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Last post I said I would post some photos of the landscaping work being done at the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro.
I love that infrastructure was kept away from the magnificent heritage fig tree planted around 1860. It is an extremely important tree for Marrickville & for Sydney.
I also love that the bench seats do not include a bar to prevent people from lying down. I loathe defensive architecture & the negative message it sends.
Facing Mill house, on the right there is now a lovely small school vegetable garden for local St Pius’ Catholic Primary School & also what appears to be an outdoor classroom area. From memory this area contained a few trees, so to me it looks entirely different. However, it is a nice & useful green space.
I do like that extensive verge gardens have been created down Victoria Street & more gardens behind the temporary fence.
Metro has obviously tried. It is just a pity that the main entrance area is so visually harsh & is also a heat sink. I think they may come to regret this in the years to come.
The dog tie-up area in this location is connecting all dogs to the one pole & although water bowls have been kindly provided, I think the dogs will bake if left here for more than the shortest time. I also think there is a high risk they will get tangled up with each other, which may cause conflict with some dogs who feel anxious or who have a need for personal space.
It is interesting to notice how the community feel a sense of ownership of what is essentially private property. My guess is Metro want the community to feel connected to this shopping centre, which is why they have the community library. Something else that is important is that Metro is a place visited weekly by a large chunk of the community, so how it looks has an impact on how we feel & for many, whether we return or not.
There is the well-known research that found that spending increased by a whopping 11% in leafy shopping strips, so it behoves shop keepers & shopping malls to retain trees & lobby for more trees & greenery outside their shops & in public spaces within the shopping strip. People like trees & tend to linger in green spaces. If they linger, they tend to spend more.
The area outside the main entrance has been the focus of much conversation on Facebook & many people have initiated conversation with me wanting to talk about what has been done here. No-one mentioned the school garden, the chess area, the verge gardens or the tree removal, so I was surprised to see all the other work. Unfortunately, I do not know how many mature trees were removed. What people talked to me about concerned the entrance area & their emotions were strongly on the negative side.
Having looked at the work I think Metro did not succeed with the front entrance, but have done well in the other sections. For me I remember when Metro wanted to remove many of the Figs & other street trees surrounding the centre. I am so glad this has not happened & think it is a major boon for both the community & the wildlife.
Despite that this is a large shopping mall, the streetscape around the centre is quite unique for Marrickville. I personally enjoy walking here & find the trees beautiful. Metro could have so easily made the whole periphery look like the front entrance.
I do think Metro realises the community’s love for the leafy outlook of the shopping centre & their love for the trees. They had a mission to rejuvenate this area & they incorporated aspects that were inclusive to the local school & to anyone in the community who wants to play chess & sit in the shade of the Fig tree. There are good points & not so good points. I have included quite a few photos so you can make up your own mind & so that the good work they have done is not overshadowed by the front entrance.
When we first moved to Marrickville just over two decades ago, there were only Currawongs & Indian mynas in our street. The Currawongs would leave in the morning & return at dusk. The Currawongs would move somewhere else for spring & summer leaving the Indian mynas to rule. What we heard most of the time was traffic & plane noise. There were very few natural sounds.
New people started to move into the neighbourhood & we all started gardening. Some of our neighbours planted cottage garden type plants, while others like ourselves went totally native & included some natives indigenous to this area.
We had a rule – unless it was spectacular, what we planted had to be able to provide food for birds or bats & at the very least, bees & other insects.
And then it happened….. the noise of our street changed. All kinds of birds started to visit.
It was slow at first. We started to identify different bird calls. Sometimes small groups of around 10-20 birds would visit. The birdbath was used every day. Evidence of their splashing was noticed & the water had to be replenished. We would walk out the front door only to cause a mad fluttering of wings as bathing birds got interrupted.
Every year the sounds of birds were built upon. A common question was, “What is that bird?” The Birds in Backyards website was used often trying to identify the latest visitor.
A nest was spotted. It turned out to be a pair Red Wattle birds. Having been woken up by these flying alarm clocks for many years, I don’t feel like home is quite right unless there are Red Wattle birds around, so I was very happy about this. Unfortunately, Ausgrid pruned off the branch that held their nest (in spring when they were breeding no less) & we feared we had lost them. It was with much joy that we saw they had rebuilt in a branch of another street tree, closer to our house. The branch is still at risk, but hopefully we will be able to convince Ausgrid to leave it be whenever they visit.
The Red Wattle bird pair have had three successful breeding seasons now. They must like gardeners because they fly low over our heads when we are outside & even when they see our car. We get greeted with a “Kuk Kuk!” most times we venture outside.
