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Google map of Marrickville Golf Course. Mahoney Reserve is at the bottom right of the map. 

A view of Marrickville Golf Course from across the Cooks River

This is important community consultation & something we should all participate in even if we are not a golfer.  As our area gets more developed, places like this & the Golf Club’s activities are going to become even more important for the community.

The Inner West Council is developing a new Plan of Management & landscape Master Plans for the Marrickville Golf Course & the Dibble Avenue Waterhole, which will decide the future use & facilities over the next 10-years.  It must be easier for Council to do things over a ten-year period, but for me, I worry about this length of time because our community & area is changing so rapidly.

Marrickville Golf Course covers 20-hectares, most of which is owned by the Inner West Council.  The Marrickville Golf Club leases the land from Council.  A condition of the lease is that they provide public access to the open spaces of the golf course.

There are many in the community that avail themselves of walking or cycling through the golf course because it is one of the best natural areas in the locality, especially as it runs alongside the Cooks River.   Apart from the main road in & the path to the bridge over the river, there is no concrete & this makes it a great place to walk.

This won’t last for too long though because as part of their ‘Cooks River Parklands Plan of Management & Master Plan’ that was ratified in 2016, Council wants to install a new pedestrian crossing on Illawarra Road from Steel Park to a new 3-metre wide concrete shared pathway along the river’s edge in Mahoiney Reserve after they have completed naturalization work on the river bank. The first stage will stop at the golf course, but Council would like to connect this path to the bridge over the Cooks River in Marrickville Golf Course.  This is despite the 3-metre shared pathway just across on the other side of the river.

The Dibble Avenue Waterhole is heritage listed & is also a Priority Biodiversity Site.  It is an important refuge for wildlife & aquatic plants.

Marrickville Golf Club uses water from the Dibble Avenue Waterhole to irrigate the golf course & has done so since the 1940s.

Council says that the development of the plans provides opportunities to introduce best practice sustainable land & environmental management for both sites.”

“The process will look at –

  • ways to improve safe public access to the golf course.
  • ways to increase everyone’s enjoyment of the spaces.
  • alternative water sources for the golf course.
  • acceptable limits on water extraction[from Dibble Avenue Waterhole] into the future.”

Council is holding onsite opportunities for the community to learn more & give Council feedback at two locations.

  1. Marrickville Golf Club Carpark on Saturday 2ndJune 2018 from 1pm-3pm.
  2. Mahoney Reserve beside the Amenities Block on Saturday, 16thJune 2018 from 1pm-3pm.

If you don’t want to attend either of these sessions, you can still participate by completing a survey on Your Say Inner West by Monday 25thJune 2018.  See – https://bit.ly/2LtnPNQ

Lastly, there is no mention in the survey of Council’s plans to halve the Marrickville Golf Course from 18 holes to 9 holes to make room for more sporting fields.  See –  https://bit.ly/2GRxf28    

Dibble Avenue Waterhole – a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville’s really beautiful historic places. There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

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Dibble Avenue Waterhole -  a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville's really beautiful historic places.  There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole – a biodiversity hotspot & thankfully, returned to being one of Marrickville’s really beautiful historic places. There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

On the 18th September 2013 I went on a Microbat Walk organised by Marrickville Council.  Around 22 people met at AB Croft Playground next to the Dibble Avenue Waterhole.  Council’s Biodiversity Officer & Ecologist & bat specialist Narawan Williams from Newcastle were our guides.

Kudos to Marrickville Council for the work they have done on the AB Croft Playground.   There are new trees, new park benches, tastefully displayed sandstone boulders in amongst mulch in the areas that tend to become boggy & a very nice new set of playground equipment.

Microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

Microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

The fence that separates the park from the waterhole used to be topped with barbed wire.  That’s gone thank goodness & has been replaced with a high & stylish fence that is secure & unobtrusive, yet allows the public a great view of the waterhole.

I wish all the organizations & companies that are stringing up barbed & razor wire around Marrickville municipality used this kind of fencing.  If they saw the intense suffering barbed & razor wire cause wildlife, they might think differently, especially if they were the person assigned the job of removing the poor, still alive animal, bat or bird with horrific injuries.  It’s a cheap solution that makes our area ugly.  We do not live in a war zone.

