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Lovely Bauhinia tree in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park saved from removal

The first sign asking for the community’s help to save this tree. I love the drawing of the tree in flower.

A while ago I received an email with a few photos.  The photos were of signs sticky-taped to a tree in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park.

The first sign said that Marrickville Council intended to remove this tree & asked people to contact the Council requesting that Council do not chop it down.

Taped over this sign was another saying that the tree had been saved with a photocopy of an email from Marrickville Council saying that they were pleased to say they would not be removing the tree.

Last October 2011 Marrickville Council put out to community consultation their concept plan for Camperdown Memorial Rest Park – tree removal & tree planting, plus some other improvements. See – http://bit.ly/KkeCSn

I did not see in Council’s concept plan anything about removing this tree.  However, I did think it was at risk of removal when I walked through the park with the concept plans because of where it is situated. The tree sits inward & does not follow the line of trees around the perimeter.

Showing a very happy response

Having seen Council remove a healthy Tulip tree in nearby Enmore Park simply because it did not match their design, I was not at all surprised to learn that this tree in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park was also on the chop list.

This tree was not listed on Council’s website as up for removal either.  However, this is not unusual as Council does remove public trees without notifying the community.

The tree is a Bauhinia & comes from China.  It is the official emblem of Hong Kong.  It is also called the Hong Kong Orchid tree. Colloquially it is called the Sheep’s Foot tree because of the cloven hoof shape of the leaves.

This evergreen tree can reach 7-metres (23-feet) tall though the one in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park would be around 3-4 metres tall.  From September to October it is festooned with large pink orchid-like flowers. It also flowers sporadically from February to September making this one very beautiful tree.  There are hundreds of varieties of Bauhinia, all with 2-lobbed leaves & orchid-like flowers.

So to the wonderful person who found out about its impending removal & started the campaign to save this tree, thank you.  To those in the community who responded by sending Council a submission email, thank you as well.  Without your intervention & lobbying to save this tree it was likely to be chopped down, assumedly for purposes of symmetry & design.

The second sign that included a copy of an email from Marrickville Council saying they would not remove this tree

New Firewheel street trees in Gladstone Street Newtown. Once grown they will significantly improve the streetscape.

In February 2011 I wrote that I had been contacted by residents who nominated Phillip & Gladstone Streets Newtown as being an area that was hot & barren, used as a place for dumping unwanted household goods & in desperate need of street trees.  It was exactly as they described. I wrote, See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/desperately-needing-street-trees/

Residents had been in communication with Marrickville Council asking Council to plant street trees in this area. At first Council said they did not have the funds to put street trees in this location. However, after some meetings, & I presume seeing the location & how keen the community were, Council decided they would remove some concrete from the footpath & plant 4 African Tulip trees (Spathodea tulipera) & 8 Water gums – a total of 12 trees.  Needless to say the community were ecstatic.  I wrote about this here –  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/street-tree-win-for-newtown-residents/

I made a 1-minute video of this area last February 2011 before the street trees were planted – http://bit.ly/ymnapV

In September 2011 concrete was removed, the tree pits were dug & new street trees were planted along both sides of Gladstone Street. However, instead of the planned 4 African Tulip trees, Council planted 4 Firewheel trees.

One of the verge gardens created by The Gladstone Street Pride Group

At some time before the street trees were planted 2 residents decided to see if other local residents would be interested in meeting to discuss how to green the area & make it more livable & visually appealing.  They took the plunge by doing a letterbox drop inviting residents of Phillip Street to the first meeting.  Much to their delight 20 people turned up.  7 meetings later & the original members are still involved, plus others who come on occasions.  Isn’t this wonderful.

They decided to call themselves ‘The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group.’  They meet once a month, discuss ideas, report on progress with Marrickville Council, share news & spend some time cleaning the street of litter, weeding & watering around street trees & planting these areas with small plants & flowers.