Little White eyes visit every day chattering at a million miles an hour when the right flowers are out. They sound like a party. For the last two years Rainbow lorikeets have visited the verge garden & their idea of party noise is much louder. This season they come every 3-4 hours. I imagine they circle the neighbourhood visiting known food sources returning after they have given the flowers time to replenish their nectar. It is so much nicer than listening to traffic.
Someone else’s tree planting has attracted an Eastern Koel. These birds migrate all the way from Papua New Guinea every summer. Many people find these birds irritating, but I like the sound of his plaintive call calling for a mate. I don’t find it too hard to go back to sleep after waking at 3am To “Kooel! Kooel!” The only time I had difficulty was when he sat in the street tree that was maybe 8-metres from our bedroom window. I did mutter a bit that night.
One of the lovely things about living in Marrickville is the nightly wave of flying foxes that travel overhead at dusk. I think they are beautiful to watch & especially like watching them from Turrella or from the Cooks River. It’s a peaceful thing to do on a warm evening.
A pair of flying foxes have started to spend time eating from our street – the street trees & the trees in private gardens. Their chattering sounds are quite lovely to hear in the background. Flying foxes are experiencing a food shortage at present resulting in the death of many of their pups, so it is excellent to know that our effort is helping provide food for them.
There are bee hives in the area, which is great for our garden. Bees are in trouble worldwide, so again, it is wonderful to know that we are doing our bit to help them survive just by making choices with what we plant.
We have a huge Salvia, which is totally inappropriate for our small garden, but we keep it because native Blue Banded bees come to feed from the flowers most days in the warmer months. There are other native bees that hover & feed in this plant too.
There are lots of other species of bird that visit now & some are seasonal. I can’t express how much better it is to live with a range of bird song & not just Indian mynas. As an aside, I often read that Indian mynas chase away the native birds. This has not been our experience. The Indian mynas are still here of course, but they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of native birds that come here & that have moved into trees in people’s gardens. The mynas no longer own this territory & they know it, so they quietly go about their own business.
If you want Indian mynas, lay a huge concrete slab driveway or concrete your back yard because they love concrete & bitumen.
If you don’t want Indian mynas, plant a variety of food-producing native plants & trees & before long, the Indian mynas will be overrun by the new kids on the block. You will be too busy noticing the native birds that you won’t see the Indian mynas.
In Part 2 I will write about ideas on improving biodiversity in small gardens & even balconies.
Last December I posted about two new habitat trees in Mackey Park Marrickville next to the Cooks River. See – http://bit.ly/2lvRKKn
The Inner West Council said they had created three new habitat trees, but I was unable to find the third tree. Well I found it. It is one of the poplars close to the Rowers Club on the river side of the shared pathway.
I hope Council plants at least three new trees in this park to make up for the canopy loss of the others. There is room.
The Inner West Council planted a street tree in a pocket of grass in Myrtle Street Marrickville. A tree was much needed at this location because it is bare & dare I say ugly.
I was very happy they planted at this location. Then the tree had several branches snapped off. The tree grew more branches & the tree was vandalised again. I started to doubt that this was a random act.
The tree’s desire to live was strong, so it grew some more & started to look strong & lush.
I went by the tree today & its leaves are dry & crisp. Its thin branches are still alive showing that whatever was done to this poor tree happened recently.
Unfortunately, this tree is dying. To me it appears that some sort of chemical was fed to it to make sure this determined tree would not rise up again.
It is beyond my comprehension why people rob the community & the wildlife of street trees. One tree may not matter much, but we have an urban forest classified as ‘poor’ in terms of percentage of canopy cover. We need trees just to break even in terms of the norm in Sydney. We also need trees for good public health & we desperately need trees in terms of climate change.
We need more trees in Marrickville & throughout the old Marrickville municipality. We need bigger, more shade-producing trees.
2016 was the third year in a row of record-breaking heat. “The average global temperature last year  reached about 1.1°C above the pre-industrial era, which has brought us extremely close to the 1.5°C target established at the historical December 2015 Paris climate summit.”
1.1°C may not seem much, but you only have to have been in Sydney this past month to experience what a heatwave feels like. Heatwaves & extreme weather events are all part of this global rise in temperature. The Arctic is the warmest on record, sea ice is melting at alarming speed, coral reefs are bleaching, the oceans are heating up…. There is more, but you get the picture.
