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Cooks River Strathfield - a concrete canal collecting stormwater

Over the last few months we have been looking at the Cooks River through various parks.  We are really lucky in the Inner West to have the Cooks River.  It is exceptionally beautiful in parts & changes depending on which bank you are on & in which local government area. The river & activity also changes depending on the time of day & tidal movements.  Low tide or dusk is a great time to see the water birds & watch the fish jumping.  There is quite an increase in fishing over the last 18 months.  I don’t know whether people know that the fish are likely to have high levels of toxins as I haven’t noticed any signage, except near the mouth of the river where it enters Botany Bay.  There is appears safe to fish.

This time we wanted to see it from Strathfield so we went to Bark Huts Reserve. Three other parks join this park; Dean Reserve, Elliot Reserve & Ford Park making a significant stretch along both sides of the river a green belt. Three things struck me when I first saw the river.  One, it was a concrete channel, second the bush a long the banks on both sides was terrific & thirdly, the park became more beautiful as we explored.

Another section of the shared walk/cycle way

There are electricity pylons over the Cooks River in this area so the houses are quite a way back from the banks.  Strathfield Council has done a fabulous job of creating real bush habitat along with areas where people can walk or sit, read a book or have a picnic. The banks themselves are protected from people walking to them by thick bush, probably for safety, as the concrete channel is very steep.  Masses of trees have been planted; Eucalypts, Acacia, Casuarina, Tea tree & numerous other substantial trees.  We could smell the bush, always a lovely thing, but not something that I experience often.

There were tons of birds & I would guess animals & lizards also live in this bush corridor.  At one stage we walked through a tea tree forest created by a volunteer group called Men of the Trees.  The Tea tree scent in this area was strong as it was a very hot day.

On the northern side a wide path meandered along the river & was suitable for bikes, scooters & skateboards.  On the southern side the path entered the bush & was cool. It eventually opened into a grove that was next to & beside a wooden bridge with a natural creek bed on the other side.  Further along there were around

Evidence of recent bush regeneration work

a hundred newly planted small plants protected by milk cartons.  The path went on or you could turn back & walk the higher route past other great tall trees with wide trunks & a children’s playground until you crossed the wooden bridge taking you back to the car park of Bark Huts Reserve.

The whole area is lovely & there has obviously been a lot of work & care over the years to recreate or restore habitat.

In the distance we saw the channel of the river fork in 2 directions. A look at the Gregory’s showed that the left hand fork was the continuation of the Cooks River & the right hand fork led to a stormwater dead end. The origin of the Cooks River was only a kilometer or 2 away so we decided to follow it.  At Thew Reserve the river was a much thinner concrete channel & the surrounds reminded me of manicured Chinese gardens. The Cooks River Cycle Way travels through here.  We walked across the bridge & saw that the concrete channel stops at this point & the upper parts of the Cooks River has been left as a natural stream. There is a glorious mature Moreton Bay Fig growing among a very old sandstone retaining wall directly next to the river.  Thick reeds grow in this area.

A section of the upper trail

It’s great that Strathfield Council has left this area slightly bushy & more like a natural creek.  Here you can still walk to the river. There is also another small stream that joins the river. We followed this for around 20 metres & saw a pair of ducks with 5 ducklings paddling around a small pool of water in an area behind the fence of the Strathfield Golf Course. We lost sight of them so followed the fence further & saw that the whole family of ducks had gone through a tunnel into a recently created wetland  in the lower end of the golf course that was alive with birds.  An adult duck & young duckling came over to see if we had brought any food. No such luck for them, as we didn’t expect to see a wetland.

Part of the bush area along the Cooks River

The wetland stopped at what appeared to be an underground tunnel that went around 50 metres under the golf course to the beginnings of the river somewhere in the middle of the course.  We guessed it was as there was a line of Casuarinas.  Not being members, we couldn’t gain access, but this was close enough.

The Cooks River was originally a beautiful natural river. Then the non-indigenous people came & within a few decades they changed it to a polluted strip of water that was either concrete or straight metal sides.  The river was dredged & straightened with the natural banks mostly removed.  Now because of the hard work by various teams of dedicated volunteers, the Cooks River Foreshores Working Group & the various Council’s along its length, this river is regaining its beauty & wildlife are a relatively common sight.  It’s a credit to their hard work & can only improve if this kind of work continues.

