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The view of housing development on Canal Road Alexandria.

A little further along Canal Road Alexandria – housing.

Sydneysiders need to be aware & highly concerned at the rapid growth & loss of green space that is currently happening, plus the plans to take even more green space away.

Once the green space is gone, it is gone forever.

The loss of green space is a serious public health issue.  Green space not only provides valuable habitat for wildlife, but it also cools the area around it.  We need places with trees, grass & other vegetation.

We need green places for our mental, physical & spiritual health.  Without access to decent green spaces human beings tend to suffer.   People who suffer from mental illness can feel more settled when they are out in nature.

Recent research found without going into green spaces on a regular basis, people tend to get stressed, anxious, depressed, move less & gain weight.  Many of us suffer morbid rumination, where we go over & over what we perceive are our failings or what is wrong with our lives.  Just going for a walk where there are good trees can stop this mental thought process & improve our happiness & life satisfaction levels.

Green spaces provide us with a stress break in our busy lives & gives our mind a break from mental fatigue. Regular experience in the leafy outdoors helps improve work performance.  It also helps improve our cognitive function, memory & ability to learn & retain information.

The intellectual development of children improves when they have contact with nature.   Those who have ADD/ADHD tend to respond well to time spent in nature & have more content retention ability.

Research found that plants in the workplace resulted in decreased sick leave, so imagine the impact if there was nice green space for workers to have their lunch.

Those with Alzheimers or dementia are helped by being in green space & being able to touch plants.

Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.”  See – http://nyti.ms/2lmPlzr

It is a fundamental need of human beings to have access to good green spaces.  By good green spaces, I am not talking about a small patch of green on a main street or in a shopping mall, though these do have a significant role to play in offering areas of respite & helping lowering the urban heat island effect.

We all need areas where we can exercise for free without needing to pay for a gym membership.  We need space to let off steam, to run, to shout, to play games alone or with friends.

We also need spaces where were can walk or sit quietly – where the only sound is nature; the wind in the trees & birds singing.  We must keep those we have & not over develop them.

In my opinion, Council has a fundamental responsibility not to turn every green space into an entertainment venue.    Places must be left where the only entertainment is what you can see in the natural environment around you.  If people become depended on things to be provided for them to do in parks, they will lose the ability to relax or amuse themselves with whatever is around.

As our suburbs become more developed, our stress levels are likely to rise just doing everyday things like driving & shopping.  Already traffic is a major negative issue in the locality & parking is often a nightmare.

Our streets are also green spaces – or they can be depending on the species of street tree planted.  Squatty small canopy street trees do not have an impact, but big, full canopy street trees do.  Have a look at the streets that are fortunate enough to have 80-year-old plus Brushbox trees.  In the evening on hot days you will likely see pockets of people who have gathered outside in the shade.  Good street trees are excellent at fostering connectivity between neighbours.

Verge gardens encourage connectivity as well.  People like to talk about plants & gardening.  Verge gardens offer the ability to swap plants & provide cuttings.

Today the news reported that the Total Environment Centre has identified more than 70 green spaces across Sydney at risk of being lost to development.  See – http://bit.ly/2nrf0qZ

This is most concerning.  If allowed to go ahead, habitat will be lost, wildlife will suffer & in cases like Cooks Cove where they want to develop the wetlands in Barton Park (see – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi ) migratory birds, frogs & other creatures will die.

The report from the Total Environment Centre said, “Sydney will build 664,000 homes between 2011 and 2031, with 60-70 per cent coming from “infill” developments within existing city boundaries.” 

We as the community will have to make our voice heard, considering the views of Anthony Roberts, the Minister in charge of Planning and Housing Affordability who said, “Anti-development activists are welcome to suggest ideas to me that will help us grow housing supply in NSW while protecting their favourite trees.”

I’ve got an idea Minister Roberts.  How about leaving all the green spaces alone & not allowing development in these areas.  It’s quite simple really.  Leave the parks, the golf courses & riversides for the community & so people in the future can use them as well.

