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Eight tall mature trees dying.  This is an incredible loss.  It was such a beautiful place & admired by many.

Eight tall mature trees dying. This is an incredible loss. It was such a beautiful place & admired by many.

The top of one canopy. Very sad.

The top of one canopy. Very sad.

Eight mature Blackbutt trees have been poisoned in the garden of an apartment block on Homer Street Earlwood.

The apartment block has wonderful views, as it overlooks the Cooks River, Marrickville Golf Course & all the way to Sydney CBD. The trees are well-known to everyone who looks across the Cooks River from Marrickville & Dulwich Hill.

The strata believes the trees were accidentally poisoned when land regeneration works were undertaken in April.   A hired “bush regeneration specialist” used strong chemicals to kill weeds and unintentionally infected the gums, the spokeswoman said.”

I am wondering if the strata will take legal action against the “bush regeneration specialist,” alleging negligence & seeking compensation for the losses the property has now suffered.

Canterbury Council is investigating & taking tissue samples “to determine the cause of poisoning.”

“A council spokesman said the gums would not be cut down unless they started to pose a danger.”  Let’s hope they turn these into habitat trees (see – ) & also plant eight new gum trees very soon that will take the place of these trees when they finally do have to come down.

See –

Another view of the property.

Another view of the property.

The Bush Regeneratuon Specialist appears to have missed a good opportunity to remove the asparagus fern from the property.

The “bush regeneratuon specialist” appears to have missed a good opportunity to remove the asparagus fern from the property.

The Little Free Library at Hurlstone Park.  I think it is wonderful to see this happening & I  hope Marrickville Council decides to follow this initiative.

The Little Free Library at Hurlstone Park. I think it is wonderful & I hope Marrickville Council decides to follow this initiative.

The first time I came across the concept of a Little Free Library was on a Portland website dedicated to a plethora of community building initiatives, all designed to soften the streetscape & make neighbourhoods safer by bringing people together.   One of these initiatives was the Little Free Library – a small usually red box with a glass front filled with donated books. “Take a book – return a book.”

The first Little Free Library started in 2009 after Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built one as a tribute to his mother & installed it in his front yard.  Rick Brooks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison loved this idea & partnered with Todd Bol to spread the Little Free Libraries throughout Wisconsin. Since then the Little Free Library concept has taken off around the world.

“By January of 2015, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 25,000, with thousands more being built.”

I saw my first Little Free Library outside Hurlstone Park Railway Station & it does look good.  It was built by the Canterbury Men’s Shed for Canterbury Council & was opened only on 8th April 2015.  I think it was a brilliant idea to put this particular Little Free Library right next to the railway station & near the shops. I imagine it will be quite popular with commuters & shoppers.  Good one Canterbury Council.

This photo of Boat Harbour was taken last April.  I found it quite sad to see the beauty of the birds & the river spoiled by floating plastic bottles & other debris.  Soon this will be a thing of the past in this location.

This photo of Boat Harbour was taken last April. I found it quite sad to see the beauty of the birds & the river spoiled by floating plastic bottles & other debris. Soon this will be a thing of the past in this location.

Terrific news – Canterbury Council & Sydney Water are soon to install a floating litter boom with a one-way entrance that will collect floating litter at Boat Harbour at Hurlstone Park.

Boat Harbour tends to attract floating bottles & other litter with the tidal movement. The boom will be great for this location, as well as the river as a whole.

Canterbury Council has recently created a bird sanctuary at Boat Harbour – the first wildlife sanctuary on the Cooks River, which is pretty special.   Keeping humans out has brought the waterbirds back. It is wonderful to see these birds & know that they are now able to safely stay at one of their prime fishing spots.

For many years there was a litter collection boom just outside the entrance to Boat Harbour. Even after it broke waterbirds of all species could be found sitting on it & watching the river.  To have a boom returned is great. Because the boom provides perch sites, this may make this section even more attractive to wildlife & we benefit from the beauty this brings.

