Strange split pole with a nesting hollow attached on the side. I shall be interested to see how this progresses.

Last weekend we came across something very interesting at Tempe Recreation Reserve.  A very tall power pole has been installed in the small hill next to the 2015 National Tree Day site.  Half way up the pole a man-made tree hollow has been attached.

The pole itself has three splits down its length to around half a metre from the ground.  Other people walking in the park joined us to discuss the mystery of the pole.  Was it an accident, was the pole meant to be split like this perhaps to offer shelter for microbats or had it been hit by lightning?

We decided lightning was out because there had not been a storm in the previous week when they said the pole had been installed. The conversation roamed to microbats because they like to sleep in crevices.  The wind was making the sections of the pole move, which I thought  might squash any sleeping bats, but I am not an expert of microbat habitat.

I could imagine a pole with several of these man-made tree hollows attached at various heights along the pole.  High-rise totem pole housing for wildlife & with superb water views.   You have got to love that.

Red-rumped parrots can often be seen in Tempe Reserve & these birds need tree hollows or nesting boxes to breed.  Perhaps they will move in.

It is sad that so many trees have been removed in our cities, especially older trees that have hollows, but I am pleased that Inner West Council is concentrating on this issue of hollows for wildlife & exploring creative options.  There is no doubt this pole is creative housing for wildlife.

Last month I spotted a family of Australian Wood ducks wandering along the riverbank at the Marrickville Golf Course.  This was the first time I have seen Australian Wood ducks along the Cooks River.   These ducks breed in tree hollows.  Once the fledglings are ready to leave the nest, their parent leaves & the chicks, one by one, take a death defying leap to the ground.

You may have seen videos of this, but if you haven’t, this short video of wood ducks leaving the hollow is worth watching.  I flinch watching these brave little balls of fluff tumbling through the air to bounce on the ground below.  It’s a big start to life.      See – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkBSkFyUyv0

Australian Wood ducks walking along the Cooks River in Marrickville Golf Course.  There are another three ducks not included in this photo.  

A rain garden is being created just behind the picnic table.

Murdoch Park at 171 Illawarra Road Marrickville is undergoing Stage Two of an upgrade.

Stage One was completed in June 2014.  The then Marrickville Council spent $50,000 to add a path, a new gate, a picnic table, a park bench, a drinking fountain & two sandstone sculptures.   They also planted a garden, vines along the fence & four trees.  The trees were a special treat because this green space had no trees & was just a patch of grass with a diagonal path from front to the back lane.  See –  http://bit.ly/2qvwUdj

Stage two includes a raingarden, which was being created when I went past recently.  I think Inner West Council has done well to make this small green space attractive & useable for people & a source of food & habitat for wildlife.

Green space is scarce in the former Marrickville municipality, so Council ensuring that each & every space is attractive strongly benefits the community.

This is the eastern side of Unwins Bridge Road Tempe looking toward the roundabout at the corner of Gannon Street.  I think verge gardens will make a huge difference to the streetscape.

I was pleased to see newly created verge gardens along both sides of  Unwins Bridge Road from Tramway Street to the corner of Gannon Street Tempe.  This is one of the gateways to our area with thousands of vehicles travelling past every day.  The houses are lovely, but the streetscape is not.  Verge gardens will be a boon to the residents who will benefit from a drop in the urban heat island & the addition of beauty.

The verge gardens also put something between pedestrians & the vehicles, which is excellent as so many of the pedestrians are school children.

I am interested to see what Council plants & whether any street trees are included.  Council has planted ornamental pear trees further up the road from Tempe High School all the way to Tillman Park, so there is a chance street trees will be planted here.

Well done Inner West Council.  The creation of verge gardens is transforming streets across the former Marrickville municipality & I think it is great that attention is being given to Tempe.

Southern side of Unwins Bridge Road Tempe, again looking toward Gannon Street.  Even small verge gardens improve the streetscape.  

The chimney December 2016 before any height was removed

Work has almost finished and scaffolding is gradually being removed. The two rings below the top of the chimney can be seen in the middle of the two platforms in the scaffolding in the photo showing the chimney before any bricks were removed. If I am correct, a lot of height was removed.

Back in December 2016 I posted about Sydney Water’s plan to reduce the height of the historic sewer vent at Premier Street Marrickville South.  See –  http://bit.ly/2pXqZ5f

In that post I wrote, “From memory Sydney Water did not feel confident that the vent would survive a one in 100 year storm.”    I was incorrect.  Sydney Water did not feel the chimney would survive a one in 500-year earthquake.  That is a far more interesting reason to remove part of an important historic landmark.  Problem is, none of us will be around to check whether this was indeed necessary at all.

