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Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved.

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved.

Good news for historic Petersham Park today after the government announced a new route for the WestConnex Motorway. Instead of taking some of Petersham Park (see –, the motorway will now travel through a tunnel from Haberfield, duplicating the City West Link & connecting to the Anzac Bridge & Victoria Road at Rozelle. Another tunnel from Rozelle will exit at St Peters.

Minister for Roads & Freight Duncan Gay said, “…the motorway would not impact on Petersham Park, & the new route would take the tunnels further from the historic park.”   

This is one bit of good news about a motorway that will severely impact on the community of Marrickville municipality. More information when it comes to light. See –


Petersham Oval where Sir Donal Bradman played

Petersham Oval where Sir Donal Bradman played

If trying to remove a chunk of historic Ashfield Park was not enough, now the WestConnex Authority is after a chunk of historic Petersham Park.

This park is famous because Sir Donald Bradman had his first appearance in grade level cricket in Petersham Oval that is in the park in 1926 when he was just 18-years-old. This local sporting history is one that many people refer to with pride. The Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre located in Petersham Park has recently been upgraded.

Petersham Park also has many significant & veteran trees, plus stands, gate & pagoda that many would consider heritage & worthy of protection.

Even though a short distance from Parramatta Road, this area of Petersham/Lewisham is a lovely green oasis of mostly Federation houses & leafy tree-lined streets.

From the ‘Save Petersham Park’ Facebook page –

“We are concerned residents of Petersham.  On 23 November 2014, the NSW State Government, Urbangrowth, released a proposed plan for Parramatta Rd, to build a tunnel underneath it, called westconnex. They propose an entry/exit from the tunnel at Petersham Park.  (A similar entry/exit proposed at St Peters will cover all of Tempe tip and also take 80 houses around that area.  It is not just a couple of ramps).  Urbangrowth also proposes 10 storey highrises on all of Station St, and 24 storey highrises behind the old Lewisham Hospital.   See page 31 of the draft strategy document under “new parramatta rd” on the website “  There is also word unofficially of an unfiltered emissions stack at Fort St High School. Where there is a tunnel exit there has to be an emission stack.”

A view of historiv Petersham Oval

A view of historiv Petersham Oval

It is not surprising news, but frankly, it is appalling.   Same for the 10 & 24 storey high-rise apartments & the unfiltered stack planned for this area.

I tried to open the UrbanGrowth website, but was greeted with the following –This site is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance and will be back online shortly. Please check back soon.”  Hopefully it will be back online quickly as I imagine there will be many local residents who are very interested to read this document.

Thankfully Marrickville Council & Mayor Gardiner have been forthright in their opposition to WestConnex Motorway, so hopefully they will have more to say against the stripping of public green space in the municipality that is famous for having the least green space of any municipality in Australia.  We should not be losing precious green space to roads, tunnels or smoke stacks.

As for the 24-storey high-rise apartment blocks….. this will be a boon for developers. High-rise development has not been allocated for this area as per the recently completed Local Environment Plan (LEP) that cost ratepayers $2 million.  Development is not bad & I am not against it, as long as it sticks to the heavily consulted Marrickville Local Environment Plan.  Anything outside the LEP will destroy the area as far as I am concerned.

You may also want to become friends with Save Petersham Park on Facebook – & also The WestConnex Action Group Inner West – another resident group in Marrickville LGA, also on Facebook –

There is also the ‘No WestConnex Rockdale Group’ on Facebook, who are opposing the Motorway going through the Landing Lights Wetland, a very important habitat & home to many species of migratory birds.  This group of residents are also campaigning against the ‘Tempe to President Avenue feeder road,’ which will funnel tens of thousands extra vehicles every day on to the already busy local roads in Rockdale & Kogarah.

The community will be far more powerful & influential if we all gather together & support each other’s peaceful campaigns rather than separate into little areas only looking after our territory. WestConnex will have a phenomenal impact on Marrickville LGA.   I find it very interesting that the government would prefer to remove a chunk of an historic park than purchase private property along Parramatta Road.

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved.

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved.


I have drawn a yellow line at the base of this Fig tree to be removed to show its size.  Fig trees behind it make the canopy look fuller than it is.

I have drawn a yellow line at the base of this Fig tree to be removed to show its size. Fig trees behind it make the canopy look fuller than it is.

Marrickville Council has given notice that they intend to remove 4 Fig trees from Petersham Park in Petersham.

