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O'Dea Reserve looking across to the playground

O’Dea Reserve has got to be one of the better parks in Marrickville LGA.  I’ve heard it mentioned in Council meetings often enough so we decided to visit.  The previous time we were there it was the site of an old & run down velodrome.  I guess that repairing it was deemed too expensive so the velodrome was demolished & the area was made into a much-needed park.  Marrickville Council has done exceptionally well here.

O’Dea Reserve has a large & well-equipped playground currently shaded by black shade cloth. Many Eucalypts have been planted around & close to the playground so they will create natural shade once they have grown.  Perhaps then the shadecloth will be removed allowing the kids to play under the shade of the trees.

Surrounding the playground are many soft & tactile plants allowing children to explore nature. This is much nicer than simple lawn.  There is even a small hill made into the playground area allowing kids to roll & tumble on a padded rubber surface so they won’t hurt themselves.  The playground was full of families with lots of children playing while we were there.

There is also a large enclosed leash-free area for dogs to have a run & exercise.  Like the playground, this area was full of people & their dogs.  The dogs were having a great time & it was obvious that many knew each other & have regular meet ups there.  Poo bags were available for free & there were bins for doggie poo.  People cleaned up after their dogs as there were no surprise packages in the park.

Paths meander through landscaped areas

The park has an incredibly healthy & good-looking Fig tree that should be included in the Significant Tree Register.  It is definitely a tree that one hopes future generations will also benefit from.  Council has protected this tree & prevented soil impaction from people walking around the base of the tree by building a very large raised deck around the trunk & under the canopy.

This area could be used for all sorts of community meet ups & is a natural & perfect stage for music.  Perhaps we too should have evening plays like the community in Glebe who has ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ every summer.  It would be easy to ignore the fence railings just to be able to have this experience.  There is a vast lawn in front & beside the deck on both sides that would allow a thousand people to sit on picnic blankets & watch the play.  Perhaps Council could go crazy & put on Moonlight Cinema for a few weekends over summer.  Now wouldn’t that be a great idea.

Another large tree at the bottom corner of this park also has a large deck built around it.  There is also a gabion wall beside this that forms a boundary to the park.  As this is at the end of street, both the tree & the wall look very striking in the streetscape.  Gabion walls have been successfully used elsewhere in the park to create levels for landscaping. They look great & offer terrific habitat for small animals & lizards.

O’Dea Reserve has been divided into ‘rooms.’  Its not a park with trees around the periphery & lawn in the centre.  There are still vast areas of lawn, but these have been divided into areas of significant landscaping.  The landscaping does include the usual & familiar grasses that define this LGA, but also plants & small trees, such as small Bottle Brush, various Grevillea, Banksias & others, all bird-feeding Australian native plants. Sizable corridors have been created that offer real habitat for small animals.  These are dense so the dogs naturally don’t try to enter.  Small birds have lots of food & are well protected.

The sign is needed. This is taken from the footpath at the bottom of the O'Dea Reserve. Landscaping here runs the full length of the park

Quite a number of larger growing trees have been planted throughout the park. In 10 to 20-years time these should have reached a decent size, adding more visual beauty & hopefully shade to the park.  At the moment shade is the only thing lacking as one would need to find somewhere that does have shade.

Concrete paths meander around the landscaped areas. Kids whizz by on scooters, people stroll & there are cyclists as well as joggers.  Park benches are dotted all over the park & also in the playground & the dog exercise area.  Benches are placed where there will be shade at a certain time of day & all are placed to look at a view.  O’Dea Reserve is a park set up for people & as such is a surprisingly useful area of green space.

There are 2 large barbeques & an area of undercover seating with picnic tables providing shade for those who use these facilities.  In front is a large concreted area that has a design incorporated into it.  This is a safe area for little children to play whilst still being close to their family & the playground is not too far away.

We saw many birds, including Galahs feeding peacefully on the grass.  The park is clean & there is very little graffiti tagging in the park itself.

It’s a truly lovely park & proves that Marrickville Council can do what I bang on about in this blog.  It was so nice to see.  If Council can just do what they have done in O’Dea Reserve in the other parks across the LGA, our experience of parks will be much better & Council may find that the community uses them more.  Also, our parks would fulfill the role of much-needed restaurants for urban wildlife, which would be a very good thing.

Well-done Marrickville Council.  We loved O’Dea Reserve.  If you haven’t been this park is well worth a visit.

I made a YouTube video of O’Dea Reserve here –

& one of the playground only –

Showing the gorgeous Fig with decking. Most of the decking is out of view

I found a 2009 TAFE paper that says, Marrickville LGA is densely populated with 4,325 people per square kilometre & has the least amount of green space of any LGA in Australia.”  This is an astounding statistic & with something like another 4,300 people going to live here as part of the last state government’s housing strategy, our green space will become even more important than it is now.

