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Such a lovely surprise to be able to wander along a bush path in an inner city park.

Such a lovely surprise to be able to wander along a bush path in an inner city park.

Another area of great habitat for al birds, especially little birds.

Another area of great habitat for al birds, especially little birds.  You can just see houses in the background, but it is easy to ignore them and focus on the lovely landscape.

Quite by accident we discovered the loveliest bush-like park in Glebe, within spitting distance from Sydney CBD. Called Arthur (Paddy) Gray Reserve, it is in Hereford Street Glebe.

According to the plaque Arthur Gray Reserve was originally dedicated in 1958 to commemorate Arthur (Paddy) Gray (b:12 June 1892 d:19 July 1977), who was a cricketer for New South Wales & first Grade Rugby League for Glebe.   In 1998 the park was upgraded & officially reopened by Leichhardt Council. Wow, did they do a good job!  As I understand, the park is now under the management of the City of Sydney Council.

This park is full of native trees & shrubs to encourage & provide habitat for urban wildlife. There is an old Cockspur coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli) at the entrance surrounded by the loveliest grass I have ever seen. The Cockspur originates from South America & unfortunately has naturalised in coastal districts of eastern Australia.   This tree can be a problem along waterways & wetlands, but not likely a lone tree in an inner city park where the local council manages any spread.

There are many Spotted gums, a fig or two & also a Moreton Bay Chestnut (Castanospermum australe) that stands alone as a feature tree.  Right now it is covered in lime green bean-like seedpods that are very attractive.

Many grasses & shrubs or varying sizes have been planted for the little birds, especially Blue Wrens. The Glebe Society’s ‘Blue Wren Group’ planted locally native shrubs & grasses to encourage biodiversity in the park. Dead logs are scattered around for the benefit they provide. The Blue Wren Group regularly holds bird surveys that anyone can participate in for free.

There are three areas of lawn – not too large, but large enough to run around & play or exercise. This park allows you to wander bushy paths & find one of the many bench seats to sit & listen to the birds & watch them if lucky enough to spot them.

I stood there & felt amazed that I felt like I was in a bush area, yet was actually in a densely populated area so close to the CBD.  The volunteers have done a fabulous job creating a safe habitat for urban wildlife, as well as a place filled with beauty & much sought after peace for the community.

This is my kind of park. I highly recommend a visit if you like to feel that you have got away from crowds, noise & the sight, smell & sound of traffic. The first thing I noticed was how great the air smelt when I walked into the park. It’s beautiful & a local treasure.

There is an old old Cockspur coral tree at the entrance surrounded by a densely planted garden bed that developed into a bush pocket.

There is an old old Cockspur coral tree at the entrance surrounded by a densely planted garden bed that develops  ed into a bush pocket.

I loved the grasses in the garden bed surrounding the old Cockspur coral tree. They were great to touch & looked like they would have once been full of seeds. If I am correct, another source of food for little birds.

I loved the grasses in the garden bed surrounding the Cockspur coral tree, which you can just see the lower branches. The grasses were great to touch & looked like they would have once been full of seeds. If I am correct, they would be another source of food for little birds.

The grassed area with newly planted gums sitting near older trees. The shadows these trees left on the grass added another level of interest.

The grassed area with newly planted gums in amongst older trees. A beautiful and peaceful place.

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Glebe sculptor Hilik Mirankar in his loungeroom.

Glebe sculptor Hilik Mirankar in his loungeroom.

Hilik Mirankar in his Glebe studio

Hilik Mirankar in his Glebe studio with work in progress.

Just before Christmas I had the pleasure of visiting the home of Glebe sculptor Hilik Mirankar & his wife Anna Couani, also an artist.

Glebe streetscape - incredibly leafy despite the high density living & narrow streets.

Glebe streetscape – incredibly leafy despite the high density living & narrow streets.

Glebe has become much greener & leafier over the last couple of decades with tall street trees everywhere, including busy Glebe Point Road.  I am always amazed what the City of Sydney Council has done along here to improve amenity & bring beauty to this long stretch of shops & housing.

Glebe has always had large & beautiful street trees & they were much a part of my young adult life when I moved to the inner west.  It is wonderful to see that many of the street trees are still here, be they Figs or Camphor laurels.

These days I don’t visit Glebe often, so it was interesting to drive through some back streets & look at the streetscape.  For me it is hard to comprehend why an area that is so dense with housing is so much greener than where I live & which has much more room for street trees than does Glebe.

