We spent a very interesting afternoon at Bicentennial Park, part of the Sydney Olympic Village in Homebush yesterday. There is so much to do there, as the park spreads over 40-hectares. We started off on a long walk through the stunning Badu Wetlands.
The wetland starts with a Casuarina forest. The trees are young, but close together & the ground is thick with needles. Then the mangroves start. The raised wooden boardwalk takes you past different aspects of the mangrove forest. In some areas lush green plants grow in the under-storey. In other areas the ground is filled with water & millions of pneumatophores poke up above the shallow water. Pneumatophores are roots that obtain oxygen for the mangrove tree & can be found many metres away.
Anywhere where there is water you can see schools of tiny fish darting around in the sunshine. Some were living in around 10-centimetres of water. The mangroves did not have much of a smell, but what I did smell was nice. The area is obviously healthy with water transference happening to prevent stagnation.
Apart from the mangroves there are lots of Casuarinas, some eucalypts and some paperbark trees. There are also plenty of birds, including waterbirds.
Of special enjoyment was the abundance of dragonflies that were everywhere. They appeared quite curious flying close for a look & following us on our walk. I would not be exaggerating if I said we saw 50 dragonflies – blue, red, black & brown. Since it is special to see a dragonfly in Marrickville, I found seeing so many exciting. Plus I have never taken a walk with dragonflies as my escort.
Mangroves are carbon sinks with their carbon sequestration similar to rainforests, so they are extremely important in managing climate change. They are complex ecosystems rich in biodiversity & serve as a nursery for fish, both fresh & saltwater, plus crabs & other crustaceans.
I am very happy such a large area of mangrove wetland has been preserved & not given over to development. There is plenty of development with multiple high-rise next to the park with more being built, which you can see anytime you face the right direction & look up. These are tall buildings.
Once you walk through the mangroves the path takes you to The Pond, which is much larger than I anticipated. The pond itself is gorgeous & very natural. There are many islands in this body of water & the vegetation everywhere is lush. I found it beautiful & was sorry when this walk ended.
The bitumen path beside The Pond is suitable for wheelchairs. The raised wooden boardwalk through the mangroves may be suitable too, but might be a bit bumpy over the wooden slats. I love that there are areas for wildlife only & it is clear that people should not enter.
From here we walked up a hill to see what we could see. This took us into an area with rows of tall eucalypts, a large area of lawn, then rows of London plane trees. It reminded me of Canberra. Large groups of people were picnicking in the shade of these trees.
We found a hedged garden. The Murraya hedge is in bloom, so the perfume of oranges was in the air. Inside is a path that followed formal plantings of flowers. There are lots of Salvia for the bees & they were enjoying themselves. There are two large canopy trees with a bench on either side. Each bench was being used by a person taking time out to read.
In the middle if this formal garden is a large Iceberg rose with many blooms & a plaque underneath that read – “Love is all that we have, the only way that we can each help the other. ~ Euripides (480-505 BC. Greek Playwright).”
We followed a long tree-lined pedestrian promenade that has a waterplay area at one end & the Treillage Tower at the other. I declined climbing it, but there were many people up there enjoying the view.
From here we went to Lake Belvedere, a very large lake surrounded by picnic areas & the location of a café/restaurant. The lake had many coots, black swans & ducks swimming around. I could see two darters resting on a tree on an island. Massive fish could be seen. I think they were Koi, but it doesn’t matter because they do not allow fishing. There are also eels according to some children I spoke with. According to the signs there are many species of water birds living there & guided bird walks are held regularly.
This is a wildlife paradise, as people are kept out of their areas & stopped from killing them. Programs like wildlife classrooms teach people the benefits of wildlife, so we get to look, learn & watch. There are also a number of signs explaining what people should not do & why. I like this approach a lot.
There are scattered picnic kiosks & lots of shady areas to set up a picnic. The lake has a large pier where people can interact with the ducks, fish & black swans that come to say hello hoping for food that the signs say not to provide & for good reasons too. The lack of food doesn’t stop the fish & birds from being friendly though.
One other thing that I really liked about this park is the trees. There are lots of trees & good variety of species. I was particularly pleased to see that, like Sydney Park, they have planted hundreds of Hill’s Figs. They provide a wonderful sight planted along the roads & of course, are great trees for wildlife.
It’s been around a decade since I visited & the improvements are remarkable. I recommend a visit, as there is plenty to see & do. There are areas full of people & areas where you could be anywhere – where it is quiet & there is only you & nature. Places like this are precious.