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Raven in attack mode.

Getting closer

Moving to a different position

We saw nature in its rawness yesterday evening.  We were riding along the Cooks River when we came across a flock of very rowdy shrieking Cockatoos.  There were around twenty of them all gathered in the one gum tree.  The noise was something else.

I stopped to take some photos when my husband said, “There is a mammal up there.”  I looked around the canopy & saw a brushtail possum with two ravens nearby.  It was about 7pm & the sun was still up, so we had a very good view of this possum.  Being nocturnal, these animals are usually only seen after dark.

As we watched it became obvious that the ravens wanted to attack the possum. They are meat eaters, usually carrion.  My guess is that the possum was seen as an opportunity for food because it was in such a vulnerable position.  That is, if they could get him to fall to his death.

Whatever the reason behind their actions, the ravens were most certainly wanting to harm the possum.  He was standing on a very thin branchlet, having put a branch between him & the ravens.  His left foot was poised ready to strike any raven that came too close.

So, we had two strong black beaks that could have easily blinded the possum & the long claws of the possum, which would have caused injury to any raven that got too close.

The ravens took turns & tried to strike the possum from underneath, but they just could not get close enough.  Meanwhile the Cockatoos were alerting everyone in earshot that a possum was in danger.  We felt scared for the possum because he had nowhere to go.

Suddenly a large cockatoo entered the fray.  Wings out & crest up,  this cockatoo came between the ravens & the possum.  Screeching & expanding his size by spreading those wings even more, he managed to push the ravens out & miracle of miracles, they gave up & flew off.

The cockatoo then moved away from the possum still making a performance until he had moved to a different part of the canopy.  What a hero!   Then the rest of the flock praised his bravery as loud as they could.

When we moved on, the possum was still standing in the same position probably getting over what was a near death experience & thinking he will never come out early again.

I am pleased that there are possums along the river.  We need to keep in mind that trees offer both food & a home to wildlife & plant trees that will serve our native wildlife well.  In other words, plant food producing trees as a first choice.

Big old trees are vitally important & I expect we will lose many of them to development.   Then the accommodation crisis for homes between birds & animals will become obvious.

This was a great outcome for the brushtail possum & three cheers for the brave cockatoo who put an end to the fight.

Cockatoo to the rescue!

Look at how fierce I am

Moving away now that the ravens have gone

Taking a new position now the possum is safe.



The tree to be removed.

Inner West Council – Marrickville have given notice that they intend to remove a Small-leafed peppermint (Eucalyptus nicholii) outside 80 Denison Road Dulwich Hill.

They give the following reasons –

  • “The tree is in poor structural condition, has recently suffered a significant branch failure and exhibits extensive stem decay which cannot be mitigated by pruning.
  • The tree in its current state presents an unacceptable risk to the public and property.”

Council say they will replace with a Yellow bloodwood (Corymbia eximia) in the 2018 planting season.

There was no Notification of Removal on the tree.

Yellow bloodwood is an Australian native with a round canopy that grows to 10-metres. It has scaly yellow-brown bark & broad, thick, curved, blueish-green leaves.  In spring, it produces large clusters of creamy flowers in clusters, which attract birds & insects.  Nice choice.

Small leaf Peppermint up for removal

The healthy Bottlebrush  outside 3 Derby Street Camperdown.

The healthy Small leaf lilly pilly outside 7 Derby Street Camperdown

The worst part of the footpath outside 7 Derby Street. You can also see an NBN channel.

Inner West Council – Marrickville have given notice that they intend to remove 4 trees in Camperdown.

Tree number 1:  A Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis ) outside 3 Derby Street Camperdown.

Tree number 2:  A Small leaf lilly pilly (Syzygium species) outside 7 Derby Street Camperdown.

The footpath is narrow & has two small, but healthy trees.   I was amazed that council even notified the community of their proposed removal because they appear to be under 5-metres.

I have noticed that people tend to walk with their dog down the road of this quiet back street rather than along the footpath.   If a car does come down Derby Street, it is easy to get off the road.

