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Google map of AB Croft Playground & the Dibble Avenue Waterhole. Being so close to the habitat provided by the Marrickville Golf Course & the Cooks River makes the waterhole a fabulous & important wildlife refuge.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole Marrickville – looking lovely & much cleaner after recent works.

For those of you who haven’t visited this public green space in Marrickville, the AB Croft Playground & Dibble Avenue Waterhole belong together.   AB Croft Playground is a small park that allows you to view the Dibble Avenue Waterhole, unless you are lucky enough to live in a property that overlooks the Waterhole.

The feeling of this small park is trees, which is really nice.  There is a massive tree just inside the entrance & other smaller trees in the park & around the perimeter.   The canopy of a large tree growing in the property next door cascades over the park adding to the sense of leafy green.  I have not come across a park in Marrickville LGA that has so much shade & this is something I appreciate.

AB Croft Playground was a bit dismal before the recent upgrade.  Marrickville Council has created a lovely happy playground right next to the waterhole in an area that gets sun.   The playground has swings & climbing equipment & all this is on a large base of soft sky blue rubber material that imitates the waterhole; at least that’s how I interpreted it.

There are two new park benches & many large rocks have been positioned throughout the park to allow children to climb over them & to be used as seating.  In one circle of rocks are two new large green-coloured concrete frogs.  I imagine younger children would like to play on them.

Apart from the dumping beside the rubbish bin at the entrance, there was no litter to be seen in the park, which was another plus.  Also highly unusual, Marrickville Council has not created a concrete path into the park. Instead they have used mulch to a level where it was easy to walk across with bicycles, so prams would have no trouble either.  Having one’s feet walk on the earth was how parks were in my childhood & no harm was done.

In October 2010 I wrote about the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan 2010 which targeted the Dibble Avenue Waterhole.

  • According to Council’s Report, the historic & potentially very beautiful Waterhole that is fed from direct rainfall, groundwater & stormwater runoff from adjacent properties has “high concentrations of heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead & zinc. These exceed guidelines’ values & pose an ecological risk.   ….up to 25 species of birds including several important migratory & wetland birds, such as the Eastern Curlew. Chestnut Teals, Dusky Moorhens & Australian White Ibis, have been observed most recently. Long finned eels, dwarf flathead gudgeon & mosquito fish have also been recorded.”  See –

In August 2011 I wrote again about the Waterhole as it was included in Marrickville Council’s Draft Biodiversity Action Plan.

  • This is the last remaining unfilled brick pit in the Marrickville LGA & is on the Historic Trail.  The Waterhole has had tree & weed removal & bank restoration done over the past year.  It provides habitat for frogs, reptiles, nocturnal birds, small grain, nectar & insect eating birds, freshwater wetland & reed‐bed birds, fast‐flying bats & slow‐flying bats. It also provides connectivity for small birds & frogs to other planed Water Sensitive Urban Design features in the subcatchment.  Council had the following plans for the waterhole –
  1. Spending $10,000‐$30,000pa on increasing the density of vegetation around the waterhole.
  2. Installing ‘bat boxes’ in or near the waterhole to provide urban roosting habitat for fast‐flying & slow‐flying microbats
  3. Commencing a community monitoring program.
  4. Investigating where public viewing of the Waterhole could happen.

I did not see any bat boxes, but they could be there hidden in the trees.  There is a new fence between the park & the waterhole to ensure safety.  It also looks good & unlike the previous fence, allows both adults & children to have a clear view of the waterhole. Bring your own seats though.   There are plenty of resident ducks & other waterbirds to keep everyone interested.  Obviously the fence is there to stop accidental drowning, but it also allows people to be involved with nature while keeping the wildlife safe from people.  This is important for the birds as they have very few genuine safe refuges locally.

Council has removed the old decayed pier leaving the pier stumps for interest & I presume as a link to the history of the Waterhole.  The pier stumps also make great perches for birds to sit.

Frogs in AB Croft Playground

I was very pleased that the large Camphor laurel tree was still standing.  Council had said that they intended to remove it.  The tree provides much shade for the property it grows next to & now has branches cascading over the water, which is quite lovely & important for many birds.  The property it shades is full of large canopy trees so it is easy to assume that they do not mind the shade & privacy the tree provides.  It is also quite beautiful.  I know some people don’t like Camphor laurel trees, but they are not spreading into Wolli Creek or along the Cooks River, so the benefits of having a large tree in an urban situation far outweigh removing it in my opinion.

Quite a few non-native trees were removed from around the waterhole & what remain are mostly Casuarinas & these will spread in time.  Council has shored the sloping banks of the waterhole to stop soil erosion & planted many native grasses.