If I look for it, this landmark is quite visible in my day to day activities.  So, it was with great interest that I watched what appeared to be nothing happening behind the scaffolding & I had a ridiculous hope that Sydney Water had changed their mind.

Over the months I chatted with quite a few locals about the chimney & realized I was just one of many who were observing the lack of progress with the hope that it was to be left intact.  Most days I would look & feel excited that the chimney was still untouched.

It was fun while it lasted as I was again wrong.  They did indeed start removing bricks & now their work appears to be completed.

As per the notice out front of the property, the chimney has been lowered to 17.85-metres.  I’ve read the historic detail page by Sydney Water ( http://bit.ly/2hh2LuS), but I cannot find the original height of the chimney to know how exactly much height has been removed.

However, I did notice a couple of interesting points –

  • The sewer vent maintains its original function as part of the SWSOOS ventilation system. So, the lower the chimney gets, the closer the community are to the smell of sewerage.
  • In 2000 the cowl was removed from the top of the chimney. I had to google to find out what a cowl is, so for those like me, “a cowl is a usually hood-shaped covering used to increase the draft of a chimney and prevent backflow.”

The finished work doesn’t look too bad in that there is still something to see on the hill & this landmark is still visible from Petersham.  We haven’t lost out completely.   It’s a shame it has happened at all, but hopefully, if an earthquake does happen, everyone will be safe.

The beautiful Cooks River

This is a free talk by Professor Ian Tyrrell, a local resident, academic & environmentalist who is writing a book on the history of the Cooks River since white settlement.  This event is organised by The Cooks River Valley Association.  

WHEN:          Tuesday 20th June 2017

WHERE:        School hall, Marrickville West Public School, corner Livingstone Road & Beauchamp Street Marrickville.

TIME:             7pm

 

One of two piles collected today. I have another photo of a similar pile collected last Friday. Photo by Leonie Sinclair used with thanks 🙂

A friend sent me these photos of Steel Park with the following message –

“Litter covers all three oval spaces & this is only some of it because I don’t really want to spend any more of Mother’s Day collecting other people’s garbage.”

She regularly spends time picking up all the litter dropped in the playing fields of Steel Park.

Can the sports clubs not do better than this?  Why do they not take their empty drink bottle & other garbage with them?

It’s a terrible message to give young people that they can simply leave their garbage behind when it has such a negative impact on the environment, especially with the river so close.  The players need to respect the park, the community & the wildlife & take their garbage home.

Maybe Inner West Council should think about intervening.  One idea is to oblige clubs to read out a short message about respect to the environment to players before each game & the Captains required to ensure all litter is removed before anyone leaves.

I do not think the rate-payers should be paying for Council staff to pick up litter left behind by sporting groups.

Another half pile of litter collected from the playing fields at Steel Park today. Photo by Leonie Sinclair used with thanks 🙂

One of two new Sydney red gums. The shade from these two trees, once they have grown, is expected to cover “at least three-quarters of the car park.”  

This area is permeable paving, yet people can walk on it without experiencing problems or noticing a difference.

I was impressed when I read that the Inner West Council had planted two advanced size Sydney Red Gums (Angophora costata) at the Garners Avenue car park in Marrickville as part of an upgrade.

Council Administrator Mr Pearson said in Council’s Press Release, “When mature, these trees will provide canopy cover to at least three-quarters of the carpark.  So, instead of the usual unshaded bitumen and concrete which would increase the inner west’s ‘urban heat island effect,’ we are actually contributing shade, cooler ambient air temperatures, and improved urban air quality.”  

Council’s Press Release makes mention that shade not only increases amenity, but also increases “the serviceable life of the bitumen by up to 30%.”   

The trees were planted in structural vaults, which on the surface look like business as usual, but are actually purpose built to provide optimum living conditions for a tree planted in unnatural conditions.

The surface is covered by permeable paving allowing rainwater to get to the tree.  Below ground, the area for the tree to grow has been prepared by placing good-quality soil in structural cells across a large area.  The structural cells provide room for the roots to grow, but also encourages them to grow in preferred directions.

Better soil, access to water & room to spread allows the tree grow to maturity.   This technique is light years better than digging a hole in the pavement & planting a tree.  It is well worth the money Council needs to spend on this planting style.

Council’s Press Release (http://bit.ly/2qwAt49 ) made many favourable statements regarding public trees.  It appears we can expect to see a positive change in our urban forest.

“Trees usually come second to infrastructure such as footpaths, roads and car parks. But Inner West Council is determined to turn this thinking around.”

