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Looking from the top of the site

Looking from the top of the site

This morning we went to participate with planting the new rain garden in the Marrickville Golf Course, but were too late.  45 people had come earlier & planted a whopping 1,200 plants.  That’s a fantastic turnout.

Instead we got to wander around this marvelous site.  The rain garden is much larger than I anticipated.  It has two sections.  The first where stormwater comes down into the golf course at the junction of Bruce & Princess Street Marrickville.  Approximately 65% of the Riverside Catchment is impervious surfaces, so a significant amount of stormwater enters the Cooks River from this neighbourhood.

The water first enters a swale, then, moves into a large bowl that has been planted out with grasses with jute netting to stabilize the ground.  From there the water is absorbed into the ground that has a three tiers – sand, then glass sand & at the bottom, rock aggregate.  This slows down the water & cleans it of impurities.  After this process, it is picked up by the stormwater system & taken down to enter into the Cooks River.

Behind the major rain garden is another curved swale.  This swale is to collect overflow of stormwater in a 1 in 100-year flood event.  Between the two sites is a concrete path allowing the community to walk through the area & there is also a very nice wooden bridge.

Council has also planted approximately ten Eucalyptus trees & some Leptospermum.  It is wonderful to see trees added to the golf course.

The rain garden & swale looks fantastic & once the plants have grown it will look even better.  This site will be a good place for schools to visit to learn about stormwater management & the environment.  It will also provide habitat for a range of local wildlife.

Marrickville Council has done a terrific job with the Bruce Street Rain Garden. This rain garden will continue to provide benefit to the environment for many decades to come.  I was very impressed.

The bridge with the rain garden on the right & the swale on the left

The bridge with the rain garden on the right & the swale on the left

New trees have been planted in this area

New trees have been planted in this area

Showing how the rain garden was put together

Showing how the rain garden was put together




View of Sydney from Sydney Park. Note the masses of trees & some Grevillea flowers

About 3 kms from Sydney’s CBD is a glorious emerald jewel called Sydney Park.  If you live in the Inner West & own a dog you probably go there often because it is leash-free & offers an incredible amount of room for dogs to run themselves into happy exhaustion.  There are even water bowls for dogs to have a pit-stop drink. I knew of Sydney Park’s existence, though I had no idea just how wonderful this park is. My impression over the years was garnered by what I

What I thought Sydney Park was about

could see as I drove along Sydney Park Road in St Peters – a lot of trees near the road, the old brickworks buildings & an enormous grass hill that I didn’t feel like climbing.  Then I read an article in the Inner West Courier in 2009 about the killing of a black swan by a dog.  Black swan……in Sydney?  This enormously sad news item & the subsequent letters from the community was the prompt I needed to finally visit.

That first visit in 2010 is something I will not forget. We stood at the bottom of the park at the Harber Street entrance & surveyed an enormous park with multiple lakes, masses of normal-shaped large trees, patches of woodland & birds everywhere.  We were hooked. How had this wonderful place been unknown to us for so many years?  If you haven’t been, you must go at least once.  I doubt it will be your last visit.

Reflection in the lower lake

Okay there are hills, but most are easily walked. Many people run up them. Wide bitumen footpaths meander through the park. If a hill seems too much for today you can easily head in another direction.  The bulk of the park is wheelchair accessible though better if you have someone who can help you up those hills if needed.  Prams are a cinch.  There is an ‘all-abilities’ playground, accessible toilets & a kiosk, though I haven’t seen these yet.

The 44-hectares of Sydney Park is less than 20-years-old & was built on a former clay extraction & waste disposal site.  It is a prime example of how industrial & landfill land can be turned into something beautiful.  It was created by the City of Sydney Council who continue to manage it.  They not only have created something that is beautiful & entirely useful for the current population, but everything they are doing is creating something for our children’s children & beyond.  I don’t know how many Fig trees the City of Sydney Council have planted, but I’d guess at least 200 trees.  I’ll have to find out.  The Figs are planted reasonably close to each other to create a continuous canopy when grown & to provide shade. They are all young, but in 2-3 decades time, these Fig trees are going to provide phenomenal beauty.  Just imagine how lovely this park will look in 100-years time.

