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Scotts Park in San Souci is a beautiful place with quite a number of environmental initiatives of which I will write about over a couple of posts.  It is a park full of large trees. There is open space, but unlike most of the parks in Marrickville LGA, the trees are not around the periphery, but scattered all through the park.  You get a strong sense of being away from the traffic.

About 40 metres from the road there is a massive Fig tree that would have to be 100-hundred-years-old or more.  There was a gathering of people having a picnic under its boughs while we were there.  Above in the massive boughs was a family of Little Corellas with a baby making a constant noise calling for more food.  Birds feature a lot in this park.

It was only after walking around the park that we noticed concrete in the base of the Fig tree. When I say concrete, it was around 1.5 square metres of concrete.  The middle & base of the tree had rotted.  Rockdale Council must have decided to scrape out the rot & fill in the space with concrete allowing the tree to be retained.  Apart from the rot, the tree itself is very healthy, has fruit & shows no dieback.  In the wild, this tree would have simply developed a hollow, which I am told, often has no affect on the strength of the tree & the hole itself creates homes for wildlife.

There is still some rot & I guess Rockdale Council will come again & add some more concrete.  A few years ago they planted a replacement Fig & this tree is growing quite happily beside the older Fig.   If one day the mature Fig needs to be removed, the replacement tree will be much larger so the visual aspects of the park will not be negatively affected.  I am impressed first with treating the tree & retaining it, but also having the foresight to plant a replacement tree well before the older tree needs to be chopped down, if that does happen.  Well done Rockdale Council.

Talking about Fig trees …. A Fig had to be removed from near 16 Thornley Street in Steele Park Marrickville South last year because of rot & other problems.  Marrickville Council said at the time, “It is proposed to be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig of size 100L or greater.”  I posted about this tree removal on 5th March 2010 & a replacement Fig has not been planted at the time of posting.

I made a short YouTube video of the Fig tree in Scotts Park here –

This is the side without concrete.

There is a new street tree up for removal. It is another Hills Fig (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii), this time at 10 Cambridge Street Enmore, but on the Cavendish Street frontage.

Marrickville Council gives the following as reasons for removal:

  • Repeated regular root interference with drainage lines of private residence that cannot be rectified without significant structural demolition. The installation of root barrier at the property boundary is not a viable management option due to the proximity to the critical root zone of the tree. Pruning of roots this close to the tree would almost certainly compromise its structural integrity & present an unacceptable risk of tree failure.

  • Displacement to rear courtyard paving of private residence by roots of the subject tree. Rectification would be required every 3-5 years due to vigorous root regrowth & is therefore not considered a viable long term management solution.

  • Displacement of masonry boundary wall likely to have been caused by roots of the subject tree. The cost to Council of further investigations to confirm & rectify structural impacts on the boundary wall are not considered to be valid.

  • Significant repeated damage to council’s footpath infrastructure by roots of the subject tree.

Hills Fig up for removal at 10 Cambridge Street, but actually on Cavendish Street Enmore

Council says they will consult with local residents “on suitable replacement trees along the whole of Cavendish Street between Liberty & Cambridge Streets.”

They say “Notification period expires: 12 November 2010,” which indicates to me that they will not be accepting any submissions to retain the tree from the community.  The usual tree notifications say something similar to “deadline for submissions is ….” I guess we should be grateful that Council notifies us that they will be removing a tree, especially such a substantial tree.

We went to see the tree today.  It is in the same situation as the other 2 Figs at the other end of the block posted about last July 2010. They have

Footpath around the Cavendish Street Fig tree

been removed & the street looks bare.  Originally there were 4 Hills Figs along this block. Two remain with the one now up for removal. The other tree outside 23 Cavendish has barriers around it so I expect there will be a notification regarding this tree’s removal soon.  As drainage pipes are involved, I cannot see why Council would allow 1 tree to remain.

All up I find it sad. If there was money & a willingness to retain them, all the Fig trees along this section of Cavendish Street could have been saved. They have reached their mature height near enough & a bit of pruning every few years by a qualified Arborist would have kept them healthy & their height manageable.

Looking down Cavendish Street Enmore to the remaining Fig trees. The dirt areas are where 2 other Hills Figs were chopped down recently

They are a classic case of the wrong tree in the wrong place, but since they have been there for around 80 years as a guess, it’s a substantial loss of history for this section of Enmore/Stanmore.  This particular area is losing its large trees & I doubt that tall growing canopy producing trees will be planted as replacements.  Removal of trees like this changes the skyline & makes the area look hard because of the lack of green & the density of the buildings. It will be more concrete & brick with no visual softening provided by substantial trees with a large canopy cascading over the street.

