You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Cooks River’ tag.

Little Black cormorant, a couple of gulls and a plastic bag at Fatima Island in the Cooks River. Look and you will see plastic bags caught in the branches of the mangroves all along the length of the river.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan stated that WA will ban single-use plastic bags from 1st July 2018.   The war against plastic bags is catching with Western Australia joining the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania & the Australian Capital Territory who have all decided to make their state & territory single-use plastic bag free.

Clean Up Australia says,

  • “It is estimated worldwide that 1 trillion bags are used and discarded every year.
  • Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic bags a year, that’s over 20 million new bags being used every day. 
  • An estimated 3.76 billion bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year.
  • Australians dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute or 429,000 bags every hour.
  • It is estimated that around 50 million bags enter the Australian litter stream every year. Unless they are collected, they remain in the environment and accumulate at a staggering rate. If these 50 million plastic bags were made into a single plastic sheet, it would be big enough to cover the Melbourne CBD.”

Plastic bags are made from crude oil – a finite source.  To create enough plastic bags for humans to use over a 12-month period requires 100 million barrels of oil.

It is also estimated that it will take each plastic bag approximately 400-years to biodegrade, which is disgusting when you think of the 1 trillion bags that are used & discarded every year worldwide.

Plastic bags often end up as litter & enter our waterways & oceans.  Once there, they are mistaken for jelly fish by some seabirds & turtles who eat them, then suffer blocked gastrointestinal tracks & basically starve to death.

Birds often try to use the bags as nesting material.  If the bag gets caught around their beak, wings or legs, it can prevent them from eating, cause an infection, amputate their feet or toes killing them quickly or painfully slowly.

Plastic bags, like all plastic, breaks down into micro-particles & is eaten by birds, animals & fish, entering the food chain.  It is expected that there will be more plastic by weight in our oceans than fish by 2050.  This is a terrible legacy to be leaving future generations.

The environment needs us to dump plastic bag use, as do the wildlife & also for ourselves, as ingesting micro-plastics will have a negative impact on our health.

2017 research by the University of Ghent in Belgium “believe Europeans currently consume up to 11,000 pieces of plastic in their food each year & that 99 percent of them pass through the body, but the remaining 1 percent, which equates to about 60 particles, is absorbed into the body’s tissues and will accumulate over time.”  http://bit.ly/2jURaFc

A few years ago, I asked Marrickville Council whether they would consider banning plastic bags in the municipality & was told something along the lines that the issue had been considered, but it was felt it would not work because people would just go buy plastic bags from the supermarket.  However, the culture is changing & with whole states/territories across Australia having made the decision to ban single-use plastic bags, it will not be too long before we can expect NSW & the other states to follow their example.  I think we can realistically expect the Inner West Council to embrace this initiative now or very soon.  They could follow Western Australia with a July 2018 start.

There is already ground root aspiration to make the Dulwich HilI shopping strip plastic bag free with local volunteers busy making shopping bags for the Boomerang Bags initiative either at home or meeting at Reverse Garbage for monthly sew-a-thons.  It is highly commendable & I wish it would take off for all our local shopping strips & Marrickville Metro who gets through something like 24,000 bags every week.  Don’t quote me though.  It may be 24,000 bags every day.  You can see the signs about plastic bag usage on the pillars in the Metro car park.

Plastic bags can’t be recycled the usual way because the they jam machinery at recycling depots.  They can however be taken to the REDcycle collection bins at the supermarket for recycling into plastic signs & outdoor furniture.  However, if all the plastic bags were recycled this way, there would be excess of what is needed for signs & furniture, so better not to use them at all.

Ultimately I believe we will be forced to stop using single-use plastic bags, so we might as well embrace the alternatives before this happens.   Shopping bags are super easy to make & cheap to buy.  The hardest thing will be to remember to take them with us, but even that will become second nature in a very short while.

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The Cooks River at the Cooks River Foreshore Marrickville today.

We like to think of ourselves as being environmentally green in Marrickville, but this is going too far.  I have no idea what is causing the water to be this colour & have reported to Sydney Water, Inner West Council & local group, the Cooks River Valley Association.  Maybe it is n early stage of blue-green algae.  I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t look right.

The worst day of the Cooks River I have ever seen. This was everywhere….slowly floating down the river towards Botany Bay.