The group has also spoken with a local business on Gladstone Street that has a stretch of garden bed next to the footpath.  The business has allowed the group to do what they like with this garden bed, so a couple of Jacaranda trees have been planted in the empty space between 2 other trees.  A mass of weeds was removed & the bed is in the process of being planted out with a variety of small plants.  Both the business & the residents are winners here.

Forming this community group has brought the local community together & other local residents have asked for the group’s help in getting more street trees in their section of the street.  People who did not know each other before do so now. The street is friendlier & helpful to each other & residents are learning how to propagate plants to keep costs down.  While we were in Gladstone Street another member of The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group returned home from the train & joined us.

Alfalfa House (also known as the Enmore Co-op) at the corner of Enmore Road & Phillip Street are also supportive of this community initiative. They decided to have the graffiti removed from their side wall by painting a very nice colourful mural which the locals think has improved the streetscape immensely.  Eventually, the areas around the street trees outside the Co-op will also be planted out.

Another verge garden created by the Gladstone Street Pride Group

The Enmore Theatre is contributing by looking at ways to try to manage the litter that is dropped  by theatre goers as this often ends up in Phillip Street.  I think it is wonderful that local businesses have become involved & are supportive of the group’s ambition to beautify this area.

What was also interesting was that there was no dumped goods on the street whereas 12-months ago this area was the place to take your unwanted mattress or TV set.

One disappointment has been the removal of a number of Casuarina trees located between the back of the power station & the railway line. These trees were on Railcorp land & provided a block of green on the skyline blocking out the view of passing trains & significantly reducing the noise.  Railcorp have said that these trees will be replaced.

So what started as residents’ frustration at the barrenness & ugliness of Gladstone Street has now developed into a strong friendly group that is bringing both residents & local business together to make this area a much nicer place to live on a number of levels.

Marrickville Council have been very supportive of this initiative & had a couple of onsite meetings with the residents discussing options for street work that Council will approve.  Council has also offered to bring mulch to the street for the residents to use on their verge gardens.

I feel happy to be able to write about this positive outcome arising from community lobbying Marrickville Council & that they did plant much needed street trees in Gladstone Street. Council can be sure that these trees will be watered & cared for as they are already very much loved.

I am also happy to write that The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group feel supported by Marrickville Council. This is such an important thing as they know that the work they do to beautify the streetscape will not be removed & they have been able to work with local businesses with confidence that any new initiative along the same lines will be supported by Council.

Local residents should not fear setting up a community group in their street because Marrickville Council have demonstrated that they are willing to assist, provide advice & help as needed.  Hopefully in time, more of these community groups will be established.  When people have pride in their area, there is more happiness & community cohesion.  Greening an area also has tremendous benefits on mental, physical & spiritual health of which I have written about on many occasions.

Well done to The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group & to Marrickville Council.

Water gum street trees planted on the other side of Gladstone Street Newtown

The predominance of concrete surrounding this unit block in Phillip Street has encouraged graffiti tagging over the the past 12 months.

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 – http://digitaledition-innerwest.innerwestcourier.com.au/?iid=39854

You can read Andrew Woodhouse’s letter here – page 23 – http://digitaledition-innerwest.innerwestcourier.com.au/?iid=40124

You can read Colin Hesse’s letter here – page 17 – http://digitaledition-innerwest.innerwestcourier.com.au/?iid=39608

In February 2010 I wrote about the resplendent Morton Bay Fig at St Stephen’s Church in Newtown for Festival of the Trees. See https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/st-stephens-fig/ With this post, I aim to describe the cemetery as I have experienced it.   To separate the graveyard & the trees is almost impossible as they intermingle & both are quite beautiful.

We went while it was drizzling with light rain which made the whole place quite evocative

Once you walk past the massive Morton Bay Fig planted in 1848 & the 2 large clumps of Giant Bamboo, also planted more than a century ago, you follow the dirt road that takes you to the heritage protected Gothic Revivalist St Stephen’s Church & immediately into the cemetery.  The graveyard itself starts within metres of the entrance on both sides of the dirt road.

