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Marrickville Council intends to remove 1 Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis) outside 3 Calvert Street Marrickville.

Council gives the following reasons for removal:

  • Root growth from the tree has apparently caused fence damage on private property.
  • The species is considered a potential environmental weed.

Council say they will replace the tree with a Queensland brush box (Lophostemon confertus) though they don’t say when they will do this.

3 Calvert Street Marrickville

I went to visit this tree today.  First impressions were this is a beautiful tree planted in a lovely garden bed making this little area of Calvert Street look very nice. It is the only large tree in the street.

I was sad to see that Council’s Notice of Removal signs were nailed into the tree.  I had thought Marrickville Council had ceased this practice as they have been securing signs to trees with sticky tape for the last few months. I did notice that the trees in Toothill Street & Park Road also had their tree removal signs nailed, but as it was a given that these trees would be removed, I made no mention.  I am very disappointed that this practice has become the norm, as once again Council is sending a clear message to the community not to bother sending in a submission.

Council has excavated the footpath exposing a large root that travels underneath the brick front fence of the property.  No other roots enter the property.

The damage to the brick fence appears to be caused by the tree root, but the damage is restricted to one pillar on a 8-10 meter brick fence.  As is common with pillars regardless of whether there are trees nearby, the pillar has sustained a medium sized crack, which threatens to disconnect it from the remaining fence.

fence & tree root 3 Calvert Street Marrickville

I always take a man experienced in building with me where the tree is said to have caused structural damage.  His advice was the fence pillar is unlikely to fall in the near future without some other causative factor like a car crashing into it.  He said the fence could be easily repaired by filling the crack with cement & giving it a splash of paint. He said it they were really scared that the pillar might fall, they could fit a connector bolt to secure the pillar to the main fence.

I do not believe the damage is sufficient to warrant the removal of this beautiful street tree & will be putting in a submission asking Marrickville Council to repair the footpath, but deny the request to have the tree removed.

The tree is mature & healthy. I don’t care that Marrickville Council regards it as a potential environmental weed.  They also think Camphor laurel trees are environmental weeds, but City of Sydney Council has retained them as street trees in many places across their LGA such as Glebe Point Road, while Marrickville Council removes them.

Calvert Street is one of those streets that has very little green & almost no tree canopy.  This tree is important to the local community for the visual beauty & for maintaining property values. It also cleans up pollution from the large volume of traffic that drive through this street every day.

It would take many years for a street tree in these conditions to grow to this size.  We as a community need to keep all the trees we can.

Chinese hackberry is said to compete with native flora & is therefore detrimental to the local environment.  However, there is no native environment nearby.  Much of what surrounds this tree is cement, buildings & bitumen.

City of Sydney Council protects Chinese hackberry trees if they are 10 metres tall or more.

street tree Calvert Street

I would only support this tree’s removal if Marrickville Council plants more good-sized street trees along Calvert Street & only at a time when those trees have grown to a decent size. If this tree is removed now, it will denude the street of its greenery & have a negative impact on property values.  If it were happening on my street, I would be doing what I could to save this tree because of the impact its removal will have on my property value & the health of my family, especially if the tree was close to my house.

I know properties are going for high prices in Marrickville even if they are imbedded in cement, but ask any real estate agent whether a house is likely to go for a higher price if there is a good looking street tree out front & they will say yes.  The difference in what a property can sell for is significantly higher.  If people realised this, they would never allow street trees to be removed or be butchered by energy companies.

As is always the case, if mine is the only submission, the tree will likely go. I ask that you please send a submission to Marrickville Council.  You don’t need to live near the tree to be allowed to do this. The trees across the LGA belong to all of us & they benefit all of us.  I need others who care about street trees to help by sending in submissions even if the tree is not in their area.

I am happy to send you a draft if this will make it easier. You can change it as you see fit or just sign & e-mail it to Council. The deadline for submissions is Monday 9th August 2010.  Thank you. J


Last week I discovered that 1 large street tree (Revolution Green – Melaleuca bracteata) outside 23 Ivanhoe Street Marrickville South is to be removed. 2 others of the same species along the same stretch of Ivanhoe Street are to be removed near to the corner of Warren Road.

Marrickville Council's tree notice

I posted last Friday about this saying that Council has nailed notices on the trees. I wish they would stop doing this.  It sends a clear message the decision has been pre-determined. Council did not put a notification on their web-site.  After my previous post, the notifications appeared on the web-site.