I visited the Garners Street carpark & saw the two Sydney red gums.  They look great.  The flowers from these trees will provide food for bees, butterflies & nectar-eating birds.

I was also impressed to see three new Banksias planted in a small garden area toward the back of the car park.

Two other good sized Diamond leaf pittosporum (Auranticarpa rhombifolia) growing on the other side are festooned with orange berries at present.  These are Australian native rainforest trees & their orange berries attract fruit-eating birds.

The addition of Australian native trees that can grow to a significant size is a big & positive change from the current Purple Leaf Ornamental Plum (Prunus nigra) & Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii) planted at the front of the car park.

I like what Inner West Council have done here.  Give the trees a few years to grow & the difference will be noticeable.  The more Council can plant decent sized native trees in areas traditionally covered with concrete & bitumen the better.  Changes like this will have positive impacts on the livability of our area.   I thank Council for doing this work.

New planting of three Banksias and other plants.

Diamond Leaf pittosporums looking great with all those orange berries.

Garners Street car park Marrickville as it looks from the street.

 

A section of Landing Lights Wetland.

The internationally significant Landing Lights wetland is currently threatened by development, even though it is Crown Land.  I wrote about the threat to the this very important wetland here – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi

Bayside Council says, “To celebrate the completion of the Federal Government grant for Landing Lights Bayside Council will be hosting a community planting day.  This is a great opportunity to be part of the improvement of the biodiversity of the wetlands, by helping put some plants along the boardwalk “to create more native habitat & protect the salt marsh community.”

WHEN:          Friday 2nd June 2017

TIME:             10am – noon.
WHERE:        Landing Lights Wetland – enter from West Botany Street opposite Spring Street Banksia.
Wear appropriate clothing & shoes & bring drinking water.   Phone 9562 1703 for more information.

The front of what was once the St Mary and St Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church – “rare & nationally significant”

left to right – Ms Hanan Ghabour, Director of the Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services, Anthony Albanese MP Federal Member for Grayndler & Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic party.

I have just returned from a peaceful, intelligent & passionate protest where around 70-80 people met beside the Coptic Church at Sydenham Green to protest Inner West Council’s decision to demolish the building next Monday 8th May 2017.

Is demolishing this building a big deal?  Yes. I think so.  This was the first Coptic Church, not only in Australia, but also outside of the Nile Valley, so it most firmly ticks the heritage box.

First functioning as the Tempe Park Methodist Church, it was purchased by the Coptic community in 1968 & re-consecrated as St Mary and St Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church.  The National Trust describes the building as being “rare & nationally significant”.

Anthony Albanese MP Federal Member for Grayndler & Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic party both attended to support the community in saving this heritage building.

The following is what I managed to write down.  I did my best to take it all down verbatim, but all mistakes are mine.

First up to speak was Ms Hanan Ghabour, Director of the Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services.   She said the Interim Heritage Order protecting the building ended on 22nd August 2016.   The Coptic community have had the building independently assessed & have been told it will take $2-million to renovate.  Inner West Council says it will need $5-million to renovate.

There was a small fire last Tuesday night, that caused limited damage to areas that would need to be renovated anyway.  The fire service were said not to be concerned about the safety of the building.

Representatives of the Coptic community last met with Inner West Council on 3rd March 2017 & have not heard back regarding their offers to renovate the building.

She said Mr Pearson, the Administrator of Inner West Council, said he had three options –

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Do what the previous council had decided, or
  3. Start a third tender process, which will take 4-years.

I felt her despair with getting nowhere with the Inner West Council.

She said Reverend Fred Nile has attended every meeting with the Inner West Council & has lobbied hard to retain this building.

She had been told that Ms Gabrielle Upton MP, New South Wales Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Local Government & the Minister for Heritage cannot intervene & that it was up to the Inner West Council as to what they want to do with the building.

The community is asking the State & Federal governments to intervene & recognize the heritage importance & protect the building. They have also asked Anthony Albanese to stop the demolition.

She said that in Egypt important buildings to Coptic Christians are being demolished all the time, so for it to happen here makes the Australian Coptic community feel further persecuted.

The Inner West Council said they will take out the bricks from the church one at a time & use them to make a footpath in Sydenham Green.  She said this was not respectful. 

[I nearly choked when I heard this.  Council are supposed to be experts on multicultural issues.  Even I know that you cannot get lower than have people & dogs walk on what was once the walls of a church & I am pretty sure this would be regarded as offensive to other Christian faiths, Muslims, Hindus & Buddhists.  In many cultures, even pointing your feet towards a sacred object or a holy person, is deemed offensive.]