Tree number 1:   Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa) at the northern end of the park.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree have been previously identified for replacement as part of the Petersham Park Master Plan 2011.
  • Tree is over mature & in a state of decline.
  • Major structural limbs have extensive internal decay & dieback.
  • Viable treatment options are limited due to the age of the tree.
  • The tree presented an unacceptable risk to infrastructure & public safety.”

Council says they will replace this tree with a Queensland Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta) – 500L size during 2013 planting season.

Another view of this Fig tree up for removal

Another view of this Fig tree up for removal

This Fig tree was visible across the oval on the West Street side of Petersham Park.  It is still a beautiful tree, but has obvious   problems.

That Council is planning to plant such a tall growing tree as a Kauri pine thrills me.  There is much that makes Petersham Park one of our better parks (I would put it in the Top 5) & the abundance of tall leafy trees is a major part of this.  Unfortunately, many of our parks do not have as many trees as Petersham Park in proportion to size & this is not only disappointing, but also a wasted opportunity.

I’ve heard some Marrickville Councillors say tall trees should only be in parks, as part of their argument to remove a street tree.  That would be fine if our parks were actually full of tall trees.  Enmore Park has lots of trees & some are bigger than what we are used to in our streets, but if you went to Beauchamp Park in Chatswood you would see that the trees in Enmore Park are at most medium stature trees & that the trees in Beauchamp Park are considerably taller.

So with Council planting a Kauri pine in a park where it has room to grow – it can reach up to 50-metres – means this tree will become a visible landmark benefiting more than the locals or those that use this park.  It may even become a landmark tree.

Kauri pines grow tall & straight with a large open crown of tough leathery green leaves.  As they do not have datable growth rings we do not know how long they can live.   It is thought that they can reasonably be expected to exceed 300-years, though it may be closer to 200-years.

Either way, a really tall native Australian tree growing in a park where it has a much greater chance of reaching somewhere near its potential & may well be still alive when your grandchildren have their grandchildren is exciting.  It’s also a good tree for kids to learn about, so school excursions may well be seen at Petersham Park.  The trees have both male & female flowers & the pinecones they produce are also considered good tucker for Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. The tree itself makes for good habitat.  Well done Marrickville Council.

Trees number 2, 3 & 4:   Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla) x 3.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Trees have been previously identified for replacement as part of the Petersham Park Master Plan 2011.
  • Trees are in poor condition & inappropriately located.
  • They are being removed to make way for superior quality advanced size replacement trees.”

Council says they will replace these 3 trees with 1 x Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) – 800L size & 1 x Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa) – 500L size during 2013 planting season.

I am disappointed that Council is not replacing the trees at least 1:1.  Removing three trees to replace with two will not increase the urban forest.  There were many trees in Petersham Park that Council listed for removal in their Petersham Park Master Plan 2011, so planting more trees now will help mitigate the loss of the other trees, which will surely occur in the future.  I also did not understand why the trees are considered to be ‘inappropriately located’ as they form a reasonably continuous line of Fig trees around part of the park’s perimeter.  Other species of trees continue the design approach of perimeter planting.  If it is because of the footpath, they put it there.

All three trees are a mess & come nowhere near what they should look like.  I am pleased Council will be using advanced trees to replace these.

I will not be putting in a submission regarding any of these tree removals.

The deadline for any submissions is Tuesday 25th June 2013.

Here are all 3 Figs up for removal in a line.  They look better than they are in reality.

Here are all 3 Figs up for removal in a line. They look better than they are in reality.

This is the middle Fig tree.

This is the middle Fig tree.

This is the Fig tree at the end of the row.

This is the Fig tree at the end of the row with the footpath right to its base.  Paths have been built right next to Fig trees elsewhere in Petersham Park.



At tonight’s Development Assessment Committee Meeting at Marrickville Council the DA for the refurbishment of Petersham Pool will likely be decided.

The document says, “There are a number of trees on the property covered under Council’s Tree Preservation Order. The proposal seeks approval for the removal of nine (9) trees.”

It then lists 11 trees for removal.  They are –

  • 6 Melaleuca bracteata  (Black Tea Trees)
  • 1 Eucalyptus leucoxylon  (Yellow Gum)
  • 1 Cinnamonum camphora  (Camphor Laurel)
  • 1 Cupressus sempervirens  (Mediterranean Cypress)
  • 2 Syagrus romanzoffianum  (Cocos Palm)

“Council’s Tree Management Officer has agreed to the removal of subject trees …..”

The Camphor laurel up for removal is a massive tree & matches all the other Camphor laurels in Petersham Park in size & age.  I think this tree is in the area where a new BBQ & lawn will be located.