Sydney Water will clean the boom regularly.  Their naturalization work of the river bank close by on the opposite side should be starting soon. I think this section of the river from Boat Harbour to near & including Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland will end up being a haven for wildlife. This is what a river should provide & I am pretty excited about this.

For a photo of a similar trap & more information see –

Cormorants waiting on the old stormwater boom. A variety of waterbirds could always been seen here.

Cormorants waiting on the old stormwater boom. A variety of waterbirds could always been seen here.

How beautiful is this!

How beautiful is this!

Eighth Avenue Campsie

Eighth Avenue Campsie

A couple of weeks ago I was in Campsie & came across an incredible streetscape.  The street was named Eighth Avenue & is fortunate to have large verges, as well as a large median island.  The section I walked had eleven Canary Island palms lining the avenue on each side with twelve Jacarandas growing along the middle of the traffic island. 

Planted under the Jacarandas were thousands of Agapanthus plants.   I can just imagine how these look in mid-spring & early summer when both the Jacarandas & Agapanthus are in flower.  My bet is that it looks stunning.

Eighth Avenue is much longer than the section I photographed.  The design elements of Canary Island palms, the Jacarandas & Agapanthus continues down its length as far as I could tell.  Not all the palms are the same size, so it appears that over time any that died have been replaced to keep the continuity.

Also of interest is that aerial bundled cabling has been used to protect the trees.  This will lessen the need for pruning by the power company & is money well spent in my opinion.

I was pleased to read that all the palm trees are heritage-listed & under the care of Canterbury Council.  The palms had been pruned of dead fronds, but in a way that did not remove most of the canopy.  The pruning was not noticeable for most of the trees.

Canterbury Council’s local history Wiki ‘Canterbury Commons’ says, The Harcourt model suburb, formerly Mary Redman’s farm, was laid out by W.E.H. Phillips in 1889. It had wide avenues ornamented by trees and statuary. The numbered avenues north-west of the railway station formed this estate, which was much admired as an ideal subdivision for the working man to build a house in the ‘peaceful repose” of the country.”  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the palms were planted shortly after the establishment of this subdivision.

I love it when I come across beautiful streetscapes, especially when they contain heritage trees.  Eighth Avenue is a treasure & obviously respected by the locals, as there was no litter, no graffiti tagging & no noticeable removal of Agapanthus plants.    I hope I remember to go & have a look next October-November when the street should be ablaze in blue/purple.

Reminded me of love.

Reminded me of love.

The streetscape continues on.

The streetscape continues on.



Four mature Brushbox trees & one mature Callistemon around the corner were poisoned in this section of Wonga Street. The arrows point to replacement trees.

Four mature Brushbox trees & one mature Callistemon around the corner were poisoned in this section of Wonga Street. The arrows point to replacement trees.

To make the dead tree safe Canterbury Council have removed the branches leaving a tall stump, thereby not rewarding the vandal/s by removing the tree..  Note the replacement tree in the foreground.

To make the dead tree safe Canterbury Council have removed the branches leaving a tall stump, thereby not rewarding the vandal/s by removing the tree.. Note the replacement tree in the foreground.

I’m posting about this because it is the worst example of tree vandalism I have personally seen & because of the great actions by Canterbury Council in response.

I was told of the vandalism in Wonga Street Canterbury, so just out of interest we went to have a look.  I was unprepared for what I saw.  Nine street trees, all mature Brushbox had been poisoned.  Large drill holes were evident in all trees.   It was like the person/people who did this thought – …..hmmm, looks too obvious – so they poisoned other trees on both sides of Wonga Street perhaps to disperse any finger pointing from both the Council & the community.

Who knows why they poisoned these trees.  I don’t like to stress money when talking of trees as they provide many more benefits than money, but when talking about tree vandalism, I think it is worth focusing on property value & profit.