You can read about restoration work to the Cooks River done in the grounds of Strathfield Golf Course here – I will write about other sections of the river in the future.

Here the Cooks River is more natural. The old Moreton Bay Fig is at top right

A small section of the created wetland in Strathfield Golf Course


Eucalypt outside 11 Union St Dulwich Hill - Council says tree is seriously sick with many other problems

1.        3 street trees are up for removal in Marrickville LGA.  One of them is a Eucalypt outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill that SoT & the community campaigned to save back in June 2009 & The other trees are in Hamden Avenue Marrickville & Railway Crescent Petersham.  I will go have a look at them & post something when I know more.

2. Save Hoskins Park was established by Dulwich Hill residents who are vehemently opposed to a DA which plans to demolish two 1920s Federation houses & build 11 modern

View of the DA site from the high end of Hoskins Park - the residents are also concerned about 2 mature park trees located close to the boundary

3 storey town houses with underground parking.  9 of the townhouses will face Hoskins Park. The community is opposing this DA for a variety of reasons.  They are also very concerned the townhouses will loom over Hoskins Park.  This is a reasonable fear because the bulk of Hoskins Park is located at the bottom of a natural valley.

SoT is concerned about this DA for 2 reasons.  Many mature trees will be removed (hopefully Council will insist that a mature Palm on the site is relocated).  The proposed development does not appear to leave any room for replacement tree planting as it seems to want to occupy all the land with the buildings & rely on the park for green space.  The DA is expected to be before Council sometime in April.

Save Hoskins Park has an active petition that I am told is heading towards 1,000 signatures.  The group can be contacted via their Face Book page –

3.        Volunteers are needed to help local community environment regeneration group Marrickville Bush Pockets for the following dates:

  • Friday 26 March 5.30-7.30pm – barbeque afterwards
  • Saturday 10 April – 9am – 12 pm
  • Sunday 23 May – 9am – 12pm
  • Saturday 19 June – 9am – 12 pm

See to see a recent project.  Contact details are available on the Community WHAT’S

One of the 2 houses in Piggot St which are to be demolished for the DA next to Hoskins Park. It’s gorgeous from the outside. This would not be allowed in Haberfield as they are protecting their heritage.

ON page of this site.

4.             The Wentworth Courier reported that Presbyterian Aged Care NSW plans a major development at the Scottish Hospital in Paddington.  They plan to retain the heritage-listed trees as well as restore the 1848 house & the terraced gardens.  This is good development as it preserves the history & the landscaping.

5.        The Cumberland Courier reported of a dead/dying/nearly dead 45 metre Gum street tree in Lindfield & how a resident’s 6 phone calls to Ku-ring-gai Council asking for the tree to be removed were unsuccessful, until she went public in the North Shore Times newspaper.

6.         Not local, but good reading anyway from the Marshfield Mail which concerns the question & answer session during a Marshfield Council meeting (St Louis USA) where the Mayor, who was totally against the city watering newly planted trees, accidentally sided with the yes vote.

7.        Back to local Council news – the Inner West Courier updated the drama unfolding regarding Strathfield Councillor Lim & alleged breaches of conduct as well as making 17,217 photocopies (not a typo) between October 2009 to January 2010 –

8.        The Inner West Courier reported that many hundreds of fish were found dead in Hawthorne Canal on the boarder of Leichhardt & Haberfield.

I forgot to add this when I posted last night.  The Cumberland Courier reported that 3 Fairfield City Council councillors have been ordered by an independent conduct reviewer to apologise to their colleagues.  Fairfield Council was also advised to provide training on code of conduct during council meetings.

Then I discovered these articles about local councils today.  The Inner West Courier obtained confidential documents about alleged breaches of the code of conduct by Councillors during Strathfield Council meetings.

The Inner West Courier also reported that the GM of Burwood Council is undergoing an ICAC hearing in relation to corrupt conduct.

Lastly, I found a stinging post from a resident on Street Corner about the goings-on during a Liverpool Council meeting in February 2010.

It was a very quiet meeting last night.  Councillors Kontellis, Thanos & Hanna were absent & Mayor Iskandar & Clr Tsardoulias had to leave for other engagements around half way through the agenda.  The following is how I understood the meeting.  All mistakes are mine.