Council removed the old rotted pier from the Dibble Avenue Waterhole, but left the pier stumps, so now the waterbirds have nice places to perch. One pier  has a microbat attached.  They also re-vegetated the banks, removing bamboo, weeds & unsuitable trees. The whole place looks remarkably different than it did 2-years ago.  Council’s work has improved the waterhole & surrounds immensely, which is great for both biodiversity & the community.

To my delight we were taken through a private housing complex to a gate on the far side of the AB Croft Playground, which gave us an entirely different view of the waterhole.  Here we saw four man-made microbat boxes that Council has installed in the trees.  We also learnt about which species of microbat has been monitored at the waterhole, as well as information about them.

People asked lots of interesting questions.  I can’t remember it all & unfortunately I didn’t think to take pen & paper to take notes.

The Eastern Bentwing bat, classified as vulnerable, has been spotted in Marrickville.  So have two other species of microbat.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember their names.  Sydney has about 20 species of microbats, about half of which are threatened.

Microbat monitor

Microbat monitor

Then we headed off to the Marrickville Golf Course & were shown two hand-held microbat monitors that record their ultrasonic calls & GPS location.  Microbats are mostly inaudible & the rest are hard for humans to hear.  These monitors pick up the sound pulses of microbats, identify the species by the different pulse & of course, identify whether they are in the area.

The monitors were handed to participants & then we went off for a walk in the dark across the golf course listening for the little microbats.    It was really lovely to be on the golf course at night with lights in the distance & a one-day-off full moon to light the way.  Waterbirds sang from the mangroves & the larger flying foxes from Wolli Creek flew overhead.  I’m not sure whether any microbats were detected, but it was so nice, it really didn’t matter – at least to me.

Another more natural microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

Another more natural microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

We then walked to the wooden bridge over the Cooks River located near the Marrickville Golf Club.  Underneath the bridge is another microbat box, as they like to sleep under bridges.  This bridge is about to be replaced as Council feels that it is at the end of its lifespan & costs more money to maintain than replace.  A new bridge will be built a few metres away.  The bulk of the old bridge will be removed, but Council will be leaving the poles for the waterbirds to sit on.  I am very happy about this, as waterbirds have almost nothing to sit on in the river.  These poles will allow the waterbirds to behave naturally.  Besides, the poles will be a visible link to our past.

The walk continued through the golf course to the second event, a talk on microbats by Narawan Williams the microbat specialist who came with us on the walk.  I did not attend the talk, as places were limited.  I am positive that it would have been very interesting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the walk & learning about Council’s work to improve habitat for microbats.  Marrickville Council says they are likely to do this event again soon, so I recommend grabbing a place next time this event is on.  I think you will enjoy yourself & come away with a better appreciation of these little creatures, plus have the lovely experience of walking alongside the river on grass at night.  It was a nature fix for me.   Thank you to Marrickville Council’s Biodiversity Officer & to Narawan.  The event was a total success in my eyes.

Some quick facts about microbats –

  • Microbats are mammals, warm blooded & feed their babies milk.
  • They can be as small as a moth or as big as a human hand.
  • They can make a home in almost any crevice.  They like tree hollows, under lifted bark, caves, under bridges & in the walls or roofs of buildings.
  • Microbats are insect eaters & as such, are extremely useful to humans, as are all bats.  A microbat can eat as 40% of their body weight every night.  Electric insect zappers not only kill useful insects, they kill the food microbats need to survive.
  • Microbats hibernate in winter.  Disturbing them during hibernation causes them to return to operating temperature.  This uses up precious fat reserves & results in their death.
  • Microbats can see, but use echolocation – the projection of sound at frequencies outside the human hearing range – to find food. They listen to their call bouncing off trees, rocks & buildings.
  • They fly fast & low, changing direction often when chasing their prey.
  • Babies are born in spring & summer.  By 8-weeks they are fully developed & can fly & feed with the adults.
The Dibble Avenue Waterhole from the other side, closed to the public.

