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National Tree Day site in Steel Park Marrickville South. All that is wood chip is the new area that was planted today. It joins last year’s site to create a continuous corridor along the river in this area.

This afternoon we went down to Steel Park Marrickville South to have a look at Inner West Council’s National Tree Day site.  I had looked at the site earlier & noticed just how big the area to be planted is in comparison to previous years.  Inner West Council decided to convert a significant area into habitat for wildlife at this location &  I think this is excellent.

Three new trees were planted –

  • Two Swamp mahoganies (Eucalyptus robusta), an Australian native that can reach up to 30-metres in height. It can live for at least 200-years.  I find exciting to have such long-lived trees planted in a park where it has a decent opportunity to reach such an age.  Fingers crossed anyway.   It flowers well in spring & summer & offers food for birds & other nectar-eating wildlife.  Christmas beetles like to eat the leaves, so hopefully we will see some of these at Steel Park.
  • One Prickly-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca styphelioides) – also an Australian native. This is a medium-sized tree that reaches between 5-11 metres in height.   It has a dense, rounded canopy with drooping branchlets & produces cream or white cylindrical bottlebrush-like flowers in summer.  It likes to grow along stream banks or other moist situations, so good for this location.

Everyone who planted today have done the whole community a service & I thank them.   It is excellent to see more places along the river that are for wildlife only & I personally, think that looking at bushy areas is far more interesting than great expanses of lawn.  The birds will come, which adds a further layer of enjoyment to users of the park.

A closer look. Each dark patch is where something was planted.

The 3 trees that were planted.  Swamp mahogany in the foreground, the Melaleuca in the middle and another Swamp mahogany in the background.  

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Part of the original Waterplay built in 2010.

Part of the original Waterplay built in 2010.

The Inner West Council has announced that it will spend $300,000 in the 2016/2017 capital budget to enlarge the Waterplay Park in Steel Park Marrickville South.

The new section will be in a fenced extension. ‘Softfall’ pavement, more seating, more paving, more fencing & a shade structure will also be part of the improvement works.  All this is expected to be completed in time for the 2017/18 summer.

New trees for Steel Park Marrickville South

New trees for Steel Park Marrickville South

Yesterday I was really pleased to see five new Melaleuca trees planted in a bare part of lawn at Steel Park. This area generally has nothing going on & has been bare for as long as I can remember.

Six big trees here will add to the beauty of this park, which is putting on quite a display of Poplar ‘snow’ at the moment, as the seeds create a carpet on the ground.

These trees are great producers of food for wildlife too. Thank you Marrickville Council.

New Melaleuca trees

New Melaleuca trees – a good size too.

Showing the location of the playground and the river

Showing the location of the playground and the river

I was pleased to see that Marrickville Council has fenced off the playground and picnic area of Steel Park without fencing off the Cooks River. It might have been cheaper to install the fence at the edge of the riverbank, as has been done elsewhere along the river. Thank goodness Council did not choose this option, as it is one of the pluses of this park to be able to sit on the grass along the unfenced riverbank.

The children’s playground was built only metres from the river & there is a considerable drop from the riverbank down into the river. With speeding toddlers, many parents had a hard time trying to ensure that their child did not fall into the river.

The fence extends along the bulk of the park

The fence extends along the bulk of the park

The Poplars at Steel Park provide wonderful dappled shade for people to play under and; of course, that lovely sound made by their leaves.

The Poplars at Steel Park provide wonderful dappled shade for people to play under and; of course, that lovely sound made by their leaves.

Marrickville Council has released the findings of their community consultation conducted in October/November 2014 regarding the Parks along the Cooks River, excluding Tempe Reserve. These are Mahoney Reserve, Steel Park, the Cooks River Foreshore (the area between Steel & Mackey Parks), Mackey Park & Kendrick Park.

This post is about the feedback on Steel Park.  Participants came from a range of suburbs with 28 people from Marrickville & the rest from Earlwood, Rozelle, Moorebank, Petersham. Ashfield, Dulwich Hill, Leichhardt, Canterbury, Summer Hill, Kingsgrove, Bexley North, Tempe, St Peters, Stanmore, Canada Bay, Balmain, Lewisham & Maroubra.