She said the Coptic community is a community that causes no problems & they receive no funding for programs.  The Coptic community bought the church in the 60s for $40,000.  The church is also a war memorial.

The community is prepared to request an injunction order on Monday.

Next, Reverend Fred Nile spoke. He said the Coptic community want to save the building & that it should be used as a Coptic centre, a community centre & a museum.

Reverend Nile said he did not trust Inner West Council’s assessment that the building walls were going to collapse & that people will be injured.

He said Council never took care of the church building & they watched it get vandalised.  They have a responsibility to help restore & renovate the building.  The community’s quote for renovation was $2-million.  Mr Pearson said it will require $5-million.  He said he found Mr Pearson negative & exaggerating the cost.

Next Anthony Albanese addressed the crowd.  He said, “This was the first Coptic church outside the Nile Valley & if that’s not heritage, I don’t know what is.”  The community came to Australia to make Australia their home & participate in the community.

“We do not have a Council.  We have an Administrator & no democratic process.”

He said he had spoken with Luke Foley MP, Leader of the Opposition who is committed to standing up for the community & will make representations to Gabrielle Upton, the Minister for Heritage.  He said the State government must stop this order & that he will raise the issue with the Federal government.  “A win here is important for the Coptic community & everyone else.”

He said The Coptic church in Egypt is under siege.  The Australian government can send a message.  We need to represent people of all faiths.  One way to do this is to restore heritage & have a museum & a centre of focus here.  He also pledged solidarity with the community forever.

Then the Coptic Priest addressed the crowd & I left.

My feelings were strong on the bicycle ride home.  This was an engaged, well behaved & intelligent community who in my mind are desperately trying to save a building that does have important heritage connections both for the Coptic community & the Inner West community.

I believe the building should be retained.  Council spends huge amounts of money on all kinds of things that do not have much of an impact, but cost a lot (eg.  The red meshing pattern on the road surface at intersections in the Marrickville shopping strip.  This is to inform drivers of a 40mph speed limit.  The speed limit happens naturally anyway.  Most of the time I travel 25mph along there because this is the speed vehicles are traveling.)

I do believe Council has left the building to decay.   I do believe that the bottom half of Marrickville & definitely Tempe, Sydenham & St Peters have not had much happening for them in comparison to the northern suburbs of the former Marrickville LGA – at least this is my perception over the near 8-years I have been doing this blog.

The Station Master’s property at Tempe was heritage listed, but the same building in Sydenham was forgotten to be assessed by Marrickville Council & therefore not covered by any heritage listing.    Then there was the DA to remove 23 mature trees on the property.  Then somehow, not only were all the trees removed, but the house was also demolished.  Another piece of Sydenham history gone.   Local people care about this, as they care about the fate of the Coptic church building.

Sydenham Green will not benefit by this 1902 building being demolished.  However, both the park & the wider community will benefit by keeping an important heritage building for future generations.  Slowly we are watching heritage be destroyed for high-rise & visually, I think this is a major loss of the character of the area.

I hope the Coptic community wins.  I hope this building can be saved, renovated & start being a place for the community for now & for the future.

There is an excellent article from the Marrickville Heritage Society Jan/Feb 2016 Newsletter on the Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services website where the Society says, “Council should be ashamed of the neglectful & careless manner in which they have managed this potential community asset, allowing it to decay to the point that even a basic restoration will cost in the order of $2 million dollars.”   See – http://bit.ly/2pjNtZP

Side of ex- Coptic Church in Sydenham and about to be destroyed.

What was the Sydenham Station Master’s cottage is now a desolate treeless block of weeds.

A verge in Marrickville. There is a street tree in that jungle of grass.

I’ve read complaints in the Letters section of the local paper & also on Facebook about the lack of mowing by Council.  Seems there are others noticing the forest of grass growing on our verges.

The letters in the paper must have had an impact because last week I heard the sound of mowers & whipper-snippers indicating that Inner West Council is back on board with tending to the verges across the former Marrickville municipality.

This year I have noticed more weeds on the streets & lanes than I have ever seen & grass on verges almost knee high in some places.

I am assuming the lack of mowing & weeding has been a cost saving measure.   I hope Council achieved what it wanted to achieve, though I find it a bit sad that the visual outlook of a community has to deteriorate for something to be achieved.

Marrickville streetscape – tagging, litter & untended verges.  To me it just looks a mess.  

Much of Marrickville looks like this.

Weeds in Sydenham. You could ignore this if it was rare, but it not. After a while it becomes depressing.

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