The Dibble Avenue Waterhole from the other side, closed to the public.  You can see the AB Croft Playground & piers opposite.

Birds on Fatima Island in the Cooks River

I downloaded the report because there was interest in the issue. The first thing that struck me was the cover page. It is a photo of the banks of the Cooks River probably taken early last century, but that’s just a guess.  The environment looks unbelievably bad, not what I expected at all. I had a vision of a pristine river with natural banks & trees everywhere. Instead there is a very large denuded area about the size of Steele Park with 4 tall trees, 1 dead & another on its way out.  There are around 16 newly planted saplings in the photograph with what appears to be a team of men doing some work chopping away sandstone from an area about 20 metres from the bank. The bank itself is ‘natural’ with not a mangrove to be seen. Pity copyright prevents me from including the photo.

This photo shows that Marrickville Council have done enormous restoration & re-vegetation work on the Cooks River, its bank & the public space alongside the riverbank which I guess was precisely what they intended.

On to the report itself – First up is an aspiration of what the future could be like (words in bold are my emphasis) –

“In 2050….. Our people-friendly streets & roads are clean & there are minimal hard surfaces. Streetscapes, roads & roofs are ecosystems, available for local food production. Stormwater treatment systems are also habitat for frogs, insects and bandicoots. Transport is now completely green, there are few cars & people mostly walk & cycle.  Our community revolves around shared green spaces that are self-sufficient with water. Parks have wetlands & forest reservations. We swim in Dibble Avenue Waterhole & the Cooks River waterways that are also habitat for wildlife. The Cooks River & its foreshores are clean, in a natural state & can be used for recreation & fishing.”

Now wouldn’t that be amazing & something wonderful to pass on to future generations.

Marrickville Council has so far created 3 Subcatchment Management Plans: Illawarra Road Subcatchment Marrickville South, Tennyson Street Subcatchment Dulwich Hill & now Riverside Crescent Subcatchment in Marrickville South.  There are 21 subcatchment areas in Marrickville LGA, so it’s big job.

I found the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan exciting for a number of reasons.

  • The goals are big, but achievable.
  • Council intends to work with the community.
  • Private property issues with stormwater & the creation of permeable surfaces are also to be addressed.
  • Council expects measurable improvement by 2019.

Cooks River

Approximately 60% of the Riverside Catchment is impervious surface. Of that 60%, roads make up 34% with roofs, driveways & carparks making up the remaining 66%.

From the Report – “The implemention of the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan can only happen if citizens make practical changes on their properties. (my emphasis)

The idea of “depaving” is gathering momentum in the USA, especially in Portland, Chicago & Berkeley. With the permission of a landowner, paved areas are removed & replaced with vegetated areas. In Portland, a community organisation called Depave.org has led depaving projects in private backyards, school yards & parking lots.” (Portland has done some incredibly innovative & dynamic things regarding street trees, verges, kerbs & the community is heavily involved. I would love to visit & see for myself.)

As with ‘green laneways,’ the only way to stop up to 85% of rainwater becoming stormwater & ending up in our drains & then eventually into the small creeks in the LGA, the Cooks River or the ocean is by removing as many of the impermeable surfaces as we can. Making surfaces permeable

A section of fantastic restoration work on the bank of the Cooks River at Ewen Park

allows water to go where it should, into the ground or into rainwater storage tanks for use in & around the home. Once rainwater enters the ground, it fills the groundwater & travels through the natural causeways through the ground to reach creeks, the ocean or the Cooks River. The water is by then, cleaned of pollutants. Council isn’t kidding when they say they are going to need to co-operation of the community.

Last week the Australian New Zealand Climate Forum released figures showing that Sydney is already 0.65C hotter than Newcastle. This may not seem like much, but a global temperature rise of just 2 degrees is thought to be catastrophic & result in major problems with food production, water, rising sea levels, 30% animal & plant extinction, weather patterns, floods, drought, & unsustainable living conditions for people.