31 people said they drove to Steel Park, 25 walked & 10 rode their bicycle.  Most of the participants came to the park once or more per week.

“If you could have anything in the world in Steel Park, what would it be?”   Responses ranged from –

  • Café.
  • More picnic shelters & barbeques.
  • Fence the park off from the river to stop children running & falling into the river.
  • Fence the Waterplay area.
  • Fence the river.
  • More play & waterplay equipment.
  • More trees, more shade.
  • More seats.
  • Amphitheatre & outdoor cinema.
  • Tree house.
  • Man-made beach.

Others wanted “making it easier to find lost keys in the mulch, parents & kids yoga & no Ibis in the park.

I fear for the Ibis & believe they should be allowed to live in our environment. These birds only came to the city because their own habitat was severely degraded by drought & then fire. The river is a natural place for them to live.

Many people do not know that Ibis are an Australian native bird, instead thinking that they come from Egypt.  Being with wildlife in a park is something that I think is positive & a very good thing for children to experience.

I am not a fan of signs, but a sign explaining that Ibis are a protected species & are an Australian native should help.  Also the amount of left-over food that is dumped post picnic in the gardens is an invitation to Ibis to come & feast.  They have a love of human food, so with much food left in the park, what can people expect?

The positive comments about Steel Park ranged from multiple uses, many cultures, feeling at ease, friendly, tranquil, natural shade from trees, kid friendly, “prettiest park around” & even the “snow” from the Poplar trees.

Things people disliked ranged from a lack of fencing on the river, a lack of parking, speeding cyclists, “dirty Ibis,” not dog friendly, busy due to limited barbeque facilities, litter & “disgusting toilets.”

Last summer Marrickville Council placed speed humps for bicycles along the shared pathway & as far as I can see, this has helped slow the cyclists.   If you speed over these humps you would very likely damage your bike wheels. It is a very good intervention in my opinion & I cycle. The humps still allow the children to ride on the path & add a good level of safety.

Steel Park is my favourite park on Marrickville’s section of the river mainly because of the trees & the area around the saltwater wetland.  Changing this into something that supports the environment rather than being a car park as it was once was a stroke of brilliance on Council’s behalf.  Not only is it great habitat for wildlife, but it is also a safe area for kids to explore.

I adore the dappled shade of the Poplar trees & know of no other park in Marrickville LGA that has the same outlook. People can sit on a patch of grass anywhere & be assured of shade, which is important for many months of the year. The seasonal changes of the Poplar trees is also something quite lovely & I enjoy that kids run & jump in the fallen leaves.

If people would not leave behind their unwanted food behind, string & balloons or litter the place, then Steel Park would be much nicer.  I like that there are areas where one can sit by the river without being near the playground.  Also, the shared path is terrific. I personally would prefer that the river not be fenced off.  If a fence has to be included, perhaps it can be in the form of a hedge between the playground & the shared path. To be able to access the river is one of the big pluses of this park.

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville.

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville. No wonder the Ibis come to inspect.

 

Steel Park Marrickville South was once the Marrickville Municipal Rubbish Tip.

Steel Park Marrickville South was once the Marrickville Municipal Rubbish Tip.

Don’t blame me.  Blame the Library who gave me this book to read over Christmas.  The book is called, ‘Jack of all Trades – Mistress of One’ & was written by actor Grahame Bond, famous for his role as Aunty Jack.

Grahame’s Mum worked days at the Marrickville Post Office & at nights, “as a cleaner at the Marrickville brake lining factory.  She described walking into the factory late at night, ‘the air filled with white flakes, like dandelions floating on the breeze.’  Her job was to vacuum up the loose asbestos. That’s the bad news.  The good news… my dear mother lived to 98.” 

The story gets better.   An excerpt –

“Originally the area bordered by Illawarra Road & the Cooks River had been glorious marshland stretching all the way from Marrickville to Botany BayIn the early 1930s Marrickville Council in its wisdom decided to divert the river using rubbish as landfill, which resulted in the area becoming a floodplain.  Today this might be called land reclamation.