First up was quest speaker Cathy Lloyd, London Co-ordinator & Director of Open Bethlehem which is trying to save Bethlehem by encouraging interfaith dialogue, peaceful cooperation & harmony.  She said only 15% of Bethlehem residents are Christian & if relations between religious groups do not improve, it is likely that the Christian churches in Bethlehem will be museums within a few years.  She will speak at St Luke’s Church in Enmore this Thursday night.

Then on to the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting.

South Ward Local Area Traffic: Marrickville Council’s report recommended 24 points & a few residents came to speak about various points in the report.

Traffic on Warren Road Marrickville South: one resident spoke against & 2 spoke for the recommendations.

The ‘for’ arguments were about the size of trucks using the streets with particular reference to the 19 metre trucks currently used by Woolworths, saying they were too long for the local streets, caused traffic grid-lock, road rage incidents, frequent property damage, increased the risk of accidents & lowered pedestrian safety amongst other issues.  They agreed Warren Road should be made one-way from Carrington to Illawarra Road & wanted traffic to be allowed to turn right from Renwick into Illawarra Road to stop a large percentage of traffic leaving Woolworths being forced to travel around the block to go west & north.

The ‘against’ argument reminded of past experience when roads were made one-way which resulted in significant traffic increases & also expressed concern that other residential streets would get more traffic as a result of Warren Rd & Schwebel Street being made one-way.  Mayor Iskandar & Clr Tsardoulias supported this fear.

Clr Macri suggested a 12 month trial to see if the one-way option worked, but a council staff member advised this wouldn’t be a good idea because if the trial was unsuccessful, the residents would not like losing their parking rights again.  Clr Marcri also said Woolworths needed to act responsibly & suggested council erect ‘concrete tank traps’ to stop damage by trucks to council property.

Clr O’Sullivan said 75% of Warren Road residents said they wanted Warren to become one-way with parking returned to them & 50% of Schwebell Street residents supported one-way for their street.

The outcome is the report will be open for community consultation soon before a final decision is voted upon.

Road closure in Wilford Lane Newtown:  One resident spoke, but I was not in the Gallery during this discussion.  The outcome was the issue was to return to the Traffic Committee.

Proposed Metro Bus service from Sydenham to Spit Junction in Mosman: A representative from the NSW State Transit Authority spoke about the proposed service saying buses will be the low to the ground, 19 metre ‘bendy-buses,’ air conditioned & wheelchair accessible.  After listing all the pluses of which there

Just to lighten up this post a little, here is a photo of Roundup madness

are many, he then said that Council would be expected to pay for all new signage, the relocation of other signage & a loading zone.  If Council didn’t agree to this, then State Transit may have to think seriously about NOT instigating this service or continuing to provide other bus services.

Sounded very much to me like Council was being held to ransom & Clr O’Sullivan used these exact words a few minutes later.

The cost of the signage is $9,000, which doesn’t seem much, but Marrickville Council is poor & this money will have to be taken away from essential works in the locality. Clr Phillips said with rates pegged at 2.6%, it was going to be very difficult for council to look after services & the state government should pay for the required signage.  This was supported by Clrs Byrne & O’Sullivan.  Clr Byrne said that currently only 17% of routes are accessible routes & only 18% of the buses were accessible.  Clr Macri said it was disappointing that this amount of money was being debated & the community would be prepared to pay for such a bus service.  The motion was carried.

Marrickville Local Environment Plan Update: Clr Phillips was disturbed that the Department of Planning did not want to include the McGill Street Masterplan rezoning in the LEP until Part 3A is settled “which this council is against.” Clr Byrne was concerned that Department of Planning wanted to remove ‘accessibility’ from the LEP.  The LEP will return at a later date.

Duration of council meetings:  All Councillors & the new GM thought meetings were too long.  It was noted that meetings run late when DAs are being decided upon & when many residents want to speak.  It was decided meetings will aim to finish by 10.30pm with a half hour extension if required & that Councillors could use responsibility & discipline & limit their need to speak, especially if others have said the same thing.

Government Information (Public Access) Act: This was about Freedom of Information applications, meaning what information you & I can get hold of.  One person has requested a recording of a council meeting & was supplied with the same.  Marrickville Council keeps audio recordings of their meetings for 3 months after they are approved, so you mustn’t delay if you want one.  You could apply for a transcript, but I have no idea how long they keep these.  However, the written word loses all other nuances that are clear with recordings.

Finally a recision motion was accepted to put mobility parking space outside a residential home in Newtown.  It had previously been declined, but new information regarding the level of disability was submitted.  9pm & the committee meeting was over.

