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The front entrance

Ferncourt Public School in Premier Street Marrickville South put on a humdinger of a fair today. The weather was lovely & the every inch of the school grounds was packed with people.  Kids were riding the games, people were taking high tea amongst rose bushes heavy with white blooms, others were inside the hall listening to a range of performers.  We managed to hear ‘Warren,’ a choir made up of parents. They were brilliant.  There was another stage area with all sorts of demonstrations & acts happening.  There were also masses of tables selling second hand goods, books & clothing, corn on the cob, great barbeque sausages in a roll & bunches of fresh flowers, except I was too slow & they were sold out by the time I had completed the circuit.   There were also free bunches of Rosemary (thank you very much). It was a terrific old-fashioned fair & everyone was happy.  There were masses of activities for the kids who were all running around having probably the best day at school ever.

He was huge

We found ourselves in the school’s Ecological Learning Area, essentially an organic permaculture garden used as a learning tool for the children.  A woman named Lyn comes 3 times a week over the lunch break & any child who fancies can go to the garden. Between 5 & 35 kids go on any day choosing to spend their lunch break helping in the garden.   The kids get their hands dirty, learn how to grow vegetables, fruit & herbs, & tend to a hive of stingless bees (I didn’t know there was such a bee).  Apparently their honey tastes like burnt oranges & is gorgeous.  There is also a frog pond & the garden is ‘no kill.’  Pests get taken to the pond for the frogs to eat.

Some of the vegetable plots are at ground level while others are raised.  Much of what grows smells great & the kids learn by crushing & smelling a leaf from the plant. Plants are allowed to go to seed & the kids collect the seed for use at a later date.  The children eat what they grow & regularly take food & honey home at harvest time undoubtedly to the delight of their family.

I was impressed. Nothing like this was happening when I was going to school.  I hope this kind of thing is the norm in schools these days.  Marrickville Council gave a grant to help get the Ecological Learning Area started. This was money well spent as the garden teaches children not only to respect & appreciate nature, but also how to grow their own food, which is a great skill.

The Ferncourt Family Fair happens biannually so put a Saturday in May 2013 aside to go when it is on next.  You will enjoy yourself.

This is a wonderful experiential learning resource for children

In August 2010 Energy Australia held a couple of community consultations where they explained the new works they intend to do through Marrickville laying high-voltage cables. See –

The bridge over the Cooks River next to the old Sugar Factory

They intend to drill under the Cooks River at the bottom of The Warren across to Arncliffe.  This has got the community talking. Why not put a bridge across the Cooks River for the cables & make it a pedestrian bridge with the cables encased in the undercarriage of the bridge?

Personally, I think a pedestrian bridge across the river in this location is needed. I have my doubts that Energy Australia will agree to high-voltage cables above the ground because of associated risks by vandalism. However, I do believe that they would have the ability to encase this sort of high-voltage cable if they wanted to & build the bridge in a way that would protect the cables from any vandalism. The issue would be cost as I think they prefer to dig, bury & walk away.  A system of above ground cables would need to be checked on at intervals. But it could be done if they wanted to.  Point is, would they want to?

Even if Energy Australia was adverse to building a bridge or dividing the costs between Marrickville & Canterbury Councils, a pedestrian bridge should be seriously considered for this location.

The bridge over the Cooks River the connects to Ewen Park

There are 4 pedestrian bridges across the Cooks River in the Canterbury Council area & they all are heavily used by cyclists, walkers & joggers.  We have spent quite a bit of time along the Cooks River in recent weeks & I have been astounded at the people traffic across these bridges.  Everyone I have spoken to about them say they love the bridges & love the ability to do a circuit walk, run or ride.  They also love that they have access to both sides of the river.

In South Marrickville there is the Bayview Avenue bridge & the bridge across Illawarra Road. Only the Illawarra Road bridge has a pedestrian lane. A pedestrian bridge in South Marrickville below Richardsons Park would allow people to do a circuit & allow them to get to Gough Whitlam Park without using their car.

It may be seen as a luxury, but it is only copying what has happened elsewhere along the Cooks River. The bridge would encourage more walking & riding & bring a varied experience of the 2 banks. A pedestrian bridge would make this area of the Cooks River better & would improve amenity dramatically.