4 trees on the grounds will be protected.  They are –

  • Jacaranda mimosifolia (Jacaranda)
  •  Melaleuca bracteata (Black Tea Tree)
  • Jacaranda mimosifolia (Jacaranda)
  •  Ficus rubiginosa (Port Jackson Fig)

The papers says, “The replacement trees to be planted being maintained in a healthy & vigorous condition until they attain a height of 5 metres whereby they will be protected by Council’s Tree Management Controls. Any of the trees found faulty, damaged, dying or dead being replaced with the same species.”

If these trees do reach 5 metres, I would suggest they would be protected only until the next refurbishment.  Petersham Pool is a relatively small area of land. The removal of 9 (Council) or 11 trees (my count), including a mature Camphor laurel is significant in my opinion.

I could not find any information in the paper that said what were the species for the replacement trees or how many replacement trees there were to be.

As usual, I had problems reading the map.  Zooming in only serves to blur the writing.  The legend showed 2 green shapes for trees, one with branches & one without.  Two of us could not find any proposed trees indicated on the map.

Interestingly, Council are going to make the current 33 metre pool into a 25 metre pool. They also say, “Patronage to the Centre is not envisaged to increase as a result of the refurbishment.”

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the Camphor laurel that I think is to be removed. It is the same species & similar size as the trees in the foreground. The Camphor laurel tree marked in red in the background is in the grounds of Petersham Pool & is similar to the one being removed. All these trees are very large.

Marrickville Council's map of the Plans for Petersham Pool. The red cross is my mark where I think the Camphor laurel tree that is to be removed currently stands. The 2 rows of trees at the bottom & the left side of tis map are part of Petersham Park & separate to the pool area. I would be interested if you could find the replacement trees indicated on this map. Click on the map & it will enlarge to the size it is in Council's papers. From then, you zoom as needed.

Petersham Park oval - the trees in the distance along West Street will now stay

This was the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting. Absent: Clrs Wright & Kontellis.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

The Petersham Park Masterplan – Council were asking that the Masterplan be endorsed, which included the removal of 36 mature trees.

Clr Olive:  I am uncomfortable about the designation of the large trees in the park. (The Legend reads: “Long term replacement of existing trees in poor condition.”) Clr Olive said he wanted the trees to be dealt with on a ‘need to treat basis.’ The Masterplan indicates that these trees will come out. He spoke about street trees on his own street that Council wanted to remove around 10 years ago & that these trees are still going strong today.  Moved an amendment to delete the item on the Legend.

Clr Peters:  In the Residents Survey a significant number of people were against the removal of the mature trees showing that it is an issue for the residents.  Gone are the days that we can just remove mature trees.

The amendment to delete the Legend item about removing trees & the Masterplan was approved by a unanimous vote.

This is a great win for the community who will now get to keep 36 large mature trees that make up this exceptionally beautiful park in Marrickville LGA.  Petersham Park will be upgraded as per the rest of the Masterplan.  I thank everyone who sent in a submission.  I also thank all the Marrickville Councillors for voting to retain the trees.

For background on the Petersham Park Masterplan see –

& the second proposal –

You can see a video of Petersham Park here –

Part 2 of Report from the Gallery will be posted soon.

Petersham Park trees - really they should be heritage listed

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved

If you put in a submission about the Petersham Park Masterplan you will have received your letter & map from Marrickville Council by now.  I hope you have a better time than I did deciphering this size 6-font map in varying shades of green.

The following outlines before & after community consultation –

  • Before: 8 of the 26 large Camphor laurel trees from the magnificent memorial avenue of trees that make the Brighton Street entrance to be removed. After: This is still happening.
  • Before: 4 of the 10 large Camphor laurels along Wentworth Street entrance to be removed.  After: This is still happening.
  • Before: 5 of the 7 large trees near the entry to the Fanny Durak Pool & the playground entrance to be removed. After: This is still happening.
  • Before:  4 of the 12 large trees along Station Street entrance to be removed. After: Council has decided to remove at least 4 extra trees.
  • Before:  7 of the 14 large trees from the boundary of West Street entrance to be removed. After: This is still happening.

The following are new additions to the Masterplan that concern trees –

  • An unidentified number of Palms in the Palm Arbor will be removed & “replaced where required.” This is not a guarantee of tree replacement.
  • Council has decided to remove 2 extra trees inside the park.
  • “Remove & reinstate ornamental trees & shrubs” in the West Street entry.
  • Regarding the Prunus near West Street – “remove existing small trees identified as being in poor health & condition & replace with ornamental tree avenues.” Council are staying with Crepe myrtle & Cape chestnuts for ornamental tree species.