I have sincere reservations about Marrickville Council’s capacity to stick to it own procedures & would not be surprised if other trees have been removed without proper notification to the community.  This is not a small oversight.

Council’s notice on the tree said the community had a period of 2 weeks to send in submissions.  Previously it has been 3 weeks.  Why the change?  Why weren’t we notified of this change?  Why the rush?  These trees are definitely not dangerous.

I visited the trees on Ivanhoe Street & thought that, although the trees could do with a prune to remove some dead undergrowth (normal with this species) & apart from damage to 1 branch from a passing truck, there is nothing wrong with them.  Why do they have to remove 3 mature trees that flower prolifically in Spring & attract many birds?

The notices on the trees have in the meantime been ripped out, bar one. Therefore, I inspected 4 trees in the vicinity.  The trees have lifted up the paving & adjacent gutter because many years ago they were planted in a small hole in the cement.

Ivanhoe Street showing the trees to be removed on the right & the new plantings on the left

Marrickville Council’s web-site says reason for removal is “as part of a civil works upgrade.” This means there is nothing wrong with the health of the trees. They just want nice neat footpaths.

What is really interesting about this is that over the past fortnight, Council have replaced the footpath on the opposite side of Ivanhoe Street & planted 4 more Bottle Bush trees.  I had intended to post one of my complimentary posts saying how well Council had done because they not only repaired the footpath, but they also left substantial areas with soil around the new Bottle Brush trees where they will obviously plant something more. I acknowledge that this recent work is wonderful.

Footpaths can be fixed.  So can gutters.  They don’t all have to be uniform at the cost of trees.  Trees of this age & size are of far greater benefit to the community & the urban wildlife.

Council can retain these trees as well as do the proposed civil works. Like they did on the opposite side of the road, they can remove the restricting cement from around the trunks, fix the kerb & let the community continue to enjoy these trees for a few more years. Council can replace the affected part of the gutter with some cement thinner than is usual. This little bit of guttering will need replacing with new cement anyway. Just make it a bit thinner.

The DEADLINE for submissions is MONDAY 8th MARCH 2010.  You can send your submission via e-mail to : or write directly into Council’s online feedback form:

Ivanhoe Street showing the new footpath with large nature strip for the mature trees

2 other trees are also up for removal.  They are both in Steele Park Marrickville South.  1 is a Hills Weeping Fig “before 16 Thornley Street.”  Council says, “Decay at base of trunk will lead to whole tree failure.”  As I have only just seen the notification, I haven’t visited this tree yet.

Council also says there is another tree to go in Steele Park, but the page says there is an error.  I will write about these trees when I know more.

Warren Road has 3 dead trees that have been sitting there for months. Tempe has 2 dead trees, one of which is very large & a Wattle that is dying for lack of a prune.  Victoria Rd Marrickville has a couple of dead trees & many of the Eucalypts around the LGA have dead branches that I have been watching for months.  I fear Council wants to allow these branches to become dangerous so they have a reason to remove the whole tree. Their priorities are skewed.  They leave dead trees standing, but want to chop down living trees. If Marrickville Council wants to be proud of its climate change policy, they need to chop down trees only as last resort & look after the trees we have before it becomes too late.

Yesterday I saw Marrickville workers planting street trees outside the small shopping strip in Illawarra Road Marrickville, opposite the Greek Bakery.

I was surprised because I had been told that Council doesn’t plant trees in summer.  Not only were the Council workers planting trees on the footpath, but also the whole footpath had been repaved with good-looking tiles.  This previously rundown area now looks improved & the shopkeepers are very happy having told me this themselves.  It will also be a nicer view for the café patrons across the road.

The trees themselves have been planted into large holes covered with good-looking grates.  I have not seen this type of grate before.

New-style grate covers with sapling on Illawarra Road

The Council workers told me they have recently planted other street trees along Illawarra Road, up towards the lights at Warren Road & the other small shopping strip next door to Woolworths.  Give it a few years & this drab, unimaginative, tired-looking section might look leafy & inviting.  Much depends on whether the trees are allowed to develop a canopy or are kept stunted.