The heat island effect is causing the heat stored in our many hard surfaces to remain during the night & this makes for one very hot Sydney.  We have already noticed significant changes over the last 3-4 years & unless we do something about this soon, Sydney is only going to get hotter.

Stamped cement driveways will be a thing of the past because we will eventually choose to not live with the heat stored on our property.  Hopefully Council’s Subcatchment Plan will enthuse people to remove theirs & install a permeable driveway instead. If Marrickville Council are successful in encouraging community co-operation & participation, there will be huge changes in the way the community views the environment in terms of water, trees, verges, litter & dumping.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole - this has the potential to be amazing

Dibble Avenue Waterhole is also targeted in the Plan. According to Council’s Report, the historic & potentially very beautiful Waterhole that is fed from direct rainfall, groundwater & stormwater runoff from adjacent properties has “high concentrations of heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead & zinc. These exceed guidelines’ values & pose an ecological risk.   ….up to 25 species of birds including several important migratory & wetland birds, such as the Eastern Curlew. Chestnut Teals, Dusky Moorhens & Australian White Ibis, have been observed most recently. Long finned eels, dwarf flathead gudgeon & mosquito fish have also been recorded.”

I am really happy that Council is doing this kind of work, because not only will it improve our environment in terms of general cleanliness & a cleaner river that we may one day be able to swim in, it will also increase biodiversity by offering homes & food for urban wildlife.  It will also be tackling global warming & the lessening the impact of climate change.  Okay, it’s a small scale, but hopefully all the Councils in Sydney & across Australia will do the same or similar & this process is repeated across the world.  We have to clean up our own back yard.

One very small thing we can do right now is stop buying bottled water or stop throwing plastic bottles away as litter. In all my walks along the Cooks River, the most common litter I see in the river, along the banks & in stormwater catchment drains are plastic water bottles. Some of them can travel to the Cooks River through the stormwater drains from as far as Newtown. Just making a change here will lessen the pollution load in the Cooks River.  It’s Marrickvlle LGA’s little piece of paradise & it can be so much better.

There is much more in the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan. For those of you who are interested, it can be downloaded here (6.5MB) – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/edrawer/Files/331251926/TRIM_TR_REC_1207345.PDF

Cooks River with Tempe railway bridge & the bridge at the Princes Highway in the distance

 

 

As usual, the following is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan 2010 – A resident who is also a member of the Subcatchment Working Party spoke in favour of the Report. He said that it was important for Council to publicize a description of the water-cycle. He said the rainfall in Marrickville LGA is almost double than what we withdraw from Warragamba Dam & only 10% of this water is used for drinking.  If we managed the water properly, we could use less water from Warragamba Dam. He also said that many of the options involve

Recent re-vegetation work along the Marrickville side of the Cooks River

Marrickville Golf Course a significant area along the bank of the Cooks River. Large sections of the Golf Course can be re-vegetated, which will have an impact on biodiversity.  He also said that many in the community would like to see better engagement & would also like to be involved in many activities such as trees, verges, kerbs, footpaths. He said the community could be notified & could be involved in the maintenance of these areas & the way these were done has an impact on water design.

Clr Tsardoulias was pleased with the Report saying it was overdue.  Clr Olive said there had been good work on naturalization all along the river & that this will continue. Clr O’Sullivan said the Sydney Morning Herald that day had an article on environmental works done by Marrickville & Gosford Councils. She said that Council needed to be daring & the Councillors should encourage this. She mentioned recent works at Cup & Saucer Creek as an innovative model for stormwater management.  Clr Peters said it was fantastic that one of the actions was that 85% of households were receptive to using recycled water. Clr Phillips said he was keen to see the works happen & we need to make the funds available. He said he was surprised at the level of toxins in Dibble Avenue waterhole. Carried unanimously.

I will write about the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan 2010 in the following post.

Support for Greenway connection to the Cooks River Shared Pathway – The Marrickville Cooks River Committee in their August meeting asked for Council’s assistance to make representation to Transport NSW to have the Greenway shared pathway continue on from the Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill Light Rail project to the Cooks River.  To do this the bridge over Wardell Road needs to be made suitable for cyclists by either adding a separate cycleway at the side of the bridge as an add-on or build a separate bridge altogether.