I get annoyed at the simplistic view of politicians who, whenever the community speaks out against developing areas like Barton Park wetlands, say they are anti-development NIMBYs wanting people to move out of Sydney.  Do these political leaders not see another way in which green spaces & areas of vital habitat cab be retained for the benefit of the whole community now & most certainly for the benefit of future generations?  It can be done.

We had three heatwaves in February 2017 & this is expected to get worse as climate change accelerates.  Green spaces are essential components of a livable city.  That or we take a risk every year that heat wave events will be more frequent.  Loss of human life has happened in cities across the world as a result of heat waves.  Our government warned us that the power supply was likely to be shut off because of increased use of air-conditioning.

The urban heat island effect is another serious health issue that is relatively ignored.  Roads are still being covered in black bitumen as a way of maintaining them despite knowing that these are major heat sinks.

On 10th February 2017 the temperature at Blaxland Riverside Park in Sydney Olympic Park was 41.6 degrees in the shade.  However, some of the soft play surfaces in the children’s playground were around 84 degrees.  The road surface in the car park was almost 73 degrees.  This gives you an idea of our future if our gardens & streets are not significantly greened & if we lose green spaces.  See – http://bit.ly/2lxujhu

“As Sydney’s population is growing there’s more houses, less trees, less green, more roads … it’s adding to the heat.  ….. The way we’re going – and adding another million people plus an airport, more roads, more pollution, more industry, we can expect 10 more extreme hot days a year over 35 [degrees] ….. It will become the norm. Without the proper designs [and planning] the problem will only get worse.” ~ Stephen Bali, president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.

I remind you that the former Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia.  We cannot afford to lose any of it, not even a morsel despite whatever the so-called gain to the community is slated to be.  We cannot comment on public consultation in either the Leichhardt or Ashfield LGAs, despite being amalgamated into one large council.  Therefore, Marrickville’s abysmal amount of green space should not be watered down by including green space from the other two municipalities we have amalgamated with.

Council should be taking every opportunity they can to add to the green space by transforming suitable areas of public space.  I think they failed with Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road Marrickville, the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt & the latest being the unusually large street space area on the corner of Canterbury Road & Herbert Street Dulwich Hill, though this is my own opinion.

The public space outside the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro is also an area eliciting much conversation within the community.  All that I have read or heard has been negative.  Whether you like what Metro has done is personal, but there is no doubt a heat sink has been created with all that concrete & tiling.  It is also a big loss to see that a number of mature trees have been removed.

Corner of Canterbury Road and Herbert Street Dulwich Hill – an unusual opportunity by Council to make a truly green and inviting space for the community in this location. Missed opportunity and I bet this work cost a lot.

The space behind the above photo in Herbert Street Dulwich Hill. I am glad it is grass and not concrete, but what would be wrong with planting a couple of shade trees here and adding some benches. It could be a useful space for the community.

Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt today – ugly and hot.  Not an attractive meeting place for the community.  This cost $575,000

Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road – speaks for itself.

Alex Trevallion Plaza. Two of the skinny gum trees died, so instead of replacing them, Council filled the holes with bitumen. Message: we cannot expect this place to look better for a long time.

New entrance to Marrickville Metro. I will post photos of their other landscaping work next post.  Numerous mature trees, a grassy knoll and plumbago hedge on three sides of seating was also removed.  It has been suggested that C stands for Concrete.

The crack is significant.

The crack is significant.  

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Narrow-leafed red ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) opposite 6 Tramway Avenue Tempe.

Tramway is a lovely street with lots of street trees.  The tree to be removed is the one with the sign.  I am glad that Council are replacing with another in this location.

Tramway is a lovely street with lots of street trees. The tree to be removed is the one with the sign. I am glad that Council are replacing with another in this location.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has significant crack in the main trunk causing it to be structurally unsound.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Red Iron Bark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) as part of the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017. 

 

 

Brittle gum in Stafford Street Stanmore.

Sydney blue gum in Stafford Street Stanmore.  It looks like a sick tree with a poor canopy.  Unfortunately the canopy does not show well in this photo.  A tree behind makes it look fuller than it is.  

You can see the damage in the trunk of the Brittle Gum.

You can see the damage in the trunk of the Sydney blue gum.

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove two public trees in Stanmore.

Tree number 1:  a Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna) outside 13 Stafford Street Stanmore.

Council gives the follow reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has previously had several major branch failures which have resulted in weakened structural integrity.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) in the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

I agree this tree needs to go.   While I like Jacarandas, I think it is a shame to replace a big native tree species with an exotic.

The deadline for any submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017.

Tree number 2: a Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera) outside 62 Percival Road Stanmore.

Council gives the follow reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has poor vitality and significant canopy dieback
  • Major open wound to trunk with decay and loss of structural wood.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) during the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

I agree this tree needs to go & think it is good that Council is replacing a native with a native.

The deadline for any submissions is Friday 10th March 2017.

Brittle gum in Percival Road.

Brittle gum in Percival Road.  Not much canopy left.

The trunk of the Brittle gum in Percival Road.

The trunk of the Brittle gum in Percival Road.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet drinking nectar 

When we first moved to Marrickville just over two decades ago, there were only Currawongs & Indian mynas in our street.  The Currawongs would leave in the morning & return at dusk.  The Currawongs would move somewhere else for spring & summer leaving the Indian mynas to rule.  What we heard most of the time was traffic & plane noise.  There were very few natural sounds.

New people started to move into the neighbourhood & we all started gardening.  Some of our neighbours planted cottage garden type plants, while others like ourselves went totally native & included some natives indigenous to this area.

We had a rule – unless it was spectacular, what we planted had to be able to provide food for birds or bats & at the very least, bees & other insects.

And then it happened….. the noise of our street changed.  All kinds of birds started to visit.

It was slow at first.  We started to identify different bird calls. Sometimes small groups of around 10-20 birds would visit.  The birdbath was used every day.  Evidence of their splashing was noticed & the water had to be replenished.  We would walk out the front door only to cause a mad fluttering of wings as bathing birds got interrupted.

Every year the sounds of birds were built upon.  A common question was, “What is that bird?”  The Birds in Backyards website was used often trying to identify the latest visitor.

A nest was spotted.  It turned out to be a pair Red Wattle birds.  Having been woken up by these flying alarm clocks for many years, I don’t feel like home is quite right unless there are Red Wattle birds around, so I was very happy about this.  Unfortunately, Ausgrid pruned off the branch that held their nest (in spring when they were breeding no less) & we feared we had lost them.   It was with much joy that we saw they had rebuilt in a branch of another street tree, closer to our house.  The branch is still at risk, but hopefully we will be able to convince Ausgrid to leave it be whenever they visit.

The Red Wattle bird pair have had three successful breeding seasons now.  They must like gardeners because they fly low over our heads when we are outside & even when they see our car.  We get greeted with a “Kuk Kuk!” most times we venture outside.

Little White eyes visit every day chattering at a million miles an hour when the right flowers are out.  They sound like a party.   For the last two years Rainbow lorikeets have visited the verge garden & their idea of party noise is much louder.  This season they come every 3-4 hours.  I imagine they circle the neighbourhood visiting known food sources returning after they have given the flowers time to replenish their nectar.  It is so much nicer than listening to traffic.

Someone else’s tree planting has attracted an Eastern Koel.  These birds migrate all the way from Papua New Guinea every summer.  Many people find these birds irritating, but I like the sound of his plaintive call calling for a mate.  I don’t find it too hard to go back to sleep after waking at 3am To “Kooel!  Kooel!”  The only time I had difficulty was when he sat in the street tree that was maybe 8-metres from our bedroom window.   I did mutter a bit that night.

One of the lovely things about living in Marrickville is the nightly wave of flying foxes that travel overhead at dusk.  I think they are beautiful to watch & especially like watching them from Turrella or from the Cooks River.  It’s a peaceful thing to do on a warm evening.

A pair of flying foxes have started to spend time eating from our street – the street trees & the trees in private gardens.   Their chattering sounds are quite lovely to hear in the background.   Flying foxes are experiencing a food shortage at present resulting in the death of many of their pups, so it is excellent to know that our effort is helping provide food for them.

There are bee hives in the area, which is great for our garden.  Bees are in trouble worldwide, so again, it is wonderful to know that we are doing our bit to help them survive just by making choices with what we plant.

We have a huge Salvia, which is totally inappropriate for our small garden, but we keep it because native Blue Banded bees come to feed from the flowers most days in the warmer months.    There are other native bees that hover & feed in this plant too.

There are lots of other species of bird that visit now & some are seasonal.  I can’t express how much better it is to live with a range of bird song & not just Indian mynas.  As an aside, I often read that Indian mynas chase away the native birds.  This has not been our experience.  The Indian mynas are still here of course, but they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of native birds that come here & that have moved into trees in people’s gardens.  The mynas no longer own this territory & they know it, so they quietly go about their own business.

If you want Indian mynas, lay a huge concrete slab driveway or concrete your back yard because they love concrete & bitumen. 

If you don’t want Indian mynas, plant a variety of food-producing native plants & trees & before long, the Indian mynas will be overrun by the new kids on the block.  You will be too busy noticing the native birds that you won’t see the Indian mynas.

In Part 2 I will write about ideas on improving biodiversity in small gardens & even balconies.

Looking left along Gilbert's Garden

Looking left along Gilbert’s Garden

Looking right along Gilbert's Garden

Looking right along Gilbert’s Garden

A couple of weeks ago we were cycling around the area.  Waiting for a break in the traffic at the corner of Beach & Wardell Roads Dulwich Hill, I looked across & saw people working in what appeared to be a community garden in Gilbert Barry Reserve.  A quick agreement between us & off we went to say hello.  The people there gave us a lovely welcome & confirmed that this was a community garden.   We chatted & were shown around their garden, which to my eyes was a lovely thing.

The Gilbert Barry Reserve was a poorly used & uninviting space until the Inner West Council  gave it an overhaul finishing work around July 2016.  The concept plan shows they were to remove 6 trees, plant 5 new trees & add three native garden beds.

The logs from trees removed are now lying around the far garden bed providing habitat for ground creatures.   I like that Council is doing this as a norm these days, instead of feeding every tree through the wood-chipper.

Rotting logs are a part of the natural ecosystem.   Dead wood not only continues to hold carbon, it also continues to be useful to the environment.   The process of decay adds nutrients into the soil helping to grow fungi & moss amongst other plants.  Small insects & slugs & worms love this environment.  Most of us as children have picked up a log & watched the tiny creatures run from the light. I like to think of them as ‘hotels for insects & other creatures.’  Sandstone blocks have been scattered around the garden beds & these too offer a cool moist habitat for little creatures.

A picnic table setting & two other park benches have been installed.  The benches are attractive & do not have a barrier in the middle of the bench to stop people lying down, which was great to see.  I do not like defensive architecture & unfortunately, it is creeping into our locality.

A water fountain was in the plans, but I do not remember seeing one.  I think it will be the first water fountain in the old Marrickville LGA.  I think it would be wonderful for all parks to have a fountain to provide water for birds, as well as beauty for people.  You can’t have great biodiversity without access to drinking water.

Apparently, a newly planted tree in the centre of the reserve died & is yet to be replaced.

Along the back fence of the reserve a community garden has been formed.  A decent sized stretch of land has been set aside for this & lined by sandstone.  ‘Gilbert’s Garden’ was formed around 9-months ago by a group of local residents.  They have a range of vegetables & herbs growing.  Apparently, they had a good harvest last season.

The group meets every second Sunday for a couple of hours.  Not everyone comes to every meeting, but there seems to be a core group.  They are looking for new members because the more people are, the less work for everyone.  Plus, it is fun to meet new people & form new friendships.

We met three lovely members who were very welcoming to both of us.  We both knew that invitations to join the community garden were real, not just words thrown out there.

It was pleasant to be there in the late afternoon sun chatting about the benefits of growing food.  Other people were in the reserve sitting there reading, while others were watching the activity happening at the garden.  From being a drab, empty green space, Gilbert Barry Reserve is now much improved, has beauty & usefulness & most importantly, offers inclusiveness & purpose for the community.

The more these community gardens are allowed to be formed in public spaces the better in my opinion. Despite Sydney getting larger & more populated, loneliness in the community is on the rise.  Gardens like this bring people together & break down barriers.   They not only help people learn how to grow food, they foster happiness & connection.  Getting out in nature & fresh air is good for our health too.

The community garden has a Facebook group called, ‘Gilbert’s Garden.’  If you are interested in joining or would just like to help occasionally, you can contact them here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1491955174436769/

Gilbert Barry Reserve looking towards the road  from the community garden

Gilbert Barry Reserve looking towards the road from the community garden

Part of the new garden beds & new seating

Part of the new garden beds & new seating

Note the magnificent Melaleuca street tree.  This is the result when tall growing street trees are planted on the side without powerlines.  Photo shows new park bench and new garden bed,

Note the magnificent Melaleuca street tree. This is the result when tall growing street trees are planted on the side without powerlines. Photo shows new park bench, new tree and new garden bed

Very large rain garden in  Alice Lane Newtown

A very large rain garden in Alice Lane Newtown. This new development also planted numerous trees.  

Just published research from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science called, Future increases in extreme precipitation exceed observed scaling rates’ (http://go.nature.com/2iFybub) This research says we can expect “strong increases in rainfall during extreme precipitation events in Australia as a result of global warming.”

A 2°C rise in global average temperatures, is expected to cause an 11.3% to 30% intensification in rainfall from extreme precipitation events in Australia.  Other areas will be more susceptible to drought.

The researchers looked at the likely outcomes of a 4°C rise in global temperature & found “a projected increase in rainfall for extreme events of 22-60%.”  A 4°C rise in global temperature “is a likely outcome based on current increases in the rate of carbon emissions.”  See – http://bit.ly/2jlUfMs

More intense rainfall extremes will likely cause a problem with stormwater, so it is just not an issue of sea-level rise, but also more rain, which has to go somewhere.

Nature did not expect that our cities & suburbs would be covered in vast amounts of concrete & other impermeable surfaces like roofs & roads.  If rain water cannot seep into the ground, it will flow over the hard surfaces following the slope of the land until it reaches an area where it collects.  Many of our streets do this naturally & become hazardous areas during a heavy downpour.  Imagine what these will become during “intense rainfall extremes.”

In the Inner West, our sewerage / stormwater infrastructure is aging & “at capacity” – or so I once read in a Marrickville Council paper on the subject.  The level of new development, predominantly high-rise, will significantly add to this load, so I guess we need to expect more flooding.

Inner West Council (nee Marrickville Council) has done quite a bit of work building swales & raingardens around the Cooks River.   Once water is in the swale or raingarden, it can seep into the ground naturally.  This process cleans it of pollutants such as oil, grease, particulate matter, litter, heavy metals & fertilizers before the water reaches the river or replenishes groundwater stores.

Until I read about it I had never considered that litter tossed in the street at Newtown or Enmore could reach the Cooks River & I am sure most people don’t think about or know of this either.

Council has also been slowly creating verge gardens for a number of years.  These not only cool the streets & add beauty & pockets of habitat, they also help capture stormwater.

Things we can do to help with stormwater management –

  • Choose to have as much ground surface available on our property. This means not creating large expanses of concrete driveways or concreting our back & front gardens.  All water that runs off your property causes a problem somewhere else.
  • Depave any unnecessary concrete in your property. Every bit of depaving helps.
  • We can agree to a street tree out front if Council asks us & look after it if one is planted. Trees are very good at capturing the rain & holding it in the canopy. Rainwater either slowly drips to the ground or is absorbed into the atmosphere by the process of evapotranspiration.
  • Create & look after a verge garden.
  • Plant tree/s & add living plants to everywhere we can – ground, roofs & walls.