Sydney Park has tree precincts.  There is the Palm area, the Grevillea woodland, the Tea tree & Callistemon woodland, the Eucalypt woodland, the Casuarinas woodland, the Acacia woodland & so on.  We have not seen all the park as yet so there is bound to be more woodland areas. Trees within the park are used to great effect to screen neighbouring factories  & surrounding roads.  There is no philosophy of maintaining sightlines into this park.  Sydney Park is an oasis & provides refuge from busy city living.  As much as possible, the noise of busy Princes Highway & surrounding main roads has been kept out, both visually & audibly.

Wattle blooming on an island in one of the lakes

Not only is it a place of beauty, but Sydney Park also functions as a stormwater collection & filtration site.  Stormwater from surrounding suburbs comes to a large holding pool where it is filtered & sent on to the first of 5 fairly large lakes. From there it is filtered into the next lake & so on, until it finally filters through the ground into the watertable. The lakes provide 5-star habitat for a wide range of water birds, including migrating birds & Spoonbills.

There are birds everywhere in Sydney Park & they are both wary & curious of people which means you can have a good look at them, but not touch. City of Sydney Council has almost completed fencing the lakes to prevent another dog attack.  Wooden poles attached to the cyclone fencing have made the fences look beautiful & a part of the landscape as well as being functional. This is just one example of how artistic, but functional design has been used in Sydney Park. Nothing here is ordinary in my opinion.  Everything has been done with beauty in mind & to provide food & habitat to urban wildlife.

There are a number of swales that take stormwater from the park itself into the lakes.  We last visited while it was raining & it was easy to see the design that had been implemented to capture runoff down the hills.  Much had been directed into woodland & garden areas & the remainder channeled to meet up with bio-swales that took the water to the lakes. To prevent soil erosion, great long snakes of coir encased in rope were laid around garden beds or in front of vulnerable trees. Some of the pathways are permeable.

Kite flying is easy in Sydney Park

While there are areas of lawn for informal ball games, City of Sydney Council have not created yet another park that is essentially paths & lawn surrounded by trees around the periphery & a few along pathways.  They have recognized that people want & need shade & desire areas to sit where they can be in the shade.  There is not a Crepe myrtle to be seen. They have planted a range of bird-attracting trees & shrubs making this park useful to urban wildlife & there are many areas where it is difficult for people to enter allowing wildlife to have safe habitat.

Much of what has been done in Sydney Park could also be done along the Cooks River.  If it were, it’s likely that a greater range of water birds would live along the river.  Poles have even been sunk upright into one of the lakes to allow birds to perch as well as making an artistic statement for humans. Trees have side branches offering other places to perch. Few plants are ornamental only. While there are grasses around the lakes, grasses are not the main feature of any planting.  Even groundcover is of the type that produces food for small birds. There is loads of colour from flowering trees & shrubs & this will change seasonally.  The ground is healthy as there were a range of gorgeous mushrooms & toadstools growing after the rain.

I am in love with Sydney Park.  It would have been expensive for City of Sydney Council to create, but this is money well spent & the park is going to only get better as it matures.

There are other features, such as a memorial woodland, that I will post about later.  Sydney Park is a prototype of a people-friendly, dog-friendly, wildlife-friendly green space that is not ordinary in any sense & that will only improve as the decades pass.  City of Sydney Council have probably won awards for Sydney Park. If they haven’t as yet, then they should. They deserve it.

I have posted a short YouTube video – Birds at Sydney Park Wetlands & will upload more videos of various aspects of this park later –

Poles for birds & art in the newest lake. The new fencing can be seen on the right

Today, 22nd March is World Water Day. The UN says the objective of World Water Day 2011 is to “focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization & uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts & natural disasters on urban water systems.”

