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Showing the floating plastic carpet on the Cooks River at Tempe Reserve. I gasped when I saw this photo. The area covered in floating garbage is really large. Earlier the road was also covered in flood water. Photo taken by Valentina Mickovska with thanks.

Local resident Valentina Mickovska kindly allowed me to post her amazing photo of the carpet of plastic bottles & other items of plastic floating on the Cooks River at Tempe Reserve.  The photo was taken early yesterday when the Cooks River flooded.

Undoubtedly, much of the masses of garbage trapped in the rocks that surround Tempe Reserve were dislodged in the flood, but I also think that this floating mess could have added to via stormwater drains.  This photo clearly shows the need for a floating collection boom in this area to stop this kind of litter from fully entering the Cooks River ecosystem.

I have been surprised to see just how many stormwater drains enter the Cooks River without any means of collecting garbage attached to them.  In my opinion, no stormwater drain should be allowed to empty into the river without a collection devise that prevents plastic bottles, plastic bags & other litter from being flushed into the river uncontested.  Not just in Marrickville LGA, but also in all the Councils lucky enough to have the Cooks River flowing through their municipality.

Making this change should not be too costly for the Councils to implement.  The collection booms would go a long way in supporting both the Councils & the community’s ongoing attempts to clean up the river.  Preventing stormwater litter from entering the Cooks River would also have an immense benefit for local wildlife that live & feed on the river.

We also need a bottle return program because people are less likely to litter when they can get money for returning the bottle.

The same area of the Cooks River on a good day. We are so lucky to have such a beautiful place in Marrickville LGA.

This was the Development Assessment Meeting.  Absent: Clr Thanos.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Wright/North, Tsardoulias/West, O’Sullivan/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Peters/North, Byrnes/North, Kontellis/West, Olive/South.  INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Thanos/West, Hanna/South.

News – The 2011 Local Environment Plan (LEP) was gazetted last Monday.

Community Markets at Newtown Square, Bedford Street Newtown –  Application for markets from 7am-6pm Saturday & Sunday for 5-years comprising a maximum 70 stalls.  Staff recommended approval for a period of 12-months.

Speaker from the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre said the Centre wanted to support artists, add vibrancy to retail & to add consistency. The current market is unsafe, inconsistent & selling dubious items. This [new] market will have a market manager & there will be a code of conduct. Priority registration for stalls will be for Marrickville LGA & community groups.  The square will be a place for locals & will complement retail. The markets won’t sell food, unless it’s prepackaged. There will be 50-70 stalls. Seeking to have a Saturday & Sunday license to stop rogue marketers setting up on the other day.

Speaker 2: Speaking against the application. Feel we need to make a claim for public space. There should be safe & equal access. Concerned about locking up the site over the weekend. Don’t think regulating something that is unregulated is the right thing to do.  It’s not a Town Square; it’s really an awkward road closure.  Love to see the Hub redeveloped & the Australia Street area shaded & paved. Enough people use this area to be activated. You need a site plan in real size. 70 stalls is too many & a wheelchair won’t fit between the stalls. I ask that you close this down during the Newtown Festival & have on Sundays only.  I’d like to see Newtown Neighbourhood Centre have support from the community to raise funds by other means.

Speaker 3: Resident of Australia Street, against the application.  It’s a very busy part of Newtown & well used even without the stallholders. Not opposed to a market, but this is the wrong place for a market. Proponent didn’t submit a scaled plan. The stalls would not fit into that space. Concerned also of the maintenance of the grassed area, which needs to be protected.

Clr Macri: Moved the recommendation modifying it to run on one day only with the NNC to choose the day.  Clr Wright: LEP would make it very difficult for a 2-day market & could only do this for 1-year.  The state government put on this restriction.

Clr Peters:  Amendments to 9B & 9E concerning the condition of no live music.  This is very restrictive. Musicians like to play & they are also local artists.  No vehicles or structures are permitted in garden or lawn areas. We should not be privatizing open space.  Absorbed by Clr Macri who said it would be a 12-month trial.

Clr Wright: Including this amendment would reduce the number of stalls. Concerned we are tying them up with so many restrictions.  Clr Olive: Supporting the proposal. What Clr Peters proposed is reasonable. The markets provide a vibrant & prosperous event. It’s a real asset to have this on-street vibrancy. Live music should be able to be done. Applaud the fact the food is being removed, but organic fruit & vegetables would be a good thing.  Mayor Hanna: Agree with the speaker who said we need more open space. They [residents] want to sleep in. We have to be fair. I’m voting only because it’s for 1 year, but if you include music I won’t vote for it.