To lose both these trees to replace a footpath does not seem necessary to me.  I am pretty certain that the footpath can be replaced while keeping the trees.  To replace only one of these trees in this location is another loss despite the proposed planting of a spotted gum on O’Dea Reserve around the corner.  I am not a fan of removing trees from one location to plant in another.   If there is room to plant a Spotted gum in O-dead Reserve, Council should do it anyway.

Derby Street will be down one tree.  I think Council should be looking to find more planting places for street trees, not reducing them.

Then there is the issue of new tree plantings failing to survive & if the new tree does survive, the years it will take before it produces amenity & benefits.  Currently, the two healthy trees provide both amenity & benefits.

Neither tree had a Notification of Removal sign on them.

Tree number 3:  A Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) outside 2 Ross Street Camperdown.  I first saw the Weeping fig in 2011 when I posted about O’Dea Reserve.  Even then I was surprised this tree was allowed to remain in this position because it was causing significant issues with the footpath.  Now it has moved on to damaging the brick fence.  I highly doubt this tree was planted by Council.  Weeping figs are sold as lush pot plants & many people decide they would be good to put in the ground.  The problem is that this tree has very strong roots & can grow into a large tree.  I think it should be removed.

This tree did not have a Notification of Removal sign on it.

Tree number 4:  A Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis) adjacent 2A Eton Street Camperdown.   I could not find this tree.  A resident tried to help me find the address to no avail.

Council give the following reasons for wanting to remove the above trees –

  • To undertake capital footpath reconstruction and kerb extension improvement works, including replacement tree planting.
  • To remove trees that are either inappropriate species, in poor condition and/or unsustainable in the planted location.”

Council says they will replace these trees with –

  • 1  Black tea tree (Melaleuca bracteata) in road tree planting outside 7 Derby Street.
  • 1  Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata) in O’Dea Reserve.

That is 4 trees removed to be replaced with two, which is not good in my opinion.  Council do not say when they will plant them.

Black tea tree is an Australian native & is usually described as a medium sized shrub, but can reach 10-metres.  It has rough dark grey bark & produces white flowers in winter/spring/summer.  The flowers are attractive to birds, insects & butterflies.

Spotted gum is an Australian native that grows straight & tall.  It is known for its beautiful bark that shed in summer leaving behind creamy smooth bark with spots of older bark. It has dark green leaves & produces small clusters of fragrant white flowers from autumn to winter, which attract birds, bees & other insects.   It is a good tree for wildlife.

The bottom of the weeping fig in Ross Street Camperdown.  It is not too often I will say this, but this is the wrong tree for this space.

The Save Marrickville group put this model together to give the community an idea of what the landscape will look like with all the high-rise buildings in Marrickville. The tall black and brown buildings at the top represent the 35 storeys for Carrington Road, the red and orange is around Marrickville Railway Station and the white represents single story houses. This model does not include the Victoria Road Precinct, which also has high-rise. It is pretty shocking to look at a proposed future Marrickville if the government and the developers get what they want.  Photo by Save Marrickville and used with thanks.

Community group ‘Save Marrickville’ [ ] has organised a march to peacefully protest the NSW State Government’s rezoning of Marrickville to a Priority Precinct.

Save Marrickville say on their Facebook page that –

  • “The rezoning of Marrickville will mean the mass destruction of heritage streets replaced with high density.
  • The destruction of Marrickville’s character.
  • High rise towers up to 35 storeys.
  • Eight storey apartment blocks next to your home.
  • More than 10,000 extra residents.
  • Almost no affordable housing.
  • No new schools or parks.
  • Roads & railways grid-locked.
  • Abolishing industrial land & 1,800 local jobs that exist now.

There is still time to change this!   Marrickville has not yet been rezoned.”

All you need to do is look at nearby Wolli Creek or Alexandria to see what is planned for Marrickville.  This level of development will change Marrickville for ever.  Dulwich Hill will also be hard hit by development.

This is an opportunity to tell the NSW state government that their plans are nothing less than over-development & will destroy this community.  Silence to the government means we approve.

The march will be –

WHEN:          Saturday 24th February 2018.

TIME:             12 noon.

WHERE:        Meet at Marrickville Town Hall & march a short distance down Marrickville Road to the Alex Trevallion Plaza located next to the Post Office Cafe.