What we do know is that the vandal/s significantly decreased the value of many properties here, though I doubt they realize this.  A lot of people don’t understand that the street tree out front has a big impact on their own property.

A friend who is a Real Estate Agent in the Inner West wrote the following to me recently –

When a buyer looks at a house they also look at the street. Time & time again I hear “I don’t like this street, it’s got no trees.”  Streetscape makes a huge difference to property values.

Wonga Street is a busy road so the trees collected particulate matter & helped purify the air for the houses along here.  The Brushbox trees being mature looked great once. You can tell from looking at the other untouched trees further along the street.  In my opinion Brushbox trees have the ability to turn an ordinary street into something that is grand & that translates into money.

I was very impressed with the signage.  No half measures here.

I was very impressed with the signage. No half measures here.

What Canterbury Council has done deserves praise.  They have attached a sign to all the trees that says in large red letters – “This tree has been vandalized,” or “This tree has been poisoned” & ask people to contact the Council if they have any information.

They did not use nails to attach the signs, instead using a metal tie that makes it very difficult to remove the sign while at the same time protecting the tree.  That the trees are dead or dying & they still took care not to use nails impressed me. It sends a clear message to people about respect & care for trees.

Next, they have not removed the dead or dying trees. I was told by a resident that these signs have been in place for around 3-years.  Another said 12-months or more, but they were new to the area, so I can’t be sure.

If I were to poison a street tree it would be because I wanted it gone.  A few months to one year before it was removed would not concern me.  However, if the tree had signage on it & was to remain insitu for an indeterminate number of years, that would act as a massive deterrent.

Canterbury Council also planted some replacement trees.  It appears that they will not remove the poisoned Brushbox until the new Brushbox trees have established to a decent size.  I love that they planted the same species of tree.

Leaving the ugly vandalized tree insitu & with signage while the new tree grows takes the power back to the Council & removes any reward the vandal may have thought they would be gaining.   I think their approach is excellent. But then again, I am hardline when it comes to community owned trees paid for by the tax-payers dollar.  I do not believe anyone has the right to vandalise public trees & that includes radical pruning to keep the street tree a bonsai.

I imagine those who live in the leafy end of Wonga Street hate to pass these dead & dying trees, but at the same time appreciate that the Council has taken action to ensure that this doesn’t travel the length of the street.  They are the ones who benefited by the shade of the Brushbox over this record-breaking hot summer. They will also benefit by higher property values if they decide to sell.  I know. A Real Estate Agent told me so.

Prominent signage held on by steel ties.

Prominent signage held on by steel ties also gives a message regarding how to treat trees.

The dead trunk remains while a replacement Brushbox tree grows nearby.

The dead trunk remains while a replacement Brushbox tree grows nearby.

It was sad to see some of the trees struggling to recover even though they were riddled with large drill holes.

It was sad to see some of the trees struggling to recover even though they were riddled with large drill holes.


Lovely mosaic on Marrickville Road

Shocking floating carpet of plastic bottles on the Cooks River at Tempe photographed on 9 March 2012 when the Cooks River flooded. Because of the location where the photo was taken, you cannot see just how massive this carpet actually was. Photo taken by Valentina Mickovska with thanks.

“Australians consume drinks in over 12 billion containers a year.  Only half of these are recycled, mostly collected via kerbside & much less, away from home (food halls, events, public spaces).   The other half are littered or landfilled representing a big waste of resources. A CDS (Container Deposit Scheme) has been proven worldwide to be the best way to increase collection & recycling.  South Australia has had a CDS for over 30 years & now the Northern Territory will have one in 2011.  It would increase recovery to 80% – over 4 billion extra containers a year.”  ~ Boomerang Alliance 

Plastic & other garbage in a stormwater collection area at Mackey Park

We all know that litter in the Cooks River is a massive problem that is impacting on the health of the river & the wildlife that live here.