The theme for 2011 is Water for Cities & “aims to spotlight & encourage governments, organizations, communities & individuals to actively engage in addressing the challenges of urban water management.”

During last Sunday 20th to Monday 21st March parts of Sydney received a record-breaking 6 weeks of rain in just 24 hours with the weather forecasters saying this was related to climate change.  The UN says climate change will force more people to live in cities, further stressing the current water management infrastructure.

Stormwater entering the Cooks River at Mackey Park. This is a slow trickle compared to many other occasions

You only needed to be out on the roads last Sunday to see that many parts of Marrickville LGA were flooded & driving conditions were dangerous.  Most stormwater in Marrickville LGA enters the drains until eventually reaching the Cooks River.  It’s great Marrickville Council has built a number of bio-swales near the river & set up pollution traps to filter the stormwater as it enters the river. The swales clean up the oils & other ground pollutants collected by stormwater. However, swales are relatively new infrastructure & there is much more work to be done across all the relevant Councils before we can say that the Cooks River is fully protected from stormwater pollutants.

Cooks River pollution trap at Mackey Park

Sydney City Council is planning to capture stormwater from roofs of a large residential area in their Sustainable Street Project.  Thousands of litres of stormwater is already being collected in Myrtle Street Chippendale proving that it can be done easily & cheaply. This water is used to water their verge gardens & so far there has not been a need to use water from a private home.

To divert & collect water from roofs is not rocket science so I wonder why we are not all doing it in cities & town across Australia.  Marrickville Council has said that many of the new street trees planted die due to lack of water. Very few people want to water the street tree out front because of the added cost to their water bills, yet rainwater from our roofs can be easily diverted to the street tree & verge. Instead, most of the stormwater races past over hard surfaces & the tree gets only as much water as it can grab.  If it is a tree in an area that floods, it gets a bigger drink. If not, then it has to learn to survive on very little water or send its roots to where it can access water, often the front garden of the nearest property. This creates problems with some properties & yet it need not happen.

Cooks River pollution trap near Steele Park

The UN says the following about urban water – “There is growing evidence that water resources will be significantly affected by climate change, both in quantity & quality, particularly through the impact of floods, droughts, or extreme events. The effect of climate change will also mean more complex operations, disrupted services & increased cost for water & wastewater services. In addition, climate change & disasters will result in bigger migration to urban areas, increasing the demands on urban systems.”

Pretty serious stuff, especially for poorer communities in the third world. If climate change does happen in the way scientists expect, then water will become a major issue for us as well & we won’t be happy to see run across our streets, down stormwater drains & into rivers or oceans.  Water will be far too precious a commodity for us to allow this to happen.

Farmers in NSW, Victoria & South Australia who rely on water from the Murray-Darling River system have already experienced the environmental destruction, loss of diversity & extreme difficulty growing food while having to buy & get water delivered from elsewhere.  I predict that it won’t be too many years before many of us will choose to capture rainwater for our own use because the price of turning on the tap will be prohibitive & Councils will have to address our dying water management infrastructure, again because of costs.

We are the lucky ones with numerous taps inside & outside our homes with hot & cold running clean water.  Here are some unnerving stats to finish with –

  • Every second the world’s population grows by 2 people.
  • 493 million people share their sanitation facilities.  This means something like 1 toilet for a street or neighbourhood, not 1 toilet for a household.
  • 1.4 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.
  • Every 8 seconds a child dies from drinking dirty water.
  • The World Health Organisation says 80% of all sickness & disease worldwide is related to contaminated water.

You can read about World Water Day here –

I have written about a way to capture rainwater from your roof to water the verge & street trees here –

A few decades ago the water of the Cooks River was safe to drink & swim in. A few Councils along the river & many community volunteers are working to restore the river for the benefit of future generations & urban wildlife. The names & contacts of local volunteer groups are in the blogroll on the left-hand side


It’s the end of the era for community-managed Bushpockets for Marrickville LGA. That is, unless someone else takes up the management of this project.