Anyway, we found Queen Street & parked on the corner opposite an old pub, ‘The Friend in Hand.’  It did look a friendly place with people gathered on the footpath enjoying a drink in the afternoon sun.  The corner had a large Fig tree, plus what I think was a large mature Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis) gracing the car park.  Queen Street itself has very narrow footpaths, so there is no room for street trees.

One of Hilik's sculptures on a front porch in Queen Street

One of Hilik’s sculptures on a front porch in Queen Street

The street has become a public art gallery as almost every porch of the old terraces has at least one of Hilik’s wooden sculptures on display.  Many display multiple sculptures, either standing on the porch itself or hanging from the front of the building.   The corner of Queen Street also has a large sculpture.

Even the power poles have quirky art nailed or chained to them.  Some poles have wooden boxes filled with hardy plants to add green to the street.  Power pole art & plants is something I’d like to see popping up everywhere.

It’s quite impressive & exciting to wander down the street & discover all sorts of sculptures.  Walk Queen Street twice & you see more art that you didn’t notice the first time.

The City of Sydney Council calls this ‘Queen Street Gallery’ & has included it in their ‘What’s On’ program.  I think it is terrific that a street is called a Gallery.  Also terrific is the neighbourly relations where people have allowed Hilik’s artwork to be displayed on their property.

Inside Anna & Hilik’s terrace was a sight to behold.  Every space available was filled with Hilik’s sculptures, both big & small.  His wife Anna’s paintings were scattered in between.  Art is life in this home.

Hilik Mirankar's studio

A section of Hilik Mirankar’s studio

Hilik gave us a tour of his studio, which was filled with works in progress, as well as storing other wonderful pieces.

One of my favourite pieces was a spiral sculpted out of Acacia wood.  I was surprised just how beautiful this wood is.  The heartwood is a creamy yellowy-brown, while the outer part of the wood is a rick dark brown.

If you like working with wood keep a lookout for Acacia.  It may not look like much on the outside or until it has been treated with wax or oil, but when it has, it transforms & its real secrets are revealed.

I found it interesting to learn that Hilik has sourced most of his wood from local Councils who give him huge trunks of trees they are removing.  He can remember where each piece was sourced.  I like this as it gives another level of history to the art piece & it reminds me of ‘Wood from the Hood,’ which I wrote about here – http://bit.ly/1g2it6z

In the past Hilik has held onsite sculpture classes in parks for art students with trees that local councils have felled because of safety issues & he is interested in doing this again if the opportunity arises.

If you get a chance it is well worth visiting Queen Street.  The sculptures are very interesting & there is a great view of the city skyline that I suspect will be lost to development in the near future.

Around two years ago a huge area on Cowper Street from the Queen Street corner all the way to Bay Street was cleared of housing to make ready for high-rise development.  Apparently the land was taken right back to the sandstone.  In that time soil has blown in & Casuarina trees, grasses & reeds have seeded themselves.  Ponds have also formed from the rain or storm water & a few Australia White Ibis have moved in.  Lovely posters around this piece of land say – “Ibis Sanctuary.”  Although it will not last long, I think it is great that someone sees this opportunistic inhabitation by nature as a good thing.

The ponds were full when I was there & Ibis were rollicking in the water having a good wash.  Most people don’t know that Ibis like to wash.  It’s just lack of deep enough unsalted water that prevents them from doing so.

Lovely historic terraces, tall flowering street trees, shade, a few Ibis & a fantastic range of sculptures make this an interesting visit one sunny afternoon & it is certainly a walk I would take visitors from overseas.  There is even a friendly pub on the corner to grab a bite to eat or a drink if the mood takes you.  I personally was thrilled to see that the quirkiness of Glebe is alive & well.  So is its beauty.

You can learn more about Hilik Mirankar’s art here – http://seacruise.ath.cx

Hilik Mirankar sculpture Queen Street Glebe

Hilik Mirankar sculpture Queen Street Glebe

More of Hilik's sculptures in a Quuen Street front porch

More of Hilik’s sculptures in a Queen Street front porch

Another front porch in Queen Street

Another front porch in Queen Street

Another Quuen Street porch

Another Queen Street porch

Another group of Hilik;s sculptures

Another group of Hilik;s sculptures

You can understand why this street is called a Gallery

You can understand why this street is called a Gallery

 

Don't forget to look up.

Don’t forget to look up.

