We went to Sydney Park last weekend after a gap of a few months. The changes are astronomically good. No wonder City of Sydney Council has been awarded a Green Flag for Sydney Park. They deserve it.
Sydney Park covers 44-hectares & a fair section of the park consists of a series of swales, ponds & lakes, that together harvest stormwater from surrounding streets. The harvested stormwater will be used to irrigate the park & top up the wetlands.
The Water Reuse Scheme commenced in April 2013 & appears to be nearing completion. The works will cost $10.5 million & harvest & clean a massive 850-million-litres of stormwater per year.
Stormwater is diverted through underground pipes & taken through pollutant traps & series of bio-retention beds to filter & clean it from all sorts of pollutants, such oil from roads. The water then travels to a retention pond that gradually fills the four lakes & wetlands further down the hill.
All this provides a wonderful habitat for a range of wildlife, especially waterbirds. Harvesting stormwater is not only sustainable, but also works towards preventing flooding in areas outside the park.
You only need to look around to see the extent of works done by City of Sydney Council around this project. There are many swales that travel beside the pathways throughout the park. Even when there is not a swale beside the path, there is a groove at the side of the path that channels water to swales & then to small ponds or wetlands. The ponds & wetlands serve to clean the water before it reaches the lakes. They are fabulous little spots of biodiversity & very nice to look at.
The large swale that was defined by the Cabbage palm trees is now a watercourse. I was pleased to see that the the palms were retained. A great deal of work has been done here. Thousands of plants have been planted. There are large wetland areas, new attractive seating, permeable paths, lookouts & areas where one can quietly reflect. Gabian walls are used everywhere. They not only look attractive & act as retaining walls, but also provide habitat for insects & lizards.
The problem of dogs killing the black swans has been permanently fixed by fencing. The Council has chosen fencing that is not intrusive to the eye. It will keep both dogs & humans out, which is very good. A dog water station is being installed for the dogs to cool off.
Every piece of furniture – seats, tables, benches, fencing, railings, bike racks, lighting & bins – is attractive. City of Sydney Council has chosen carefully for durability & aesthetics. These things make the park very attractive to me.
There are newly planted trees everywhere & they all seem to be Australian natives. Trees are planted in groups together providing safer habitat for wildife & more visual impact for people. The trees also act as a wind break, as well as offer shade. I did not see one seating arrangement that did not include one to three shade trees planted around the seating. There is lots of seating dotted everywhere, especially where there is a nice view.
Everywhere are islands of dense planting, all with a variety of Australian native plants. Native grasses are used, but they are not the main plant used. Many of the bushes were in flower providing food for wildlife. Large logs are left in areas surrounded by lots of plants. An animal could be standing beside the log & you would likely not see them. Dead wood is great to leave in the environment.
Another thing we noticed was the lack of litter & the lack of coal fire barbeque smoke. There were no plastic bags flying around everywhere, no piles of coals, no balloons, string, toilet paper & other litter that I am so familiar with. Sydney Park was exceptionally clean. There was no graffiti either. This says to me that the community respects the beauty this park provides & with this respect comes a sense of responsibility. I wish this attitude could permeate all our parks.
The emphasis has obviously been on creating a park that has much beauty & really is a refuge for both people & wildlife. City of Sydney Council does not seem to be concerned with sightlines, which I think is great. Unless you are at the perimeter of the park or on the hill, you cannot see traffic. The odd airplane flies across, but this only adds an element of interest.
This park is a haven for both people & wildlife & something the City of Sydney should be exceptionally proud of. The trees are still young & are still being planted, so I can only imagine just how beautiful it will be when the hundreds of Fig trees for example, grow to maturity.
If you haven’t been to Sydney Park for a while, I highly recommend a visit. There were thousands of people there last weekend, but the park is big enough to not feel crowded. There are many quiet places, as well as busy places like the playground – something for everyone.
Lastly, there is a volunteer bushcare group that work in Sydney Park from 9.30am – 2.30pm every Wednesday & some Saturdays. Some of their great work was visible around the wetlands. For more information email –email@example.com