These things bother me, though I grant that infrastructure problems caused by trees requires money to manage.  I just hope the few remaining Fig trees in Marrickville LGA can remain.  I also hope that Council plant some more in appropriate areas outside of parks.  I can think of the concreted area around Sydenham Station as one example where a tree of this size could be allowed to grow freely & would do much to improve the visual amenity of the area.

For information about the other mature 2 Hills Figs that were removed in Cavendish Street July 2010 see –


The University of Tasmania have just completed a 3 year nation-wide study as to why some people prefer a leafy front garden while others don’t. Interestingly, tertiary educated people preferred trees & the higher the  income, the more trees.

An unusual story of public tree removal in Newport:  The Cumberland Courier reported that an unspecified number of trees & scrub has been removed from Barenjoey Road by Pittwater Council. Residents requested the trees be removed saying the trees were not native & removing them would open up the area to ocean views from North Newport.

Pittwater Council’s Natural Environment Reference Group has submitted a plan to have all new DAs required to maintain wildlife corridors across their land. This would also include retaining dead trees, as these are especially important for providing homes for a variety of wildlife.  The new plan specifically targets the protection of Green-&-Gold Bell Frogs, Swift Parrots, Squirrel Gliders, Southern Brown Bandicoots & (would you believe they are even there) Koalas.  Any DA will also be required to plant more trees & wildlife sustaining landscaping.

Mid April 2010 North Sydney Council decided to explore the idea of replanting garden beds in parks & reserves with vegetables.

North Sydney Council stopped mowing verges early 2009, but after complaints from residents, they will now do a one-off mow at the cost of $58,000. They also intend to reinstate verge mowing by the end of 2010.

Just as an aside, I was told Marrickville Council spends about $2 million per year mowing our verges.  Makes me wonder what that that money could be used for if we just mowed our own & our neighbours if they didn’t have a mower.  $2 million could repair the Coptic Church in Sydenham for history’s sake & for community use or it could buy a lot of street & park trees amongst many other things. I saw a sign in Catherine Street Leichhardt yesterday that read something like – ‘2.3 million dollar footpath upgrade.’ Or we could just grow veggie or flower gardens on our verges.

Energy Australia has angered the community once again by ‘butchering’ 2 large trees in Allambie Heights shopping centre.

An 18 metre high Port Jackson Fig tree with a canopy spreading about 15 metres listed on the Significant Tree Register of City of Sydney Council was removed last month due to extensive rot.  It was part of a row of Figs in Joynton Aveneue Zetland.  The lost tree will be replaced by a mature Port Jackson Fig.

City of Sydney Council has joined with Marrickville Council in formally opposing the M5 extension that will go through Tempe Reserve, over Tempe Wetlands & terminate at Euston Road at Sydney Park. Terrific news.

It will be interesting to learn how the trial at removing smog in the M5 during March went.

A home up for sale in the Brisbane suburb of Mackenzie incurred $20,000 damage after the front garden was excavated & 10 Palm trees stripped down by unknown workers who fled when people came to watch.  It is thought they were working on the wrong property.

Finishing the ongoing story about the trees in the carpark of Walmart in Henderson Tennessee that were savagely pruned recently, Walmart have been ordered to replace 100 of the Elm trees. This will cost them around US$25,000.

row of trees along a footpath in Birchgrove

In February 2010 I wrote about the resplendent Morton Bay Fig at St Stephen’s Church in Newtown for Festival of the Trees. See With this post, I aim to describe the cemetery as I have experienced it.   To separate the graveyard & the trees is almost impossible as they intermingle & both are quite beautiful.

We went while it was drizzling with light rain which made the whole place quite evocative

Once you walk past the massive Morton Bay Fig planted in 1848 & the 2 large clumps of Giant Bamboo, also planted more than a century ago, you follow the dirt road that takes you to the heritage protected Gothic Revivalist St Stephen’s Church & immediately into the cemetery.  The graveyard itself starts within metres of the entrance on both sides of the dirt road.

The current cemetery is about 4 acres (1.6 hectares) & is bordered by a high sandstone wall.  The land, 4 kms from Sydney’s CBD, purchased by a group of businessmen in 1845, was originally 12.5 acres (4.8 hectares).  It was the main cemetery for Sydney until it closed in 1867 because it was full.  Even so, a few people were buried here up to the 1940s.  All up, about 18,000 people were buried here, though the true numbers are not known because many of the graves hold multiple people, all buried on top of each other.  A significant number of the famous are buried here.