Clr Phillips: Concerned that the speaker mentioned ‘rogue traders.’ Reasonable that it will be for only one day on the weekend. 70 stalls is too much & it’s reasonable that the proponents put up a scaled plan. The travel paths & grass needs to be respected.  Vote: For – Clrs Tsardoulias, Iskandar, Wright, O’Sullivan, Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis, Byrne & Macri.  Against Mayor Hanna. Passed.

There is a perfect view across the water at Tempe Reserve

However, when the tide goes down there is this garbage bin that has been here for about 5 years. It can't be good for the river rotting away like this.

Then there is a shopping trolley & pushbike close to the bank off Mackey Park in Marrickville

The temporary road blockage in Union Street Tempe

This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clrs Phillips, Peters & Iskandar.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council.  The Councillors & Wards are as follows –

LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Wright/North, Tsardoulias/West, O’Sullivan/South.  GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Peters/North, Byrnes/North, Kontellis/West, Olive/South.  INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Thanos/West, Hanna/South.

Union Street Tempe: That MC not proceed with the proposal to provide a 2-way section of Union Street Between Brooklyn Lane & Princes Highway – 4 residents spoke, one for keeping Union closed & 3 against. Resident 1: Fully support full-time no right turn into Union Street & reopening of Union with 2-way traffic to the lane. It’s fair to all. How can we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars & go against the traffic expert’s recommendation? Why are we ignoring Option A?  Reopening Union St eliminates the need of contemplating 2-way option between Princes Highway & Brooklyn Lane.  Increase in traffic down Stanley Street.  For Item B3 – opposed to 2-way traffic on Brooklyn Lane & Princes Highway. Reopening Union would remove this need. Install no right turn into Princes Highway, then reopen Union Street & reinstate 2-way traffic to the school. This will solve most of the problems.

Resident 2: Would like to keep the road closure for Union Street. On Sunday we held a garage sale trail & a lot of people were walking around the suburb in absolute safety. These street closures are building the community, If we open up Union Street, we have 300 kids [at the school]. We just need 1 kid hit by a car & people will look to MC.   It’s not about the vocal majority; it’s about the community.

Resident 3: Support the recommendation to not make Union Street dual use. Reopening Union Street is about community equity. Why should Union Street have a calm street? Mary Street has had an increase in traffic because of the Union Street closure. To keep Union closed will be extraordinarily unfair to so many streets. Should be fair for all the community, not the loudest. Why has Union Street got traffic counting measures, but no other streets?  Stanley Street has had a huge increase in traffic. To put up a motion to close Union Street permanently without community consultation will be completely unfair & undemocratic. This should be out there for 2 months for community consultation.

Resident 4: Speaking for the residents of Brooklyn Street who are opposed to the barrier in Union Street. I’d like to speak in favour of opening school lane to 2-way traffic. Union Street closure received the least amount of support in the last survey. I’m also against the partial opening of Union Street.  There is a severely disabled woman in Union Street having severe difficulty because of the barrier in Union Street. There has to be give & take on both sides. The residents of Union Street have to expect traffic living in the inner city. If the no right turn into Union Street is implemented, they cannot expect to have the barrier as well.

Mother Magpie feeding its baby in Tempe Reserve

Clr Hanna: Moved the recommendation. Clr Olive: Speaking against Clr Hanna’s motion. MC should be working from the words ‘temporary.’  Page 5 says temporary road closure until full no right had turn can be implemented. It doesn’t say we will be taking out the road closure.  I’ve understood that we will make a decision once we have put in the no right hand turn. We need a no right hand turn from highway into Union Street, but it will not give us the best outcome. Road closures have been shown to work with a bit of inconvenience for some residents. We have to keep progressing forwards. Item B3 is a reasonable suggestion because it will alleviate a number of problems & make it legal & safe. Want to close Union Street permanently.

Staff:  The October resolution said this was an interim step with no right hand turn into Union Street  & we would remove the road closure after this. This is based on the Traffic Committee with consultation with the community. A permanent road closure was not on the cards.