Council has also built a swale from what appears to be a private carpark to slow down & filter stormwater before it enters the Waterhole.

The water was considerably cleaner than it has been on previous visits.  There is a floating barrel with a thick pipe attached that goes to the bank & out of view.  I would not be surprised to learn that this is some sort of algae filtering system.

I think the Dibble Avenue Waterhole is a jewel in Marrickville & was happy to see that it is now looking good & cared for.   It is on the historical trail of Sydney so this is another important reason to keep it looking its best. To have such a place that is essentially a wildlife refuge area surrounded by houses is quite unique & very special.

The lovely new playground in AB Croft Park. The blue surface is very soft to walk on.

View of AB Croft Park towards the entrance. There is a wonderful tree in the centre.  It would be nice to see some shade-loving plants around the trees & along the fence line.

Showing the new swale that will filter stormwater before it gets into the Waterhole.  




Birds on Fatima Island in the Cooks River

I downloaded the report because there was interest in the issue. The first thing that struck me was the cover page. It is a photo of the banks of the Cooks River probably taken early last century, but that’s just a guess.  The environment looks unbelievably bad, not what I expected at all. I had a vision of a pristine river with natural banks & trees everywhere. Instead there is a very large denuded area about the size of Steele Park with 4 tall trees, 1 dead & another on its way out.  There are around 16 newly planted saplings in the photograph with what appears to be a team of men doing some work chopping away sandstone from an area about 20 metres from the bank. The bank itself is ‘natural’ with not a mangrove to be seen. Pity copyright prevents me from including the photo.

This photo shows that Marrickville Council have done enormous restoration & re-vegetation work on the Cooks River, its bank & the public space alongside the riverbank which I guess was precisely what they intended.

On to the report itself – First up is an aspiration of what the future could be like (words in bold are my emphasis) –

“In 2050….. Our people-friendly streets & roads are clean & there are minimal hard surfaces. Streetscapes, roads & roofs are ecosystems, available for local food production. Stormwater treatment systems are also habitat for frogs, insects and bandicoots. Transport is now completely green, there are few cars & people mostly walk & cycle.  Our community revolves around shared green spaces that are self-sufficient with water. Parks have wetlands & forest reservations. We swim in Dibble Avenue Waterhole & the Cooks River waterways that are also habitat for wildlife. The Cooks River & its foreshores are clean, in a natural state & can be used for recreation & fishing.”

Now wouldn’t that be amazing & something wonderful to pass on to future generations.

Marrickville Council has so far created 3 Subcatchment Management Plans: Illawarra Road Subcatchment Marrickville South, Tennyson Street Subcatchment Dulwich Hill & now Riverside Crescent Subcatchment in Marrickville South.  There are 21 subcatchment areas in Marrickville LGA, so it’s big job.

I found the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan exciting for a number of reasons.

  • The goals are big, but achievable.
  • Council intends to work with the community.
  • Private property issues with stormwater & the creation of permeable surfaces are also to be addressed.
  • Council expects measurable improvement by 2019.

Cooks River

Approximately 60% of the Riverside Catchment is impervious surface. Of that 60%, roads make up 34% with roofs, driveways & carparks making up the remaining 66%.

From the Report – “The implemention of the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan can only happen if citizens make practical changes on their properties. (my emphasis)

The idea of “depaving” is gathering momentum in the USA, especially in Portland, Chicago & Berkeley. With the permission of a landowner, paved areas are removed & replaced with vegetated areas. In Portland, a community organisation called has led depaving projects in private backyards, school yards & parking lots.” (Portland has done some incredibly innovative & dynamic things regarding street trees, verges, kerbs & the community is heavily involved. I would love to visit & see for myself.)

As with ‘green laneways,’ the only way to stop up to 85% of rainwater becoming stormwater & ending up in our drains & then eventually into the small creeks in the LGA, the Cooks River or the ocean is by removing as many of the impermeable surfaces as we can. Making surfaces permeable

A section of fantastic restoration work on the bank of the Cooks River at Ewen Park

allows water to go where it should, into the ground or into rainwater storage tanks for use in & around the home. Once rainwater enters the ground, it fills the groundwater & travels through the natural causeways through the ground to reach creeks, the ocean or the Cooks River. The water is by then, cleaned of pollutants. Council isn’t kidding when they say they are going to need to co-operation of the community.