People have written & spoken to me about this. There is public interest. If built, the bridge will be used. It won’t be a white elephant.  I would encourage both Marrickville & Canterbury Councils to talk with Energy Australia to see if a bridge can be built in conjunction with the cable installation.  If not, the two Councils can go it alone. It would be money well spent.

If you agree, now is the time to write to our Councillors to get the discussion going. Their contact details can be found on –

Looking across the Cooks River to Mackey Park from the banks of Gough Whitlam Park

This Hills Fig will have the large branch located on the far right removed - it is approximately 12 metres in length

One of the Hills Figs in Mackey Park that the community fought successfully to save  last year will be pruned by Marrickville Council some time after 27th April 2010.  An Arborist has identified that one large branch is “unstable & susceptible to failure.”  We knew this was the case last year, so have been expecting it.  It should make more room for the light-pole Council wants to put to light the new soccer field.   The branch itself is a big one, about a good-sized tree, so don’t be surprised if the tree on the right (if you are on the river-side of the trees) will look smaller & different.  It is much better that the tree is pruned rather than losing it.

The branch to be removed is the one with the sign tied to it-you can clearly see how the branch is liable to break off by the way it is attached to the branch next to it

Thank you to Marrickville Council for notifying the community about this.  I was not aware that Council did notify the community about tree pruning.  I think this is a good thing, especially when pruning will result in a significant  change in the way a tree looks.  I was also very happy to see that the notification sign had been carefully tied around the branch instead of using nails.  Thank you for doing this as well.

If you are feeling low or tired & would like to feel good for free, I would recommend that you take a walk & stand underneath these Fig trees at dusk.  I guarantee you will feel an instant lift in your mood.  These two Figs are veritable bird cities.  The noise from chirping birds is fantastic & very, very loud.  It is just as well the trees are located away from houses. You can hear the birds in these trees all the way to Carrington Road.  It is interesting that none of the other trees from Carrington Road through Mackey Park to the Cooks River seem to have roosting birds.  Maybe some are there, but they are very quiet.  All the local birds seem to have moved into the 2 Hills Fig trees making saving these trees an even more wonderful thing.  They are certainly very significant to the biodiversity in the area.

Something I read this morning which I thought was terrific:  Friends of the Trees in Portland USA, a grass roots community group has planted 16,764 trees & shrubs over a 12 month period.  Of these, 4,526 were large trees.  They were planted in parklands & on streets in neighbourhoods.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if we had such a group in Marrickville LGA.

To finish off on a nice note, below is a photo of tonight’s sunset over the Cooks River.

Marrickville Riviera

Alexis, Roman, Paris & Noah are going to lose their mark on the neighbourhood because this tree has got to go

Apart from the 3 trees in Ivanhoe Street, there is also a Fig tree up for removal in Steele Park Marrickville South.  I received the following information about this tree.  Unfortunately, this tree should be removed as it will become dangerous.  Thankfully, it will be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig.  Thanks to Marrickville Council for the following information.

The removal of the tree is necessary as there has been a failure of one of multiple trunks attached at ground level. All of these trunks have major inclusions associated with a large amount of end-weight producing a significant lever-arm stress. This was the cause of failure of the subject trunk. Additionally the failure exposed a large amount of root crown decay at & below ground level.

The present structural defects associated with the root crown decay & the exposure to further decay by way of the large wound make the retention of the tree unmanageable.  The tree is close enough to no. 16 Thornley St for it to present an unacceptable risk of failure & property damage at some point in the future.  It is proposed to be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig of size 100L or greater.

Don’t forget, the deadline for submissions regarding the 3 street trees in Ivanhoe Street Marrickville South closes this coming Monday 8th March.  Please send in a submission asking these trees be retained if you agree.  You can read about them here –

The post contains a hyperlink directly to council’s web-site where you can write your submission.

Fig at Steele Park that is to be removed - you can see it has already lost one branch

I ask that you put in a submission even if the trees are not located near you.  All tree removal has an impact on the green canopy of Marrickville LGA.  This month it’s Marrickville South, next month it may be Camperdown, Newtown or Dulwich Hill.

Just last month, Marrickville Council put up their Tree Strategy Issues Paper for the Councillors to vote on.  Had they voted to pass the paper, we would now be losing 1,000 mature trees a year for the next 5 years.

A pie chart in the document showed Council wants to remove 59% of the public trees across Marrickville LGA.  I was shocked when I read this.

