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Lush, beautiful landscaping with plenty of shade-producing trees are just one of the factors that make Green Bans Park an excellent small inner city park. 

Last week I needed to travel to Erskineville. While I was there I discovered Green Bans Park & what a lovely park it is.  It’s actually 2 parks, smallish spaces across the road from each other.

A bit of history – “In 1996 ownership of the land was transferred to the former South Sydney Council following a campaign by local residents, unions & Council to have the land, which had previously been earmarked for development dedicated as public open space.”

City of Sydney Council has created something quite lovely here.   Green Bans Park has many features that I think make it a great park.

HEDGES – The park perimeter along Erskineville Road not only looks great, but it also blocks out some of the traffic noise & the visual impact of the traffic.  As this is a high traffic thoroughfare, not being able to see the traffic immediately allows one to feel that they are somewhere peaceful.  Not the same for green space like Enmore Park, Marrickville Park & Wicks Park.  In all these parks & others like them with a clear sightline from road to road, I never get to feel that I am away from the traffic. I can see it, hear it & often I can smell it.

Hedges are also good for wildlife, especially insects & small birds.  If they are food-producing hedges, even the better for wildlife.  They not only block traffic, they also serve as a windbreak allowing the park to be a pleasant place on windy days.  Try Tempe Reserve if you want to experience a park where there are few windbreaks.  It can be miserable even when the sun is shining, that is, unless you like the wind as I know some do.

One final thing about hedges is that a large & long block of living green colour is good to look at & has a positive impact on our subconscious. Green is very calming, balancing, healing, relaxing, & tranquil. It represents growth, vitality, abundance, & nature. Green stimulates possibility & is very inspiring.”

To be surrounded by a green hedge has got to be better that looking through the park at traffic whizzing past & houses, shops & signs.

TREES & SHADE – I counted 65 trees in this relatively small park & as I was leaving saw others that I hadn’t noticed.  Trees were varied & tall. No 5-metre trees in this park, unless they are growing.  This provides for trees to be visible on the skyline instead of roofs, which helps green up the local area.  Many of the trees are grouped together giving the feeling of a forest. Trees are also used to very good effect to block & screen the railway line.  There are trees in the middle of the park, not just around the perimeter. The trees are useful habitat & provide food for wildlife.

One very beautiful Fig tree

There is no need for shadecloth over the children’s play area because the trees provide natural shade. This makes the environment much nicer in my opinion. Natural shade is cooler on hot days, provides a dappled effect that again is calming & allows the breeze to flow.

A Fig has been planted at a corner, that will in time, grow to become a feature tree with branches cascading over Erskinville Road, offering shade & beauty & softening the landscape.  We need this kind of addition to our municipality on as many corners as is possible to soften the landscape, add beauty & cool us down.

One big beautiful healthy Fig decades old stands as the crown jewel. The City of Sydney Council has allowed it to grow aerial roots that work to prevent heavy branches falling.  These aerial roots actually make the base of the tree wider as it literally spreads to match its growing canopy.  This makes for a beautiful & visually interesting high-impact tree & it really is the main feature of the park.  That it has survived this long on a small street is wonderful.

The Council has planned for the Fig tree’s health by rounding the kerb around its roots & importantly, not shaving them off at ground level like some Councils do to remove trip hazards.  Problem is they do this to Fig trees in parks, even if the Fig is a fair distance from the pedestrian pathway.  Above ground Fig tree roots are not only of vital importance to the health & stability of the tree, but they are of immense beauty & interest.  It is very sad to see them shaved off & looks like butchering.  The ground around the Fig tree in Green Bans Park is permeable, even that which is beyond the footpath.  This tree doesn’t have to struggle for water when it rains.

SEATING – There is lots of seating in Green Bans Park on both sides.  There are park benches, plus interesting long curved benches that promote group get-togethers & little one-person stools.  There is seating in the sun & in the shade catering to all needs.  Benches are mounted on a concrete base that is covered in old bricks. This causes them to blend in rather than the usual stark white-grey of a concrete slab that gradually becomes darker & filthy.

LANDSCAPING – I didn’t notice woodchip in this park. Instead I saw leaf litter, which made it nice to walk through the play area.  I actually like the sound of walking on leaves.   Leaf litter was also in the landscaped areas, deep enough to be able to cool the roots of the plants & prevent weed growth. It looks nicer than woodchips.