The current cemetery is about 4 acres (1.6 hectares) & is bordered by a high sandstone wall.  The land, 4 kms from Sydney’s CBD, purchased by a group of businessmen in 1845, was originally 12.5 acres (4.8 hectares).  It was the main cemetery for Sydney until it closed in 1867 because it was full.  Even so, a few people were buried here up to the 1940s.  All up, about 18,000 people were buried here, though the true numbers are not known because many of the graves hold multiple people, all buried on top of each other.  A significant number of the famous are buried here.

In 1948 Marrickville Council reclaimed ¾ of the cemetery land to create a public park & Camperdown Memorial Rest Park opened in 1951.  The headstones and other fixtures were brought inside the cemetery wall & I guess the thousands of interred are still under the park while the dog walkers & others play overhead.  Rather a gruesome thought, though I know others who question why I think like this.

gravestones line up against the whole of boundary sandstone wall

The tombstones from outside the new boundary were removed & placed inside & against the sandstone perimeter wall & fixed in place with steel nails.  Unfortunately, the nails have rusted over time & split many of the headstones.  Most of the graves & headstones are made of Sydney sandstone & have seriously weathered over the years.

The graves surround the church, then spread out through the cemetery.  I have not been on one of the regular guided tours, so I do not know much about the individuals who were buried here.  Directly behind the church is an impressive grave in the style of a boat.  My favourite tombstone is a tree stump made of cement.  Over time it has weathered & appears real until you look closely.

The cemetery is also special because of the trees.  There are Brush Boxes (Lophostemon confertus) planted in the 1960s, Blackwoods (Acacia melanoxylon), a Lemon Scented Gum  (Corymbia citriodora), a Port Jackson Cypress Pine (Callitris rhomboidea), 2 African Olive trees (Olea africana), a number of Melaleucas, a grove of Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia), Canary Island Palms (Phoenix canariensis), a Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), a few Birch trees & a number of Camphor Laurel trees (Cinnamomum camphora).  There are also 2 clumps of Giant Bamboo.

If I were to take you on a tour, we would walk down the dirt road passing many graves & a row of Canary Island Palms planted in the 1930s.  There is a circular road behind St Stephen’s Church & many of the gravestones in this area are impressive.

many of the trees are huge

From here we would walk into the small area beside the church on the other side.  It is somewhat off the path, but it is well worth it because of the enormous Oak that spreads its boughs here.  The last time we went it had been raining heavily & the ground was very boggy, which I think would discourage people from going in this direction.  In this area the gravestones are sparser, though I would guess there are people buried in unmarked graves.  The Oak is magnificent & would be one of the trees that were planted in 1848.  The Oak tree spills out claiming a lot of space & I can easily imagine the kids playing on it after church a century ago.

A few metres away a big tree has recently been chopped down.  Judging by the side of the stump, I imagine this tree also filled the space now open to the sky.  Interestingly, the stump is one of many which is directly next to a grave & over time it has dislodged part of the stone.  I would guess there was a tradition of planting a tree where a loved one was buried.

The cemetery did have many Peace roses, but Marrickville Council removed them because it was felt they required too much care.  I found one old rose bush planted in a grave, so perhaps it is a remanent of the original roses.

Moving away from this area & rejoining the dirt path that meanders around the left side of the cemetery following the sandstone fence, you pass very old Brush Box & Camphor Laurel trees.  Their trunks are massive & they have been left to grow naturally with minimal pruning.

A special site is on your left where those from the shipwrecked Dunbar & the Catherine Adamson in 1857 are buried.  I know it is important because these graves are painted white & are well looked after.  The dirt path becomes a track & takes you to & along the back wall of the cemetery.  Tombstone after tombstone are lined up against the perimeter wall. Some are detailed & very beautiful while others are simple affairs.