In 1948 Marrickville Council reclaimed ¾ of the cemetery land to create a public park & Camperdown Memorial Rest Park opened in 1951.  The headstones and other fixtures were brought inside the cemetery wall & I guess the thousands of interred are still under the park while the dog walkers & others play overhead.  Rather a gruesome thought, though I know others who question why I think like this.

gravestones line up against the whole of boundary sandstone wall

The tombstones from outside the new boundary were removed & placed inside & against the sandstone perimeter wall & fixed in place with steel nails.  Unfortunately, the nails have rusted over time & split many of the headstones.  Most of the graves & headstones are made of Sydney sandstone & have seriously weathered over the years.

The graves surround the church, then spread out through the cemetery.  I have not been on one of the regular guided tours, so I do not know much about the individuals who were buried here.  Directly behind the church is an impressive grave in the style of a boat.  My favourite tombstone is a tree stump made of cement.  Over time it has weathered & appears real until you look closely.

The cemetery is also special because of the trees.  There are Brush Boxes (Lophostemon confertus) planted in the 1960s, Blackwoods (Acacia melanoxylon), a Lemon Scented Gum  (Corymbia citriodora), a Port Jackson Cypress Pine (Callitris rhomboidea), 2 African Olive trees (Olea africana), a number of Melaleucas, a grove of Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia), Canary Island Palms (Phoenix canariensis), a Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), a few Birch trees & a number of Camphor Laurel trees (Cinnamomum camphora).  There are also 2 clumps of Giant Bamboo.

If I were to take you on a tour, we would walk down the dirt road passing many graves & a row of Canary Island Palms planted in the 1930s.  There is a circular road behind St Stephen’s Church & many of the gravestones in this area are impressive.

many of the trees are huge

From here we would walk into the small area beside the church on the other side.  It is somewhat off the path, but it is well worth it because of the enormous Oak that spreads its boughs here.  The last time we went it had been raining heavily & the ground was very boggy, which I think would discourage people from going in this direction.  In this area the gravestones are sparser, though I would guess there are people buried in unmarked graves.  The Oak is magnificent & would be one of the trees that were planted in 1848.  The Oak tree spills out claiming a lot of space & I can easily imagine the kids playing on it after church a century ago.

A few metres away a big tree has recently been chopped down.  Judging by the side of the stump, I imagine this tree also filled the space now open to the sky.  Interestingly, the stump is one of many which is directly next to a grave & over time it has dislodged part of the stone.  I would guess there was a tradition of planting a tree where a loved one was buried.

The cemetery did have many Peace roses, but Marrickville Council removed them because it was felt they required too much care.  I found one old rose bush planted in a grave, so perhaps it is a remanent of the original roses.

Moving away from this area & rejoining the dirt path that meanders around the left side of the cemetery following the sandstone fence, you pass very old Brush Box & Camphor Laurel trees.  Their trunks are massive & they have been left to grow naturally with minimal pruning.

A special site is on your left where those from the shipwrecked Dunbar & the Catherine Adamson in 1857 are buried.  I know it is important because these graves are painted white & are well looked after.  The dirt path becomes a track & takes you to & along the back wall of the cemetery.  Tombstone after tombstone are lined up against the perimeter wall. Some are detailed & very beautiful while others are simple affairs.

The trees in this area are different.  They too are tall, but their branches sweep just above the ground & in some cases require you to dodge & walk around them.  Some of the graves here are different as well, being just headstones & you have to assess where the grave would be if you don’t want to tread on them.

This part of the cemetery has remanent Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) left over from when the whole area to Botany Bay was covered with this species of grass.  It’s nice to look at & I can easily imagine following the walking trail to the sea over miles of this soft grass that would have caught the light & changed colour throughout the day.

To your right is the centre of the cemetery & my favourite area.  It has no path, is dense with tall trees & you cannot see the church.  Apart from the odd gravestone, you could be anywhere. The grass is long & many of the graves are overgrown.  There is a birch wood covering a few metres that have sprung up naturally after the initial trees were planted.  There is also some Wattle, a very large a Port Jackson Cypress Pine, more Oak trees planted in 1848 & a grove of Chinese Elms.

handmade jewellery left in the hollow of the Oak stump

In the middle is an old Oak stump that stands about 6 feet high with a natural hollow that ascends to the top.  Here I found a piece of hand-made jewellery that has been carefully placed inside.  It made me think that I had come across some sort of wishing ritual, so apart from taking a photo, I did not touch it.