Before: Council planned to remove 30 very large trees.  After: Council plans to remove 36 trees, plus an unspecified number of other trees, & shrubs. The total amount of trees to be removed is not known.

The following are new additions concerning other things in the Masterplan –

  • The 4 garden beds for the Long-nosed Bandicoots along West Street are substantially bigger.
  • An extra sandstone seat will be installed near the Station Street & West Street side of the oval.
  • The Garden bed at the end of the Wentworth Street pathway will be bigger.
  • Picnic tables will be provided near Wentworth Street.
  • The trees along Wentworth Street & Brighton Avenue will be mulched.
  • New trees in the Petersham Kindergarten should be chosen with reference to the Masterplan for the whole park.
  • Potential area identified near Station Street entry closest to the pool for gym equipment area or community garden.
  • Existing shrubs near Station Street entry closest to the pool will no longer be removed.
  • A seat will be reinstated over old slab near Station Street.
  • An ornamental planting bed near Station Street will be widened.
  • New garden beds will be planted at the exit on Station Street closest to Parramatta Road.
  • The name of the park will be reinstated on the entrance on corner of West & Station Streets.

In my opinion, the language used in the Masterplan is not very certain & asks for approval for things that are not clearly defined.   The Masterplan doesn’t provide a timeline for the removal & replacement of trees or even indicate what species the replacement trees will be, just what they might be.

I can't imagine a Eucalypt successfully replacing the canopy of any of these trees

I also question the use of Eucalypts as an option for replacing the Camphor laurels.  I sincerely love Eucalypts, but wouldn’t they look out of place within the closely planted rows of Camphor laurels? Wouldn’t Fig trees be a better choice & fit with the overall design of the park? There are a number of Fig trees in Petersham Park, but I cannot recall seeing a Eucalypt.  At the community consultation, residents said that branches falling from the current Brush box trees worried them.  Eucalypts drop branches as a natural behaviour, hence their nickname of Widow Makers.

Many of the paths need replacing & showing where trees could benefit from mulch

There are many good points about the Masterplan & much of the infrastructure like the paths & the playground are well overdue for replacement.  If colour can be added to the garden beds it will fit well with the elegance of this park.

Adding a gym area or a community garden is fabulous. I would question why both can’t be incorporated into the design instead of one or the other.  The size of the park would easily accommodate both & also meet the greater needs of the community instead of just one group.

I’m disappointed in some of the tree removal, especially the trees near the pool entrance & the avenue in West Street.  The ground around the trees near the pool can be treated for compaction & a floating floor put over the root area & under the canopy to prevent this happening again.  Soil compaction does not have to mean tree removal. It’s harder to treat this for street trees, but there are far less restrictions in a park.  Most of the trees in this area & in the Memorial Avenue suffer from bare dirt & exposed roots with no mulch. As I understand, mulching helps break up compaction as does more mechanical interventions.

Palm arbor

As for West Street, I cannot understand why what is left of the glorious avenue of trees has to be destroyed. Whether I am standing or sitting in my car I have easy visual access into & across the park. The canopy is so high it would only prevent a giant from having a good sightline into the park.  Removing half of the trees along here would mean that more of the noise, pollution & particulate matter would get into the park. Trees are very important in removing air pollution. West Street is a heavy traffic road & Petersham Park is just 1 small block away from the major thoroughfare of Parramatta Road. To remove trees from a park that serves as the lungs of an area just to have better sight lines doesn’t make sense to me.

The Petersham Park Masterplan returns to Council Meeting on 12th April for approval. The community can request to speak on this agenda item, but you need to register by noon the previous day.  Plans can be downloaded on Council’s website – They were not available at the time of posting.

I made a short video of Petersham Park & the trees here – & I last wrote about the Masterplan here –

Looking across the oval toward Station Street





Finally posting photos of the 3 latest street trees up for removal in Station Street Petersham.  They are all as Marrickville Council says:  dying, beyond help & dead.   Thank you to Marrickville Council for using sticky tape to attach the signs.  All 3 trees still had their notice of removal attached.

Outside 45 Station Street - seriously on its way out, yet it has still managed to produce a few flowers

Outside 59 Station Street - nearly dead, but trying hard

Outside 67B Station Street - thoroughly dead

Just for something good - Petersham Park which I would consider in the top 10 of 'Best Parks in Sydney.' Saturday afternoon & filled with laughing people & singing birds.