Local community group the Cooks River Valley Association (CRVA), along with the Total Environment Centre are doing something about this problem.  They have organized a great event to highlight the litter along the Cooks River & also to lobby the Environment Ministers to support a nationwide packaging regulation.  The regulation will include a Container Deposit Scheme that gives a 10-cent refund on each returned drink bottle & aluminum  can.  The Environment Ministers will be making a decision about the regulation in June 2012 so now is the time to tell them what we want.

The Ca$h-for-Containers event is supported by both Marrickville Council & the City of Canterbury Council & will be held on –

  • Saturday 28th April 2012
  • 11am – 2pm
  • Steel Park, Illawarra Road Marrickville South

Activities include –

  • World’s Biggest Coke Float
  • Bev the Bottle
  • Put a message in a bottle for the Environment Ministers
  • Information & petitions to sign
  • Free food & drink – you will need to bring your own reusable cup & plate.
  • Prizes for the best model plastic bottle boats. CRVA are asking that you make one at home & bring it along on the day.
  • Please start collecting plastic & aluminum beverage bottles & cans & bring them along to the Cooks River Demonstration Recycling Depot at Steel Park to collect your 10-cent cash refunds to experience how the Container Deposit Scheme will work. Let’s create a Cooks Mountain of bottles!

Containers collected at this event & other events, as well as the best of the model plastic bottle boats, will be taken to Canberra for a rally at Parliament House on 23 May 2012. The boats will be sailed on Lake Burley Griffin or on the lawn of Parliament House.

You can find out more about the Container Deposit Scheme at the Boomerang Alliance website here – You can send an e-letter to Tony Burke, Minister for the Environment here –

You can also watch this fabulous video talking about the campaign & showing our Cooks River & the plastic bottle pollution here –

If you are interested in helping prepare & promote this event as well as helping on the day please contact Judy –  0414 910 816

Do it for these guys

I am a real fan of Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland for they did a fabulous job & not only created something that is very beautiful, but something that has greatly improved habitat & biodiversity for the area. It is also a very nice place for the community.

Every year on 2nd February World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands & hopefully result in more conservation of wetland areas around the world.  The first World Wetlands Day was held in 1997.  This year’s theme is ‘Wetlands & Tourism.’

From the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities website, “In 2009–10 tourism directly employed over half a million Australians & contributed $34 billion or 2.6 per cent to Australia’s gross domestic product.  Many tourism destinations are at wetlands, including iconic sites such as Kakadu National Park. Wetlands also provide local tourism & recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing & bird watching.”

Our closest wetland is Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland managed by Canterbury Council who are having an open day at the wetland on Saturday 17th March 2012 from 10am-1pm.

Canterbury Council run many community environmental activities & don’t mind people from out of their area joining in.  If it interests you, a new working group is starting on March 17th & then the third Saturday of each month.  Activities will be weeding, planting & maintaining the wetland.  Training, tools & equipment is provided. Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland is located at Heynes Reserve, Berna Street Canterbury.  For more information contact: Environmental Strategy Team Leader 9789-9422 or email

I think Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland is a stunning place & visit often taking others for a look.  It’s always beautiful & always changing.  The Wetland is a huge improvement of what was once a large area of lawn & is a boon for urban wildlife with all sorts of birds, frogs & turtles taking up residence. This whole section of the Cooks River is very beautiful with much variety & bird life so it is a great walk, not too far & mostly flat.

While I was checking details of the open day at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland I noticed that Canterbury Council had other environmental activities set out in their 6-month calendar for 2012.  They will be doing community tree planting in March, April, May & June. Presumably this will continue for the second half of 2012.

  • In March 500 native trees, shrubs and grasses will be planted at Karne Street Reserve Riverwood.  Native vegetation will be planted at Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland.
  • In April 300 native trees, shrubs & grasses will be planted at Heynes Reserve Canterbury.
  • In May 200 native trees, shrubs & grasses will be planted at Wiley Park, Wiley Park.
  • In June 1,000 native trees, shrubs & grasses will be planted at Salt Pan Creek Reserve Riverwood.