The Tree Strategy Issues Paper is to return to the Councillors for voting 5 or so months from now.  If Council thought it was reasonable to recommend the removal of 59% of its trees, I would think it is likely they will continue to push for a great percentage to be removed.  If this is indeed what happens, the community will be required to put in many submissions if we want a chance of retaining these trees.

It would be great if we supported each street, each area when each comes under threat, even if we don’t live there, because the lumberjacks will be in your area & perhaps your street eventually.  This is one issue where the community could seriously help & benefit each other without much time & effort.

A submission need not be a large document.  It can be a few lines, a paragraph or more & you can write whatever you want.  I have noticed that submissions received from the community are taken seriously both by Council staff & the Councillors.

If just 1% of the LGA sent in a submission, not only would we probably set a record for mail submissions, we would also probably rewrite the agenda when it comes to greening the LGA.

If we do nothing, then we are going to be living in an area where 59% of our trees will be gone, which will affect us in many ways   (see the pages 100 Tree Facts & About Street Trees on this site for more information about this).

Another serious effect of denuding the LAG of mature trees is our urban wildlife who will be drastically affected.  Much of the current trees do not provide food or shelter for them.  I doubt they could withstand the removal of so many trees.  Imagine no birds, except maybe the resiliant Indian Mynas.  Imagine no possums.

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

2. The Manly Daily reported last week that Warringah Council removed a much-loved palm tree planted on the verge in Forestville without consulting the community. Interestingly, a cross was spray-painted on the tree’s trunk a few days before it

What is the purpose of these symbols?

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

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

4. Sydney is getting it’s own 5.8 hectare Central Park at the old Carlton & United Brewery site at Broadway. This is a huge boon for the community on may levels & for Sydney’s urban wildlife.–thats-sydney-not-manhattan-20100209-notw.html

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

new street trees - hanging baskets & planter box

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

7. The Star Tribune reported that a woman in Eden Prairie USA took to a tree service worker with a shot-gun to stop him chopping down a tree.  We should never have this kind of action here.

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

9. World Forestry day is coming up on 21 March 2010.   Many countries plant thousands of trees on this day.  I don’t know as yet whether our Council is participating. The NSW Department of Industry & Investment has a range of activities planned –

10. Lastly, the NSW Department of Climate Change & Water has a great resource about threatened species which may be of interest to those of you are concerned about the Bandicoots at Lewisham. &

Last Friday, I was called to Excelsior Parade Marrickville, home of ‘The Pride of Excelsior.’ (see Shame Page) “Energy Australia are pruning the trees.”  I arrived just as they were finishing.  Whether due to recent bad publicity plaguing the energy companies or just a good crew of contractors, they had done a good job.

Energy Australia removed only what was necessary

I always give credit where when it’s due. This is one such occasion.  I have been worried about these trees knowing that Energy Australia were due.  This time there were only a few branches on the road & they had taken care not to over prune.

Interestingly, a small crowd had gathered to assess the work, indicating that others hold these trees in high esteem as well.

The trees are Brush Box, large & old, just the type that Council have recommended to be chopped down & replaced in their Tree Strategies Issues Paper (see last post).  No one knows when these trees were planted, but the housing was built in 1915.  Older residents said the trees went in around that time.  They form a canopy over the street & support a myriad of wildlife.  Everyone who comes to this street mentions the beauty of these trees.  Even the real estate agents mention them in their advertising when a house is up for sale & I am sure the house prices reflect their presence.

A Fire-Wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus, Wheel of Fire, White Beefwood, White Oak for those of you who like botanical names) had to be topped for the cables.  This native species of tree can grow to 40m, but more commonly to 15m in cultivation.  Question is, why was this tree planted under electricity wires around 5 years ago? It will continue to grow & by the time Energy Australia return, the trunk will have grown taller.  Routine pruning will then turn this tree into a flat umbrella & Council will probably chop it down.  In Los Angles, Fire-Wheels are classified as heritage trees & they are described as a ‘fragile tree.’ So, well done Energy Australia.  Thank you for leaving the trees looking beautiful.  I am sure the community will be happy you did.