Ibis Sanctuary poster

Ibis Sanctuary poster almost hidden by tree shadows.  There are more of these posters, which thankfully have been left untouched by taggers.

The unofficial Ibis Sanctuary.

The unofficial Ibis Sanctuary with a great viw of the city.  Give it ten years & this site will have naturally developed into a great park.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.          The Cumberland Courier reported that Energy Australia is to spend $62 million installing high-voltage power lines between substations at Allambie Heights & Balgowlah to protect endangered tree communities at River Flat Eucalyptus Forest & Duffys Forest Ecological Community & to not damage historic Sloane Crescent Bridge.  This is a great thing they are doing. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/power-plan-to-protect-trees/

showing the Optus cables clearance - extreme at this end of Renwick St Marrickville South. At the other end of this street the branches were pruned to & above the Optus cables

Pity about what Energy Australia did to the street trees at the Woolworths end of Renwick Street during ‘routine pruning’  last February.   People just looked at the trees with their mouth open.  As usual, the feeling was “the damage is done & there is nothing we can do about it.”

It is such as shame as we know they can do better.  See https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/tree-pruning-planting-practices-compare/ where just last February I complimented Energy Australia for the good pruning they did in Excelsior Parade.  Even Renwick Street has different pruning outcomes.  The lower end, towards Carrington Road, the street trees were moderately pruned. Some trees that had been almost destroyed during the previous pruning cycle 7-8 years ago were looked after this time.  Interestingly, Energy Australia workers did not clear branches below the Optus cables at this end of Renwick Street, whereas up the other end the Optus cables where given a huge clearance. The trees on the corner of Renwick & Excelsior had more than 2/3s of their canopy removed.

2.         Brisbane City Council announced they will plant 2 million trees across the city by 2012.  This is a fabulous initiative & the community can participate. http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:BASE::pc=PC_2645

Their website http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:BASE::pc=PC_694 says residents can request a street tree be planted & provides a list of suitable trees.  Brisbane City Council also say they plant trees which will not interfere with overhead powerlines & that street trees are classified as “valuable Council & community assets” & protected under the Natural Assets Local Law making it an offence to prune, interfere with or remove street trees.  Wonderful.

In another lovely initiative, Brisbane City Council has organised Tree Trail. Information & a map of 20 locations can be downloaded highlighting special & significant trees around the CBD.  I think this is a terrific idea & believe it would be a boon for tourism.  HTTP://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/BCC:BASE::pc=PC_936

3.                 Hornsby Councillor Bruce Mills’ proposal to plant mature trees to create ‘instant boulevards’ was voted in during a March Council Meeting.  Residents need to request that their street become a tree-lined boulevard. Councillor Mills says this initiative will be “returning ratepayer funds in a way which adds to their property value.” http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-streets-are-a-reality-in-cherrybrook/

After pruning by Energy Australia, this tree on Renwick Street is a shadow of its former self

The Boulevard in Dulwich Hill is an excellent local example of a street loved because of its many, large street trees that cascade over the road.  Ask any real estate agent & they will tell you this street is sort after with buyers paying more to purchase property here because of the presence of these trees.

The following is a short, but relevant article about trees & property value in America.  Adelaide University has assessed the value of trees upwards to 25% of the property’s value in line with Australian property prices as they are more expensive than in the USA. http://www.keeferealestate.com/news/concierge.php?itemid=620

Personally, I would love it if our Council copied the ‘instant boulevard’ idea. Even planting more developed trees would be a step forward as these have a greater chance of surviving.  City of Sydney Council planted 200 litre root-ball 4 metre high Simon Poplars along & on the corner of side streets in Glebe Point Road  in 2009.   All these trees have survived & are growing well.  There positive impact was immediate & the area looks greener & prettier for it.

4.                 City of Sydney Greens Councillor Chris Harris wrote about a proposed cycleway in Johnstons Creek that he says will destroy wildlife habitat.  This new 2.5 meter wide cement path starts at Orphan Creek, an woodland & wildlife habitat area in Forest Lodge that was decimated for a similar path in 2009 despite enormous & organised community opposition.  What is also disturbing in this article is residents from Minogue Crescent who are directly affected by the new cycleway, were refused permission to address the Councillors during a Council Meeting who ‘voted in a block’ to deny them this opportunity.  I would have thought it a right.   http://www.chrisharris.org.au/2010/03/10/johnstons-creek-cycleway-on-the-wrong-track/