That’s a total of 2,000 native trees, shrubs & grasses. Canterbury Council are happy for anyone to join in on these activities so for more details –

While Marrickville Council only do tree planting on National Tree Day, there are other environmental volunteering activities supported by Council.  However, there are no tree planting events planned through to April 2012, nor is there 2012 calendar dates set for the other volunteer activities, except for Clean Up Australia Day.  I guess you would need to contact Council for information if you were interested in participating in these activities.  They are listed here –

I made a short video of Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland here –

& later here –

I saw a little miracle yesterday.  It probably happens every year, but this time I was witness to it.  After a delightful picnic on the Cooks River we took a friend to see Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, which by the way, is fully grown & is now a thriving metropolis of birds, turtles, frogs, lizards, dragonflies & other living beings.  Walking up the side path that runs alongside the concrete stormwater channel that is Cup & Saucer Creek, our friend called our attention to something happening in the stormwater channel.  As we moved to look down into the concrete channel, thousands of small fish flicked in the shallow water & changed direction showing that they were fully aware of our presence.

Cup & Saucer Creek 2011

The concrete stormwater channel looks like all other stormwater channels in the area. It is dry concrete further away from the Cooks River with very shallow water increasing to something that would be perhaps less than 1-metre (39 inches) deep by the time it enters the river.  It’s tidal so the depth changes & also when it rains.

In the extremely shallow end, which would be between 8-20 cm deep (3 – 8 inches), were many schools of very small fish turning & swimming as one unit, some turning on their side looking like flashes of sliver light in the murky water.  Each school had hundreds of fish.

The fish quickly assessed us as limited threat (or their primal drive was too strong to stop) & continued on with their water dance.  It was quite amazing to watch & even more so because this was happening in a concrete environment, not somewhere that one thinks of for a David-Attenborough-type experience.

I have no idea how long it lasts, but if our goldfish are any indication, this probably happens every day for a couple of weeks until the females release all of their eggs.  Amazing too that the Herons were absent because food was in abundance.

Canterbury Council who now manage the very beautiful & entirely successful Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland have put up an educational sign that has a photo of what the creek looked like in 1901.  The difference could not be more marked.  From what was once quite a large creek with small waterfall, ‘modern progress’ has changed it into a concrete stormwater channel.  That the spawning of fish still occurs here despite the environmental changes is astounding to me.  It also gives me hope of the resilience of nature to adapt to quite radical changes.  Many species don’t & so we lose them from areas or they become extinct.  Here at Cup & Saucer Creek, we have spawning of fish that was probably observed by other people in 1901 & for thousands of years before.

I made a 3 minute-21 second video of this little urban miracle here –

Cup & Saucer Creek 1901. This photo is taken from Canterbury Council' s educational sign about Cup & Saucer Creek & Wetland.

One of the great trees at St Mary MacKillop Reserve beside the Cooks River

The Canterbury Aboriginal Advisory Group, the Cooks River Valley Association & Canterbury Council have organized the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk on Sunday 18th September 2011.

The walk will recognize & celebrate the role that Aboriginal people, past & present, have played in caring for the country of the Cooks River Valley & the Wolli Valley.

The walk is broken into 2 sections of Wolli Creek & 4 sections along the Cooks River allowing people to join any of the sections & leave when they like or participate in the whole walk. This is a great idea as it makes it much easier for people with health or time restrictions to be able to participate.


  • 1st section meets at 10am at Girrahween Park. To get to the meeting place you need to either enter the car park above the park from St James Avenue or Joy Avenue Earlwood & walk down the steps or walk in from Fauna Street Earlwood.
  • 2nd section meets at 11am at Turrella Reserve. The closest street is Finlays Avenue Earlwood.