Some of our larger parks are classified ‘active parks,’ that is, parks that are primarily used for organized sporting activities. As such, some residents feel they cannot use the parks for much of the time.  Therefore, ‘passive,’ parks with playgrounds, picnic or grassed areas become very important to the non-sporting association community.

Residents need both ‘active’ & ‘passive’ parks.  Some like those along the Cooks River blend active & passive beautifully because of the size of the parks & access to the river.  A number of our passive parks are beautiful & visiting them is worth a trip out.  I will post about these over time.

A beautiful mature Fig tree complete with a great set of aerial roots in Weekley Park. Council has planted another Fig tree recently.

A couple of weeks ago we visited Weekley Park.  Almost everything about this grand old historical park is beautiful in my opinion.  Located between Percival, Albany & Clarendon Roads Stanmore, Weekley Park is full of large, tall trees & is laid out in grid pattern with every path meeting in the centre where there is a circle of very tall Canary Island palm trees.  20-years ago there used to be prolific flowering red, pink & white roses in the raised central garden, but instead there is now a few Nandinas with empty garden beds.  Some of the roses in other garden beds that connect with the central paths are still here so hopefully they will continue to be retained.

The Nandina look very ordinary & a bit scraggly in the centre feature garden that is supposed to bring the components of the park together.  Perhaps one day when Council has the funds they might bring back the roses or plant something a bit more dramatic & beautiful that suits the park, though this is a matter of personal taste. Other people might like Nandina. They certainly sell at nurseries.

Weekley Park is very popular green space as evident by the many people sitting in the shade on benches, on the grass or watching their kids play in the playground.  Lots of people, including adolescents, were in groups or alone reading.  It was nice to see.

The park is also full of bird song & this coupled with the visual aspect of the many tall trees makes it quite a relaxing place.  The playground equipment is new & there are toilets & drinking bubblers.  You can take your kids for a while & have no need to rush home because someone needs to go to the loo.

There are 2 large trees towards the centre that look to me to be in trouble, maybe even dead.  It’s hard for me to tell because it is still winter.  They have large areas of decay, holes & dead areas in the branches.  Actually, these holes would make fine homes for urban wildlife, but I doubt that the trees will be allowed to stay.  I hope when they do come down that they are replaced with equally large growing trees so the feel of the park can be retained.  The rest of the trees are in great health & there is a nice variety that all seems to come together well & give a stately look to the park.

Art installation 'Tree People' by Graham Chalcroft

There is a great piece of public art called ‘Tree People’ that was created by artist Graham Chalcroft & installed in June 2009 as part of Marrickville Council’s public art strategy.  I like it a lot. It’s whimsical & also functional as it includes double-sided benches.  Year 5 students from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School collaborated with the artist by drawing the animals that are ‘the guardians of the park.’  Council contracted public art is popping up around the LGA in public spaces, which is very nice.

One of the old Fig trees has the best aerial roots forming that I have seen in the LGA.  It’s great that they have been left to grow & have not been chopped off. One day they will do what they are supposed to do & offer structural support to the branches when they grow larger.

If you like parks, then I think you will like Weekley Park.  It is worth paying a visit & spending some time.  Dogs need to be on a leash & there are free poo bags supplied & a bin on site.  There are a few chess tables with bench seats, loads of park benches all facing good views of the park.

Council has recently planted quite a few new street trees on the verge that will also add beauty to the area.  The intersection is a Box or Murraya hedge (I didn’t go close enough to see) & this too looks grand & lovely.  Green intersections make any street look great in my opinion.  All these things work unconsciously in the mind saying this is a nice area.  One block away is the intersection almost everyone knows about.  It is the hundreds of agapanthus & white roses at the roundabout at Salisbury Road & Northumberland Avenue.  This was radical for the area in the mid 1980s & I remember a friend taking me from Balmain just to see it.  It’s still there, though not in as good condition, but still giving a strong message that Stanmore is a nice area.

I imagine some would wonder why I go on about such basic things like intersections.  I do so because the majority in Marrickville LGA are concrete or concrete patterned bricks.  Any green landscaping that softens the hard infrastructure is a plus in my opinion.  I strongly believe that landscaping makes an area nicer as do a sufficient number of good-looking street trees.  Some suburbs in Marrickville LGA have this as a norm while others look bare & somewhat harsh in comparison.  This has an impact on how our society feels about an area or even a whole suburb.

I have made a short YouTube video of Weekley Park here –


& the Salisbury Road  intersection here –

The centre of Weekley Park has a circle of mature Canary Island palm trees. There are also a couple of Canary Island palms at the perimeter. Instant charm. In the foreground are two rose gardens, dormant because of winter.

The area on the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads Marrickville has been suggested for a small park in front of the new Library when it is developed. Note the matching Palms across the road, part of St Bridget's Church

During the Council Meeting on 14th December 2010, Mayor Byrne put up an amendment to a motion in the agenda item ‘The Future Accommodation Requirement For Council.’  The amendment was to include a new park on the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads at the old Marrickville Hospital site.