SoT concentrates on trying to save, preserve & protect healthy trees in public spaces, yet sometimes the loss of trees on private property deserves mention. Generally most residents of Marrickville LGA are unaware of the loss of the older, perhaps historic trees unless they are directly affected or when they recognise that ‘something’ in a particular area has changed.  The presence of trees is something we take for granted & it is often only if they all go & the landscape is radically changed that we recognise their loss.

I have decided to document the loss of our big older trees or when a mass of trees are removed regardless of whether they were situated on private property or not.  This post informs of a recent loss & one that is about to occur.

In September 09, 2 heritage listed 77 year old Fig trees, 1 other Fig tree, which were alive & growing in 1943, 1 mature Plane tree & 2 mature Eucalypts were chopped down in Ferncourt Primary School Marrickville South to make way for the building of a school hall as part of the Federal Government’s stimulus program.  The loss of these trees caused much grief to those in the community who know about it.  The community tried to find solutions that would enable all the trees to be retained, but their efforts were unsuccessful.  You can read about these trees & see photos at the following – Thanks to Voren a local resident who sent me the link to her blog.

I understand all the trees visible in this photograph are to be removed - still more trees are out of shot

Last Tuesday 2nd February 2010 the Labor & Independent councillors voted to approve a DA for the St Vincent’s de Paul State Office 2C West Street Lewisham.  Many of you will know it as the old Lewisham Hospital site.  It is situated across the road from Petersham Park with its lovely oval, numerous old, very special trees & the Fanny Durak Pool. The DA was seeking to demolish an existing brick & stone fence, remove 32 31 mature trees & construct a new fence, driveway & landscaping.  The trees that are to be removed give the feeling of a tree-lined avenue as they match those on the opposite side of the road in size & were probably planted at around the same time so their loss is going to have major visual impact. 3 Palms will be relocated.

The whole St Vincent’s de Paul site is heritage listed, including the fence.  The DA said:

  • the existing fence does not provide sufficient security for residents of an aged-care facility & a woman’s refuge on site.
  • the fence is also suffering structural problems due to the height of the soil inside the property & the presence of mature trees, both of which have caused the brickwork to move & lean outward in some parts.

row of trees which will be chopped down - I have been told Bandicoots live here

While I agree with both points, after going to the site & having a look, I believe that the removal of the trees is unnecessary unless the aim is to get a more modern, streamlined effect to match the new shiny glass black building.

The fence is bowing outwards.  The ground is built up on the inside of the fence.  This looks to be deliberate & would have been in place for many decades. I wonder why they just cannot remove the old brick fence, built a new, higher one to improve the security & replace any soil dislodged during construction of the new fence.  If they do this, they will be able to retain most if not all of the trees.

This tree will be chopped down - it has a massive trunk

St Vincent’s de Paul intends to replace the 32 trees with a mix of lawn, low scale planting, screen planting & Crepe Myrtle, Tuckeroo & Summer Red Gums. I think they want to do this to modernise the place & perhaps allow more onsite parking.

The trees to be removed are decades old.  I would guess around 80 years.  Most have massive trunks (2-3 metres) & as such are significant sequesters of CO2.

The front of the Lewisham complex looks a mess at the moment because there is building work happening & the front & side of the property has a cement barrier erected to prevent pedestrians being flattened by any part of the fence if it decides to collapse.  However, when you enter the property, the noise immediately abates because the trees block a lot of the traffic noise.  It is cool, visually pretty & smells nice.  It is a relaxing place despite the construction work.

another very large tree due to be chopped down

Enter past the front buildings & further into the property & you come across one of Sydney’s hidden gems.  There is a contemplation garden complete with life-size religious statues, a small cemetery, old hand-made stone seats tucked into raised garden beds, a variety of mature trees & an old fashioned & very beautiful garden.  Birds, insects & lizards are everywhere.  Further in there is a school with 3 massive trees with huge natural canopies that shade the playground.  There are also many heritage buildings with curved silo-like attachments, a gigantic copper dome & an enormous & exquisitely beautiful sandstone church. The

this beautiful tree is to go as well

complex is dotted with enormous Eucalypts & other trees, all of them mature.

Two families of Bandicoots live on the property.  I was told the Bandicoots live “out front & in the trees along Thomas Street.” Where will these animals go when their homes are removed? The animals can’t just cross the road & take up

3 Kookaburras live in the trees which are to be chopped down.

residence in Petersham Park because animals are territorial & other animals probably won’t allow them to move in even if the conditions are right.

The St Vincent’s de Paul complex is a green oasis that provides significant habitat for wildlife one block from the heavily trafficked Parramatta Road & about 6 kms from Sydney CBD.  It’s not that I think everything should stay the same & there should be no progress, but sometimes progress can ruin something very special.



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