SPEAKERS: Linda Burney MP – Federal Labor Member for Barton.

Mayor Byrne – Inner West Council.

Councillor Hesse – Greens Councillor for Marrickville Ward.

Kelsie Dadd – spokesperson for Save Marrickville.

No street trees this side of the road anymore – why?

I suddenly remembered that I did not post about the street tree removal at Unwins Bridge Road St Peters that I saw way back in December 2017.   Better late than never.

Around 12 – 15 street trees had been chopped down from the corner of Campbell street & along the eastern side of Unwins Bridge Road.   The trees were Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii) & most of them reached to the height limit below the powerlines. The area looks stark without them.  Luckily the residents there have big healthy fig trees across the road to provide a visual of green.

I spoke to two residents who said they came home from work to see the trees gone & had not received notification.  One resident was angry.  The other was feeling resigned.  None of us could work out why the trees were removed, though we did wonder whether it was connected to WestConnex, which barrels on down Campbell Street devouring everything in its way.

Street trees are vitally important in this location.  They always were because this is a main road, but the increased traffic of a motorway going through a densely populated suburb makes trees & their pollution management even more important.  Essential in my opinion.

So I thought it would be a good idea to revisit to see what has happened since I last went.  The answer is nothing.  The stumps are still in the ground & the footpath & houses are unprotected from the traffic zooming past.  It is hot too.  Such a shame.

I am hoping that in the next couple of months we will see replacement trees.   Surely the residents will not be expected to live without street trees.  Not there.

Another view further up Unwins Bridge Road

Plane flying above the new skate park at Sydenham Green. They fly low here.

Showing a section of the skate ramps

Showing the bowl.   I have no idea what it is called.

I love writing posts like this where I get to say that Inner West Council – Marrickville have excelled in producing something exceptional for the community.

The only other park that I have been this excited about is Amy Street Playground in Marrickville, which went from being a patch of lawn with some scabby kids’ equipment to a gorgeous child-friendly native garden with great play equipment & some trees.

Now I am going to wax lyrical about Council’s newest venture, the Sydenham Green Skate Park.  I don’t know the official name, so I have given it this one.  If it turns out to be different, I will edit this post.  Edit:  It is called Sydenham Green Skatepark.

The new skate park is located at the corner of Railway Road & Henry Street Sydenham & is part of Sydenham Green.  This area has been a lawn with some shrubs left over before the government demolished 152 houses in 1995.  The third airport runway was being built & the government decided the residents would be too close to the noise of aeroplane traffic that fly directly overhead.

I don’t skate, so I can’t tell you anything about the design of the park, but to my uneducated eyes, it looks to be something for all levels of experience & it is attractive.  It says to young people – we care about you.  This is a very good thing.

I counted 25 trees.  They are all of what council calls “advanced size,” which means they will have a much greater chance of surviving.  There are lilly pillies, prunus, magnolias & other species that I can’t name.  All trees have mulch around their base.  There is also a considerable amount of planting to create buffers to the busy Railway Street & to separate areas.  There are also concrete paths & lots of lawn.

Colour has been used in creative ways.  For example, instead of a black or plain concrete coloured wheel stops in the car park, they are given colours, which somehow makes it look cheerful.  Long bench seating also has different colours at the base, as do the poles that hold up the shade structure.

There is a car park for a limited number of vehicles.

The front steps & sandstone fences of a number of the previous houses have been retained & incorporated into the design, which is a good thing for those that love the history of the area.  I am one & I am pleased Council has incorporated them into the design.  I was also pleased to see that an old yucca was kept with the wrought iron fence that it has grown into.  Right now, it has the most spectacular flowers.

This is a place for kids & families to gather.  There is a pedestrian crossing to take you safely across Railway Street to a barbeque over in the other section of Sydenham Green.  There is a barbeque in the main Sydenham Green as well.

A new toilet block has been built just across the road from the skate park on Henry Street.  This toilet is so interesting I could write a post for just this alone.

Firstly, it has no solid walls outside the cubical area, just bars.  I presume this is to ensure no funny business can happen, especially with the stationary traffic on Railway Street watching.

