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

Looking back to Tempe

Looking back to Tempe with nice big garden beds ready for planting on both sides of the path.

Looking at the Tempe Cooks River Footbridge from Cahill Park

Looking at the Tempe Cooks River Footbridge from Cahill Park 

I finally managed to get down the Princes Highway to have a look at the newly completed Tempe Cooks River Footbridge.  It is excellent.

Previously, cyclists & pedestrians had to cross the Cooks River by using the footpath on the western side of the Princes Highway.   The path there is not very wide & traffic comes towards you.  I found it a bit nerve wracking on a bicycle.  It would only take a cyclist falling into traffic or a vehicle mounting the footpath for a tragedy to happen.  Thankfully, this is a thing of the past now that there is a designated pedestrian/cycle bridge over the river, which is totally separated from traffic.

This new shared path utilises a concrete bridge that travels alongside the bridge that carries traffic over the Cooks River from Tempe to Wolli Creek.  I have no idea what its purpose is, nor could I find any information about it on the internet.  Perhaps it carries sewerage?  If you do know, could you leave a comment please.

The surface of the bridge has been covered with large panels that have a nice texture providing traction for bicycle wheels.  The bridge has been fenced & fencing has also been installed alongside the Princes Highway from the traffic light at Holbeach Avenue Tempe almost all the way to the bridge.  The fencing offers serious protection for both cyclists & pedestrians.   The fence is substantially thick & would stop a vehicle.

The path ascending & descending the bridge now incorporates artwork by Lucy Simpson called, ‘Goolay’yari (place of the pelican).’  Large pelican footprints have been engraved into the concrete path on both sides.  It is lovely.

A plaque mounted on a sandstone block at the base of the bridge gives the story of the artwork.  It is as follows –

“The Cooks River is called the River of the Goolay’yari, the Pelican Dreaming Story.  According to the story, a man fled from battle, abandoning his wife & children, which placed them in great danger. As the man fled, he stepped into the middle of the Cooks River.  At the point where he was crossing, he looked down to discover that he had a webbed foot – that of a pelican.  He had been turned into a pelican as punishment for leaving his family behind.

The story goes that Fatima Island is his webbed footprint, reminding us of this story.”

It’s a shame that Fatima island has lost yet another tree & has almost eroded away. I am not alone in feeling sad that this historic & culturally important island is a casualty of neglect.  If you want to see photos of what Fatima Island looked like in 1984 see – http://bit.ly/2i2Dgh3

On both side of the path at either end of the bridge are long garden beds. Once they have been planted & they grow, it will look beautiful & will enhance the view of the Cooks River for passing motorists.    It is a lovely gateway to the southern end of our new municipality, which now spans from Sydney Harbour in Balmain all the way to the Cooks River at Tempe.

The new bridge was active with both pedestrians & cyclists.  It gives us easy access to leafy Cahill Park, which offers another view of the Cooks River from the plentiful park benches that sit on the river bank facing the river.

The new bridge is a great improvement by the Inner West Council.  The project cost $775,000 & was funded by Roads & Maritime Services & Inner West Council & was money well spent in my opinion.  It will also make accessing the route to Botany Bay much easier & safer.   Big thanks from me.

A good strong fence.

A good strong fence.

It's easy to see how an accident could have occurred along this stretch of footpath crossing the Cooks River

It’s easy to see how an accident could have occurred along this stretch of footpath crossing the Cooks River

‘Goolay’yari (place of the pelican)' by Lucy Simpson

‘Goolay’yari (place of the pelican)’ by Lucy Simpson

What is left of Fatima Island -  the only natural mid river sanctuary along the Cooks River

What is left of Fatima Island – the only natural mid-river sanctuary along the Cooks River

 

Fatima Island Cooks River Tempe

A Darter sits perilously close to what appears to be fishing line. This is a massive risk to the safety of wildlife.  A pied cormorant sits in the dead tree.  Another couple of Pied cormorants are also on the island, but out of view.

Terrible to see what looks like fishing line entangled on a dead tree on Fatima Island in the Cooks River at Tempe.  Also sad to see that the last tree on the western side has finally succumbed & will fall into the water soon.  That means less roots to hold the island together.

I just wish Inner West Council would plant some more casuarina trees before we lose this island altogether.  In my opinion, there are many reasons why an attempt should be made to save Fatima Island.  Apart from its cultural & historical significance, the island provides refuge for waterbirds & this is extremely important.   The next refuge site is Boat Harbour at Hurlstone Park – a long way up the Cooks River.

It would be a big loss to lose the opportunity to see waterbirds from Kendrick Park.  It will be an even bigger loss for the wildlife.

How hard can it be to plant half a dozen Casuarina trees?