5. The Daily Telegraph reported that State Forests NSW started woodchip logging in the Mumbulla & Murrah state forests on 29th March 2010 despite this being the last area in SE NSW where the threatened species Koala lives. A group of residents attempting to save the Koala habitat managed to stop logging by getting in the way of loggers. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/tense-stand-off-over-koala-colony/story-e6freuyi-1225847595335?from=public_rss

This street tree in Renwick Street had a naturally round canopy. Before it was pruned early 2010, it looked something like the area shaded in yellow. It may have been taller

Koalas are listed as a threatened species & classified as ‘vulnerable.’ From the NSW state governments own web-site – A ‘vulnerable’ species is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances & factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate. Yet, they are taking down forests where Koalas are known to live.  I just don’t understand this.

Everyone fell in love with the burnt Koala who was filmed drinking water given by a Fireman during last year’s Victorian bushfires, but we can’t rely on our government to save our national emblem.  For more information about this issue including how you can help, go to Nature Conservation Council of NSW http://nccnsw.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3002&Itemid=1

1. Marrickville Councillors will be voting on a DA soon which will see the demolition of 2 houses built in the 1920’s at 34-36 Piggott St Dulwich Hill, the conversion of the original area manor house built in the early 1880’s as well as the loss of 15 mature trees to build a 3 & 4 storeys development overlooking Hoskins Park.  The local community is rallying to prevent this development. They believe the DA has many negative impacts on the community as well as destroying a green corridor & the green outlook of Hoskins Park.  It is DA 201000022 & can be accessed via Council’s web-site.

2. The Manly Daily reported last week that Warringah Council removed a much-loved palm tree planted on the verge in Forestville without consulting the community. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/loved-palm-tree-gets-the-chop/ Interestingly, a cross was spray-painted on the tree’s trunk a few days before it

What is the purpose of these symbols?

was chopped down.  I note similar strange rune-like markings sprayed on a couple of the Hills Figs in Carrington Road Marrickville South.  Were these put there by Council?  Are Marrickville Council intending to remove these trees?  I seem to remember 1 Fig tree was agreed to be removed for the new development which has recently commenced.

3. I wrote in the post Tempe Wetlands protest & trees at risk in Tempe that I would try to get further information about the mature trees at risk at the State Rail land in Edgar Street Tempe.  Kerry, a local resident kindly left a comment (see comment roll) saying “I believe they (the trees) are under threat by the 27 townhouse development going in on the land next to the railway line.  An underground car park & water tank retention system is to be built along the boundary line with the railway.  At no stage have these trees been mentioned by the DA or State Rail or Marrickville Council’s tree officer.”

4. Sydney is getting it’s own 5.8 hectare Central Park at the old Carlton & United Brewery site at Broadway. This is a huge boon for the community on may levels & for Sydney’s urban wildlife.    http://www.smh.com.au/national/central-park-off-broadway–thats-sydney-not-manhattan-20100209-notw.html

5. A little old as it was published last November.  Hornsby Council intends to plant tree-lined boulevards with a councilor suggesting council create ‘immediate’ boulevards by planting trees which are already 4-5 metres tall.  Wonderful if it happens & maybe cost effective considering the high loss of saplings Hornsby Council also experience. http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-boulevardes-plan-for-hornsby/

new street trees - hanging baskets & planter box

6.  City of Sydney Council recently planted numerous young trees along Glebe Point Road & some side streets.  They used a porous hard substance to cover larger than average planting holes.  The new street tree planting resulted in instant & significant greening of this already green street.  Because of their size, I doubt they will be vandalized.  It looks terrific.

7. The Star Tribune reported that a woman in Eden Prairie USA took to a tree service worker with a shot-gun to stop him chopping down a tree.  We should never have this kind of action here. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/83607162.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

8. The Home Owners Association in San Diego California will chop down in excess of 200 mature Eucalypts because 1 fell on a house recently. The residents are campaigning to prevent the removal of the trees saying they are prepared to live with the risk.  You can read the story & watch a video which is an interesting look at their urban environment. http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11985277

9. World Forestry day is coming up on 21 March 2010.   Many countries plant thousands of trees on this day.  I don’t know as yet whether our Council is participating. The NSW Department of Industry & Investment has a range of activities planned – http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/info/escape

10. Lastly, the NSW Department of Climate Change & Water has a great resource about threatened species which may be of interest to those of you are concerned about the Bandicoots at Lewisham. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/index.htm & http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Search/QuickSearch.aspx

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