its lack of green infrastructure, though it is slightly less ugly than the Princes Highway because of the type of grey infrastructure (some may debate this). Again, Leichhardt Council & City of Sydney Council have planted threes where Parramatta Road comes under their control, though City of Sydney Council has done far more work & planted many more street trees. If City of Sydney, Rockdale & Leichhardt Councils can plant street trees along these main roads, why can’t Marrickville Council?
Why do we need so much cement? Trees help the longevity of grey infrastructure like cement footpaths because their shade protects from the harsh sun. We also know that roofs, roads & footpaths cause the heat island effect & trees lower this. Temperatures can be 9 degrees cooler in the shade of a tree.
The North Shore is deemed classier. I think this is not because of the housing stock, but because of the plentiful tall trees & the significant green canopy. Friends have told me they moved to the North Shore because of the trees. Balmain & Paddington were built as working class suburbs as were those in Marrickville LGA, yet both these suburbs are regarded as better suburbs & their properties are generally worth more. Why? Is it the presence of water? Being close to the city? Perhaps, but Marrickville LGA is also close to the city & has its own beautiful Cooks River.
I think it is because of the trees. On the drive back from Hornsby, the closer you get to Marrickville the more you notice the trees thin out, get shorter, look less healthy & street tree after street tree have been severely hacked. The trees on the North Shore aren’t hacked in this way.