Fatima Island - or what is left of it.

Fatima Island – or what is left of it.

An Egret & three Cormorants resting on Fatima Island - September 2013.  It's not unusual to see Peilicans, Darters, Gulls, Herons or Spoonbills on the island.

An Egret & three Cormorants resting on Fatima Island – September 2013.   It’s not unusual to see Peilicans, Darters, Gulls, Herons or Spoonbills on the island.

This was the Council Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.   Absent: Clr Iskandar.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Haylen/North, Tsardoulias/West, Woods/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Ellsmore/North, Brooks/West, Leary/South.  LIBERAL: Gardiner/North, Tyler/West. INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Hanna/South.

Fatima Island Tempe – whether MC has an Erosion Assessment & Remediation Feasibility Study done at a cost of $25,000 –

Speaker 1:  For. I am a local resident & an Ecologist at the University of New South Wales. My doctoral thesis is on biochemical mediated interactions in aquatic communities & I am currently working on a wetland restoration project at Kurnell in conjunction with the Sutherland Shire Council & the Catchment Management Authority.

While Fatima Island is not listed as ‘Ecological Significant’ this does not mean that it does not provide valuable ecosystem services. Indeed if we only concerned ourselves with protecting ‘ecologically significant’ ecosystems, our community would be a very stark & bleak place to live.

The most obvious ecosystem service that Fatima Island provides is that of a bird refuge, but this is only one function of many. There are also intertidal & sub-tidal ecosystems to be considered. While Marrickville Council has undertaken wonderful work with rain gardens & the Tempe Wetlands to improve the health of the waterways, the bacterial communities of the intertidal & sub-tidal ecosystems of Fatima Island also play a part in the health of the river. Additionally the physical structure of the intertidal & sub-tidal region may provide additional habitat or nursery grounds for macro fauna.

There has been a spirited debate on the internet about the fate of Fatima Island over the past few weeks & I would like to place the ‘let nature take its course’ argument into an ecological framework. Yes ‘islands come & islands go’, but islands come slowly, rarely & in undisturbed locations, & I would love someone to show me the latest river island that has developed in the Cooks River, or even the latest river island that has developed in NSW.  And yes, Fatima Island will be affected by rising sea levels, but it will also be affected by changing tidal regimes & lower (and/or) higher rainfall conditions, as well as anthropogenic changes to our water run-off regime.  If the decline of Fatima Island was solely part of the natural cycle, & only being impacted on by ‘natural’ causes, then I would possibly agree with ‘leave it be’ mentality.  But it is not only being impacted on by ‘natural’ processes, & if we take the time to understand the geomorphologic & hydrological conditions around the island, we can plan a restoration that will allow Fatima Island to adjust & adapt to changing climatic & environmental conditions – a concept known as ‘planned retreat’.

Ecosystem function is not the only value Fatima Island has, & others have/will address the cultural & heritage value of the island. It may not be possible to address or save all three aspects of the Island simultaneously, however all three aspects have one thing in common.  Action needs to be taken sooner rather than later.  Recreating ecosystem function is much more expensive & less likely to succeed then preserving what we already have.  Cultural & heritage value cannot be recreated.

Speaker 2:  I did not take notes.  This person spoke in depth about the history of Fatima Island.

Speaker 3: When the Cooks River Valley Association (CRVA) started campaigning about Fatima Island just over 12-months ago, we got a strong response from people who have a history with the island.  In recent weeks this response has escalated, including various community groups – Marrickville Heritage Society, Wolli Creek Preservation Society, Saving Our Trees network, NSW Heritage Network, Catholic Parish at Tempe as well as a strong response from individuals who all see the significance of the island.  CRVA raised concerns that the island was not included in the Biodiversity Strategy or Recreation Strategy.  At the last Meeting of the Cooks River Alliance  CRVA we agreed that a letter be written to the Minister of Primary Industries.  I ask that you endorse spending.

Mayor Haylen:  Move motion to – 1. Receive & note.  2. Include Fatima Island in Biodiversity Action Plan. 3. Recognise that funding is unlikely.  4. Investigate funding opportunities & recognize the island as a significant site.  5. Proceed with spending the $25,000 for the report.  I recognise Clrs have concerns with this expenditure.  I’ve investigated using volunteers with the Tempe Motorboat Association.  We need a proper study done & to put our best case forward about the island’s preservation.  I’ve received hundreds of emails about Fatima Island.

Clr Leary:  I support.  I know some Clrs may be concerned about spending $25,000, but if we put into context, tonight’s demolition of two toilet blocks were budgeted at $25,000 each.