In the early 1940s, the garbage landfill concept was expanded & the floodplain became the Marrickville Municipal Rubbish Tip.  Suddenly we had an open garbage dump metres from private housing, & Gary & his parents lived directly opposite.  What the council had approved was criminal, but for us kids it was a treasure trove of pickings; old toys, prams, comics, even beds.  It was idyllic, except for the tons of rotting food & vegetable matter.

And further on –

“In the late 1940s Marrickville Council made a momentous decision to remove the rubbish tip & rezone the area to become parkland.  The plan was to move the tip to another suburb & create a landscaped masterpiece from the denuded garbage tip.  To fashion the park, the Council simply reversed the technique used originally to reclaim the land.  This time they brought in the bulldozers to scrape off the surface rubbish & truck it to Tempe.  What was left was then covered with tons of mud & debris from the bottom of ‘good old Cooksie.’  The new parkland was now littered with old bits of broken shells from mussels, oysters & cockles.  The area was aptly named Steel Park, where I played for West Marrickville primary school’s rugby league team.  Steel Park by name & steel park by nature:  the surface was punishing, uneven & dangerous.  With so many objects protruding from the grass it was Tetanus City.

We soon discovered that the opposing teams preferred to forfeit rather than compete on our playing field.”

History is grand.  It can answer so many questions like why are the river banks straight & why strange objects are often found to be protruding from the dirt.  I’d recommend reading Jack of all Trades.  It’s not only interesting, especially for locals, but it is also funny.

We know that Steel Park is reclaimed land & also Tempe Reserve & both were used as Council garbage dumps.  I wonder whether the other green areas along Marrickville’s section of the Cooks River is also is also reclaimed land - Marrickville Golf Course, Mackey Park & Kendick Park & whether they were garbage dumps also?

We know that Steel Park & also Tempe Reserve  is reclaimed land & that both were used as Council garbage dumps. I wonder whether the other green areas along Marrickville Council’s section of the Cooks River is also reclaimed land – Marrickville Golf Course, Mackey Park & Kendrick Park & whether they were garbage dumps also?

 

Steel Park park has the nicest shade of all our parks in my opinion.

I’m often going on about litter, so it was lovely to cycle to Steel Park yesterday evening & see the park looking immaculate, ready for the weekend crowds. Marrickville Council had obviously done a lot of work, as there was not a speck of litter anywhere & all the play areas were swept & tidy.  Steel Park looked glorious, especially now that all the leaves of the Poplar trees have grown back during spring.  This park has a bit of everything & it is no wonder it is so popular with the community.  Soon there will be a coffee van, which for coffee lovers will make it a piece of heaven on the Cooks River.

Immaculate. Not a scrap of litter anywhere to be seen.

All the play areas were clean & all the woodchip swept back into place.

 

Marrickville Council has put out for tender for a coffee truck to sell coffee to users of Steel Park.  What a great idea.

Recently Marrickville Council installed a covered area with tables & benches which is very sympathetic to the environment. I think it looks great & like that it does not impede the view of the river.

Showing the new tables & benches – a nice design too

On 15th July someone mentioned on Facebook the lack of a bubbler at Steel Park. By 17th July this beautiful bubbler & water dispenser was installed. That was quick!

Not quite a feature, but about a feature – I met this lovely woman who was part of a crew contracted to maintain the wetland area at Steel Park. She was busy dividing & transplanting grasses to fill in bare areas alongside the path. She told me they come monthly, weed, remove litter, replace & propagate plants & look after the landscaping. This area is a credit to Marrickville Council & to those who look after it. It has grown into something that is very beautiful & is attracting wildlife as well.

Showing one of the swales leading to the saltwater wetland at Steel Park. Two years ago this was a bitumen car park.

Another view of the restoration work at Steel Park.  I think it is an enormous improvement on what it was.

Lastly & just for fun, Steel Park is blooming with orange toadstools at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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