Now here is where is gets really interesting. “Australia is especially at risk as we are 8°C hotter than the world average” http://bit.ly/2kfCKAD
We cannot keep relying on air-conditioning. One day there will be too many of us using too much power for the system to cope with & we won’t be able to turn on the air-con. Then people will die. Perhaps thousands of people. Death in numbers like this has happened many times before.
We won’t be able to easily acclimatise to the heat either. The following is part of a summary of research titled, ‘Limitations to Thermoregulation and Acclimatization Challenge Human Adaptation to Global Warming’ published in 2015. They knew then that it will be difficult for the human race to adapt. Thousands of us are likely to die in each heatwave event. That will be a devastating experience for many.
“Human thermoregulation and acclimatization are core components of the human coping mechanism for withstanding variations in environmental heat exposure. Amidst growing recognition that curtailing global warming to less than two degrees is becoming increasing improbable, human survival will require increasing reliance on these mechanisms. The projected several fold increase in extreme heat events suggests we need to recalibrate health protection policies and ratchet up adaptation efforts.” You can read the whole paper here for free – http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/7/8034
I hope the Inner West Council plant another tree at this location. Tree vandals cannot be the deciders on how the rest of the community live, their health, the level of pollution they live with, their ability to have a beautiful suburb, how cool their streets are or whether the wildlife can have habitat & food. The culture must change. The streets belong to all.
As I post this I am listening to the weather forecast on the TV news. They are forecasting a heatwave two days from now on Tuesday. That will be the third heatwave for Sydney in 2017 & it is only January.
Last October the Inner West Council posted that they created three new habitat trees in Mackey Park Marrickville South. We walked the whole park, but unfortunately were only able to find two of the trees. The trees we found were between the shared path & the wetland area.
Habitat trees are trees that have caused a safety problem by dropping branches. Rather than removing the tree, the tree is killed by ringbarking. Then the branches are cut open & a cavity created with a chainsaw to create nest boxes & other kinds of hollows.
A large amount of Australian wildlife will not breed if they do not have access to a hollow, so retaining the structure of mature trees is vitally important. See – http://bit.ly/1ASqhzz
Council said they created five nesting boxes in these trees. Three for Red-rumped parrots, one for Gould’s wattled bats (microbats) & one for a Brushtail possum.
They also plan to mulch & landscape with local native plants under & around the trees in the near future. Good one Council.
In January 2013, when the temperature reached 46 degrees, I was inside with air-conditioning & visiting a friend. It was only when we went outside at around 5pm that we realised just how hot it was. It was like standing in a giant oven & there was no reprieve from the heat anywhere outside.
This was the first time I had experienced heat like this & it shocked me. Today, the temperature reached only 39 degrees, but it reminded me of that horrible day almost 3-years ago.
I was going to Marrickville Town Hall & decided to ride my bicycle to avoid parking problems. I knew it would be hot, but was unprepared for the feeling of riding in an oven. The sensation while riding along the streets was weird in that the temperature would be hot, but okay for a few metres & then it would become really hot, baking hot for another few metres before dropping in temperature just a bit.
I started to take note why this was happening & observed that the heat was much worse at intersections. It didn’t take me long to realise that it was because there was a greater expanse of bitumen road surface at these intersections & this wide dark surface was reflecting heat at me. This is not something you feel while in a car, even if there is no air-conditioning. You are truly at the mercy of the elements on a bicycle.
Fortunately, I reached Marrickville Town Hall quite quickly. It was then that I experienced the heat of the dark grey forecourt. It was ghastly & gave me no satisfaction to have my rants on this blog about this $575,000 upgrade proven to be correct.
What an awful area the forecourt is on a hot day. It was unbearably hot. It felt like it was hot enough to cook on the dark grey pavers. As such, the great expanse was empty of people, except for one man & his bicycle who sat with his back to the building. He poured a bottle of water over his head & just sat there. There was someone else in the bus shelter & myself. The remainder of the space was devoid of people & it was easy to understand why.
I also noticed for the first time that the disabled entrance that was to go up the left side of the steps at the front entrance was not there despite being on the plans. I remember thinking at the time that the large leaves of the planned deciduous Magnolia tree would drop on the ramp & cause a slip hazard. Disability access remains via the driveway up the side. With such an expensive upgrade, one would think that disabled access through the front door would have been provided.
I noticed that the paving is already starting to deteriorate in areas, just 18-months after this expensive upgrade was completed. Also, a public authority has come along & sprayed markings over approximately 15-20 metres on the corner. These probably mark where the area is to be dug up. This is not something council can control, but it is the start of the deterioration of this place. I highly doubt they will remove the spray-painted marks when they replace the expensive pavers.