A 2-minute video by the NSW Environment Protection Authority titled ‘Hey Tosser – GPS tracked bottles’ shows how far plastic bottles travel along a range of waterways in Sydney, including the Cooks River.  It is quite incredible.

To watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH7ZDl1_PE8

New raised walkway/cycleway at the Illawarra Road bridge on the Undercliffe side.  Previously one needed to pick up their bike and carry it up three stepped ramps.  It was not easy.   

It was great to see the newly opened raised walkway/cycleway on the Undercliffe side of the Cooks River at Illawarra Road.  This was a difficult place to negotiate bicycles, especially if they were heavy.   Tight corners are no more with a slick graded slope raised walkway/cycleway.  It looks good.

I shall miss the decaying tree trunk beside the river, but to see the significant erosion taken care of with lots of sandstone is very pleasing.  It is great to see the asparagus fern gone too.   I’ve been looking at that plant for nearly 20-years.

I hope the storm water drain gets fitted with a pollution trap to catch street litter.  Hopefully, they still intend to do this.  Far too many storm water drains along the river are open to the river.  One day pollution traps will be seen as mandatory & people will wonder why this wasn’t always the case.  One only needs to look at the plastic drink bottles & other litter to see how needed pollution traps are.

Overall this is a boon for the community & for the river.

A side view of the walkway, plus showing the erosion control using sandstone.   The storm water outlet is on the right.

New storm water outlet at the Illawarra Road Bridge Undercliffe. It’s nice, but it needs a pollution trap in my opinion.

This is the same site – photo taken 2012.  The roots of decayed tree trunk can just be seen on the right.  Hopefully, the mangroves will grow back.  The bottles & other litter collected by a Cooks River Tosser came from this small section visible in the photo, which clearly demonstrates the need for a pollution trap.  

The beautiful Cooks River

This is a free talk by Professor Ian Tyrrell, a local resident, academic & environmentalist who is writing a book on the history of the Cooks River since white settlement.  This event is organised by The Cooks River Valley Association.  

WHEN:          Tuesday 20th June 2017

WHERE:        School hall, Marrickville West Public School, corner Livingstone Road & Beauchamp Street Marrickville.

TIME:             7pm

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Very exciting to see a video of a shark swimming up the Alexandra Canal at Mascot yesterday.    Apparently, it headed back to the Cooks River, which is a good thing because the water is awfully shallow where it was.

You can watch the video taken by Simon Dilosa here –

https://www.facebook.com/dorsalaus/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland three weeks ago with much of the pond area covered with netting.

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland three weeks ago with much of the pond area covered with netting.

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland last Sunday.  It's a jungle in there.

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland last Sunday. It’s a jungle in there.

Something interesting is happening at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, but I don’t know what.  It is obvious that work is being done because the pond has been drained & large areas have been covered with netting.  It was like this three weeks ago & everything had grown into jungle-like proportions by last weekend.

Canterbury Council holds regular working bees in the wetland & are looking for new volunteers.  To register your interest & for more information about how you can get involved, call Council on 9707 9000.

The pond closest to the river is green with algae.

The pond closest to the river is green with algae.

I am posting these photos purely to counterbalance yesterday’s post.  Having access to a river makes us a very fortunate community in my opinion.  Even better is the waterbirds & other wildlife that we come across when we are lucky.   Here is what we saw today during a short bicycle ride.

White-faced heron waits and watches the river.

White-faced heron waits and watches the river.

A close-up of his beautiful face.

A close-up of his beautiful face.

Ten Masked lapwings sit beside the river. I've not seen so many together before. One the way back their number had expanded to eleven.

Ten Masked lapwings sit beside the river. I’ve not seen so many together before. On the way back their number had expanded to eleven.

A close-up. I love their yellow mask.

A close-up. I love their yellow mask.

Half a dozen Little corellas flew in to rest in a tall tree.

Half a dozen Little corellas flew in to rest in a tall tree.

A young White-faced heron seen on the way home. He was within 1.5-metres of the path.

A young White-faced heron seen on the way home. He was within 1.5-metres of the path.

People gathered hear talks about the project under the beautiful fig tree that was saved from death by brackish water & erosion.

People gathered hear talks about the project under the beautiful fig tree that was saved from death by brackish water & erosion.