As Illawarra Road is used as a through-road, these new works & street trees may give passers-by a more favourable impression of Marrickville.  I have heard this section of Illawarra Road be described as the ‘gateway to Marrickville,’ especially as this is what you see when you leave the railway station.

For those of you who have wondered what lies underneath...

I also have to eat Humble Pie because when, looking around at the tiles, kerb, concrete & bitumen that surrounded the new trees, I asked the Council workers how they will get water, they told me that the Council will water them until they get established.  After that, they are on their own.  “How will Council water them?” I asked, imagining a man carrying a watering can.  Well, Council has a water truck.  Another surprise.

I have mentioned the lack of this water truck a number times on this site wishing that Marrickville Council would invest in one.  So munch, munch, I’m eating humble-pie, but happily so.  There are two questions I get asked often about trees in this LGA & one of them is “why doesn’t Council water the trees?”  Well, I am pleased to report that they do.

Happy New Year to you all & to everyone at Marrickville Council.  May 2010 be a good year for all of you all.   J

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.

The details of Mackey Park Revised Masterplan arrived.  Marrickville Council listened to the community & made a number of significant changes from their original plan for the upgrade of Mackey Park.  The new plan will cost $3.1 million, up on the original Federal grant of $2,265,000.  The revised Master Plan is as follows:

  • The 2 Hills Fig trees will be retained. 1 tree will be pruned to remove a large unsafe branch & both trees will be pruned as required to install & maintain field lighting.
  • 4 Carob trees will be removed.  1 Carob tree is in the outer area of a cricket oval.  The remaining 3 Carob’s will be removed to leave space for a potential pedestrian path (no lighting) to connect with the Cook River pathway.  Saving Our Trees did want to retain these trees, but Council thought these trees were old, not in good condition & the community seemed unconcerned about them.
  • Revegetation with floodplain forest & woodland tree species is proposed in the future for 7 areas around the perimeter of Mackey Park.
  • There will be 2 full-sized & 2 half-sized soccer fields.
  • The central pedestrian path is to be removed for a full-size cricket oval with both a junior & senior pitch.
  • The entrance to the park opposite Tempe Railway Station will be retained.
  • A pedestrian pathway with lighting will travel from the current entrance next to the clubhouse & follow the embankment along the north-east side of the park below Richardsons Crescent all the way to the current entrance opposite Tempe Railway Station.
  • A second pedestrian pathway will travel from the clubhouse alongside the playground before reaching the current entrance at the bottom of Premier Street.  This pathway will not have lighting.  It will also have 900mm fencing along 1 side to ‘reduce informal pedestrian access across the field area to the Richardsons Crescent entry.’ In other words, to prevent pedestrians walking straight through the park to & from Tempe Railway Station.  The field is to be monitored to check for a walker’s track on the turf surface, so remember to tip-toe.  If Council finds evidence that this is happening, they intend to erect more fencing & ‘other measures.’
  • A new footpath will be built outside the entrance next to the clubhouse which will head towards Carrington Road and travel to a pedestrian crossing opposite the Choice building near Cary Street.
  • The water tank will be placed in the current Sydney Water site near the playground or, if this is unsuitable in the area north of the Concordia Club.
  • Council is attempting to obtain further funding which will allow them to rebuild the Clubhouse rather than renovate.
  • Subsurface drainage & irrigation systems will be installed under the sporting fields.
  • The children’s playground will be refurbished & new shade trees will be planted.
  • The soil of the playground & 1 other pollution ‘hotspot’ of Mackey Park will be decontaminated.
  • The real surprise is the proposed establishing of a 2,200m2 wetland in the lower west side of the park between the Fig trees, around the soccer oval & almost to the tree area near the Premier Street entrance.  This will be planted with Cooks River Freshwater & Brackish Swamp & Floodplain Forest & Woodland species.  I was told that this wetland will ‘polish’ any ground pollutants before they enter into the Cooks River.  It will also provide greater biodiversity & much-needed habitat for birds, animals & insects.  Personally, I am very pleased about this.  There are however, 9 or 10 mature trees in this area.  Will they need to be removed?

All up, the new plans look fabulous.  The sporting clubs get both what they want & what they need to carry on providing top level sporting facilities to players.  If the Clubhouse is rebuilt, this will be even better.  Mackey Park will be used all year round for sports. Pedestrians will not have to walk along the very busy & to my mind, dangerous Richardsons Crescent.  The ground pollutants, which no-one knew about, will be removed helping the Cooks River immensely.  The park will be lit at night making it usable & safe for the community.  A double-decker sized water tank will not mar the entrance to Mackey Park.