  • 1st section meets at 10.15am at Lees Park.  The nearest street is Brighton Avenue Croydon Park.
  • 2nd section meets at 10.30am at Mary MacKillop Park. The nearest cross streets are Fore Street & Canterbury Road Canterbury.
  • 3rd section meets at 10.45am at Ewen Park.  The nearest cross streets are Smith Avenue & Tennent Parade Hurlstone Park.
  • 4th section meets at 11.15am at Steele Park.  The nearest cross streets are Illawarra Road & Wharf Road Marrickville.


  • At approximately 11.30am participants from both walks will meet at Gough Whitlam Reserve Bayview Avenue Earlwood for a free barbeque.  There will be Indigenous & environmental themed activities for children & families.
  • At 12.30pm there will be an Acknowledgement of Country as part of a short official program.

The barbeque & Acknowledgement of Country program is open to everyone, & you do not need to participate on the walks to attend.  However, bookings are essential for catering purposes.

Numbers are limited on both walks & bookings are essential.  Registration forms are available online on the Cooks River Valley Association website –  Inquiries phone 0414 910 816 or email 

Ibis feeding at the Cooks River Marrickville South




Started by the UN in 1972 World Environment Day on the 5th June is a global day for positive environmental action. It’s a day where people are encouraged to increase their knowledge of their local environment & participate in actions that create sustainable & positive change.

Grey-faced Heron casing the wetland area at Mackey Park

It should be a bigger deal than it is in Sydney.  I was very disappointed to see how few events were happening.  World Environment Day is a day where Local Councils can take the opportunity to spread the message of how important our environment is & do something that involves the community to make our own local environment better in some way.

The schools are probably doing something because many usually take the advantage to use the official days to educate the children about the issue, be it bullying, hunger, poverty or animals.  I think this is a good thing & wish it was happening when I was going to school.

As far as I am aware, the only environmentally orientated day Marrickville Council participates in is National Tree Day.  I wonder how hard or expensive it would be to be more involved in these major environment days?  Say $2,000-$3,000 an event.  Plant trees, have a speech, a barbeque, hand out some leaflets.

I assume Council thinks if people are interested, they will join the local environmental volunteers who do regular planting, weeding & cleanups. If you are interested you can be actively volunteering at least twice a month.  Canterbury Council doesn’t even require you to be a resident to join in on their environmental activities.  However, this is not what I am talking about.

Growing basil & flowers around a street tree

The people who volunteer already understand the importance of trees, plants & creating & maintaining habitat.  It’s those in our community who don’t know, or who have only a passing interest who Council needs to encourage.  I may be wrong, but I think part of Council’s role is to involve & educate the community.  Events like World Environment Day can create a sense of pride & ownership in the community.  This translates into (possibly) more volunteering, but more likely less littering & dumping as well as more understanding & care of the environment.  Perhaps more private trees will be planted, perhaps a greater appreciation & tolerance of wildlife will be developed.  Who knows, but in my opinion, if Council wants the community to stop vandalizing public trees & plant trees on their property for example, then they need to do more community engaging activities concerning the environment.  Memorial Day was last week & it passed by without a whimper in this locality.  It could have been an event where 1 landmark tree was planted.

There are 3 things happening for World Environment Day that I know of.

1.  Sydney City Council is holding a free event at Green Square Library & Customer Service Centre at the Tote.  The Aussie Swap, free bike checks, expert green living advice, free plants, a wildlife show & a gold coin donation barbeque. There will be live music & Katrina Griffiths, author of ‘The Wombat Stole My Shoe’ will give a talk.       See –

2.  The Nature Conservation Council of NSW & GetUp are holding a climate rally – ‘Say Yes to a Price on Pollution’ at Prince Alfred Park, Sydney CBD from 11am on Sunday 5th June 2011.  There will be speeches, face-painting, live music & ice-cream for the kids.  It’s meant to be a peaceful kid-friendly family day out.

3.  Waverley Council is holding ‘Bondi the Beautiful’ fair. There will be free live music, kids entertainment, a kindy farm, face painting, market & food stalls.  See –

Male Darter drying off his wings down at the Cooks River



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