In other council news of late, The Cumberland Courier published an article about Strathfield Councillor Danny Lim, including breach of code of conduct findings against him.

Next, also from The Cumberland Courier, Camden Council finances are in surplus largely due to development. I wonder whether Marrickville Council is hoping for similar with Section 94 money helping their financial position to become viable.

The Manly Daily asked “Is Warringah Council back on track?” with an article addressing poor behaviour by Councillors & long meetings with one where the agenda was not completed.

Lastly, another from the Cumberland Courier concerning Backpackers clogging Sydney’s local streets with their vehicles many up for sale.  Something to think about with the proposed DA for a 132 bed Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore with 7 parking spaces.  See Report from the Gallery – 2nd March 2010.

The Marrickville Council Tree Strategy Issues Paper was up for voting last night & what a doozey of a meeting it turned out to be.  It’s clear there are very strong & opposing views about public trees & the community cannot afford to be uninvolved when our turn comes to contribute.

Some good news before I report on this.  Council unanimously & with much enthusiasm voted in favour of the creation of a new community garden in Denison Street Dulwich Hill.  3 residents spoke in favour of setting up a community garden citing the many benefits it will provide to the community. Council then went on to say that any resident can apply to have a community garden set up in any council owned disused space or reserve in the municipality.  There is mention of this on council’s web-site.

Now back to the Trees Strategy Issues Paper (TSIP).  3 residents addressed the meeting.  While each speech addressed different issues, all of us were against the recommendation to remove 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years.  Although the TSIP says Council intends to plant replacement trees, their own report states a significant percentage of new tree plantings fail.  Since 1972 Marrickville LGA has planted approximately 42,500 street trees.  Today we have 20,000 street trees.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Other points raised that I recall were:

  • Essential that the councillors themselves be knowledgeable about the value & benefits of public trees & tree management before voting to remove 59% of trees within Marrickville LGA.
  • The need for education, communication & consultation with the community about trees.
  • Climate change, the heat island effect, the benefits of trees, the value of mature trees, strategies to look after trees to retain them, history & continuity that mature trees bring, the streetscape & character of Marrickville LGA, supporting increasing the tree canopy, better choice & placement of street trees & the need to care for this significant asset.
  • The recommendation not to establish a Significant Tree Register was also very disappointing, as was the lack of a Tree Inventory.  It is essential the Council knew what its only appreciating asset was & an inventory would serve to keep a record of our history even if trees were removed.
  • The good points were acknowledged as was the work staff had done to prepare the TSIP.

With 3 minutes & a maximum of 6, all 3 of us felt pressed to cover everything needed in this time-frame.  You should try it at least once in your life.  Speaking at Council is much harder than I expected it to be.  You can read my speech here – Speech-MC-9_2_10

Clr Thanos seemed to take affront at the residents’ speeches saying that he was proud of Marrickville, proud of the tree planting that has happened, speaking at length about how we had misunderstood the TSIP.   Well, all 3 of us read it, the Greens understood the same message, as did Labor’s Clr O’Sullivan.  He also said we were using the issue of trees to pursue our own agenda.  For me this was true.  I am trying to save public trees inappropriately earmarked for removal, yet somehow he made my motivation sound like I was scum & he did this from the safety of ‘privilege.’

Clr Thanos needs to understand it is poor form to criticise residents after they have addressed Council suggesting they have no pride in their community & somehow want to take it down.

I will speak for myself, but I know the other speakers were taken aback with his comments.  I also know they care deeply about this issue & have spent a great deal of their leisure time over the years working to help improve this locality.

Melaleucas targeted by TSIP

Deciding to follow what is happening at Council, find documents on Council’s packed web-site, download documents that are often large, read & analyse them, devote time to preparing a speech, spending the evening at Council, the nerves associated with this & putting opinions out in the public arena, are not small things.  Public speaking is classified as the number 1 biggest fear people have, so I ask, why would we do all these things if we didn’t have pride in our LGA & if we weren’t trying to help bring improvements for the community?

Clr Thanos debated & debated.  Clr O’Sullivan added some valid points in an amendment.  She spoke of how she finds herself clinging to shade when she walks in her area because of the heat island effect.  She also spoke about how climate change has become a significant issue & that there have been advancements in tree care & approaches to public trees since this report was last submitted in 2007.  She cited other Councils & suggested that experts be brought in to educate about current trends.