Last week the Australian New Zealand Climate Forum released figures showing that Sydney is already 0.65C hotter than Newcastle. This may not seem like much, but a global temperature rise of just 2 degrees is thought to be catastrophic & result in major problems with food production, water, rising sea levels, 30% animal & plant extinction, weather patterns, floods, drought, & unsustainable living conditions for people.

The heat island effect is causing the heat stored in our many hard surfaces to remain during the night & this makes for one very hot Sydney.  We have already noticed significant changes over the last 3-4 years & unless we do something about this soon, Sydney is only going to get hotter.

Stamped cement driveways will be a thing of the past because we will eventually choose to not live with the heat stored on our property.  Hopefully Council’s Subcatchment Plan will enthuse people to remove theirs & install a permeable driveway instead. If Marrickville Council are successful in encouraging community co-operation & participation, there will be huge changes in the way the community views the environment in terms of water, trees, verges, litter & dumping.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole - this has the potential to be amazing

Dibble Avenue Waterhole is also targeted in the Plan. According to Council’s Report, the historic & potentially very beautiful Waterhole that is fed from direct rainfall, groundwater & stormwater runoff from adjacent properties has “high concentrations of heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead & zinc. These exceed guidelines’ values & pose an ecological risk.   ….up to 25 species of birds including several important migratory & wetland birds, such as the Eastern Curlew. Chestnut Teals, Dusky Moorhens & Australian White Ibis, have been observed most recently. Long finned eels, dwarf flathead gudgeon & mosquito fish have also been recorded.”

I am really happy that Council is doing this kind of work, because not only will it improve our environment in terms of general cleanliness & a cleaner river that we may one day be able to swim in, it will also increase biodiversity by offering homes & food for urban wildlife.  It will also be tackling global warming & the lessening the impact of climate change.  Okay, it’s a small scale, but hopefully all the Councils in Sydney & across Australia will do the same or similar & this process is repeated across the world.  We have to clean up our own back yard.

One very small thing we can do right now is stop buying bottled water or stop throwing plastic bottles away as litter. In all my walks along the Cooks River, the most common litter I see in the river, along the banks & in stormwater catchment drains are plastic water bottles. Some of them can travel to the Cooks River through the stormwater drains from as far as Newtown. Just making a change here will lessen the pollution load in the Cooks River.  It’s Marrickvlle LGA’s little piece of paradise & it can be so much better.

There is much more in the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan. For those of you who are interested, it can be downloaded here (6.5MB) –

Cooks River with Tempe railway bridge & the bridge at the Princes Highway in the distance



As usual, the following is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan 2010 – A resident who is also a member of the Subcatchment Working Party spoke in favour of the Report. He said that it was important for Council to publicize a description of the water-cycle. He said the rainfall in Marrickville LGA is almost double than what we withdraw from Warragamba Dam & only 10% of this water is used for drinking.  If we managed the water properly, we could use less water from Warragamba Dam. He also said that many of the options involve

Recent re-vegetation work along the Marrickville side of the Cooks River

Marrickville Golf Course a significant area along the bank of the Cooks River. Large sections of the Golf Course can be re-vegetated, which will have an impact on biodiversity.  He also said that many in the community would like to see better engagement & would also like to be involved in many activities such as trees, verges, kerbs, footpaths. He said the community could be notified & could be involved in the maintenance of these areas & the way these were done has an impact on water design.

Clr Tsardoulias was pleased with the Report saying it was overdue.  Clr Olive said there had been good work on naturalization all along the river & that this will continue. Clr O’Sullivan said the Sydney Morning Herald that day had an article on environmental works done by Marrickville & Gosford Councils. She said that Council needed to be daring & the Councillors should encourage this. She mentioned recent works at Cup & Saucer Creek as an innovative model for stormwater management.  Clr Peters said it was fantastic that one of the actions was that 85% of households were receptive to using recycled water. Clr Phillips said he was keen to see the works happen & we need to make the funds available. He said he was surprised at the level of toxins in Dibble Avenue waterhole. Carried unanimously.

I will write about the Riverside Crescent Subcatchment Management Plan 2010 in the following post.

Support for Greenway connection to the Cooks River Shared Pathway – The Marrickville Cooks River Committee in their August meeting asked for Council’s assistance to make representation to Transport NSW to have the Greenway shared pathway continue on from the Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill Light Rail project to the Cooks River.  To do this the bridge over Wardell Road needs to be made suitable for cyclists by either adding a separate cycleway at the side of the bridge as an add-on or build a separate bridge altogether.

Clr Olive supported writing to the minister, as did Clr Phillips. Clr Tsardoulias said this issue was brought up 18 months ago & that it would be great to see something happening.  Carried unanimously.



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