Local resident Michael Easton set up Bushpockets 6-years ago & with the assistance of Marrickville Council & a loyal team of community volunteers, worked to improve at least 2 barren places in Marrickville. They changed these sites from weedy places used for dumping into exactly what the group were called – bush pockets.

A couple of years ago a swale & rain garden was created on the Devil’s Elbow Bushpocket at Victoria Road Marrickville to capture & filter stormwater.  Many native plants, shrubs & trees were planted filling the space with beauty.  Council even put in a park bench allowing people to sit here in the shade despite the absence of a bus stop.

The plants in the Devil’s Elbow Bushpocket are flowering natives so the site provides much needed food & habitat for birds & other urban wildlife.  This is so important as there certainly isn’t a glut of food sources in the LGA & every little bit helps.

Section of young plants growing around the Devil's Elbow Bushpocket

Michael says a growing family & work responsibilities coupled with a frustration with Marrickville Council has led to his decision to hand over responsibility of Bushpockets to Council.  Michael has given me permission to share whatever I want from his email.  I thought it best to not translate his words so part of his email is as follows –

“My one disappointment is that I have not been able to build this into a longer-term partnership with Marrickville Council.

Bushpockets has received praise & recognition. We have received help & resources on an occasional basis (most notably during the construction of the Rain Garden).  I’ve dealt with some wonderful, committed staff.

“What’s been missing though has been flexible, adaptive, pro-active, ongoing support – the feeling that this is valued as part of the bigger project of greening Marrickville.  It seems that we don’t fit into any plan or pigeonhole, therefore it’s all too hard.

After all these years & despite all the talk, all the plans, there is no-one to talk to at Council for people who want to create a Bushpocket, no-one who can help with advice or to get them started.  Communication is poor & there are no staff on the ground who can help you maintain Bushpockets.  I’ve been told to be patient, that these things take time to achieve in a bureaucracy, but my patience has run out.

I think it’s a real pity.  I have experienced the energy & passion that is out there amongst residents who want to improve the environment, but I don’t think it is harnessed effectively by Council.  I believe it could be done, cheaply & effectively, if the right attitude & capability was there.  I don’t think money is the problem.  It has happened in many other places.  And the benefits could be enormous, not only for the environment, but for community building & Council’s bottom line.

I’m told that Council staff are currently considering how the sites will be maintained & I will let you know if there’s any news.  The application to paint a mural on the railway bridge is also in its 5th month of consideration by Council so there may be one last working bee to help prep the surface for that.”

I really do hope that someone in the community has the energy, enthusiasm & commitment to take over the Bushpockets project from Michael.  On a positive note he did write, “For myself, it’s been incredibly satisfying, I have learned an amazing amount, & most importantly, met great people from all parts of the community – making some lasting friendships.”

If no one is able to do this, then I hope Marrickville Council will look after the current Bushpocket sites & that they elect to create more Bushpocket sites throughout the LGA. There are certainly many suitable places just begging for attention.  It could be another way for Council to demonstrate their commitment to the environment.  I also hope Council take this rather serious feedback on board.

Thank you from me to Michael & all those involved in Marrickville Bushpockets. I have been a big fan & very appreciative of your work.

My photos of the Devil’s Elbow Bushpocket are out of date. Here are 22 photos of a variety of native flowers at Devil’s Elbow taken by Michael last September 2010 –


Showing the swale & rain garden at the Devil's Elbow Bushpocket just after it was created in December 2009. Since then many plants & shrubs have been added

Last March 2010 I came across Council workers constructing a swale in Thornley Street Marrickville South.  Even though work on the swale was only just beginning I was impressed. I hadn’t been back since it was completed so decided it was about time I returned to have a look.

I must say Marrickville Council builds beautiful swales & this is one of them.  The hill that descends to the Cooks River is quite steep so this swale & raingarden would catch a significant amount of stormwater, cleaning it of oils & other ground pollution before it reaches the river.  The swale itself is lovely to look at & has visually enriched the neighbourhood further.