Eucalypts targeted as well

Clr Hanna reasonably suggested that residents be consulted about what tree species to plant outside their houses & said if they had a choice in the matter they would more likely care for the tree.

The Greens spoke about their tree policy, done with consultation with some members of the community, but this was lost in the ensuing melee, which was again disappointing.  Clr Peters reminded us that it has been 17 years since Council has reviewed its Tree Policy saying this current TSIP was not productive.  Clr Olive & other members of the Greens tried many times to discuss certain points of the TSIP, but this was stopped by Clr Thanos with Clr Tsardoulias in the Chair ordering the Greens to stop for points of order.

The Greens suggested their amendment & Clr O’Sullivan’s amendment were really saying the same thing.  Eventually, this was passed.  1,000 trees get to live for another 6 months while a working party of councillors work on this TSIP.

It was unpleasant to be in the Gallery due to obstructionism from Clr Thanos & Clr Tsardoulias.  I gather this is accepted as the culture of this kind of workplace.  Just last week a Strathfield Council made the news due to a Councillor arguing with residents in the Gallery.  Eventually, this argument was continued out in the street. To read the Inner West Courier article –

There is quite a bit of tree/nature news happening now. The Inner West Courier reported that 3 residents of High Street Strathfield set up camp on the nature strip to peacefully protest Strathfield Council’s order for the nature strip to be destroyed for a temporary pedestrian crossing.  The residents’ protest was successful in that the work has been postponed. You can read the article by clicking on the following link –

The Cumberland Courier wrote an article this week saying Baulkham Hills residents are furious at Integral Energy for the way their contractors pruned street trees recently.

The local politician, Castle Hill State Liberal MP Michael Richardson has taken a stand calling on the State Government to step in to stop the “butchering.”  Reading this made me hoot with joy.  Finally, a politician has stepped up & challenged the ‘never to be questioned’ power of these companies.

This tree was pruned a long time ago, certainly more than 12 months & it only has small patches of regrowth

Intergal Energy’s letter in reply to Mr Richardson said “While trimming can look severe at first, trees regrow at a normal rate & training them away from power-lines avoids the need to remove them entirely in the future.”  I dispute this having witnessed energy Australia contractors pruning the thin hanging branches of Bottlebrush trees closer to the ground than the wires.  It was entirely unnecessary.

In my opinion they ruined the street trees in my area in 2000 & came & did a much harder prune late 2009.  Many of the trees are hardly worth keeping after this last visit.  Marrickville Council knows this because they have removed a whole street of trees after they have been pruned for power-lines.  It’s a vicious cycle & one I would like to see stopped.  See the Shame Page 1 & 2 on this site for examples.

For the record, I know that trees need to be pruned to prevent blackouts/fire caused by damage to the cables by branches moving in the wind during storms.  However, I strongly believe the energy companies can do much better with their pruning & I am not alone in this.

They can also make AB Cabling cheaper so the councils can afford to use it.  In the long run, it will save significant amounts of money for the energy companies who must pay out millions each year to pay contractors to prune street trees.

You can read the full article by clicking on the following link –

Marrickville Ave Marrickville - shocking

In America they are having a similar argument about their energy supplier ComEd’s treatment of street & public trees.  It is of such concern to the community that ways to manage the problem is the subject of debate in a public forum between 4 State Senators who are candidates for the DuPage County Board Chairman’s seat, a necessary step before going to State Primary elections.  Serious stuff.  All 4 senators want state legislation to bring in measures of control.

“The current state statute is insufficient to deal with this perpetual problem,” Olson (one of the State Senators) said. “I have joined the chairman of the (county board’s) environmental committee in proposing & supporting legislation that would require ComEd to replace high-growing trees they cut down or disfigure under their transmission lines with lower-growing native species.”

Senator Cronin said, “Utilities are subject to specific tree-care standards & the county must ensure that ComEd is meeting those expectations.”

Senator Pankau wants to initiate a program requiring contractors to undergo certified training by the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, which I guess is the equivalent of our Botanical gardens.

I find it astounding that American’s love their public trees so much, they become a voting issue & politicians have to stand up for what they believe about trees in a public forum & that sufficient numbers of people will attend.

You can read the full article at the following link –

There is much more tree news.  To keep this post to a decent size I will post the rest soon.



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