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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.

Gorgeous and much loved avenue of Poplar trees along the Cooks River Foreshore.  The gas pipes travel this route.

Gorgeous and much loved avenue of Poplar trees along the Cooks River Foreshore. The gas pipes travel this route.

I have been aware of this issue for a while since first reading about it on Facebook. Apparently, no local council knew or could provide reasons as to why the trees had been tagged or who was responsible.

It has now come to light, thanks to the persistent work of Peter Munro, Secretary of Cooks River Valley Association.

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald –

As many as 1000 trees along the Cooks River are being assessed for potential removal by energy companies, which operate an underground network of pipelines running beneath kilometres of parklands in south-western Sydney.  Hundreds of mature trees – including Moreton Bay figs, eucalypts, and casuarinas – which line kilometres of pipeline easement from Port Botany to Newington in Sydney’s inner west have been tagged by arborists to determine whether they pose a threat to the pipelines.”   See – http://bit.ly/2cYuBK2

The underground pipelines are operated by Viva Energy Australia & Sydney Metropolitan Pipeline.

“A spokesman for Energy Minister Anthony Roberts confirmed his department was aware of the tagging, and said: “The pipeline route [was] being assessed for any possible threats to the pipelines.  If any trees are identified as possibly requiring removal, the licensee will have to go through all normal approval processes.”

Around 2-years ago, I spoke informally with a manager of the gas company which was repairing pipes near the storm water drain beside Mackey Park.   I asked why trees were not allowed to be planted along the riverbank as had been told to me by Marrickville Council a few years back.  His response was to laugh & say that the pipes are buried so deep that they would be unaffected by the roots of any tree.

Therefore, I would question the need to remove any tree along the Cooks River by Viva Energy Australia & Sydney Metropolitan Pipeline.

The trees along the Cooks River are vital for the health of the river & the community.  There has been much research of late about trees & their positive impact on the mental, physical & spiritual health of human beings.  Trees are recognized as important assets & a public health issue.

The Cooks River & the riverbanks are classified as a ‘biodiversity corridor.’ They support a wide range of wildlife, which is growing due to the good work being done by local councils & Sydney Water to increase the biodiversity & restore the riverbanks.

There would need to be a very good reason why any tree would need to be removed from this location, let alone 1,000 trees.  The impact of removing hundreds of trees would be massive & not only destructive to the environment & the wildlife that rely on the trees, but also throwing away the time, hard work & ratepayers money that has gone into re-vegetating the riverbanks.

I believe the manager who told me that the trees were no threat to the the deeply buried pipelines.  So, I am not persuaded that anyone considering tree removal along the Cooks River has made their case.

Cooks River from the Illawarra Road bridge in Marrickville

Cooks River from the Illawarra Road bridge in Marrickville

It was great to watch a video about the Cooks River by Tony Burke MP, Labor Member for Watson & Shadow Minister for Environment & Water.  This short, but encouraging video was filmed yesterday.

He speaks about the history of the Cooks River & says, “The job for the local area now is to try year after year to return it into a beautiful environmental asset for our local area. To replace the concrete with real river banks & to clean up the water.”

You can watch the video called, ‘Cooks River’ here –  https://www.facebook.com/burke.tony.mp/videos

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