Mackey Park Fig Trees

And the Figs … the 2 gorgeous 25 metre high Fig trees whose proposed removal started this whole community campaign will get to live on & provide a sense of continuity & history for the community.  The hundreds of birds & insects who call these Figs home will also be happy.  Caloo! Caloo!

–> To the community who attended the community consultation & council meetings, wrote submissions, wrote to & rang Councillors, spoke at the Council meeting, allowed their speeches to be published on this site, spoke to the media & had their photo taken, printed the petition & posters for free, letter-dropped, signed petitions, offered to put the petition in their shops, alerted me to other issues about the plans, told me their stories about the Fig trees, helped organise the Save the Mackey Park Fig Trees Party, donated paper, chalk, colouring pencils & boards for the children to draw on, donated their time & talent to entertain us at that party, came to the party (even from adjoining suburbs because they cared about these particular Figs trees), to the Councillors who attended the party, to those Councillors who wrote saying they wanted to, but work commitments prevented them from attending, to the kids who made signs & held them up at the Council meeting,  who drew pictures of the trees & asked that the trees be retained for their future & their own childrens future & to both the Inner West Courier & the Valley Times who covered the campaign from beginning to end & to the Greens Councillors who supported saving the Figs right from the start, to the Labor Councillors who listened to the community & reversed their original decision to instead support the retaining of the Figs & to the many people who wrote & approached me in person to offer your support & opinions – I thank you all.  (Phew!  Have I forgotten anyone?)

300 people came to the 'party' to save these 2 beautiful trees

Part of the 300 strong crowd who came to save the Figs

Without your involvement, these 2 beautiful & as one young girl said to me, “iconic” trees would be cut down by now & our community would be worse off for it.

It was a remarkably peaceful campaign, which was very pleasing.  I received only 1 accusatory e-mail.  It showed that the community was united in this issue & that we could support the needs of others in our endeavour to save the trees.

Thank you also to Marrickville Council & to the Councillors who listened to the community taking our objections & suggestions seriously. I was surprised whilst reading the package of the Revised Plans for Mackey Park, just how many stakeholders & advisors were involved in the process.  It is a fabulous result & now with the new plans, all sectors of the community will have a beautiful & useful park without losing community amenity.  And the trees live on!

I was driving from Sydenham the other day & saw a stretch of new tree plantings along a particularly barren section of Marrickville Road just where the road curves and before the left hand turn into Fraser Park.  Many holes have been cut into the concrete footpath & young trees have been planted.

So today, during a break in the rain, we went there to take some photos to add to this post. We were walking along discussing the new trees & the wonderful planting done above our heads along the goods train line when a car mounted the footpath crashing into one of the newly planted trees right in front of us.  The car, which was travelling about 50km/hr, only stopped because the stakes that were bracing the sapling was sufficiently strong enough to act as a bollard.  If the car had been going any faster or had hit the footpath at a different angle, we would have been knocked down or pinned between the car & the brick wall of the goods line.

In a moment, a post about new tree planting became a post about how tree planting saved us from serious injury & perhaps death.

Firewheel saplings along Marrickville Road

Firewheel saplings along Marrickville Road

This event clearly demonstrated that street trees do actually keep pedestrians safer by forming a barrier between the pedestrians & passing vehicles. Research has also shown that drivers slow down if there is a significant canopy overhead because they perceive the road as smaller.  Less speed means less accidents & less damage if there are accidents.

I think most people would agree that street trees are more beautiful than bollards or steel barriers.  If the right species of tree are planted, street trees provide food & homes for birds & small native animals.  Their shade also prolongs the life of road surfaces & footpaths though I acknowledge that the roots of trees, especially older trees, can lift concrete footpaths.  This is easily dealt with by not concreting so close to the tree & by replacing concrete with permeable footpath material near older trees.  Councils on Sydney’s North take this option routinely, rather than remove their large trees.

Back to Marrickville Road.  The sapling itself is miraculously unbroken.  It just bent over with the stakes as the car hit.  We did the best we could to reposition both the sapling & the stakes, but the stakes could do with being hammered in & made strong again.  The car was able to drive away & didn’t sustain too much damage, though I think driver & passenger were quite shocked.  I think we all left thinking the whole incident could have been far worse.