Unlike the beds of woodchip with the odd plant, as is a feature in many of our parks, Green Bans Park has significant landscaping.  An under-storey of plants is grouped & follows the line of Eucalypt trees.  Elsewhere garden beds full of plants, some flowering, follow the perimeter & serve to block sight of the railway line. Also along the railway line fence is shrubs & smaller trees. Until a train goes past you are not aware of the railway line because you can’t see it.  The garden beds look well kept & pretty.

There are a couple of largish lawn spaces where games like touch footie could be played or people could lie in the sun if they wanted to.  While I was there, everyone was sitting somewhere in the shade.

SIGNAGE – One sign that I love warns that this is Magpie nesting area so to be aware during the 6-weeks of August/September when the chicks are in the nest.  Such a small consolation for a big gain because there is nothing like Magpie song to make you feel happy.  It’s nice to see the wildlife acknowledged too.

Open space showing the hedges that block visibility to busy Erskinville Road

The park is not full of signs.  I don’t know if you have noticed that all the green spaces across Marrickville LGA have signs.  There is the sign to say the name of the park, signs to say what you can’t do in the park, signs to say this is a walk wise park, signs to say – no alcohol.  Soon there will be signs to say – no smoking.  Most of the signs are repeated in other areas or entrances to the parks.  Someone or many people are systematically going around & spraying all Marrickville Council’s signs in parks with either a tag or a squiggle – a message that I read as, ‘stuff your signs.’

Green Bans Park has a good-looking sign against a house wall with a map of the park. It provides information with a few dos & don’ts & it has Braille for the blind.  The sign also tells you that City of Sydney values your feedback & provides a 24-hour phone number that you can call if there is litter to be removed or something is broken for example.

The other signs are hand-painted tiles that are mounted into the brick fence at the main entry points.  These colourful signs are quite beautiful & they tell the history of the park.  They add art to the landscaping, rather than being an assault on the eyes.

LITTER & GRAFFITI – There is an important lesson here…. provide something that is beautiful, useful & maintained & the incidence of graffiti & littering reduces markedly. Studies have shown that people are less likely to graffiti areas that have many trees & are well maintained.  I saw 2 pieces of litter & 2 tags in the whole park.  Pity though, that the tags were on the trunk of the beautiful Fig tree.

SAFETY – Paths curve through the centre of each side of the park.  Even with hedges, garden beds & trees in the centre of the park, there is high visibility.

DOGS – There is off-leash areas for dogs to play.

I made a short video of Green Bans Park here –

This beautiful Fig tree with aerial roots makes quite a statement

Landscaping & plenty of seats, plus another section next to Erskinville Road

Tilman Park Tempe has some lovely features & some beautiful tall trees, including a Fig. Boulders are placed under the Fig so you can sit in the shade & watch the park.

Today I came across a wonderful article from the website The Conversation – “an independent source of information, analysis & commentary from the university & research sector.”  The article was written by Jason Byrne – Senior Lecturer/First Year Advisor at Griffith University & published 9th January 2012.

Bain Playground Stanmore has lovely mature trees & a great streetscape.

“Jason Byrne is an urban geographer by training. He undertook his PhD at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) where he was a fellow in the Center for Sustainable Cities. Jason is also a Senior Fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies. He has previously worked as a town planner & environmental policy officer with the Western Australian government. Jason’s research interests include: urban nature parks & green-space planning; equity & fairness in planning (environmental ethics & justice); open space & healthy cities; ecological modernisation & sustainability; & climate change adaptation & urban resilience.

Because the The Conversation allows this article to be republished I thought it best if I did just that, rather than write a description with the web-link.

This article is very relevant to Marrickville LGA.  It’s great for me to be able to share what an expert thinks about the value of green space, especially in high-density urban areas & increasing urban consolidation. The use of bold is my emphasis.

“What is green space worth?

Recent patterns of residential development in Australian cities are threatening to overwhelm green space in our urban cores. Policies of urban consolidation have concentrated medium to high density residential development in inner ring suburbs where green space is comparatively scarce. And the zoning & development regulations of many local authorities actually allow a reduction of green space for higher density development – usually without any justification.

The Poplar trees along the Cooks River near Mackey Park Marrickville South make this a lovely cool & shady walk. There is always lots of bird song & when there is a breeze the leaves make a beautiful sound.

Everyone likes parks, but we may be greatly undervaluing their importance to our health & wellbeing, & to the wellbeing of other species. Rather than losing our green spaces, we should be assessing the evidence on their value & making informed decisions about how much green space we need.

To the casual observer, urban parks & green spaces might appear commonplace. But even a cursory examination of green space distribution within most cities shows that urban green space is neither uniformly accessible nor equitably distributed.