Clr Olive supported writing to the minister, as did Clr Phillips. Clr Tsardoulias said this issue was brought up 18 months ago & that it would be great to see something happening.  Carried unanimously.

Awfully late notice – Bushpockets meets for a working bee at the Victoria Road Bushpocket – 10.30am-12.30pm  TOMORROW Sunday 23rd May.  They will be doing weeding & some planting.  Please bring your own hats, gloves, tools & water.

This is a perfect place for a Grevillea hedgerow along the fence at Frazer Park. It would be good for the birds & the bees, plus add some beauty.

In Bushpocket news – last weekend a group planted out a new site in Marrickville Avenue (off Livingstone Road, along the rail line, near the Greek Church). It was a great turnout with 16 residents from quite a small street joining in with an impromptu sausage sizzle. If you have a patch of land near you that you think would make a good Bushpocket let Michael know. It’s a great way to build a sense of community in your street.  Contact details are in the blogroll in the left-hand column.

There will be a Sorry Day event at Wilkins Public School organised by Marrickville Residents for Reconciliation. Students of local schools: Ferncourt, Wilkins, Marrickville West, Dulwich High, Fort Street High & Tempe High will do art & performances to entertain you.  Reconciliation activist Sally Fitzpatrick will speak on “What does sorry mean?”  There will be a group poem composed & free ice-cream & cake for supper.

Sorry Day – Wednesday 26th May 2010 from 7pm. Wilkins Public School. Entry is via Park Road.  Everyone is welcome.

section of embankment showing one of the gaps from multiple tree removal

Around 2 years ago someone organised landscape planting along the embankment of the railway line along Marrickville Road & on the other side opposite Frazer Park Marrickville.  Masses of small native trees, shrubs & grasses lined the embankment.  As they grew, they substantially improved the outlook of this rather stark, heavily cemented area on the Marrickville Road side of the embankment.   The trees not only provided a visible sound barrier to the passing trains, but provided food & habitat for birds, insects & small animals.  Eventually

rail embankment opposite Frazer Park

it developed into a lovely thicket that was in flower & filled with birds when I visited a few months ago.  I thought at the time that this should be done right alongside all railway lines as a norm.

Last week I saw that the embankment looked different.  At least 65 small trees had been chopped down. Some areas of this land is hidden behind the brick retaining wall so there may have been more trees removed than I could see. I cannot understand why the trees were chopped down. They were not falling over the road, nor were they tall, large & heavy.  It’s a shame because the area now looks picked at & has great gaps in the vegetation.  I hope they intend to replant or decide to leave it alone so that any seeds have a chance to grow.

Seen last week - severely pruned trees in Fitzroy St Marrickville They are not close to the powerlines.

Yesterday's photos of the Dibble Avenue Waterhole didn't do them justice. Here is today's photo of the algae taken in sunlight.

Marrickville Council has posted their intention to remove 8 trees from around the Dibble Avenue Waterhole Marrickville because they are non-native & regarded as environmental weed tree species.  They are:

  • Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) x 2
  • Willow (Salix babylonica) x 2
  • Chinese Tallow Tree (Sapium sebiferum)  x 1
  • African Olive (Olea europea)  x 1
  • Mulberry (Morus nigra) x 2

Council’s tree removal notification says: The Dibble Avenue Waterhole  Vegetation Management Plan recommends the removal of these environmental weed tree species to facilitate the establishment of native vegetation & the control of weeds within the waterhole. All existing native trees are to be retained. A planting program including appropriate native tree species will proceed in June 2010 following the tree removal.  Tree works will be undertaken after 1 June 2010.

I presume the deadline for submissions is 1st June 2010, though there is no mention of submissions from the community.

The following is brief information about these tree species.

CHINESE TALLOW TREE – Native to southern China, deciduous tree. height of 8m. Orange, red, purple & yellow autumn foliage. Clusters of greenish yellow & white flower spikes November/December.  It is used as a major honey plant for bee-keepers. The fruit ripens in autumn. Birds love the fruit & disperse the seeds. Regarded as good street tree or small tree for the home garden. Costs up to $700 for an advanced 200 litre tree 2.5m tall.