I remember there was a strong debate in one of the Marrickville council meetings as to whether the toilets themselves should be just indestructible stainless steel without a toilet seat.  Apparently, toilet seats get vandalised around the municipality a lot.  I could not see why the community would be treated the same as prisoners in gaol. White toilet seats sell for around $3 at Bunnings & Council would probably be able to access them cheaper than you or I, so it did not make sense to make the community have toilets without seats.  Thankfully, the Councillors ended up voting for seats & we got them – black seats – to hide the footprints perhaps.  The toilets are communal & they are wheelchair accessible.    There is a long concrete basin.  Society garlic is planted around the front wall of the block.

The area next to the skate park is being dug up & worked on at the moment.  This will become two basketball courts with markings for a roller derby.    I am very pleased that council is retaining the old frangipani tree that is growing near the wall.  Next to this area is a planned community garden.  I feel we have been waiting for this for years.

To my eyes Sydenham Green has a participatory path from Unwins Bridge Road to almost the Princes Highway –  the Library, playground, dog park, barbecue, park, moving exercise equipment, toilets, skate park, basketball & eventually a community garden.   It has taken many years, but I feel finally, Sydenham Green will become a true community hub.

To end, I think Council have done excellent work here.  It doesn’t feel that they have skimped on spending either.  I think the kids & the families will enjoy this space.  Passing drivers will be able to see an active area that has beauty instead of a desolate area of lawn backing on to a wall of a building.  Well done!

Council are holding an official opening of the skate park & everyone is invited.

WHEN:          Saturday 10th February 2018.

WHERE:        Corner of Railway Road & Henry Street Sydenham.

TIME:             10am – 1pm.  The official opening with speeches starts at 11am.

There will be a free sausage sizzle & skate demonstrations.

Showing the garden beside Railway Road. It looks great. My only concern is the maroon coloured plant grows fast and is already starting to smother other plants.

A old Yucca in flower. It’s nice to see this plant from a former front garden retained.

This front entrance to a former house now is one access to the skate park. It’s lovely to see these  aspects retained.

Showing the work for the basketball courts to be built next to the skate park.

Kangaroo paws like book ends are very effective.

Yellow buttons is an Australian native ground cover that thrives on neglect. Nice to see that the kids have had a hand in adding colour and beauty too.

The weather has been too hot to get out much, but there are some things I hope to get to this weekend.

I have noticed more people are starting verge gardens.  Any garden that breaks up the concrete landscape is good to my eyes, but some verge gardens significantly add beauty to the streetscape.  I recently found one in Marrickville South that I thought was very nice.  It went across two frontages.  There was a community library as well, which had a chalkboard on the side for the kids to draw on.

Every plant was a native.  Red & yellow kangaroo paws were planted at each end & the flower stalks had not been vandalised.  I chose not to plant these water-wise plants because I thought they would be vandalised.  This garden has changed my mind.

Another section with ground covering grevillea.

The street library. I love these things.  Even a chair to sit and read awhile.  

This photo was sent to me by a local resident. As you can see, there is a significant amount of the canopy on the ground ready to go through the woodchopper.  The tree that was pruned is visible behind the woodchopper.  Thanks to the resident for allowing me to use this photo.  

It is the season of peace & goodwill & I would prefer to be writing positive posts.  However, I am getting messages from distressed residents about Inner West Council – Marrickville’s tree pruning, so I need to write something.

Inner West Council is currently pruning the street trees in Marrickville South. I spoke to Council’s tree pruners earlier this year, so I was surprised when they were back again so soon.

Our street trees get “managed” from all directions – Ausgrid, development & Council.  Vandals also do things to the street trees, though I am not suggesting that Council are vandals.  Imagine having three groups coming on a regular basis to give you a haircut & maybe lop your ears off.  It is no wonder so many street trees look unattractive.

My observation with pruners is that they come once to prune.  The next time they come they take off more branches that were deemed okay the last visit & no, they haven’t grown so much to be noticeable.  Ausgrid does this & over.  In a very short time, the trees get reduced into a shadow of their former self.  Ausgrid prunes the top & Council prunes the bottom.

