I recently wrote about a section of The Greenway here http://bit.ly/1l9FvAf As we were on foot that day, we decided to return with our bicycles & ride the whole journey to Iron Cove. I am so glad we did.
As soon as we entered The Greenway at Summer Hill the temperature became pleasant. A canopy makes such a difference, as it was a really hot day.
We reached Parramatta Road a whole 2-minutes later without riding fast. Pedestrians & cyclists need to use the elevators at the ‘light rail’ station to cross Parramatta Road, but the designers have done well for cyclists. The elevator easily fits two bikes & opens on the opposite side, so you simply wheel your bicycle forward. No trying to maneuver out of the lift backwards.
We continued on to Marion Street on the border of Haberfield & Leichhardt. It is such a lovely ride under the continuous canopy. There were lots of birds around. A pedestrian crossing at traffic lights helps you cross Marion Street. Then you take the left path into Richard Murden Reserve Haberfield & a continuation of The Greenway.
I have admired the corner of Marion Street & Hawthorne Parade for years. It has been planted with masses of native grasses that bend in the breeze. The Greenway travels alongside the Hawthorn Canal all the way to Iron Cove. There are lots of mature Morton Bay Fig trees scattered around that have been there for as long as I can remember.
There is a memorial for the Richard Stanton Memorial Garden with a sculpture of Richard Stanton’s head.
For the first time I saw the bush re-generation work done by volunteers of Greenway Bushcare, managed by Ashfield Council. To say it is fantastic is an understatement. There is a dense corridor of trees, shrubs & smaller plants directly alongside the canal. Further on in the park are a number of excellent & quite large bush pockets & they are not see-through, as has happened to some bush pockets along the Cooks River recently. The volunteers have made a considerable difference to both the habitat & visual amenity of this park since I last walked through here around 20-years ago. In fact, the whole park looks much better & much greener & there are many more trees. Many of the trees are tall trees too, which is how I think it should be when street trees are required to be shorter for power lines.
Ashfield Council has installed bench seats everywhere. Seats are under trees, in groves of trees, beside the path, away from the path & in the sun. You don’t need to travel far to find a place to sit. I believe seats make parks more usable for many people who for all kinds of reasons can’t or prefer not to sit on the ground. Often that is the prerogative of youth, but aging & illness can seriously impede the ability to go to parks. Or ensure that people have to stay near the car & that is just another limitation for getting all the benefits good parks can provide.
Also of interest were the many sporting activities available along the length of this park. There were netball courts, tennis courts, skateboard area & even an equal access playground. Plus there were large expanses of lawn for ball games, kite flying & the like.
There are two bridges across the canal that take you to Hawthorne Canal Reserve on the Leichhardt side. We followed the signs that took us forward to Iron Cove. Once we entered the underpass of the East/West Link, the view became like a wide imax screen that opened up to stunning blue water & blue skies.
I was particularly impressed by street art painted on two of the bridge pylons. They were both nature-orientated showing a water scene surrounded by green landscape. I am convinced that this kind of street art has a deep impact on the consciousness of people, encouraging them with beauty to recognize the beauty around them & not trash it. I did notice the lack of graffiti & the lack of litter all along The Greenway.
Around a bend under the bridge & we were at Iron Cove. It always looks beautiful, but today it was especially beautiful because we had ridden there. Cloudless blue skies, lots of boats moored, plus racing windsurfers & small yachts.
We decided to turn left & head towards Balmain. This took us on a designated cycleway that was as wide as a road on Lilyfield Road over the bridge. More bench seats were positioned on a grass median strip allowing people to look at the expansive view. There was even a picnic kiosk.
Another left turn took us past a very large bush pocket & back onto the waterfront. If you only looked at the bush, you could have been anywhere. We were now in Leichhardt municipality.
There is a large wedding reception place at Maliyawul Street so all the Casuarina trees along beside the water were strung with fairy lights. I assume this has been done to add to the setting & provide for wedding photos. Who doesn’t like fairy lights?
The wharf had been renewed & many dinghies & surf skis were lined up against the wooden fence. To our left was a massive block of Hills Figs on the hill behind an oval. Later I looked up Google maps & found that this was the lower part of a huge S-shape of trees that surround Leichhardt Oval. What a blessing to have so many large trees in one area. They looked wonderful.
We joined Bay Run, which travels the full circuit around Iron Cove & passed Leichhardt Children’s Playground, plus a very large exercise area with every exercise piece being moving equipment. Both the playground & the exercise area was filled with people.