Clr O’Sullivan: We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultancies; May & June reports & an extensive residents survey. Option A in October was the most popular option & Option C was by far the least popular, that is the closure of Union Street. 15% wanted the closure with 58% saying it was the least preferred option. Consultancy recommended Option C not be recommended. The further survey was narrowly based & the initial survey was wide. At the initial resolution, only 1 Councillor voted against this option. The Tempe Action Group submission indicated the option with no right hand turn they could live with.  We need to say we will stick by our October decision because that’s what we were advised & what we voted.  I have to take a broader view.

Clr Byrne: Q: We’ve been given approval for no right hand turn…what are the time-frames?  Staff: We expect formal approval by Christmas. Earliest we would see if end of January for no right hand turn.  Clr Byrne: Have we done community consultation with Smith Street residents & around?  Staff: No community consultation. It took us by surprise from the RTA. Clr Byrne: Will there be notification for Smith Street residents?  Staff: Yes. If we opposed this there could be a delay for Union Street. Clr Byrne: I’m concerned because we have had lots of community saying we have not done enough community consultation, so to do this without community consultation is of concern.

Clr Thanos: I will be supporting Mayor Hanna’s motion as it has been amended by Clr O’Sullivan.   Clr Macri: Q: What capacity does Smith Street have?  Staff: No capacity issues.  Clr Macri: I support the Mayor’s recommendation.

Mayor Hanna:  In October we promised we would reopen Union Street after we get a no right hand turn.  I’ve been watching Tempe streets looking at every street because some have much more traffic.  Vote: Against – Clr Olive, Kontellis & Byrne.  For – Clrs Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan, Thanos, Macri & Hanna.  Carried.

Google map of Kendrick Park. The entrance to Woli Creek is shown as the bottom of the fork in the top left-hand corner, while the Cooks River continues inland at the top of the map.

I debated whether to call this post something like ‘The Cooks River has never been cleaner,’ except the presence of raw sewerage is a problem, even if it is invisible. Thing is the banks of the Cooks River have never been cleaner than they are now & nor have they been for at least the last 17-years because that’s how long we have been watching.

I nearly cried when looking at the riverbank in Kendrick Park earlier this year. There were literally thousands of bottles & hundreds of other pieces of plastic on the riverbank & all through the mangroves.  It was very sad, absolutely disgusting & way too much for two people to clean up, though I did seriously consider trying.

The river all along Marrickville Council’s section is looking excellent these days, like a river should look.  No wonder more people are fishing along the river, but I do wonder if they know of the raw sewerage pollution. Council posted a sign warning against eating fish caught at this location.

Marrickville Council has finished their work in Kendrick Park & frankly, it looks great.  They removed some trees, including the dead but, still quite gorgeous old Pine close to the river & planted new trees, something in the number of 8 Angophoras & 6 what looked to me to be Tea trees, plus the replacement for the recent tree removal at View Street.  Unfortunately 2 of the Tea trees have already died, but perhaps Council will replace these soon so they can catch up with the others.

The swale is completed.  This sits sideways on the bank collecting the stormwater that comes down the hill. Council also did work to direct the stormwater from the residential streets down the hill to the swale.  It looks good & once the grasses have grown will look even better.

Earlier this year a long section of the riverbank was rebuilt, I presume to stop any erosion.  Tonnes of sandstone has been used, not only to build a wall, but also to fortify the bank.  If it’s like Tempe Reserve, this area will be full of oysters & crabs before long.  A canoe/small boat ramp has also been built. At the top of the ramp structure is a park bench & viewing area with a new Angophora tree growing behind the bench that will provide morning shade for this seat.  The view is interesting as it captures the Princes Highway bridge over the Cooks River (anyone know the name of this bridge?), the highrise housing at Wolli Creek, historic Tempe House & the gardens in front of this development.  The view also looks onto Fatima Island where there are always waterbirds sunning themselves & to the left is another couple of bridges that carry the trains.

New pedestrian pathways have been built, the road surface has been replaced or renewed & there is a painted bike path.  I don’t know if the playground itself is new, but it is in very good condition & there is lots of variety for the kids to play on.  The playground has also been spread over a reasonably large area so there is plenty of room for the children to run & be active in this area.