Inner West Council – Marrickville says on their website –

“Street trees will be pruned to:

  • Remove any dead, dying or dangerous branches
  • Allow clearance for pedestrians and vehicles
  • Allow clearance to buildings (where practicable)
  • Improve their health and structure.”

So, what is the problem?  This is what has been relayed to me.

I had no knowledge that this was happening today;… Apparently, they are pruning to Australian standards & to protect workers so grass can be mowed, and so footpath is clear & people can walk to their cars.  [they] were saying most people want the trees cut out!!”   Sounds reasonable except if you know the tree was not causing a problem to begin with.   I know this tree.  It was not intruding on the footpath, nor did it prevent people from getting to their car.  What it did have was branches low down on the trunk & as far as I have observed, this is not acceptable by Council.

“This work is being done on the smaller trees to “shape them” and make it easier for council to cut grass from base of trees and away from pedestrians using footpath. This means that the trees look like pom poms and the removal of the dense bottom canopy is not appealing at all to me.”   

“Contractor tried to tell me it’s not my tree & I have no right to protest it’s being trimmed; when I lovingly water it I feel I have some say in its up keep! And will continue fighting for it to live!!!!”    The photo above will show you just how much of the bottom canopy of this tree was removed.

The residents do not believe the trees needed pruning & if the tree  did by Council’s standards, the residents believe that the pruning was excessive.

It is heatwave conditions at the moment.  The weather forecast for the next week is four days well above 30 degrees & five days of extreme UV index.  It can’t be good for trees to undergo so much stress in these weather conditions.  I recently learnt that trees can get sunburnt.    We still have the really hot months ahead of us.

The trees are in flower providing much needed food for wildlife & also beauty for the streetscape.  Many people wait for the flowers on trees to bloom.  Much of the flowers went into the woodchipper.

Surely it is  better to prune trees when they aren’t in flower.  It would not matter so much if we had tonnes of food-producing trees across Inner West Council – Marrickville’s section, but we don’t.  Bird-life would not be missing out on essential food supply.

Inner West Council Marrickville says on their website –

Proactive maintenance based on an annual cycle and is carried out in within a precinct according to the calendar month, i.e. January is precinct one, February is precinct two and so on.”

I downloaded their map & saw that Marrickville South is allocated June, the 6th month.  It is December, the 12th month.  Enter the website  via the Marrickville portal & they say they are doing street tree maintainance & list streets in Balmain.  That’s a bit confusing. 

To finish, I do believe Council needs to ensure that their pruners do not over prune.  Council put up signs saying Ausgrid was over pruning trees.  This was great & wonderfully supportive for the community who were reeling from the damage to street trees done by Ausgrid pruners.  What is not so great is the community perception that Council are doing the same.

One of three Environmental Vandalism signs put up by Inner West Council

It seems some have missed the beauty of the Cooks River.  Rather than pay a tipping fee, they think it is okay to sneak up the pedestrian path & dump a trailer load or three of building rubble into the river.   It is such a shame that a small financial gain for the vandal destroys our precious river environment.

The former Marrickville Council has worked for years to improve the health & ecology of the river, as have other Councils along the river.   Community group The Mudcrabs have also spent countless hours planting the riverbank & cleaning litter from the river.  I doubt whoever the vandal is has ever thought about this.

To protect our river & to stop this happening again, the Inner West Council needs to install bollards/gates at all entrance points.  Of course, these can allow entry to Council vehicles, but anyone else – no.   Not doing this means that Council runs the risk of someone dumping chemicals or other toxic substances into the river & causing a mass killing event of those creatures that live in the river.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

I thank Council for their speed in acting & for the community education by way of signs.  It is good for people to know about this.  I also hope the dumped debris is cleaned up fast.

Dumped into the Cooks River at Marrickville.  This does matter.  Photo taken at low tide. 

The new area.  This and the photo below shows the whole site.

Sometime during winter the Inner West Council – Marrickville cleared the grass below & around their latest ‘habitat trees’ in Mackey Park.  The cordoned off area lay there for a few weeks until it was covered with wood chip.  About a fortnight ago I noticed that the area had been planted with small plants like native grasses.   The more areas that support wildlife the better in my opinion.

Hopefully it fills out.

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