The Weather Bureau said today was the hottest December day in 11-years & they expect tonight to be the hottest night since 1868, 148-years-ago.
Climate change is serious. Every year it is getting hotter. Researchers around the world have acknowledged that trees, shade, air pollution & the urban heat island effect are significant public health issues. With this in mind, I think it is a crying shame that Council created a hot, ugly, public space – essentially a dead space unless the weather permits – outside what is Marrickville’s most important public building. It is such an injustice to do this to such an important space.
I read in the latest issue of the Marrickville Heritage Society (http://marrickville-heritage.blogspot.com.au) Newsletter that the historic sewer vent in Premier Street Marrickville South will be remodified for safety reasons. From memory Sydney Water did not feel confident that the vent would survive a one in 100 year storm. Therefore, they intend to reduce the stack to half its current height. There has been scaffolding around the vent for the last week or two.
While I appreciate Sydney Water’s reasons, I feel sad that this very significant landmark is going to be changed forever. If it were a perfect world, I would like Sydney Water to spend the money to fortify the vent so it could be retained.
Incremental loss of our local history is happening at an alarming rate – from houses being demolished for new modern high-rise apartments to smaller things like the quiet removal of the street light that used to be suspended over the traffic island at the corner of Renwick Street & Excelsior Parade Marrickville.
The sewer vent in Premier Street is a local landmark & can be seen from many places across the locality. For me, I look one way to see the Petersham Water Tower & the other to see the Cooks Pine & the Premier Street Sewer vent. If I have been wandering aimlessly on my bicycle & need to focus on where I am, I can find these landmarks easily & orientate myself towards home.
I believe many in our community love these local landmarks as much as I do. These things make up the character of our suburb & some like this one, are definitely worth preserving.
If we continue to lose these things, we will end up with a homogenized & monocultural architectural environment. Why can’t we follow London’s example? They manage to keep their architectural heritage for many hundreds of years, while still morphing into a modern city.
The front of the stack is dated 1898. Part of the construction is a pair Queen Anne Revival worker’s cottages, that frankly look gorgeous.
Sydney Water has a great website page that covers the history & significance of the Premier Street sewer vent. It is good to see this done so anyone can have access to information about our history. I have pinched a few interesting tidbits, but you can read all the information here –http://bit.ly/2hh2LuS
“The Premier Street Sewer Vent and Cottages is an item of significance for the State of NSW for the following reasons:
- The excellent aesthetic and technical qualities of the masons’ craft of the classicist late-Victorian vent stack, the likes of which are not likely to be produced again.
- The technical aspect of significance of the item is strongly emphasized by the ongoing operational use of the sewer vent and two cottages in their original function.
- As a rare architectural composition in NSW consisting of a special sewer vent and a pair of cottages built by the Water Board for accommodation of maintenance staff. For its role in an important stage of development of the sewerage services to the Inner Western Sydney suburbs area.
- The aesthetically appealing historic vent stack and associated pair of cottages contribute significantly to the understanding of the development of design of special sewer ventshafts in Sydney and NSW. The item demonstrates historic circumstances of its creation, including the once common practice of the Water Board to create a cottage purposely built for accommodation of the maintenance staff on important sites.
- The Premier Street ventshaft is also of significance as a prominent local area landmark, identifiable from a further distance and a notable element of the Marrickville landscape.”
Plus they say that the sewer vent is “substantially intact.”
If Sydney Water’s words do not support my argument to spend the money needed to retain this important local landmark, I don’t know what does.
Vale to the massive street tree on the corner of Livingstone Road & Pile Street Marrickville. This tree has blessed us with its presence for more many decades & was a feature when I first visited Marrickville in my twenties. I call it significant because of its size & large canopy that spread over the road. We don’t have many street trees like this one.
Who knows what happened, but its death was quick. Hopefully Council will replace it with another tall-growing native tree since one has managed at this site for so long.
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.
From my memory three Lombardy poplar trees were planted at the front of the Revolution apartments on Illawarra Road Marrickville around 2 – 2.5 years ago, shortly after the development was completed. The trees were growing well. This species is fast growing, so they were noticeable on the streetscape.
Sometime in the last week all three trees were removed & replaced by orange safety cones. I have read reports that men with a truck removed the trees, so the trees were not removed by an opportunistic vandal.
Who knows why the trees were removed or even who removed them? There is no Notification of Removal on Inner West Councils website. Makes me sigh.