We cycled on past Leichhardt Rowing Club & on to the front of the grounds of Callan Park. I had forgotten how beautiful it is. It appears that most of the trees are still there, as well as new trees. The large oval was being used for a cricket match & people were everywhere, walking, cycling, watching the game or on the grass enjoying the view. Dogs were also in abundance enjoying a walk with their owners. Behind the oval was another massive shelf of Hills Figs. Later on Google I saw that this was the bottom of a backwards figure 2. There must be at least 150 fig trees here.
I noticed that there was no fencing along kilometers of waterfront, which I thought was fantastic. To me fences only add ugliness to areas of beauty. If these places are deemed dangerous, I’d prefer a band of greenery to prevent people going to the edge. In this way at least the wildlife benefit & people don’t need to have the view marred by an ugly fence. Obviously Leichhardt Council considers that the community can look after itself here. I think there are very few fenced areas along the whole of the 10km Bay Run, however the children’s playgrounds are fenced, but with low attractive fences that do not detract from the beauty of the area.
We headed to the point to see the rock carvings, which I had not seen for almost three decades. I was pleased to see a sign saying that this was a historical area & any damage would result in a fine of one million dollars. It was obvious the people respected this place as again, no graffiti & no litter.
Below was a spectacular little sandy beach, again filled with people & swimming dogs. The trees were gorgeous with many veterans. One especially old fig tree was fenced off to keep the public safe & also to keep the tree. I love that Leichhardt Council chose this option.
We then followed The Bay Run down to the hill to King George Park, which had been marked out as an athletic field & had people running laps. Beside this was a long jump area complete with a large sand pit. I haven’t seen one of these for years.
The trees in this area are phenomenal. The oval has a large bush corridor on two sides & made me think this is what the area could have looked like before white settlement. There are plenty of sandstone outcrops in these areas as well, which add to the feel. So many of the trees in this area were mature three decades ago. It is very pleasing to see a natural landscape that remains untouched & has only been added to.
There is no feeling of scarcity anywhere along the Leichhardt/Rozelle side of The Bay Run. There are multiple bush pockets. I hesitate to use the term bush pocket, as these are large areas. Some have paths that allow people to walk in the bush, while others are so thick encouraging people not to enter. It is necessary to have such spaces for wildlife & it is also necessary for people to have wild places to connect to.
The route takes you to Iron Cove Bridge & this is where I decided it was time to turn back. Just past King George Park is another large children’s playground & yet more corridors of tall trees with a thick under-storey.
This whole side from the Hawthorne Canal to the Iron Cove Bridge was busy with people. It is obviously very popular with the locals. Considering all the recent research on the benefits of trees & green space, this area would be very good for the health & happiness of the community. It was good to see so many people using the playgrounds, but also great to see people enjoying the areas that are not designated entertainment areas.
We stopped at the toilets behind Leichhardt Oval. Considering the recent local controversy over whether Marrickville Council should install public toilets made of stainless steel with no toilet seat like in our gaols, I was interested to see a white porcelain toilet, white tiled wall & a white toilet seat. A rainwater tank provided water for flushing & washing of hands. Impressive.
Then it was back to the Hawthorne Canal, but on the Leichhardt side. We rode past Blackmore Park, which is surrounded by many large trees & continued along a path that was lined with shrubs & trees on both sides.
As we entered Hawthorne Canal Reserve we saw lots of people sitting at tables under the shade of fig trees. We had reached Café Bones, a super-dog-friendly café, that is open 7-days a week from early morning & closing between 7-7.30pm depending on which day of the week it is. We stopped for something to eat & watched the crowd of happy people & even happier dogs. It was so nice to sit outside in the shade of big trees to eat & drink while dogs come up to say hello & birds flew past to the bowl at the tap to drink. This is a place where people become friends & it is their dog that breaks the ice.
From there we continued on stopping for a look at Hawthorne Light Rail Station, which again was very nice. It offers a route for people to enter this park by crossing the rail lines. I was surprised at just how many people came to the park during the short time we were stopped.
We passed more large canopy fig trees until it was time to cross the bridge & back into Richard Murden Reserve & The Greenway on the Haberfield side of the canal. I again appreciated the features & the greenness of this park. From there back under the continuous canopy crossing Parramatta Road & finally riding back home.
What a ride. If you have a bike I highly recommend riding along The Greenway to Iron Cove & head left as far as you want. Much of the ride is flat, so it makes for an easy journey. If you don’t have a bicycle, then there is plenty of parking at all these places. It is a nice time out with great water views, much activity on the water if it is a weekend & plenty of trees & natural beauty to make your heart sing again.
Both Ashfield & Leichhardt Councils have done the community well there. The improvement in the environment over the last three decades is staggering & very positive. Also kudos to the volunteers of The Greenway who have created wonderful bush pockets & added much needed habitat & beauty to these places. It is work that is very beneficial. If you are interested in volunteering, click Inner West Environmnet Group in the Blogroll on the left.