Clr Tsardoulias:  Put up an amendment to delete point 5 of Mayor Haylen’s motion – “Proceed with spending the $25,000 for the report” & write to Sydney Water asking for funding.  It’s the Cooks River.  $25,000 is a lot of money & I’m not comfortable spending this on a report.  The report will say, plant a few trees & leave it alone.  I want the state government to say yes & fix up Fatima Island, the banks, clean up the river & allow canoes.  Fatima Island is not part of my basic services. It’s state government services.

Clr Gardiner:  I endorse the amendment.  My concern is the report will say it needs to be saved & this will cost several million dollars.    I’d like to see a MC report to see if it really is of ecological importance.  We are seeing a very narrow interest group.  We should understand more before we raise expectations.  Clr Tsardoulias just supported spending rate-payers money on 4% affordable housing at the new Marrickville Library site.  It’s not our job to supply affordable housing & it’s not the rate-payers responsibility.

Clr Hanna:  Against the amendment.

Clr Woods:  We need to know what is happening to the island.  It’s not a decision to save yet.  We have been talking about the island for years.  [He then read from a bunch of old newspaper articles about Fatima Island.]  What the Mayor is suggesting is sensible.  I’m supporting the expenditure.

The vote for the Mayor’s amended motion – For: Mayor Haylen, Clrs Woods, Phillips, Leary, Brooks, Ellsmore, Gardener, Tyler & Hanna.  Against:  Clrs Macri & Tsardoulias.   The amended motion was carried.

Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill &; one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island, opposite Kendrick Park in Tempe.  October 2013.

Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill &; one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island, opposite Kendrick Park in Tempe. October 2013.

Fatima Island at high tide - August 2013.

Fatima Island at high tide – August 2013.  Three Cormorants & one Egret are visible.

Fatima Island in 1984.  You can see that the island has been neglected as there is only a fraction remaining.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society& Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Fatima Island in 1984. You can see that the island has been neglected as there is only a fraction remaining & the heritage retaining wall almost gone.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society & Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Fatima Island is an extremely urgent issue currently facing Marrickville Council.

Fatima Island is the last remaining island in the Cooks River of a few that existed prior to white settlement.  It is located opposite Kendrick Park at Tempe & the local Aboriginal community are thought to have used this & the other islands as a means to cross the river to what is now Wolli Creek.

Not only important to the traditional owners, Fatima Island is important to the Muslim community as Fatima was the wife of the Prophet Mohammed.  It was named ‘Fatima Island’ after Catholic rosary pilgrimage to the island in 1951 & a Portuguese statue called ‘Our Lady of Fatima.’

Unfortunately, Fatima Island has been eroding.  The convict-hewn rock retaining walls installed in 1901 have fallen in recent years allowing the tidal water to erode the island & has resulted in the loss of some trees.  Each tree lost has resulted in more erosion of the island.  People too have impacted the island by the wash from speedboats, tying up motorboats or exploring the delicate island.

It’s obvious that Fatima Island has important cultural & heritage significance to not only Marrickville municipality, but also the Greater Sydney.  These factors alone are enough to warrant saving it from disappearing, but also important is that it is the only real sanctuary for waterbirds on the river.  If work is not done to repair the retaining walls, we will lose the island forever.  That would be a dreadfully sad outcome for many in the community.

The issue of Fatima Island last went to the Marrickville Council Meeting on 15th October 2013.  Council staff recommended an Erosion Assessment & Remediation Feasibility Study be done.   This coming Tuesday 3rd December, Fatima Island will again be debated in the Marrickville Council Meeting.  It is here that Councillors can decide to approve an allocation of $25,000 required to do the study.  If they decide to apply for funding from other sources, it is quite feasible that the time this will take will make it too late for Fatima Island.

Marrickville Heritage Society, The Cooks River Valley Association & Saving Our Trees are asking the community to write to the Marrickville Councillors by Tuesday 3rd December requesting that they support the $25,000 allocation as a first step to saving Fatima Island.  It does not matter whether you live in Marrickville municipality, as this is an issue of interest to more than just local residents.  A strong response from the community will certainly help let the Councillors know that the community cares about Fatima Island.

A draft email & Councillor contact details is available here –  Draft-Fatima-Island

You can watch a short video of Fatima Island here – http://bit.ly/18Gw3uh

Thank you in advance.  Jacqueline

Another photo taken in 1984.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society& Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Another photo taken in 1984. Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society & Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Close up of convict marking on steps at Fatima Island in 1984.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society& Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Close up of convict marking on steps at Fatima Island in 1984. Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society & Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill & one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island, opposite Kendrick Park in Tempe.  October 2013.

Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill & one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island.  October 2013.

 

 

 

Archives

Categories

© Copyright

Using and copying text and photographs is not permitted without my permission.

Blog Stats

  • 626,450 hits
%d bloggers like this: