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Arlington Oval, though the 2 Sydney Blue Gums on the left have been removed.

At the Council Meeting of 25th October 2012 Mayor Macri asked Council staff to prepare a report on the condition of the turf of Arlington Oval after a football club requested that Council install synthetic turf.

Local resident Gavin Edwards had a letter published in the Inner West Courier also on 25th October 2012  –  Shock & disbelief best describe my reaction to the news that local soccer clubs are renewing their quest to have artificial turf installed on Arlington Reserve.  Marrickville Council in 2009 overwhelmingly endorsed Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias’ motion calling for the redevelopment of Arlington Reserve with a natural grass surface, recognising that existing urban consolidation around the Reserve meant that the negative impact on the local community made it unsuitable for the more intensive use inevitably resulting from installation of synthetic turf.”

The community fought a long battle not to have Arlington Oval covered with artificial turf only 3-years ago in 2009.

The following document (1MB download) convinced me that artificial turf is not appropriate anywhere in Marrickville LGA for the following reasons –

  • It is made from petroleum products ie. recycled car tyres & frequently contains heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, chromium, copper & sulphur.
  • Making the turf produces carbon, while ordinary grass removes carbon from the atmosphere.
  • It is laid on road base so gets very hot. On a hot day artificial turf can be up to 50% hotter then natural turf, so it contributes to the urban heat island effect.  Granulated rubber is brushed into the synthetic grass after it is laid.  Playing on this sort of heat can’t be good for players.
  • It causes turf-burn sports injury.
  • It needs to be washed with a cleaning liquid to maintain shine & to disinfect from substances such as blood, spit, urine, vomit, food, beverages & animal excreta weekly during use.  This water then goes into the surrounding environment.
  • It has a life span of 10-years & then goes to landfill.
  • Any air-born weeds that take hold need to be sprayed with weed killers & the chemical stays on the artificial turf.

I think these are more than enough reasons why installing synthetic turf is not a good idea.  There is plenty more studies to show that communities have stopped using the product because of the problems associated with it.

Although I understand why many clubs want more reliable plastic surfaces, I strongly believe that Arlington Oval & other parks are multi-use facilities for the whole community, not just the sporting clubs.  I also believe that the community should not have to continually fight against issues that have been decided upon in recent years.

Cooks River from the Illawarra Road bridge in Marrickville – a great place to watch a seal.

The Inner West Courier recently published an article of a seal in the Cooks River.  Nigel Everest saw & filmed a seal frolicking around boats moored at Kyeemagh at the mouth of the Cooks River.  See –

Nigel’s delightful video of the seal can be watched here –

This week Marrickville Mudcrabs sent me two emails about other sightings of a seal in the Cooks River.  One seal was seen swimming & feeding in the river at Steel Park Marrickville. It appeared to be eating a mullet. After finishing eating it swam towards Tempe.

Another sighting of the seal happened yesterday & was at the Illawarra Road bridge in Marrickville.  The seal was estimated to be about 1.7metres in length & spent a lot of time under water coming up for a few breaths of air before descending again.  Several other people also saw the seal & reported this to Mudcrabs.

If this isn’t amazing enough, a large shark reported at over 2-metres was recently seen in the same area.

The NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service told the Inner West Courier that people should stay 40-metres away from adult seals & 80-metres away from pups.  Although seal look sweet with their beautiful big brown eyes, they are strong animals & they do bite.  So do sharks.  Best to keep your dogs out of the river for a while with sharks about.

Last week I witnessed at least 80 cormorants suddenly leave a sand bar & start fishing together in the Cooks River off Tempe Reserve.  Not quite as exciting as a seal or a shark, but it was a delightful sight.  I haven’t seen so many cormorants in one place before.  It is so good to see wildlife increasing in the Cooks River.  I made a short video here –

Showing only a small number of the cormorants out fishing that day. 

There was some interesting news in both local papers this week.

  • Marrickville Council have designed a street bin that takes cigarette butts allowing disposal without setting the contents of the bin on fire.  60 of these street bins have been installed along Marrickville & Enmore Roads & King Street with more on the way.  This is excellent & should go a long way to preventing butts ending up in the Cooks River via stormwater drains.
  • After complaints from residents in Lamb Street Lilyfield about street tree pruning for powerlines Leichhardt Council called on Ausgrid “to consult with them before undertaking any more work.”  Leichhardt Council thought the pruning of some street trees “excessive.”   From Ausgrid’s website – “Trimming is carried out by contractors who follow the Australian Standard AS4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees.  Ausgrid employs a horticulturist & an arborist to audit the work of our contractors.  Each contractor also employs a horticulturist & an arborist to monitor standards & ensure they are maintained.”

    This is one example of the many street trees in Hurlstone Park that were pruned for cables just before Christmas. It was quite a shock to see.

Tempe Reserve is a hot spot for biodiversity creation

Today is Threatened Species Day & September is also National Biodiversity Month.  These events are meant to raise awareness in the community about our environmental issues.  The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities says the following about Australia’s biodiversity –

“Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds & 89% of inshore, freshwater fish are endemic – that is they are only found in Australia. Changes to the landscape & native habitat as a result of human activity have put many of these unique species at risk. Over the last 200 years many plants & animals have become extinct.”

The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage says, “In NSW more than 1000 native species, populations & ecological communities are threatened with extinction.”  In Marrickville LGA we have remnants of Sydney Turpentine & Ironbark Forest, Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest, Sydney Sandstone & Sandstone Heath. The Marrickville Draft Biodiversity Action Plan identifies these as a priority for action to keep.  Once the habitat goes, so do the animals, birds, reptiles, frogs & insects that inhabit it.  In some areas species are hanging on by a thin thread.

In Marrickville LGA we have the Green & Gold Frog, the Grey-headed Flying Fox, the East-coast Freetail Bat, the Eastern Bentwing Bat & the Long-nosed Bandicoot on the vulnerable or endangered list.  With funding for the GreenWay being cut out in this week’s NSW Budget, the Bandicoot colonies will be at greater risk.

Flying Foxes across Australia have become ‘Public Enemy Number 1’ because they are impacting humans more than ever in search of ever-dwindling food sources & habitat.  Recently there have been incidents of poisoning local Fig trees, a major source of food for flying foxes.  For bats, the future is not looking good.

Also mentioned in the Marrickville Draft Biodiversity Strategy as threatened species for this area are the Red-crowned Toadlet, the Barking Owl, the Masked Owl, the Powerful Owl, the Sooty Owl, the Pied Oystercatcher, the Terek Sandpiper, the Swift Parrot, the Regent Honeyeater & the East-coast Freetail Bat.  That’s a long list for an area of only 14 square kilometres.

Looking at the map of ‘Threatened species, population & ecological communities around Marrickville LGA over the last decade’ in the Marrickville Draft Biodiversity Strategy, about 98% of sightings follow the GreenWay or near the GreenWay, the Cooks River & off to Wolli Creek.

Council has the responsibility to plant street trees, parks & other areas with urban wildlife in mind. It is wonderful to see that they have prepared such in-depth reports about biodiversity in Marrickville LGA. Their action list gives me great hope in that there will be a future for urban wildlife & that areas of habitat will continue to be cared for & built upon, especially for those classified as vulnerable or worse.

The Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation List of Threatened Fauna has a list of 444 species that makes for bleak reading –

Here is an Inner West Courier article about the GreenWay funding – & another where WIRES are asking people to net their fruit trees correctly so as not to injure flying foxes & birds –

There are a number of events happening across the locality for National Biodiversity Month such as the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk (see – ) & the Birds & Bush event (see – ).

This is a close-up of one of a row of perfect Bottle Brush (Callistemon) trees just inside the perimeter of Ferncourt Public School in Marrickville South. Native trees in this condition are great for biodiversity because they offer lots of food for a range of animals, birds, butterflies, native bees & other insects. If only the thousands of Bottle Brush trees across Marrickville LGA were in such good condition.

Marrickville LGA has a new website titled – ‘Poisoned Tree Diary.’  This website is documenting the poisoning of a mature White cedar tree in the back garden of a house at Camperdown.

A few weeks ago a neighbour of mine let me know about this tree poisoning, & so I checked it out & let Marrickville Council know. Having now discovered Council isn’t very willing to act, I’ve decided to start this diary.

For a long time the white cedar has been spectacularly healthy & a delight to look at, & many of our neighbours also love the tree. It was one of the trees I first noticed when I moved in to the street.”

‘Poisoned Tree Diary’ has 3 entries since starting on 5th May 2011.  The last entry shows evidence of how the tree has been poisoned.

It’s great to see a website such as this.  Marrickville Council has recently told the Inner West Courier newspaper that, it does not consider tree poisoning to be a major issue in the area.”  I think Council underestimates the level of concern felt by the community regarding the poisoning & vandalism of trees as well the continued loss of trees through legal & illegal means.  The Inner West Courier article about Cold Chisel guitarist Ian Moss’s grief over a poisoned tree in Annandale was representative of the feelings of many in the community.

Please visit ‘Poisoned Tree Diary’ & have a read.  It would also be good if you could participate in the website’s campaign.

This is our opportunity to say to Marrickville Council that we want them to be more proactive about the issue of poisoning & vandalism of trees across Marrickville LGA.  If prosecuting is difficult, Council can embark on a campaign of community education.  They can make sure that the community is fully aware that poisoning trees, even on private property will not be tolerated. Other Councils in Sydney do, so we know it is appropriate & that it can be done.

The tree poisoning in Camperdown is also on ‘SeeClickFix’ which is another fantastic website.  I will write about this service in the next post.

The header of the website

There is an article in last week’s Inner West Courier about Ian Moss, Cold Chisel guitarist & Annandale resident, “saddened by the loss of an 80-year-old tree he dubbed the “queen of the block” in Pritchard Lane after it was poisoned & had to be cut down last week.”  The 28-metre (91.8 feet) Eucalypt was growing in the back garden of a nearby property so someone had to sneak in to someone else’s private property to poison the tree. I find this appalling & slightly scary. Imagine not knowing who of your neighbours poisoned your tree. I imagine it would erode any trust or friendship.

According to the article in the Inner West Courier, vandalism to trees has been growing in the Inner West.  The article was also posted on FaceBook, which is where I saw it.  After leaving a comment I received the following reply.   

“According to Marrickville Council there have been 9 requests to Council to investigate reports of tree poisoning in the last 12 months. There have been 19 requests to Council to investigate reports of tree poisoning in the 12 months prior.  Marrickville Council also said it does not consider tree poisoning to be a major issue in the area.  I thank the Inner West Courier for sharing this information.

I was shocked when I read this. How can Marrickville Council not consider the poisoning of 28 trees across Marrickville LGA to be a major issue?  Is it because they think the numbers are low or because they have greater issues regarding trees to deal with? 

Eucalypt - a familiar street tree in some parts of Petersham

How many other trees were poisoned, but not reported?  Quite a few people will not be prepared to report on their neighbour.  I am presuming that the 28 trees poisoned were large trees.  Large trees can be worth thousands of dollars to Councils in green infrastructure.  Many Councils consider trees to be major assets & even give them a dollar value.

When people refer to the ‘Leafy Suburbs,’ they are connecting an environment that has a significant green canopy to big money & financial affluence.  People with money like to live in areas that are beautiful & trees provide this.  Areas with few trees are regarded as poorer, less desirable places to live.  Any real estate agent will say the same thing.

Taking this into consideration & the fact that it takes decades for a tree to grow to a significant size & provide the most use to the community & the environment in terms of stormwater uptake, erosion management, carbon sequestration, pollution capture, oxygen production & other things, how can the loss of any tree by vandalism not be regarded as a major issue?  Any tree lost is a loss to the community. Some mature trees do have to go because of disease & decline, but a healthy tree to be secretly poisoned is unnecessary loss caused solely by the selfishness of one to another.

Ian Moss is grieving for a tree that was not on his property. He could only see the tree.  This shows that people connect to trees in the street, in the gardens of others & on the horizon.  If you are like me you will have favourite trees that you always look at when you drive past even thought the tree is far away from your home.  In this house we often say that we are almost home because of the trees that we pass. The vandal did not improve things for anyone else, but themselves.

Back in February 2011 Waverley Council took a man to court because they could prove that he vandalized a tree. He received a hefty $19,000 fine.  I can bet that almost everyone in Waverley LGA knows that they take on a huge risk if they damage trees. This is the same for Leichhardt LGA where a friend repeatedly says, “You wouldn’t get permission to remove that tree here.” Yet, here in Marrickville LGA, by Council’s own admission, 95% of requests to remove a tree are processed with a tick, even when it is significant, historic streetscape & habitat for a critically endangered native animal.  In Leichhardt LGA trees are not removed if they drop branches. They often are in Marrickville LGA.

Marrickville Street tree

Cockatoos are part of what makes Sydney great

I don’t know what is happening to Sydney in regards to native wildlife. First we have the eviction of the flying-foxes from Sydney’s Botanical Gardens given to the go-ahead, now it seems that it’s okay as well to shoot Cockatoos in Broadway.

The National Parks & Wildlife Service have given permission for up to 20 Sulphur Crested cockatoos to be shot.  Why?  Well it’s because the birds are causing damage to the façade of the Sydney Campus Apartments in Broadway.

I say, Shame on you National Parks & Wildlife Service. You should have said no.  Shame on the owner of the Sydney Campus Apartments.  If you change the material on the façade, this will stop. The birds aren’t eating the rest of the buildings all over Sydney.

Thanks to the Inner West Courier for notifying the community about this disgusting, shameful decision. To read the full article –

Recently we visited Leamington Avenue Newtown & as we drove there we saw something fantastic.  Either NSW Rail Corp or City of Sydney Council has erected a concrete wall between the raised section of the railway line and the nearby houses, presumably as a sound barrier for the neighbourhood.  What makes this so fantastic is, it is not just a concrete wall or a decorated concrete wall, it’s a green wall.

Green wall along the rail line behind Leamington Avenue Newtown

At regular intervals, steel mesh going up 5-6 meters high has been attached along the wall & Chinese Jasmine is growing.  Not only does this make the wall look good, but the vines are designed to cut down the Heat Island Effect created by the sun bouncing off the concrete.  When the Chinese Jasmine flowers around Christmas it will look spectacular & smell great as well.

This is such a simple & cheap intervention, which begs the question, why this isn’t done elsewhere as the norm?

On 26th August 2010 a letter written by Clr Marcri was published in the Inner West Courier.  In this letter he said he wanted “to set the record straight in regard to my role in the approvals process for the Marrickville RSL site development.”

He went on to say “I think it is a landmark development that shows confidence in the future of Marrickville.” He said the development was approved both by Marrickville Council & the JRPP. He also said “Design is subjective,” going on to say that the development was designed by an award-winning architect.

Andrew Woodhouse, President of the Australian Heritage Institute wrote a reply that was published in the Inner West Courier on 2nd September 2010.  Mr Woodhouse wrote “It’s about time Clr Macri was told. He tries to sweep away design objections to the proposed bulbous Marrickville RSL saying design is of course subjective as though anyone’s views are valid but no-one’s view counts. He is wrong.”

Mr Woodhouse then wrote about various factors of measurable design excellence & said, “On all accounts this mega-project fails.” I agree.  My impression was that all those who spoke against the project at the JRPP Meeting were against the design aspects of this building & judging by the applause after every speaker so were the large group of local residents who attended. Why would the JRPP listen to the community when the development had been endorsed by Marrickville Council?

Marrickville ex-Councilor Colin Hesse, who attended the JRPP meeting was the first to write to the Inner West Courier about this development.  The letter was titled, ‘7 Storey Disaster.” He wrote “The approval of the massive 7 storey development of the old Marrickville RSL club has set a shocking precedent for Marrickville ..” He also mentioned “..genuine community participation  & is based on sustainability.”

It’s not my aim to go on about the development on the old Marrickville RSL site because it is going to happen & there is nothing we can do to prevent this.  What I do want to discuss is the information Clr Macri’s letter gave the community.

He said Marrickville Council approved this development & that “this building under the new LEP will be an underdevelopment. …“ Add these statements to his earlier statement of “… it is a landmark development that shows confidence in the future of Marrickville.” & it tells me that Marrickville Council fully intends to give the okay to many more developments that not only look like the development for the old Marrickville RSL site, but are as high, as dense & bulky as this is.  I am worried.

Clr Marcri also gives notice that the new Draft LEP about to be released for public consultation will not be making green buildings or green design mandatory.  I think this is very important when you consider that Marrickville, Illawarra & Petersham Roads will become between 6-9 storeys high with 13 storeys recommended for the old Marrickville Hospital site.

We have known Marrickville is going to change as well as other areas around the LGA, but designs that are compatible with the old pre-climate change/ pre-global warming paradigm is not something I am happy about.  When I see green walls for a railway line wall, yet the newest residential building declared a landmark & most likely used as a benchmark for future development has 180 air-conditioned units, not counting the retail space & 4 street trees along the Illawarra Road frontage & none for Byrnes Road I feel a little …..  When I remember the dismissive attitude to solar panels & a green roof during the JRPP meeting my blood starts to boil.

Another view of the green wall along the railway line in Newtown. It has made a back lane that was probably full of graffiti tags & rubbish look lovely

I’m a realist. I know Sydney as a whole is going to change. I read last year that the NSW state government wanted the industrial area next to Marrickville Metro to hold around 9,000 plus residences. Don’t quote me on this. I didn’t save the article & I cannot find anything about it now, though I know I didn’t dream it as I have spoken to a couple of others who also knew of this plan.

I was told that a recent application to have the area rezoned residential was unsuccessful.  I’ll predict here that this area will be rezoned residential one day in the not-too-distant future & I bet AMP Capital anticipate this, like the M6 planed someday for Edgeware Road just 1 block away.

High-rise residential is coming to Marrickville LGA & it will be dense & tall. Now that the world is talking about global warming & climate change wouldn’t you think that both the Council & the architects would make the shift to the new paradigm when designing new buildings meant to last the next 60-100 years?  If not, why not?  Why has Marrickville Council said any development for the old Marrickville Hospital site has to be a 6-star sustainability rating & yet they have not required this for any other high-rise residential building across the LGA.  I’m baffled.

The signage for the development at the old Marrickville RSL is, “The Revolution Begins.” We need our Council to ensure that the ‘Revolution’ follows the climate change paradigm that insists future developers create a true revolution by designing green buildings.

Green walls are not rocket science, yet their benefits are outstanding. Heat is not reflected thereby lowering the Heat Island Effect. They lengthen the life of concrete, they look good, they improve the streetscape & make ugly areas pretty, the prevent or significantly reduce graffiti & they are almost as good as trees in the benefits they bring. Psychologically they would do much to break down the oppressive feelings tall buildings can often bring.  Lastly, they are cheap to create.

You can read Clr Marci’s letter here – Opinion page 19 –

You can read Andrew Woodhouse’s letter here – page 23 –

You can read Colin Hesse’s letter here – page 17 –

13 street trees planted along the verge on Davis Street Dulwich Hill. 7 poisoned alongside 1 property, the remaining 6 alongside another property left to grow

I was told that 7 out of 13 new trees on Davis Street Dulwich Hill were poisoned or at least, this is the suspicion because there was a smell of petrol & the trees died very rapidly.   Great choice. Petrol kills saplings fast.

Marrickville Council tried hard here because they planted Red Flowering Gums & they planted them close together. I think this neighbourhood got really lucky to have this species of tree planted.

I admit to loving these trees because they look very beautiful & they flower profusely with gorgeous red or hot pink flowers that provide food for bats, bees, possums & all nectar-eating birds.  This species grows to a medium height & is not likely to have a negative impact on the neighbouring houses because they don’t grow invasive roots or grow higher than powerlines. If they were allowed to grow, the street would look spectacular.

I hope that Marrickville Council persists with replanting the same species despite the malicious damage & the cost involved.   We can only hope that

1 of the untouched Red Flowering Gums and 1 of the poisoned trees

residents all over Marrickville LGA come to understand that street trees have multiple benefits on their quality of life & the value of their property.  Vandalizing street trees also has a negative impact on nearby properties.

If people came to understand that property values escalate when there are good street trees out front, they may decide to take care of them & stop vandalizing them.

In today’s Inner West Courier there is a news item about a house that was sold in Concord.  The opening sentence was: Set on tree-lined Ludgate St is number 15, a four-bedroom house in Concord –

I’d be interested to know of any tree vandalism happening across Marrickville LGA.  It’s one thing to be critical of Council for not increasing the overall tree canopy & another to have Council’s hard work destroyed by one or 2 people who do not care about their neighbours or the fate of urban wildlife.

The people of Davis Street are angry & they have good right to be.  As they said, “What’s to stop this happening when the next trees are planted & then what will we have, a bare treeless side of the street when it could be so different.”

Oh the power of community protests.  An article in today’s Inner West Courier said Federal Labor Grayndler MP & Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out any extension of the M5 which runs through Tempe Reserve saying, “the State & Federal Governments were “united” in opposing the RTA’s plan.”

This is a huge win for the community group Tempe 2020 & a huge win for all the trees & the Tempe Wetlands that would have been destroyed had the 4-lane highway gone ahead.

I wrote about the issue & the community protest here –



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