Here is a 2014 photo of the same tree showing the erosion and exposed roots.

Here is a photo I took in 2014 of the same tree showing the erosion and exposed roots.

Looking at the saved Fig tree, the habitat area and up the Alexandra Canal

Looking at the saved Fig tree, the habitat area and up the Alexandra Canal from the lookout area.  On the far right is a great model that shows how stormwater travels along hard surfaces.  

A close-up of the restored bank. Plants have been placed in slots and below the current tide line, intertidal block pools have been created.  These all offer habitat for a range of creatures.

A close-up of the restored bank. Plants have been placed in slots and below the current tide line, intertidal block pools have been created. These all offer habitat for a range of creatures.  The sandstone blocks have been left in the river to continue their work offering habitat.

This morning I went to the Community Open Day celebrating the newly upgraded Alexandra Canal & other works beside Tempe Recreation Reserve.

The event was opened by an indigenous man who said the area was near enough to the meeting point of three indigenous tribes.  After a short speech about the Cooks River, he welcomed us to Country.

Then representatives from Sydney Water & the contractor Total Earth Care each gave short talks explaining what they had done with the river bank.  They appeared very happy with the outcome & so they should be.  It looks excellent.

I asked how long the work on the banks should last & was told it will see us all out.  I think it is wonderful that this restoration work will be long-lasting.  I am used to seeing work all around the place last a decade if that.

I had other commitments, so was not able to stay for the full program.  Unfortunately, I missed what promised to be a very interesting talk about the indigenous history of the area, plus actual exhibits.  I also missed a talk & showing of a variety of animals & insects that Taronga Zoo brought to the park, though I did get to see a gorgeous echidna before their talk.  It was very windy, so the echidna wanted to burrow in hay & get out of the wind, but I was lucky enough to get a photo of him.

So what is the restoration like & why all the fuss about a river/canal bank?  Firstly, the lovely & significant Fig tree that was badly affected by erosion & had many roots submerged in brackish water every time the tide came in is now sitting pretty in thickly mulched soil as it should be.  It is now one happy tree.

Had the erosion continued, it is highly likely we would have lost this tree.  It has a beautiful bowl-shaped canopy that reaches all the way to the ground – something we don’t see much in this area anymore.

The area between this tree & another large old fig tree on the point has been made into a garden habitat area & lookout with signage that explains the work done, the ecological significance & also the history of this area.   I think the signage is excellent, as it may change the culture of many who use this park by encouraging them to respect the park & the river.

I’ve noticed minimal vandalism & littering at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland & also the bank restoration work in the same area – both major restoration works by Sydney Water.  People read the signage & learn how important to the river & the wildlife this work is.   The outcome has been negligible rubbish left behind & signs, structures, seating & re-vegetated areas have been mostly left alone & not destroyed or graffitied.  I hope the same level of respect happens here in Tempe Recreation Reserve.

From the lookout area you can see right along the curve of the bank with all the new sandstone & slots that hold plants.  It looks fabulous.

I had a chat with the contractor & was told that they used 1,742 slabs of sandstone to complete the work.  Each slab was hand-cut into eight pieces.  These were then laid to form the wall.  Each slot in the wall was also hand-cut.  To me this is a significant feat.   Some of the slots create intertidal block pools – places for small fish, seaweeds, snails, shellfish & small crabs to live.  Block pools have also been created above the tideline to cater for any future sea level rise.

When you look at the wall, each slab has its own unique markings.  It’s quite attractive. The slope of the wall also allows birds to perch safely away from people.  Crabs will benefit too.

The work is much more than saving a significant tree, restoring the bank & building a lookout area.  Sydney Water has done re-vegetation work all the way to the bridge over the Alexandra Canal.  They created curved garden habitat areas that swing around & encapsulate the fig trees, surrounding them with mulch & plants, therefore protecting them from people.  I like this very much.

Many of the trees have repeatedly had bark gouged out by people of all ages intent on engraving their initials.  This is a relatively new pastime, starting only a couple of years ago.  I’ve seen kids standing at the tree using kitchen knives to cut into the trunk while adults looked on.

Damaging the bark is a very quick was to introduce disease into trees & can bring about their early death, so I am very pleased that the tree trunks are now protected by plantings all around them.  The tree canopies are big enough to provide shade on the lawn areas outside of the garden areas, so picnicking people will still be able to access much needed shade.