The trees in this area are different.  They too are tall, but their branches sweep just above the ground & in some cases require you to dodge & walk around them.  Some of the graves here are different as well, being just headstones & you have to assess where the grave would be if you don’t want to tread on them.

This part of the cemetery has remanent Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) left over from when the whole area to Botany Bay was covered with this species of grass.  It’s nice to look at & I can easily imagine following the walking trail to the sea over miles of this soft grass that would have caught the light & changed colour throughout the day.

To your right is the centre of the cemetery & my favourite area.  It has no path, is dense with tall trees & you cannot see the church.  Apart from the odd gravestone, you could be anywhere. The grass is long & many of the graves are overgrown.  There is a birch wood covering a few metres that have sprung up naturally after the initial trees were planted.  There is also some Wattle, a very large a Port Jackson Cypress Pine, more Oak trees planted in 1848 & a grove of Chinese Elms.

handmade jewellery left in the hollow of the Oak stump

In the middle is an old Oak stump that stands about 6 feet high with a natural hollow that ascends to the top.  Here I found a piece of hand-made jewellery that has been carefully placed inside.  It made me think that I had come across some sort of wishing ritual, so apart from taking a photo, I did not touch it.

One branch from this tree has been left on the ground.  It had the most amazing pattern & to me looked almost like rivers taken from space.  Interesting that pictures of earth from space can look similar to what we can see in nature & even the same as inside the human body.  The patterns repeat again & again.  I hope the church authorities leave this stump as it is very beautiful.

Leaving the centre of the cemetery, you return to the path, which widens & takes you back to St Stephen’s Church.  Here there are many other tall & old trees, mostly Brush Box.

The most filigree tomb is right in the front left-hand corner behind the Giant Bamboo.  Here 4 figures act as columns for a roof structure.  Each figure looks different & holds something different.  We did not notice the bees that started to gather & had to run away because these bees were quite territorial. There are at least 2 hives situated at the back of the Lodge located a few metres away.

Once you pass the Giant Bamboo & the massive Morton Bay Fig, you return to the front gate & are in the heart of busy Newtown with it’s tiny terraces & narrow streets.  If you follow the perimeter fence to your left, you come to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park where a few of the original Brush Box trees can be seen at the edge of the park.  This much-used park is where the cemetery was originally, so remember to be quiet.  There are people sleeping under your feet.

NOTE:  I have tried to create a visual walking tour of Camperdown Cemetery.  The photos are labelled 1, 2 , 3 etc & they follow the path as I walked it.  You can view this at the following link – http://www.flickr.com/photos/savingourtrees/sets/72157623601096089/detail/

Morton Bay Fig in the grounds of St Stephen's Church Newtown

Some things always make me feel good.  The first mango or cherry in summer, walking on the beach & feeling the chill of the ocean, sitting down in the theatre to watch a performance & opening a good book.  The Morton Bay Fig in St Stephen’s Church Newtown is one such thing.  I never fail to feel good when I see this tree & thought it should be this month’s tree & get its own space on Festival of the Trees.

This Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) was planted in 1848.  Historians think it was planted to commemorate the completion of the roof on the Lodge, a delightful stone building situated a few metres from the tree.  They chose the site to plant well because with a 30 plus metre span & after 162 years, this giant of a tree is not causing problems with the church, the Lodge, the public road or footpath or the internal road within the church grounds.

unsuccessfully trying to show the 30 metre span

St Stephen’s Church is situated 4 kms south of Sydney’s CBD & one block back from bustling King Street in Newtown.  The 4 acres of the church grounds & cemetery is a green haven in one of the most high-density suburbs of Sydney. Once you enter through the big wrought iron gates, there the tree is, with its massive branches reaching up to the sky.  A few metres away is a very old grove of thick bamboo.  Then

bamboo grove just inside the entrance of the church grounds

the dirt road leads you to the beautiful church, a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture that was designed by Edmund Blackett & completed in 1874.  From there the grounds open up into Camperdown Cemetery, which was founded in 1848  & consecrated a year later.  Most of the burials occurred between 1849 & 1867 and ceased in the 1940s.