WILLOW – originally native to northern China. Medium to large deciduous tree up to 20-25 mt. It has a short lifespan & flowers in spring.  In my research, I could not find mention of birds dispersing seeds.

Camphor laurel on the boundary

CAMPHOR LAUREL – large evergreen tree up to 20–30 mts. Produces masses of small white flowers which develop into black berry-like fruit around 1 cm diameter. The seeds are attractive food to birds who disperse them. Introduced to Australia in 1822 as an ornamental tree & now regarded as a weed in QLD & northern NSW. Noted for growing hollows early in its life whereas natives can take hundreds of years to develop hollows.  It has a large root system that can disrupt foundations, drains & sewerage systems.

MULBERRY – small deciduous tree to 10-13 mtrs, native to southwestern Asia. It produces edible dark purple, almost black, fruit 2–3 cms long often made into jams & deserts. Good food for birds who disperse the seeds. Both trees are near units so presumably would have been planted as a food source.

The gate at Dibble Street Waterhole. The old sign speaks volumes.

AFRICAN OLIVE – Small evergreen tree 2-15m. Produces edible black fruit pickled as olives.  Grown as a crop in Australia.  The birds eat & disperse the seeds. Planted near the units so presumably would have been planted as a food source.

Despite living in the area for nearly 15 years, we have never been to the Dibble Avenue Waterhole.  I had been told it was a gorgeous place & should go for a picnic.  This has always been the plan so with some excitement I went to visit yesterday armed with my map courtesy of Marrickville Council.  photo-dibble-water-hole The map showed a lot of trees & I hoped I would be able to spot the ones to be removed as I walked around.  The map, past conversations about the place & my own imagination made what I actually saw when I arrived quite a shock.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole

Far from being a place of beauty, The Dibble Avenue Waterhole is a sad, forlorn place.  Much of the vegetation is dead including the Willow tree.  I walked through a small boggy park with a few old style play equipment to be faced with a tall fence topped with barbed wire.  No entry for the public here.  Just inside the fence is a pier that appears to be rotten. Stacked on that was a mass of dead vegetation.  Beyond was the waterhole itself.

It was a still pool covered with what appeared to be blue-green algae. I would think that storm water travels to the waterhole & if I am correct, it demonstrates how animal poo, fertilizer & other pollutants can affect water as the algae is at epidemic proportions. I doubt the water has much oxygen in it.  A few ducks paddled their way through the algae.

Looking through the fence, past the pier to the actual pond.

The banks are steep & it looks as though the area has been sprayed with weed killer as almost everything is dead.  Houses & 3 storey unit blocks surround the waterhole.

It has the potential to be a slice of heaven in the Inner West as it is also next to the golf course & the Cooks River. If it were fixed, surrounding property values would soar.  Never mind the mosquitos here. A bird sanctuary & water on your doorstep!

I had to find the trees from my vantage place in the park.  I could see 1 dead Willow, but the other was out of view. The Olive & the 2 Mulberry trees were very close to the unit block & appeared small. The Chinese Tallow was in amongst a group of trees & I couldn’t isolate it. I could see only 1 of the Camphor laurel trees & that one was located right next to the back fence of a house next to the park.  That tree’s canopy cascades over their house, so they may be pleased to get sunlight once it is removed. Then again, judging by the massive tree they have in another section of their back garden, they may not be happy to see the tree removed at all.

Plaque from NSW State Government saying the waterhole is on the Historic Trail

My opinion is that Marrickville Council is doing a good thing to replant  this waterhole as it is in dire need of help.  It has the potential to be fantastic & it offers sanctuary for wild birds, frogs & other insects & animals. Planting natives will ensure they have abundant food, homes & places to roost. It is also on the NSW Historical Trail so we have responsibility to keep it in the best condition possible.  I will watch the progress of the Dibble Avenue Waterhole with interest.

View of dead Willow & the 2 Mulberry trees & 1 Olive

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