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National Tree Day 2012 at Wolli Creek

I went to a lovely National Tree Day event today organized by the Wolli Creek Preservation Society – contact link on blogroll on the left-hand column.  A large crowd of all ages divided into small groups for a guided walk through the area of Wolli Creek bushland that is at risk of being destroyed for an extension to the M5 motorway tunnel.

From the Wolli Creek Preservation Society newsletter June 2012 – “The top priority for the society at present is the threat posed to the Wolli Valley bushland by the Roads & Maritime Services proposed duplication of the M5 east motorway tunnel. Plans for a cut-and-cover tunnel east of Bexley Road would wipe out a rare stand of remnant rainforest trees, wreck the natural creek line & destroy two hectares of high-priority bushland where restoration work has proved highly successful.  Exploratory drilling could happen at any time.”

A lovely way to indicate the path, trees & places of note

Painted hands prepared by local school children marked the track & here & there in the bush some of the beautiful trees were wrapped in colourful material.  This was very successful in bringing one’s eye to the range of trees within this area.  It was a gorgeous effect & must have taken quite a while for those who prepared the site for today.  It was interesting to have the time to look at the trees that could be lost to the M5 tunnel & appreciate just how many very large trees are located in this section of Wolli Creek.

What was also nice & helpful was that plants, weeds & trees were labeled along the path allowing us to learn their names, as well as know what vegetation was good & what were weeds.

This Sydney Peppermint was massive with a girth of around 5-metres

There was also a historical section called ‘Bowen’s Camp’ showing where a couple with two children lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  This would not have been an easy time & though water is close, growing food must have been hard in the sandy soil.  I thought it quite lovely that the sandstone markers the Bowen family used for their paths & gardens had been preserved & not lost over time.

The walk finished at the new Bioretention Basin – see –  & then went up to Johnston Avenue where a sumptuous morning tea was waiting.  A volunteer gave a number of illustrated talks about the history of this section of Wolli Creek & how the M5 motorway tunnel would literally destroy the area we just walked through.

I’ve been to a number of National Tree Day events & planted trees. This was the first event where I was given time to admire trees as well as information about an area of bushland that I knew very little about.  I enjoyed the experience & very much hope that a new route is found for the M5 motorway tunnel.

A short diversion of the M5 tunnel route would allow a very special piece of vital bushland to be retained.  This would be very good for wildlife that have very little in terms of real areas of habitat left in the inner west & also provide many ongoing & important health benefits for the community.  Wolli Creek itself & the Wolli Creek Preservation Society deserve our support to retain this precious area of remnant Sydney bushland.

The section of Wolli Creek under threat is more than trees. It is also huge sandstone rocks & all the flora, including rare orchids

Wolli Creek is full of trees just like these.



It’s the end of the era for community-managed Bushpockets for Marrickville LGA. That is, unless someone else takes up the management of this project.

Local resident Michael Easton set up Bushpockets 6-years ago & with the assistance of Marrickville Council & a loyal team of community volunteers, worked to improve at least 2 barren places in Marrickville. They changed these sites from weedy places used for dumping into exactly what the group were called – bush pockets.

A couple of years ago a swale & rain garden was created on the Devil’s Elbow Bushpocket at Victoria Road Marrickville to capture & filter stormwater.  Many native plants, shrubs & trees were planted filling the space with beauty.  Council even put in a park bench allowing people to sit here in the shade despite the absence of a bus stop.

The plants in the Devil’s Elbow Bushpocket are flowering natives so the site provides much needed food & habitat for birds & other urban wildlife.  This is so important as there certainly isn’t a glut of food sources in the LGA & every little bit helps.

Section of young plants growing around the Devil's Elbow Bushpocket

Michael says a growing family & work responsibilities coupled with a frustration with Marrickville Council has led to his decision to hand over responsibility of Bushpockets to Council.  Michael has given me permission to share whatever I want from his email.  I thought it best to not translate his words so part of his email is as follows –

“My one disappointment is that I have not been able to build this into a longer-term partnership with Marrickville Council.

Bushpockets has received praise & recognition. We have received help & resources on an occasional basis (most notably during the construction of the Rain Garden).  I’ve dealt with some wonderful, committed staff.

“What’s been missing though has been flexible, adaptive, pro-active, ongoing support – the feeling that this is valued as part of the bigger project of greening Marrickville.  It seems that we don’t fit into any plan or pigeonhole, therefore it’s all too hard.

After all these years & despite all the talk, all the plans, there is no-one to talk to at Council for people who want to create a Bushpocket, no-one who can help with advice or to get them started.  Communication is poor & there are no staff on the ground who can help you maintain Bushpockets.  I’ve been told to be patient, that these things take time to achieve in a bureaucracy, but my patience has run out.

I think it’s a real pity.  I have experienced the energy & passion that is out there amongst residents who want to improve the environment, but I don’t think it is harnessed effectively by Council.  I believe it could be done, cheaply & effectively, if the right attitude & capability was there.  I don’t think money is the problem.  It has happened in many other places.  And the benefits could be enormous, not only for the environment, but for community building & Council’s bottom line.

I’m told that Council staff are currently considering how the sites will be maintained & I will let you know if there’s any news.  The application to paint a mural on the railway bridge is also in its 5th month of consideration by Council so there may be one last working bee to help prep the surface for that.”

I really do hope that someone in the community has the energy, enthusiasm & commitment to take over the Bushpockets project from Michael.  On a positive note he did write, “For myself, it’s been incredibly satisfying, I have learned an amazing amount, & most importantly, met great people from all parts of the community – making some lasting friendships.”

If no one is able to do this, then I hope Marrickville Council will look after the current Bushpocket sites & that they elect to create more Bushpocket sites throughout the LGA. There are certainly many suitable places just begging for attention.  It could be another way for Council to demonstrate their commitment to the environment.  I also hope Council take this rather serious feedback on board.

Thank you from me to Michael & all those involved in Marrickville Bushpockets. I have been a big fan & very appreciative of your work.

My photos of the Devil’s Elbow Bushpocket are out of date. Here are 22 photos of a variety of native flowers at Devil’s Elbow taken by Michael last September 2010 –


Showing the swale & rain garden at the Devil's Elbow Bushpocket just after it was created in December 2009. Since then many plants & shrubs have been added



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