With all the development happening or about to start across Sydney, local councils & planning bodies would do well to insist that developers retain as many mature trees as possible on development sites.  Instead of installing underground pipes to take stormwater from the site to the collective sewerage system, it would be better if they did not over develop the site & planted more big canopy trees & other vegetation as these would help slow down some of the stormwater.  Adding a raingarden would be good too.

Our city is changing rapidly.  Climate change is happening & expected to worsen.  How well we live & our quality of life very much depends on how we create our environment.   We will be much better off if we depave, if we plant medium to large growth trees & if we add living plants to everywhere we can – ground, roofs & walls.  We need to start to plant to keep cool & to help manage stormwater.

I do not understand why new high-rise developments are allowed to build right to the front footpath.  Not only is this unsightly, but it also subjects residents of the building to all the health issues connected with particulate matter & other air pollutants from the passing traffic below.  It would be far nicer & healthier for everyone if a 2-5 metre space (depending on the size of the property) were left to plant shrubs, trees & other vegetation.

I do not understand why new high-rise developments are allowed to build right to the front footpath. Not only is this unsightly, but it also subjects residents of the building to all the terrible & significant health issues connected with particulate matter & other air pollutants from the passing traffic below. It would be far nicer & healthier for everyone if a 2-5 metre space (depending on the size of the property) were left between the front footpath & the building to plant shrubs, trees & other vegetation. 

Upgraded shared path at Kendrick Park Tempe is a big improvement on the flood zone that it was until recently.

Upgraded shared path at Kendrick Park Tempe is a big improvement on the flood zone that it was until recently.

One section of the shared path travels along the Cooks River from Tempe Railway Station to Kendrick Park.  The path goes down a slope & curves around & under the railway line.  This particular area, until very recently, would flood with the high tide.  This posed a problem for cyclists – to take their bicycle through the bracken water or not, because salt equals rust.  I doubt it was pleasant for pedestrians who didn’t want to get their feet wet either.

Inner West Council has fixed this problem & what a good job they have done.  I doubt even king tides will impact on this path now.

The sandstone wall has been replaced by a solid wall on both sides.  One is on the water side & the other on the opposite side contains a drainage system.  I think the path has been widened at the curve as well.

The area under the railway line has been caged in, I presume to stop people boarding trains from this location.  At the very least it should make it difficult for taggers to get up there.

I especially like that some of the sandstone blocks & a wooden pole has been placed in the shallows where it becomes riverbed at low tide.  It looks like thought has been put into where to place the blocks so as to enhance the view over the Cooks River & the entrance to Wolli Creek.  It’s a nice touch.

A new garden bed has been created on the Kendrick Park side, though it had not been planted when I was there.

This pathway is heavily used by both cyclists & pedestrians.  Everyone who uses this path will benefit from this work.

It’s New Year’s Eve, so I wish you all a Happy New Year & I hope 2017 is a good year for you all.  I thank you for your support & for reading my blog.  I very much appreciate it. ~ Jacqueline

Showing how the area is caged in.

Showing how the area is caged in.

A not very good photo of some of the artistically placed sandstone blocks placed in the Cooks River.

A not very good photo of some of the artistically placed sandstone blocks placed in the Cooks River.

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

 

Showing two of the new habitat trees - one on the left and the other in the foreground with the sign on the trunk.

Showing two of the new habitat trees – one on the left and the other in the foreground with the sign on the trunk.

Last October the Inner West Council posted that they created three new habitat trees in Mackey Park Marrickville South.   We walked the whole park, but unfortunately were only able to find two of the trees.  The trees we found were between the shared path & the wetland area.

Habitat trees are trees that have caused a safety problem by dropping branches. Rather than removing the tree, the tree is killed by ringbarking.  Then the branches are cut open & a cavity created with a chainsaw to create nest boxes & other kinds of hollows.