It said – A report be provided to Council regarding future short term & long term options for Precinct B for use of the precinct as a park, these could include as a forecourt to the Library. Required budget of $20,000 – timeframe May/June 2011.’

I had left the Council Meeting so was unable to report on the debate. However, the Motion was tied. The Councillors that voted for the Motion were Cls Phillips, Olive, Peters, Thanos, Byrne & Kontellis. Against the Motion – Clrs Macri, O’Sullivan, Tsardoulias, Wright, Hanna & Iskandar. The Chair Mayor Byrne used her casting vote & the motion was passed.

An Extraordinary Council Meeting was called for the 21st December 2010. Clrs Iskandar, Macri & Tsardoulias had put up a Rescission Motion which would result in removing Mayor Byrne’s motion.  I registered to speak in favour of a staff report on the viability of establishing a new park on this site. However, not enough Councillors volunteered to attend & the meeting was cancelled.

This is enormously fortunate for the community as we have time to lobby the Councillors before the Rescission Motion goes back before Council in the new year.

The question is why would we want or need a new park in Marrickville?  The following are reasons I can think of. There may be others.

Marrickville LGA has very little parkland or green space in comparison to other Councils in Sydney & is one of the lowest with parks & green space per population in Australia.

We also have high density living with another 4,150 extra residences to be built across Marrickville LGA. A good chunk of these new residences will be the planned high-rise development of Marrickville & Petersham Roads, which is basically 1 small block from the proposed park.

The DA that was recently passed by the JRPP at the old Marrickville RSL site (The Revolution) is for 9,7 & 6 storey buildings making 180 apartments. This gives an idea of how much high-rise will need to be built to accommodate 4,150 extra residences.  I don’t know how many actual people will be living along Marrickville & Petersham Roads, but it’s safe to assume that most units will house at least 2 people & many will be families.  There is going to be a huge influx of people & they are going to need green space close-by to take their kids.

Another view of the land. A park is perfect here

Neither Marrickville nor Petersham Roads have any green space nearby. The closest that I am aware of is Steele Park & the Cooks River at the bottom of Illawarra Road. This is quite a hike away.  I have never seen kids alone in these places, even teenagers.

The lack of street trees, green spaces & parks has a huge impact on the physical & mental health of people. This is accepted current research.  Without sufficient green space & greenness, there is increased incidence of mental health issues, especially depression. People get sick & take longer to recover, boys act out, girls don’t learn as well.

Lack of green space also encourages graffiti & dumping. People start to not care about their environment when there is too much grey infrastructure & Marrickville Council are about to give the consent to at least 10 times more grey infrastructure in this area.

The kids need somewhere to go. A park outside the Library is the right thing to do. Council have the perfect opportunity to do just that. It will encourage more usage of the Library services. The park can also be used as a meeting space for other groups.

There are significant trees in this section of the old hospital site & they should not be removed. Council already has the basis of a park in this space with these beautiful trees & much wildlife lives in this area. Council prides itself on its climate change initiatives, but it doesn’t do enough to keep large trees, which sequester carbon. It doesn’t make sense.

The long-term health & happiness of the residents should be worth something. Marrickville Council will get a quick financial gain from over-building this space, but a new park will pay back both Council & the community year after year.

Mayor Byrne’s motion asks only for an assessment of the feasibility of a park in this location. This is what the Councillors voted for during the first Council Meeting.

With respect to the Councillors calling for the Rescission Motion, I cannot believe that they are trying to squash a new park before it has even been looked at. Marrickville Council cannot go on allowing construction of huge residential buildings with only token green space & expect people to have a good quality of life.

Political parties & beliefs aside, I think it is robbing the people of Marrickville if the opportunity to examine if whether a park on this site is feasible is stopped.

I know it is the Christmas holiday break, but if you would send an email to the Councillors saying that you want & support a park in this location, they can assess the community’s interest.  If the Councillors receive many emails from the community they are less likely to support the Rescission Motion to stop a new park even before it gets started.  If we sit back & do nothing, chances are the Rescission Motion will get through.

Your message can be as simple as –

“I want a new park outside the new Library, corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads at the old Marrickville Hospital site. Please vote against the upcoming Rescission Motion that takes the new park off the agenda & prevents Marrickville Council staff from assessing the viability of a new park in this location.”

This is a campaign you can participate in from your chair.  The current & the expected massive influx of new residents to Marrickville will be pleased that the community cared enough to fight for their right to have a little patch of green space near their home for them & their kids. The wildlife that live in this location will thank you also.

You can cut & paste the Councillors email addresses into your email to make it easier. You may need to remove the ‘mailto:’ depending on your email –,,,,,,

I thank you. J

Another view of the area proposed for a new park



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