Integral Energy butchered these street trees in Valentine Ave Blacktown

Not so for the residents of Valentine Avenue Blacktown & Browning Crescent Lalor Park, who complained about the pruning practices of Integral Energy contractors recently.  (see my posts More butchering of street trees & Bakers dozen or it dozen matter).  Curious to see just how bad the damage was & to compare with what has happened in Marrickville LGA, we took a trip there last weekend to see the trees. What a shocker!  They were butchered & the residents were entitled to complain.

Compare the two trees

The visit was worthwhile on a number of fronts.  I now know that Blacktown Council took action to prevent savage over-pruning, whereas in cases of severe over pruning in Marrickville LGA no action seems to have been taken.  Marrickville Council also can intervene in the future, rather than sit back & allow our assets to be destroyed.

Tree-lined M4 which must assist local wildlife

I haven’t been on the M4 for a while.  After leaving the eyesore of Parramatta Road, which seriously needs the intervention of multiple councils, we reached the expressway.  This has become a green corridor as the trees planted for the Olympics have grown & now present a tall, lush, green screen.  It is quite an achievement to make a highway look nice, but they have done it.

I also discovered that Blacktown, Seven Hills & Lalor Park are as green as Eastwood.  There are tall trees everywhere, many of them Eucalypts & it is impossible to count the trees on the horizon. I think Blacktown Council has done well regarding street trees. I found other articles about the recent pruning of street trees & in other locations the Blacktown area.  From the Blacktown Sun – & another from the Blacktown Advocate – & from the Cumberland Courier –

During my research I was stunned to read that Blacktown City Council gives away 70,000 trees every year free to residents as part of the Visionary Greening Of Blacktown Program.  It’s working.  Then I came across “more than 7,000 native trees have been planted in Fairfield as part of Blacktown City Council Council’s Regenesis Project.” (Aug & Sept 09) A look at Blacktown Council’s web-site revealed more.  Over 500 residents & businesses people helped plant 23,370 native trees, shrubs & grasses over 8 month period ending June 09.

The Sikh temple & a street in the new housing estate

Even the Sikh Centre, a massive temple, has been given an Environment Grant ($4,200) to rejuvenate the local streetscape, as this is a new housing development with building still under way.

Blacktown City Council has done a Tree Inventory & they also have a Significant Tree Register.  Our Council has  neither & at present have no intention to do so.

I’m going to stop now because I sound like I have set up the Blacktown City Council Fan Club. for your free t-shirt! (NOTE: no such web-site) This research started because I wanted to know why our Council ignores what happens to our street trees & Blacktown Council doesn’t.  Now I can see why.  It’s also good to know what other Council’s are doing about street trees & over-all greening of their municipality so we know what is a reasonable expectation.

Back to the Brush Box trees on Excelsior Parade.  These trees are also at risk of being damaged by passing trucks.  Residents in the area are campaigning on a number of issues & one of their concerns is that long semi-trailers on Excelsior Parade will destroy the trees.  Considering the damage heavy vehicles have caused to trees in the nearby Carrington Road (see post – I think their concerns are justified. To view their concerns go to the Council Gripe web-site at –

Top right shows the overhead cables cut across the corner-the trees here were scooped out even though they were a fair distance from the cables

Large branch sheared off Fig tree

There is a 3 sided block surrounded by large mature Hills Figs in Marrickville South.  One Fig trees is situated on Warren Road, the others along Renwick Street & Carrington Road.  I think there are around 13 Fig trees in total.  These trees would be eligible to be included in a Significant Tree Register, if we had one.  They are a landmark in the area.  Combined with the row of Palms probably planted in the same era (around 80-90 years ago) when the factories along Carrington Road were built, these trees make Carrington Road look far nicer than it would without them.

Two industries used the land for decades, cohabiting comfortably with the trees with large trucks driving in & out.  Unfortunately over the last 15 years the trees have suffered much trauma from severe pruning for the sake of electricity wires. Energy Australia deny pruning these trees & say they were pruned for a loading zone. However, there is a great big long hole through the canopy where the wires travel. (see Energy Australia letters)

Size 9 feet to show dimensions

A DA for the block of land was taken to the Land & Environment Court back in 2008 for a number of reasons, one of which was the proposed removal of 2 of these Fig trees to make way for entrance driveways.  On this issue, Marrickville Council & the community were successful in having the application refused.

Thanks to the Court ruling, these beautiful trees got to live on, with the next threat to their existence being the actual development of the site, which may or may not affect their root system.