A large amount of Australian wildlife will not breed if they do not have access to a hollow, so retaining the structure of mature trees is vitally important.  See – http://bit.ly/1ASqhzz

Council said they created five nesting boxes in these trees.  Three for Red-rumped parrots, one for Gould’s wattled bats (microbats) & one for a Brushtail possum.

They also plan to mulch & landscape with local native plants under & around the trees in the near future.  Good one Council.

Showing one of the nesting hollows.

Showing one of the nesting hollows.

The new children's playground with barbecue area.

The new children’s playground with barbecue area.

The new moving exercise equipment area.

The new moving exercise equipment area.

The new World War II Memorial

The new World War II Memorial

New path and garden

New path and garden

Swale in Marrickville Park

New swale in Marrickville Park with new concrete paths.

We went to have a look at Marrickville Park today.  Inner West Council has recently finished an upgrade of this historic park.  It looks good, though there is a lot of concrete where there was once grass.   I concede that concrete paths do improve accessibility, so now there are more paths for people to walk & this is probably a good thing.

The south entrance off Livingstone Road takes you to a new exercise area with moving equipment.  It is good to see that Marrickville is getting the same quality of equipment as other areas of the old Marrickville municipality.    The ground surface is made of what appears to be synthetic material that is super soft & bouncy.

I noticed one of the two new drinking fountains has a bowl that allows both dogs & birds to access fresh water, which is wonderful.  I’ve been noticing these as a norm in many parks, but not at the southern suburbs of the old Marrickville municipality.  It is a shame that both bubblers don’t have this extra water bowl, but having one is a great improvement.    Both bubblers have drainage at the base to take water away instead of creating muddy puddles.

Beside the exercise area is a large swale, which I presume will collect any rainwater & allow it to soak into the ground purifying it of pollutants before it reaches the Cooks River.  I love swales & think the more we have the better.

This swale evolves into a long wide garden area that travels all the way to the original path lined with historic palm trees.  The garden area is covered with geotextile to stop the weeds & keep in moisture.  It has been planted out with bottle brush, pig face, native grasses & 8 new advanced-sized Melaleuca trees.  These trees will provide food for the wildlife.  They look great now, but when mature they will look fantastic, as these trees generally develop beautiful canopies when they do not have to suffer severe pruning for power lines.

There is new lighting.  They look good, are unobtrusive & have been placed on the opposite side of the path & of newly planted trees, which means that trees will not need to be pruned to accommodate the lights.

I was pleased to see that all the trees have had the grass removed from around their trunk & this area mulched.  This is much better for the trees.  It protects them from mower & whipper-snipper damage & also keeps the ground moist & cool for the roots.  It is standard practice these days, so it is great to see our trees get this treatment, especially the historic trees.  I thank Council for this.

At intervals along the new pathway are metal circles engraved with a local sports person’s name & their sport.  This is a nice way to commemorate local sporting greats without making it look like a cemetery, as I have seen elsewhere.

A new war memorial has been created to remember those residents of Marrickville, Newtown, St Peters, Petersham & Camperdown who died in World War II.    The garden bed has been planted with Rosemary.

Next to the new children’s playground is the new barbeque area.  Two wooden tables with wooden bench seats have been placed next to the electric barbeque & there are garbage bins close by.  Two new trees have been planted to eventually provide natural shade.  I suspect this may be a popular place on summer evenings.

The children’s playground is exciting.  Even I had a bounce on one of the three in-ground trampolines.  The surface area here is as soft as around the exercise equipment.  The playground is covered by two shade cloths, while new trees have been planted that will eventually create natural shade.   There is climbing equipment, a tunnel slide, swings of different kinds, benches to sit on & a cubby house.

It looks fun & the kids that were there were obviously enjoying themselves.  It appears we have passed the era of sad-looking playgrounds.  This playground is an entertainment centre in itself.  Here children have all kinds of opportunities to exercise & learn new skills while enjoying themselves.  The adults also have comfortable places to sit.