I made a 1.44 minute YouTube video – Thornley Street Swale –


Heart-shaped swale adjacent to Illawarra Road

Marrickville Council has done some truly fabulous environmental work at Steele Park in Marrickville South this year.  The bottom end of the park closest to the Cooks River has been transformed from a bitumen car park & an area of patchy lawn with a barbeque & a few picnic benches to a very good looking system of swales & a saltwater wetland.  These swales will capture a lot of the stormwater from Marrickville South cleaning & conditioning the water before it enters the Cooks River.  The saltwater wetland will fill when the river tide rises which it does when the  Moon is close to the Earth.  The wetland will also condition the water that comes into this area, & importantly, it will provide habitat for crabs & food for foraging birds.

On National Tree Planting Day last August many residents planted hundreds of plants, shrubs & trees in this area. See –

Permeable paths with kerfed wood boundaries

Three months has passed since that day & the area has started to take hold.  The bulk of the plants appear to have survived & unlike other areas where planting has been done along the Cooks River, the plant thieves have not struck.  We were lucky to have substantial rain in the week following that day of planting & this would have helped deter the thieves as well as assist the plants to get a good start.  I think this area looks very pretty on its own, separate from the new playground & WaterPlay area, which I also think are terrific.  As all the plants & trees grow it is going to look even better.  See –

There was only 1 thing that I questioned & that was the planting of Casuarina trees.  I don’t particularly like these trees as I think they cause a lot of trouble as they send up suckers, create a deep bed of needles preventing anything growing underneath them, are not a good shade tree, nor are they good to sit under.  However, they are indigenous to the area, do provide food for Cockatoos & I would imagine they are cheap purchase for Council.  They are hardy & easy to grow.  There are many Casuarinas on both sides of the river.

A family getting some relief from the sun. Hopefully there will be enough shade-producing trees in this area

A few Eucalypts have been planted which is great.  When these trees grow they will provide shade.

A comment was left regarding this area in the post about the WaterPlay Park which suggested that signage be put in this area as this would help educate people about the swales, the wetland & the water going into the Cooks River. I thought this was a great idea & agree if it is not done, Council will be losing a great opportunity to increase the public’s knowledge of these environmental systems. I would imagine many schools would visit to learn about these.

So if you go to the WaterPlay or playground, take a walk around the swales.  They are worth it.  Everything Marrickville Council did here is worthy of an award. I think Council excelled with the whole renovation of Steele Park.  If this is an example of future works along the Cooks River, the locality, the environment & the water quality of the Cooks River is going to be greatly improved.

New saltwater wetland in Steele Park

Looks fun

The Waterplay Park at Steele Park Marrickville South was officially opened today.  As usual, we missed the speeches.  When we arrived Steel Park was buzzing with around 300 people playing in the Waterpark, the new playground, riding the flying fox & picnicking in the shade. There was a long line to the sausage sizzle & we missed out there as well. This is the penalty for arriving late.

The Cooks River & the weather could not have put on a better display today as the afternoon was beautiful with blue skies & warm enough for the kids to get thoroughly soaked.

I love Steele Park because it is one of the few parks in Marrickville LGA where trees are planted throughout the park & not just along central pathways & around the perimeter. There is a special kind of healthy-feel-good coolness that happens when you sit on the grass under the Poplar trees when there is a slight breeze.  The leaves of these trees make a great sound when the wind passes through them.  Then there is the view of the Cooks River, which I think is great from any viewing point.

This rock, part of the Waterplay Park is gorgeous. People were looking at it closely. It is as good as any in the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour

The plants put in & around the new swales & the salt-water marsh on National Tree Day are growing well. I will talk about this part of the Steele Park upgrade in another post.

The Waterplay Park is a masterpiece in my opinion.  This is innovative design that has added much to the amenity of Marrickville as well as much beauty.  It looks terrific now. When all the plants & trees have grown, the Waterplay section of Steele Park will look absolutely stunning.