This is major damage to this Fig tree

Two months ago, a truck crashed into one of the trees leaving multiple deep gashes in its trunk & causing the loss of one major branch.  A month ago a truck tore off half a tree.  Council had to cut what remained back to the trunk leaving a Fig tree with one branch.  How long before they say this tree is unstable, looks ugly & has to be removed?

Yesterday, I drove by & saw another major branch of one of these trees lying in the gutter.  I can safely assume a truck it ripped off because the area of damage is high off the road.  Council has cut this branch into 3 to make it easier to take away.  I assume they will also have to do work on the tree where the branch was sheared off.

I feel aghast at what is happening to these trees.  There are many trucks that use these streets & their presence is causing a lot of damage. I am sure this is a common story in other areas of Marrickville LGA.

You can see trucks have repeatedly gashed this branch

It is nothing less than vandalism & truck drivers should be required to take more care of street trees & other infrastructure if they are to use these streets.

I blame also the businesses that require the drivers to use extremely large trucks to cut down on the amount of deliveries as a way of increasing profit margin.  While they make money, they are destroying the area.

This was a thriving Fig tree not too long ago. How can this be okay?

If a truck has to drive over a footpath to take a corner, it is too big to be using these narrow streets.  If the driver sees a tree canopy overhead, they can take measures to ensure they do not take branches with them. Council certainly makes sure that the branches of our street trees are high off the ground.  I suspect it wasn’t a passing truck which caused this latest damage.  Many trucks use this area to park overnight.  Seems trying to park a high truck near the kerb brought the vehicle within reach of the canopy and brought the branch down.

It also needs to be said that Carrington Road is a very wide road, certainly big enough for trucks to use & the tree canopy does not restrict passage.

Other news – on 10th December 09 I wrote about a Perth man who was sitting in a street tree to prevent its removal. (see post This is Commitment)  Well, he is still there.

His name is Richard Pennicuik & he lives in the Perth suburb of Thornlie.  He is protesting the proposed removal of 2 mature native street trees outside his property by the City of Gosnell Council.  Apparently, the Council has chopped down 20 other mature street trees in his street & plans to remove the remaining trees. Richard Pennicuik is refusing to come down from the tree until Council reverse their decision to remove these street trees.

Gosnell Council wrote to Mr Pennicuik saying they would not remove the trees for 3 months if he would come down from the tree & discuss the issue with them.  They have also said they will plant native tree species instead of their original intention to plant exotics.  He says this is insufficient & will not be coming down.  He believes the Council will remove the trees if he does.

Imagine spending 4 weeks up a tree & having so much commitment & love for trees to be willing to stay as long as necessary to save these trees.  Many of the comments on the net have been very derogatory towards Mr Pennicuik, but most of these comments have come from people who also chose to write less than positive comments about trees.  I respect Mr Pennicuik & wish him success.  He believes that the earth needs all its mature trees because of global warming & says he is also protesting for his children’s future.

Unusually big garden bed created recently in Carrington Road Marrickville South

I was driving along Carrington Road, Marrickville South the other day when I saw a fantastic garden bed outside New Directions done by Marrickville Council.

A large area of concrete has been removed which will make it much easier for the trees to collect water when it rains.

The mass of lavender planted around the new street trees is a very nice effect.  The garden bed looks beautiful already.  I can just imagine how stunning it will look once the plants have filled out a bit.

Marrickville Council, you have produced a gorgeous display.

You can see in the photo above, there are two other large areas of concrete which have been removed around new street tree plantings.  I would be happy if this became the norm rather than the exception on footpaths where there is room as the trees will really benefit in a number of ways.

For those who are not familiar with Carrington Road, it is an industrial area with many large factories built probably in the early 1900’s. Thankfully, the rows of tall Palms & Hills Figs along the road are still standing.  They were probably planted when the area was established.  All these factors make Carrington Road look interesting & greener than most industrial areas.

And just around the corner, 3 new street trees planted nice & close together which may allow a canopy to develop

It’s a major road & tourist shopping buses come every week to visit factory outlets.  I would guess most people who come in these buses haven’t been to Marrickville before.  Street planting like this will help give visitors a favourable impression of Marrickville.

I hope the staff at New Directions will water the garden bed, as they are major beneficiaries of this particular street work.

Well done Marrickville Council.  Less concrete, more garden beds like this please.



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