Generally the older & denser parts of many cities, which often were developed during the industrial revolution, tend to have relatively poor park access. But suburbs that have developed since the late 1950s have comparatively better access to various types of green space.

The spatial pattern of urban green space distribution reflects diverse factors linked to urban land & property markets, changing land use planning philosophies, histories of settlement & development, & in some cases, institutionalised racism and elitism.

Before the development of formalised park & recreation planning systems in the late 1800s & early 1900s, park & green space planning in the United Kingdom, United States, & Australia was relatively haphazard.

Some cities, like Adelaide, are park rich due to visionary administrators. In London royal parks were opened to the public, a product of elite benevolence.  Other cities, like Canberra, grew while new ideas about park planning gained popularity.

But some cities are park poor. Inner ring residents in Los Angeles for example, have less public park space per 1,000 residents than the size of a suburban backyard.

So can we put a value on urban green space?

Research by John Henneberry, a Professor of Town & Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield, suggests people in Sheffield may be willing to pay sizeable sums to access high quality urban green space.

This should not come as a surprise. From their early origins in the UK & US, parks were known to raise property values & people were prepared to pay a premium to live near them. Frederick Law Olmsted & Harland Bartholomew openly acknowledged this when they developed Central Park in New York.

Studies by John Crompton & others have found widespread evidence supporting the notion that proximity to green & open space pushes up property values.  But reducing the benefit of parks & green space to a line on a ledger sheet can be both misleading & inaccurate.

Beyond an economic calculation, researchers have discovered that urban green spaces provide a wide variety of benefits. You don’t have to use these spaces to benefit from them. Parks can improve physical & mental health, ecosystem services & urban biodiversity.

Public health researchers like Ariane Bedimo-Rung & Billie Giles-Corti have found that living close to urban green spaces like parks & trails can increase urban residents’ levels of physical activity & reduce the likelihood of being overweight or obese. This reduces the risk of diabetes & several types of cancer.

Frances Kuo & her colleagues have found that proximity to urban green space can lower the incidence of domestic violence, stress & depression & may even mitigate attention deficit disorder in children.

Ecological economists including Bolund & Sven Hunhammar have found urban green spaces also provide a range of free ecosystem services. They reduce noise levels, lower pollution, & reduce flooding.  And some ecologists have also found that urban parks can harbour rare & endangered species & promote biodiversity.

We need strong evidence to support the density imperative, evidence that we presently lack. Until we can accurately gauge the green space needs of higher density residents, it may be folly to blindly pursue policies of urban consolidation.

In a time of economic uncertainty, when local councils are looking to develop “surplus” land assets such as “underutilised” park spaces, we need to carefully evaluate the true values of these spaces, before they are sold off to bolster ailing municipal coffers. To do otherwise could be more costly than we might imagine.

The link to this article is here –

Because there is shade Wicks Park is a great place to be on a hot day.

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.

Marrickville Council is currently running community consultation about the community’s recreational activities across the LGA.  They want to know –

  • where we spend our recreational time
  • why we participate in recreational activities
  • our needs & importantly
  • any changes we would like to see made to parks, recreational & sporting facilities & public open space

Council’s website has a link to the ‘If the Show Fits Recreation Survey.’  Unfortunately, the link didn’t work when I tried to complete the survey. I have written to Council about this so assume it will be up & running early this coming week.

You can fill out the survey anonymously.

There will also be a series of 8 community consultation sessions where we can talk to the consultant contracted by Council, The Miller Group.  The dates are –

  • Tuesday 12th July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Petersham Town Hall, 107 Crystal Street Petersham
  • Wednesday 13th July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Marrickville Town Hall, 303 Marrickville Road Marrickville
  • Tuesday 19th July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Seaview Street Hall, Seaview Street Dulwich Hill, adjacent to Dulwich Hill Library
  • Wednesday 20th July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at St Peters Town Hall, 39 Unwins Bridge Road Sydenham
  • Thursday 21st July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, Black Street Enmore
  • Monday 25th July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Pidcock Street Camperdown
  • Wednesday 27th July:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Debbie & Abbey Borgia Recreation Centre, 531 Illawarrra Road, Marrickville
  • Wednesday 3rd August:
  • 6pm – 8pm at Tempe Primary School, Unwins Bridge Road Tempe

The survey & the address to email or post your ideas & feedback is available on Council’s webpage –

Children having great fun with fallen leaves in Prince Alfred Park Sydney



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