The kids love it from toddlers to teenagers.  I expect the adults will use it on hot days as well.  It’s safe, interesting to look at & explore & set up so adults can watch the kids close enough to help if needed, but far enough away not to get wet.  There are numerous ‘benches’ made of sandstone & cement that have been incorporated into the design.  The trees will provide shade once they have grown.

The new playground section is also terrific with a heap of equipment for the kids to play on. There are swings, things that spin, a net that you climb, even a flying fox that was busy for hours.  Kids only on the flying fox as it won’t take the weight of adults.  It looks like great fun.

The whole set up will teach children about the river & the environment.  I saw many go over & inspect the crabs at low tide & walk around the swales.

There is also a new toilet block with sports change rooms for ‘home’ & ‘away’ teams & a canteen.  Everything looks new & cared for so I hope it manages to stay that way.

The Waterplay Park & playgrounds are well worth a visit.  Marrickville Council has excelled with Steele Park.  It’s creative, innovative, beautiful & environmentally fantastic.   It will only get better as it matures.

Lots of great things happening

Sometimes I get annoyed with Marrickvile Council & sometimes I think they do such fantastic things for our environment that I want to become their publicity officer.  Today was the latter.  It is National Tree Day.

Council arranged a National Tree Day working bee for members of the community to volunteer by planting the new area currently being renovated at Steele Park, Illawarra Road Marrickville South alongside the Cooks River.

My initial impression when I arrived was one of astonishment. I had been expecting to see a small area that was to be a salt-water wetland.  Instead before me were large decorative swales, at least 2 of them, with a couple more being built. One looks like a heart before it takes a winding route under a new pedestrian/bike path/bridge before reaching the Cooks River.  The car park has been removed, the soil has been landscaped to facilitate the swales & new trees have been planted.

Council supplied gloves & spades & put on a barbeque. We were given on-the-spot OH&S training before we joined around 60-100 other people to plant native grasses, ferns, shrubs & seedling trees.  The work was easy because the soil was wet after the recent rain. It looked like 4/5ths of the plants were in the ground by the time we left.

If you haven’t done this before, I’d recommend it as a nice way to spend a couple of hours. People were friendly, the work was not back-breaking & the food was probably good, though we didn’t stay for that part.  It was good to take part in beautifying this part of Marrickville.

There are a number of environmental programs in Marrickville LGA that rely on volunteers. For information contact Marrickville Council’s Biodiversity Coordinator 9335-2222.

I predict Marrickville Council will win awards for the landscaping & environmental work at Steele Park. When they do, I’ll post a reminder to say I said it first.  If this is any indication of what the waterplay section is going to be like, Steele Park is going to be beautiful.  As I write this it is raining – excellent for today’s new plants.

Showing a few shots of the swales. Second photo down on the right shows the salt-water wetland & the photo bottom left shows permeable footpaths.

Swale at the bottom of Hill Street Marrickville South

Something is definitely happening with the birds. Two weeks ago, my neighbour’s front garden & the street tree were suddenly filled with tiny birds twittering up a storm.  It was like the whole population of another suburb visited & came all at once. The bird song was deafening, like I was standing in a forest.  This has happened a couple of times since with what appeared to be the same species of bird.  Then the Ravens came, about 20 of them & they all had something to say.

This morning I dashed outside when I heard screeches.  Looking up I swear I saw around 30 eagles flying overhead, & no, I was not drunk or on drugs. The eagles were flying relatively low so I got a good look at them.  They are very big birds with a massive wingspan.  All the other birds went silent & those eating from the Grevilleas got down low in the bushes as fast as they could.  It was very quiet for a few minutes after the eagles flew away.  Even our cats were terrified.

Has anyone else seen eagles in the Inner West before or in the suburbs?  I remember seeing an eagle in Kurrajong Heights when I was

a kid, but none flying free since then.