A range of native plants have been planted & a good number too.    It is not stingy planting.   It looks good now, so will look terrific once grown.

The work makes this area look maintained & cared for, which also may change the culture of some who use this park for recreation.  I imagine it will be harder to leave lots of garbage behind when it is obvious that a lot of work & money has gone into making this a beautiful place.  Here is hoping anyway.  It would be nice to be able to spend time in this park without feeling upset at the amount of garbage left around or blowing into the river.

All the fences along the canal have been replaced & they are attractive to look at.  Fences are needed here to keep people safe because the bank is steep & the drop is dangerous.  Fences will also stop people from driving their car to the bank & launching their speedboats into the river at this location.

All in all, Sydney Water & contractor Total Earth Care should feel proud of what they achieved.  The community has benefited by this major improvement to our park & the wildlife now have additions that will help improve their life.

Beauty always lifts the spirit, so this work will make people feel happier after time spent here.  I also think the work will educate people as to the importance of the river & its ecology.  Hopefully, this will spinoff into respectful behavior toward the river & the park environment.

Lastly, Tempe Recreation Reserve is highly visible from the Airport Drive.  I am sure many thousands of people look & wonder about this park every day.  Now when they are driving past they will get an excellent look at the bank restoration work & instead of seeing a rundown eroded area filled with weeds & junk, they will see beauty.  The benefits will flow on further than just the users of the park.  To me this is priceless.

A massive thank you to Sydney Water & contractor Total Earth Care from me.  You give me hope that one day the Cooks River & the Alexandra Canal will be restored & we will have a healthy river system once again.  All work here is worth it many times over.

A section of the educational signage that shows the sandstone riverbank.  I was amazed to read that dugong bones with butcher marks had been excavated when the Alexandra Canal was constructed. Dugongs lived here about 5,500-years-ago.

A section of the educational signage that shows the sandstone riverbank. I was amazed to read that dugong bones with butcher marks had been excavated when the Alexandra Canal was constructed.  Dugongs lived here about 5,500-years-ago.

Lots of exhibits were bought along for the talk on the indigenous history of the area.  I was amazed to read that dugong bones with butcher marks had been excavated when the Alexandra Canal was constructed.  Dugongs lived here about 5,500-years-ago.

Lots of exhibits were bought along for the talk on the indigenous history of the area. 

The lookout area is surrounded by seating height sandstone blocks, which I imagine will be really popular.

The lookout area is surrounded by seating height sandstone blocks, which I imagine will be really popular.

Two more sandstone seats were installed further along the Canal.  They look great.

Two more sandstone seats were installed further along the Canal. They look great.  You can see the garden area curve around the fig tree.

Looking down at the new sandstone river bank at the lookout area.  I think this looks very attractive.

Looking down at the new sandstone river bank at the lookout area. I think this looks very attractive.  

More habitat areas alongside the Alexandra Canal.  This will look amazing in a few months time.  It travels all the way to the bridge over the Canal.  The bitumen road has been painted rusty red with signage saying that it is a shared zone.  It looks cared for.

More habitat areas alongside the Alexandra Canal. This will look amazing once it all grows. The habitat area travels all the way to the bridge over the Canal. The bitumen road has been painted rusty red with signage saying that it is a shared zone. The whole area now looks cared for.

Lastly, an echidna who came for a visit from Taronga Zoo.

Lastly, an echidna who came for a visit from Taronga Zoo.  This is only the second echidna I have seen, so quite a treat.

Showing the tree that was saved, the new garden area and the new viewing area.  Photo January 2016

Showing the tree that was saved, the new garden area and the new viewing area. Photo January 2016.  

Sydney Water & contractor Total Earth Care are holding a Community Open Day to celebrate the newly upgraded Alexandra Canal beside Tempe Reserve.

I last wrote about this work in January 2016 & was impressed with the extent of restoration work that had been done.  I am sure it looks quite different from my last visit.  See – http://bit.ly/1ZjIYhv

WHEN:          Saturday 5 November 2016.

TIME:             10 – 12 noon.

WHERE:        Next to the Alexandra Canal at Tempe Recreation Reserve.

Parking available in the park at the end of Holbeach Avenue Tempe.

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