The new children's playground with barbecue area.

The new children’s playground with barbecue area.

The new moving exercise equipment area.

The new moving exercise equipment area.

The new World War II Memorial

The new World War II Memorial

New path and garden

New path and garden

Swale in Marrickville Park

New swale in Marrickville Park with new concrete paths.

We went to have a look at Marrickville Park today.  Inner West Council has recently finished an upgrade of this historic park.  It looks good, though there is a lot of concrete where there was once grass.   I concede that concrete paths do improve accessibility, so now there are more paths for people to walk & this is probably a good thing.

The south entrance off Livingstone Road takes you to a new exercise area with moving equipment.  It is good to see that Marrickville is getting the same quality of equipment as other areas of the old Marrickville municipality.    The ground surface is made of what appears to be synthetic material that is super soft & bouncy.

I noticed one of the two new drinking fountains has a bowl that allows both dogs & birds to access fresh water, which is wonderful.  I’ve been noticing these as a norm in many parks, but not at the southern suburbs of the old Marrickville municipality.  It is a shame that both bubblers don’t have this extra water bowl, but having one is a great improvement.    Both bubblers have drainage at the base to take water away instead of creating muddy puddles.

Beside the exercise area is a large swale, which I presume will collect any rainwater & allow it to soak into the ground purifying it of pollutants before it reaches the Cooks River.  I love swales & think the more we have the better.

This swale evolves into a long wide garden area that travels all the way to the original path lined with historic palm trees.  The garden area is covered with geotextile to stop the weeds & keep in moisture.  It has been planted out with bottle brush, pig face, native grasses & 8 new advanced-sized Melaleuca trees.  These trees will provide food for the wildlife.  They look great now, but when mature they will look fantastic, as these trees generally develop beautiful canopies when they do not have to suffer severe pruning for power lines.

There is new lighting.  They look good, are unobtrusive & have been placed on the opposite side of the path & of newly planted trees, which means that trees will not need to be pruned to accommodate the lights.

I was pleased to see that all the trees have had the grass removed from around their trunk & this area mulched.  This is much better for the trees.  It protects them from mower & whipper-snipper damage & also keeps the ground moist & cool for the roots.  It is standard practice these days, so it is great to see our trees get this treatment, especially the historic trees.  I thank Council for this.

At intervals along the new pathway are metal circles engraved with a local sports person’s name & their sport.  This is a nice way to commemorate local sporting greats without making it look like a cemetery, as I have seen elsewhere.

A new war memorial has been created to remember those residents of Marrickville, Newtown, St Peters, Petersham & Camperdown who died in World War II.    The garden bed has been planted with Rosemary.

Next to the new children’s playground is the new barbeque area.  Two wooden tables with wooden bench seats have been placed next to the electric barbeque & there are garbage bins close by.  Two new trees have been planted to eventually provide natural shade.  I suspect this may be a popular place on summer evenings.

The children’s playground is exciting.  Even I had a bounce on one of the three in-ground trampolines.  The surface area here is as soft as around the exercise equipment.  The playground is covered by two shade cloths, while new trees have been planted that will eventually create natural shade.   There is climbing equipment, a tunnel slide, swings of different kinds, benches to sit on & a cubby house.

It looks fun & the kids that were there were obviously enjoying themselves.  It appears we have passed the era of sad-looking playgrounds.  This playground is an entertainment centre in itself.  Here children have all kinds of opportunities to exercise & learn new skills while enjoying themselves.  The adults also have comfortable places to sit.

From the central path with the palm trees to the Croquet Club are 26 new trees.  That is a boon!   One species is the Oriental Plane (Platanus orientalis) – a deciduous tree native to south eastern Europe to west Asia.  It is a fast growing tree with horizontal branching that can grow to 20-30 metres tall.   Fossil specimens of this tree from over 100 million years ago in the earlier Cretaceous period have been found.

Another is Pin oak (Quercus palustris) – a deciduous tree native to the USA & Canada. Can grow to 15-metres with a canopy spread of around 8-metres. It develops deep bronze to red leaves in autumn.  The Little corellas like to eat the small acorns, so even though not native to Australia, it does provide food for wildlife.  A fig tree has been planted & also a couple of Firewheel trees, which is wonderful.

A new white picket fence (in keeping with tradition) has been erected around the oval & it looks nice.

I have two areas of concern.  One is that a mature Brushbox tree that was near the entrance on the south side off Livingstone Road died 2-3 years ago & unfortunately was not replaced by Council.  The tree was there for decades.  Now there is a triangle of concrete pathways with nothing but grass & one bench.  There is lots of space to replace this tree without taking away from any of the new activities or plantings here.  The space looks empty to my mind & I would like to see this tree replaced to fill what is now a visual hole.

The second issue that concerns me is Council’s plan not to replace any of the Brushbox trees that are growing on the hill surrounding half of the oval.  This appears to be a matter of personal taste with the designer because it does not make sense to me.   Trees have been growing here successfully for many decades, perhaps 80-100 years.  Growing on raised ground means that these trees are higher than usual & therefore more visible.  To me this is a good thing in a suburb where roofs are generally more visible than trees.

Of major importance though, is people sit under these trees to watch the games.  They also sit in the shade to have picnics, read books or just chill.  There are 10 mature Brushbox trees here & while we were walking around, 5 of the trees had people sitting or lying underneath them.  Where else are you going to do this in the shade if these trees go?    People are unlikely to place a blanket under the lovely Brushbox trees growing next to busy Livingstone Road & Frazier Street because sitting or lying next to traffic is not conducive to feeling relaxed.

From memory all but one of the new trees are planted next to the pathway or next to the children’s playground.  The other 8 new trees are planted inside a garden area, again next to the path.  My bet is people won’t want to lay a blanket next to a path.  It is not the same as the area on the hill under those beautiful trees.   Shade was much needed this afternoon as it is a hot day.

For Council not to replace trees at this location removes not only beauty, but also a place for people to sit safely in the shade to watch games or to relax.  We need Council to plant trees wherever there is an opportunity, not decide not to replace trees where they have historically been.

I would like Council to replace these trees as they die or need to be removed & replace them with the same species. Brushbox are good for wildlife & they have a most beautiful canopy, especially from beneath.  It would be nice to carry on some of the historical plantings into the next hundred years for people to enjoy like we have.

Finally, I like that the rose garden has been retained.  It is one of those old worldly characteristics that gives this park its unique character.

Council have done good work in this upgrade.  The park has become popular for exercise groups, so the moving exercise equipment will be appreciated.  New trees & gardens are always wonderful & the children’s playground is a big improvement on what was there before.  All up, it looks great.

A Brushbox tree stood here for decades.  When it was removed it was not replaced leaving a gaping hole.  I think this area would be much improved if the tree was replaced with the same species.

A Brushbox tree stood here for decades. When it was removed it was not replaced leaving a gaping hole. I think this area would be much improved if the tree was replaced with the same species to match the row of Brushbox trees on the right.

People making use of the shade provided by the trees on the hill.  Trees are needed and appropriate in this area.

People making use of the shade provided by the trees on the hill. Trees are needed and appropriate in this area.  Note that no-one is sitting in the sun.

Three groups of people under three trees on this hill.  It is unthinkable that these trees will not be replaced when they die or need to be removed.

Three groups of people under three trees on this hill. It is unthinkable that these trees will not be replaced when they die or need to be removed.

Spectators under another Brushbox on the hill.

Spectators under another Brushbox on the hill.

 

 

 

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