Firewheel saplings

Close up of Firewheel saplings

Marrickville Council has planted 11 trees in this section.  I think they are Firewheel trees.  A little further along they have planted another 2 trees & it appears they intend to plant more trees as the space is certainly available.  Cutting out holes in concrete is a big job so I am not surprised they have not completed the job.  This area will look lovely when the trees have grown.  It is an ugly area of Marrickville so it will certainly benefit from a greener outlook.  I hope Council intends to do both sides of this section of Marrickville Road as well as the area near the bridge at Sydenham & nearer the railway line.

The Firewheel tree is a native of both QLD & Northern NSW.  Interestingly, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks describes the Firewheel as a fragile tree as well as a heritage tree.  They say “Preserving these treasures is important for future generations to admire.” I like their attitude.

For tree lovers, the Firewheel (Stenocarpus sinuatus) is a rainforest tree.  It can grow up to 30 metres in rainforests, but in gardens it grows up to 6-10 metres.  It has a 2-3 metre canopy making it easy to see why Marrickville Council likes it.  Being a rainforest tree it does need water, especially while it is growing.  I noticed that, unlike Ashfield Council, Marrickville Council does not add a watering pipe down to the roots when planting, nor have I seen Council workers watering street trees. Perhaps residents can water trees outside their homes, especially in summer when they can become stressed.

The Inner West Courier newspaper published another letter about the Mackey Park Figs on 29th September 09.  You can read it by going to the ‘Media articles’ page which can be accessed in the left hand column on this site.

Part of the crowd who came to save the Figs

Part of the crowd who came to save the Figs

Around 300 gathered under the Figs at Mackey Park this afternoon.  I missed most of the action because I was busy gathering signatures for the petition, but it was loud with the sound of happy children & when I looked the adults were smiling too.  Thanks to Thor Blomfield of Leapfish who entertained the kids with his magic & author Nadia Wheatley who read from her book My Place.  Greens Councillor Peter Olive spoke about the need to save the trees for future generations & articulated the Greens efforts to save these trees so far.  I didn’t hear Mayor Sam Iskander’s (Labor) whole speech, but I understand he said Labor will vote to save the Fig trees, reversing their original decision to remove these trees.  By the time I tuned in there was some disquiet from the audience about the firmness of his sentiment regarding the trees & they questioned him whether Labor would change their mind & keep the central path as well.  As far as I understood, the Mayor would not commit to saving the path, which in my mind, includes the lights & the exit opposite Tempe Railway Station.

Thor who made the kids scream with delight with his wonderful entertainment

Thor who made the kids scream with delight with his wonderful entertainment

Everyone I spoke to afterwards said it was not absolutely clear about the safety of the trees & the fight to save them is not over yet.  They also wanted to save the path, the exit opposite Tempe Station & the lights.  Many people said they were annoyed they had to fight to retain these things.  At the end of the day I spoke with Labor Councillor Mary O’Sullivan, who said her position is that the trees should be saved.

Author Nadia Wheatley captivated the audience with her reading

Author Nadia Wheatley captivated the audience with her reading

A big thank you to all the community who came in support of the Mackey Fig trees.  145 signed the petition.

A young girl came up to me at the end of the day and said; “I think the trees should be saved. They are iconic to the park.”  My sentiments exactly!  Let’s hope that when this whole process is finished, these 2 magnificent Figs will be left to provide beauty, shade & oxygen to our future generations.

Another view of the party - look at the size of these trees!

Another view of the party - look at the size of these trees!

Thanks also to the Inner West Courier & The Valley Times who sent photographers to cover the event.   Both newspapers had items regarding the Mackey Park upgrade this week.  Click the following links to read them: Letters pg 39   JY

Would you prefer to walk along this path or......

Would you prefer to walk along this path or......

......... this?

......... this?

Today I walked along Richardsons Crescent to experience the footpath for myself.

I have written about this & added some photos on a page I have called ‘Richardson Footpath’.  You can access this page by clicking on the link under SAVING OUR TREES PAGES  near the top of the column on the left or at the bar at the top of this page.

Don’t forget – there is an online  petition – see post below.

If you are coming in via a link & want to view the whole web-site press the following link J



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