One branch from this tree has been left on the ground.  It had the most amazing pattern & to me looked almost like rivers taken from space.  Interesting that pictures of earth from space can look similar to what we can see in nature & even the same as inside the human body.  The patterns repeat again & again.  I hope the church authorities leave this stump as it is very beautiful.

Leaving the centre of the cemetery, you return to the path, which widens & takes you back to St Stephen’s Church.  Here there are many other tall & old trees, mostly Brush Box.

The most filigree tomb is right in the front left-hand corner behind the Giant Bamboo.  Here 4 figures act as columns for a roof structure.  Each figure looks different & holds something different.  We did not notice the bees that started to gather & had to run away because these bees were quite territorial. There are at least 2 hives situated at the back of the Lodge located a few metres away.

Once you pass the Giant Bamboo & the massive Morton Bay Fig, you return to the front gate & are in the heart of busy Newtown with it’s tiny terraces & narrow streets.  If you follow the perimeter fence to your left, you come to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park where a few of the original Brush Box trees can be seen at the edge of the park.  This much-used park is where the cemetery was originally, so remember to be quiet.  There are people sleeping under your feet.

NOTE:  I have tried to create a visual walking tour of Camperdown Cemetery.  The photos are labelled 1, 2 , 3 etc & they follow the path as I walked it.  You can view this at the following link –

Alexis, Roman, Paris & Noah are going to lose their mark on the neighbourhood because this tree has got to go

Apart from the 3 trees in Ivanhoe Street, there is also a Fig tree up for removal in Steele Park Marrickville South.  I received the following information about this tree.  Unfortunately, this tree should be removed as it will become dangerous.  Thankfully, it will be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig.  Thanks to Marrickville Council for the following information.

The removal of the tree is necessary as there has been a failure of one of multiple trunks attached at ground level. All of these trunks have major inclusions associated with a large amount of end-weight producing a significant lever-arm stress. This was the cause of failure of the subject trunk. Additionally the failure exposed a large amount of root crown decay at & below ground level.

The present structural defects associated with the root crown decay & the exposure to further decay by way of the large wound make the retention of the tree unmanageable.  The tree is close enough to no. 16 Thornley St for it to present an unacceptable risk of failure & property damage at some point in the future.  It is proposed to be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig of size 100L or greater.

Don’t forget, the deadline for submissions regarding the 3 street trees in Ivanhoe Street Marrickville South closes this coming Monday 8th March.  Please send in a submission asking these trees be retained if you agree.  You can read about them here –

The post contains a hyperlink directly to council’s web-site where you can write your submission.

Fig at Steele Park that is to be removed - you can see it has already lost one branch

I ask that you put in a submission even if the trees are not located near you.  All tree removal has an impact on the green canopy of Marrickville LGA.  This month it’s Marrickville South, next month it may be Camperdown, Newtown or Dulwich Hill.

Just last month, Marrickville Council put up their Tree Strategy Issues Paper for the Councillors to vote on.  Had they voted to pass the paper, we would now be losing 1,000 mature trees a year for the next 5 years.

A pie chart in the document showed Council wants to remove 59% of the public trees across Marrickville LGA.  I was shocked when I read this.

The Tree Strategy Issues Paper is to return to the Councillors for voting 5 or so months from now.  If Council thought it was reasonable to recommend the removal of 59% of its trees, I would think it is likely they will continue to push for a great percentage to be removed.  If this is indeed what happens, the community will be required to put in many submissions if we want a chance of retaining these trees.

It would be great if we supported each street, each area when each comes under threat, even if we don’t live there, because the lumberjacks will be in your area & perhaps your street eventually.  This is one issue where the community could seriously help & benefit each other without much time & effort.

A submission need not be a large document.  It can be a few lines, a paragraph or more & you can write whatever you want.  I have noticed that submissions received from the community are taken seriously both by Council staff & the Councillors.

If just 1% of the LGA sent in a submission, not only would we probably set a record for mail submissions, we would also probably rewrite the agenda when it comes to greening the LGA.

If we do nothing, then we are going to be living in an area where 59% of our trees will be gone, which will affect us in many ways   (see the pages 100 Tree Facts & About Street Trees on this site for more information about this).

Another serious effect of denuding the LAG of mature trees is our urban wildlife who will be drastically affected.  Much of the current trees do not provide food or shelter for them.  I doubt they could withstand the removal of so many trees.  Imagine no birds, except maybe the resiliant Indian Mynas.  Imagine no possums.



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