The grounds are full of many

showing the Lodge in the background

old trees of various species, some of which were planted in 1848 & along with the Morton Bay Fig, are the oldest trees in Marrickville LGA. Fortunately, the whole site, including the trees & remanent Kangaroo Grass, is listed as a site of national importance by the Heritage Council of New South Wales & the National Register & is therefore protected from development.

Many people use the grounds daily to walk their dogs, picnic, read in solitude or meditate.  The church kindly encourages this & for the most part, the community is respectful to the place, though when I downloaded the photos I did discover some faded nazi graffiti on the back of 4 gravestones.

It is a quiet, peaceful & very beautiful place.  St Stephen’s is a popular church to be married & to have wedding photos taken under the Fig tree.  There is a strong sense of history everywhere you look.

The roots measured against a tall man

The Fig tree has enormous aboveground roots.  It must be due to its age &  I have never seen roots so high. The height of the roots gives me a strange, but wonderful feeling of entering the tree when I walk up close.  It is like being embraced.  Some people call it ‘the Peter Pan tree’ because of a hollow in the root system.  The photos don’t convey either the size of this tree or how far the roots extend.

Currawongs nest in this Fig tree & its fruit feeds bats & other birds.  At dusk the whole site comes alive with the sounds of birds that return home to settle in for the night.  It’s lovely & loud.

So every now & then, we go for a walk, stop & say hello to the Fig tree before walking around the cemetery.  It is without doubt my favourite tree & I know I am not alone in having strong feelings toward this tree & the cemetery as well.

In my area such beautiful places with many very old trees are rare.  Far too many of our old trees have been cut down & even our mature trees are at risk.

on a wet day - church in background & road to the cemetery

There are 4 other very old Fig trees in Marrickville LGA that I am aware of.  Three are in the grounds of the new Ikea development in Tempe & the locals & many others are holding their breath that the new building works will not harm them. Their canopies have been left to grow naturally so they look like upturned gigantic green bowls.  At the moment they are clearly visible from the Princes Highway. Some Tempe residents take a walk & check on the state of these trees every day.  The other old Fig is in South Street Tempe.  It too is magnificent.  Unfortunately I can’t photograph it properly because it is on private land.

I don’t think the Morton Bay Fig on the grounds of St Stephen’s Church would have been allowed to live so long if it had been growing on public land.  The fact that it is on church land has ensured that it is loved & protected. The church should be commended for this.  The church caretakers haven’t caused stress to the tree’s roots by paving or laying a bitumen road thereby compacting the soil.  Everything is almost as it was more than a century ago & we all love it that way.  If they continue to look after it, this tree could well live for a few hundred years more.  Imagine how majestic it will look then.

Next month I will write about the wonderful old trees planted inside Camperdown Cemetery.

the community does not want this road through Tempe

Today, around 300 people attended a protest walk across Tempe Reserve to the RTA’s community consultation about the planned 4 lane arterial road.  The walkers could be heard chanting as they approached.  Then with a roar, they came around the trees & stood facing the tent where about 20 people were listening to a talk by the RTA on the ‘road to nowhere.’

The ‘No WAY RTA’ banner carried by local residents led the walk closely followed by the Marrickville Council banner carried by Councillors O’Sullivan, Olive, Peters, Phillips, Byrne & Mayor Iskandar. State Greens MP Lee Rhiannon also attended.  Many people expressed disappointment that other State & local MPs were not in attendance.

After a few minutes the crowd progressed to the tent & listened to the speaker.  The protesters respected that the RTA staff had a job to do & did not interrupt.  Besides, the information about this road has been vague, so everyone wanted to know the details of what was being proposed.