From the central path with the palm trees to the Croquet Club are 26 new trees.  That is a boon!   One species is the Oriental Plane (Platanus orientalis) – a deciduous tree native to south eastern Europe to west Asia.  It is a fast growing tree with horizontal branching that can grow to 20-30 metres tall.   Fossil specimens of this tree from over 100 million years ago in the earlier Cretaceous period have been found.

Another is Pin oak (Quercus palustris) – a deciduous tree native to the USA & Canada. Can grow to 15-metres with a canopy spread of around 8-metres. It develops deep bronze to red leaves in autumn.  The Little corellas like to eat the small acorns, so even though not native to Australia, it does provide food for wildlife.  A fig tree has been planted & also a couple of Firewheel trees, which is wonderful.

A new white picket fence (in keeping with tradition) has been erected around the oval & it looks nice.

I have two areas of concern.  One is that a mature Brushbox tree that was near the entrance on the south side off Livingstone Road died 2-3 years ago & unfortunately was not replaced by Council.  The tree was there for decades.  Now there is a triangle of concrete pathways with nothing but grass & one bench.  There is lots of space to replace this tree without taking away from any of the new activities or plantings here.  The space looks empty to my mind & I would like to see this tree replaced to fill what is now a visual hole.

The second issue that concerns me is Council’s plan not to replace any of the Brushbox trees that are growing on the hill surrounding half of the oval.  This appears to be a matter of personal taste with the designer because it does not make sense to me.   Trees have been growing here successfully for many decades, perhaps 80-100 years.  Growing on raised ground means that these trees are higher than usual & therefore more visible.  To me this is a good thing in a suburb where roofs are generally more visible than trees.

Of major importance though, is people sit under these trees to watch the games.  They also sit in the shade to have picnics, read books or just chill.  There are 10 mature Brushbox trees here & while we were walking around, 5 of the trees had people sitting or lying underneath them.  Where else are you going to do this in the shade if these trees go?    People are unlikely to place a blanket under the lovely Brushbox trees growing next to busy Livingstone Road & Frazier Street because sitting or lying next to traffic is not conducive to feeling relaxed.

From memory all but one of the new trees are planted next to the pathway or next to the children’s playground.  The other 8 new trees are planted inside a garden area, again next to the path.  My bet is people won’t want to lay a blanket next to a path.  It is not the same as the area on the hill under those beautiful trees.   Shade was much needed this afternoon as it is a hot day.

For Council not to replace trees at this location removes not only beauty, but also a place for people to sit safely in the shade to watch games or to relax.  We need Council to plant trees wherever there is an opportunity, not decide not to replace trees where they have historically been.

I would like Council to replace these trees as they die or need to be removed & replace them with the same species. Brushbox are good for wildlife & they have a most beautiful canopy, especially from beneath.  It would be nice to carry on some of the historical plantings into the next hundred years for people to enjoy like we have.

Finally, I like that the rose garden has been retained.  It is one of those old worldly characteristics that gives this park its unique character.

Council have done good work in this upgrade.  The park has become popular for exercise groups, so the moving exercise equipment will be appreciated.  New trees & gardens are always wonderful & the children’s playground is a big improvement on what was there before.  All up, it looks great.

A Brushbox tree stood here for decades.  When it was removed it was not replaced leaving a gaping hole.  I think this area would be much improved if the tree was replaced with the same species.

A Brushbox tree stood here for decades. When it was removed it was not replaced leaving a gaping hole. I think this area would be much improved if the tree was replaced with the same species to match the row of Brushbox trees on the right.

People making use of the shade provided by the trees on the hill.  Trees are needed and appropriate in this area.

People making use of the shade provided by the trees on the hill. Trees are needed and appropriate in this area.  Note that no-one is sitting in the sun.

Three groups of people under three trees on this hill.  It is unthinkable that these trees will not be replaced when they die or need to be removed.

Three groups of people under three trees on this hill. It is unthinkable that these trees will not be replaced when they die or need to be removed.

Spectators under another Brushbox on the hill.

Spectators under another Brushbox on the hill.

 

 

 

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