So why did they come?  What is happening to the birds lately?  I feel like I am a shaman witnessing some kind of

New swale at the bottom of Wallace Street Marrickville South

omen.  I just hope it amounts to nothing more than the natural behaviour of birds that I haven’t noticed before. A flock of eagles has got to be unusual though.

I had been meaning to post about other works done by Marrickville Council recently.  A small garden island on Illawarra Road Marrickville  South was looking stunning until a few plants got pinched.  It still looks good, but I doubt the holes will be filled in.  The swale on the corner of Hill Street & Illawarra Road has filled in with all the plants growing well.  We also found another swale that looks like a recent construction at the corner of Illawarra Road & Wallace Street.

Both these sites are at the bottom of steep hills where stormwater will rush before hitting the flat area of Steele Park & then into the Cooks River.  I guess the planned wetlands for Steele Park will capture the water that passes through these swales doing the job of conditioning the water before it actually enters the Cooks River.

I hadn’t heard of swales until last year. Now they are popping up in a few areas near & along the banks of the Cooks River.

Garden island planting on Illawarra Rd Marrickville South

They may also be in a few other places in the LGA that I don’t know about.

I think swales are terrific.  To my uneducated mind, they seem to create a mini environment perfect for frogs & a place where birds can often find a drink.  If swales are taken up as the norm across our city, it will be fabulous.  For 200 years, everything has just washed into drains & the harbour, the nearest river or the ocean.  Not only is it a dreadful waste of water, the water itself is generally unclean & filled with garbage & whatever it picks up as it travels along hard surfaces.

The swale built by Marrickville Bushpockets near the curve of the railway line on Victoria Road Marrickville is really coming along well.  This area is not a park, yet it is a very pleasant place to sit for a while.  It used to be a weedy area popular for dumping rubbish.  I am looking forward to spring to see the Wattle & other trees flower.

Just metres away Marrickville Council has planted a Gymea Lily in a

garden island with a sentinel rock.  Behind this is one of my favourite non-park green spaces.

NSW State Rail land Victoria Road Marrickville. The arrow is a separate access road. The area surrounded in red is the unused land. In the foreground is part of the swale showing native grasses.

The area directly across the road from the Victoria Road swale is owned by NSW State Rail & is usually waist-high in weeds.  It’s quite a substantial triangular area that I thought could be used for a community garden until someone spoke about the possibility of long-forgotten toxins in the ground & I couldn’t solve the problem of the lack of access to water.

State Rail mowed it recently allowing me to get a good look at the size of the land.  It is actually a perfect space to create a mini urban forest without limiting utilityvehicles accessing the rail property.  If this area was

Section of young plants growing around the Victoria Road Swale

planted with a few trees & under-planting, it would look so much better as well as providing an area of scarce habitat & food for birds & other wildlife.  I will write to State Rail about this space.  Perhaps they will like the idea & something beneficial can be created in this space.

Tonight I learnt that almost 40% of Rome is actual farming land.   I couldn’t imagine the Roman people leaving this area bare, even if only to make the area beautiful simply for the sake of it.

swales & new planting

I went for a walk along the Marrickville side of the Cooks River on Friday and saw there has been a significant amount of restoration work done along the river bank, including a couple of swales in the area where it floods when there is a specially high tide.  I have stood ankle deep in water that covered the footpath on an occasion when the moon’s position caused a high tide.

The grasses & new tree planting is already busy with the sounds of insects pleased with the new habitat.  There is also another new swale at the cliff underneath a storm water drain.  It is really quite beautiful.

looks quite natural

I think all this work has been done by Marrickville Council.  Last week I saw council workers building a similar swale on Thornley Street (see swales & planter boxes 7th March 2010.  There are barriers in place & a huge pile of dirt so it looks like more work is to come. Well done.  It has made a significant difference.

I am continually impressed with Marrickville Council & the community groups who do wonderful work returning this river back to what it was before it was severely polluted over the past 100 years or so.  A number of these groups are listed in the blogroll on the left hand-column.  The Cooks River at Strathfield is literally a cement drain & looks shocking.  The difference in the two locations is astounding.



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