I asked about the location & height of the 4 lane arterial road & how many trees will be chopped down to achieve this.  The staff member said he had no idea, acknowledging, “Some trees will have to go.”  He did however, show me the route of the road & said, “It will be at least 10 metres above the ground, higher in some places.”  He said the road could not travel along the Alexandria Canal because it will cross the flight path.  Another person pointed out that the intended route put the road on top of a hill travelling in the same direction & this would also affect the flight path so the rationale didn’t make sense.  I think there is a plan cooking somewhere to build units along the Alexandria Canal.

The details of the proposed 4 lane arterial road as I understood are:

  • The road will require the removal of many mature trees in a park on the Rockdale Council side of the Cooks River (do they care?)
  • It will cross the Cooks River & travel between the mature Fig tree situated on the point of Tempe Reserve & the Robyn Webster Sports Centre (the white building with the brown drawings designed & painted by Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft as part of the Marrickville Council Public Arts Strategy in 2004)
  • 2-3 mature Fig trees look to be in the way of the road, however the staff member said this was only a guideline & may change
  • The road will go through & above the seating in rotundas, the barbeque areas & the extensive & well loved playground
  • It will then follow the curve of the park along Alexandria Canal cutting off access to the water (I doubt people will want to sit under a 4 lane highway)
  • Then it will cut through the urban forest on the city-side of the park before it travels along the crest of the hill just above Tempe Wetlands, & beside a golf driving range.  It will overlook houses in Tempe & most certainly be visible from the Princes Highway
  • The road will stop at Sydney Park & much of the 15,000 vehicles/day will end up on King Street & Euston Road

at today's protest

This road is of great concern because of pollution, noise, impact on the community, respiratory illnesses, damage to Tempe Reserve & the park on Kogarah side & both the Cooks River & the Alexandria Canal & will increase traffic through Newtown, St Peters & surrounds.

Community group Tempe 2020 are there to provide details about how this road will affect their community (see What’s on page).  SoT is concentrating on the impact it will have on trees, wildlife, the river & the Tempe Wetlands.

The well-utilised beautiful park on the Kogarah side of the river will be massively affected.  Here, I have photographed cormorants drying off their wings on the banks of the Cooks River.  It is filled with wildlife that will be severely impacted by the making of this road & the addition of thousands of vehicles speeding past each day.

Tempe Reserve is a beautiful park in its infancy.  Marrickville Council have spent millions repairing it & creating biologically diverse areas such as a salt marsh & ephemeral wetland to provide habitat for flora & fauna.  In about 10 years it will look significantly more beautiful as the current works will have established themselves & the trees will have matured. It is used by many people 7 days a week & not just for sporting activities. I do not think the community can afford to lose either park to a major road.

impact on Tempe Reserve

Most people are attracted to the point of the peninsula & Marrickville Council knows this because that’s where they put the barbeques, the playground & the seating & this is exactly where the RTA intend to put the road.

I feel annoyed that the State government & the RTA have so little respect & appreciation for these areas.  I can only assume that they, as many people in Sydney, don’t realise just what a jewel this area is.  Friends glaze over if I mention the Cooks River.  Years ago they heard it was ugly & dirty & this has remained in their consciousness.  Now it is full of lovely regrowth areas.

The State Government should be doing everything in their power to protect Tempe Wetlands & the Cooks River, which is also highly visible as one of the gateways to Sydney from the airport.  Sydney also needs to keep places like this for future generations & for wildlife.  This is a densely populated area of the inner west with few parks per capita.

The wildlife in my opinion is quite stressed with the rapid urbanisation & the continued loss of where they can live & find food.  Stopping on the perimeter of Tempe Wetlands to take photos today, the air was alive with the sounds of insects humming away.  Walk inside & you could be in a national park.

Not everything of beauty should be destroyed for more roads.  In my opinion, the State government are continuing to build this city for vehicles, not for people. As long as you encourage cars, roads will always be filled.  Spend the money earmarked for this project on public transport, not for a road system that ends nowhere & is going to force drivers into crowded Alexandria and King Street that is barely coping now.  Let the wildlife have a little pocket for themselves.  Future generations will thank you for it.

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