I have always liked Kendrick Park, not just because of the river, but because this park has ‘rooms.’  Every landscape designer will encourage rooms or creating different areas even for the smallest of spaces as this encourages exploring, adds beauty & interest & makes a place look bigger.  By the use of curved pathways, trees & the playground, plus picnic huts interspersed with areas of grass, Council has managed to create this.  You can sit or walk in different areas of the park & get a different experience. Even what you hear is different.  This is one of the few parks where trees have been planted throughout the park & not just around the periphery.  There are also enough mature trees to have shade.  Once the Angophoras grow there will be more shade in the areas that need it.

Bottom of a Fig tree that has managed to grow on the cliff face.

Even the cliff face is interesting with a couple of beautiful Figs & a range of mature Eucalypts & Banksias looking down on you.  This is probably the best car park in the whole LGA.  There is a great set of old sandstone stairs that allow you to enter the park from Griffiths Street & Council has planted the area under the Casuarinas with ground covers, which will be much nicer than just the mat of needles.

Don’t let the location next to the Princes Highway put you off. Kendrick Park is a lovely park & quite safe for kids as the highway is quite a distance from the playground.  It’s easy parking & even has a toilet block that gets locked at dusk.

When we drove past last Sunday the park was bursting with people & all the barbeques were in use.  It’s worth a visit if parks & wandering along the river is your thing. You can access Tempe Reserve from Kendrick Park by crossing the highway at the pedestrian crossing.  The walk in the opposite direction that takes you to Mackey Park is a surprising area of beauty. Tempe is lucky to have this park.

I made a video of Kendrick Park here –

I have never see the river bank so clean & plastic-free

New shared cycleway at Kendrick Park



In last week's Council Meeting it was mentioned by a Councillor that many Tempe residents feel forgotten by Marrickville Council. I asked a friend & Tempe resident whether they personally felt this way. The answer was yes. Toyer Street Reserve is an example.

The route for the bird survey in Tempe Reserve

8am this morning saw us join 10 other people in Tempe Reserve to participate in the bird survey part of the ‘Birds & Bush’ event put on by Marrickville Council.   Two friendly & very informed Council staff told us what we would need to do for the bird survey, gave us a clipboards with a map & a sheet of 16 bird species that we could expect to see.  So off we all went on an easy & slow walk around the southern side of Tempe Reserve.

We went through the Cooks River Valley Garden, past the ring of Figs & a miniature Sydney Turpentine – Ironbark forest, through sandstone heath land, around the large saltwater wetland & alongside the Cooks River past a patch of  floodplain forest back to where we started.  A generous morning tea with fresh strawberries, croissant, chocolate biscuits & snails (the sweat kind) was shared.  The next 2 hours were to be devoted to doing some planting in the Cooks River Valley Garden.

It was an perfect morning for bird spotting, so what did we see?  All 16 bird species expected were spotted, plus another 19 species.  A pelican graced us with its presence & 4 cormorants fished together.  The staff members were happy with the numbers of birds, which was good, as they knew what they wanted to find.  We thought it quiet, but perhaps birds come in & out of Tempe Reserve during different parts of the day.

I got to ask many questions & received answers about things that have always puzzled me.  I also learnt that what I thought was a Grey-faced Heron is actually a White-faced Heron (details…details…) & why there are no trees in certain areas in Tempe Reserve.  It’s because heath habitat has been created for lizards, snakes & ground-feeding birds.

Tempe Reserve was originally the Gumbramorra swamp & mud flats. Then it became the landfill tip for many decades.  Eventually the land was reclaimed & to encourage wildlife Marrickville Council is trying to create the range of habitats that would have once been in the area.

I found an article written in August 2005 from the Sydney Morning Herald, which had some interesting information.

“Tempe Tip, once Sydney’s favourite haunt for bargain hunters, sat in the too-hard basket for 30 years after it was closed.  That was up to last year. (2004) Now, $17.5 million later, the former tip is 10 hectares of parkland adjacent to an existing reserve with 4 hectares of wetlands & embankment landscaped with native plants, a golf driving range & dog off-leash areas. Ducks & birds are returning.”

We didn’t see any ducks, but it was interesting to learn that Tempe Reserve is only 7-years old. Considering this, what Marrickville Council & community volunteers have managed to create is nothing short of amazing.  There is birdlife here & this should improve as more habitat & food sources get planted & grow.

Council are planning to hold more bird survey events, so if you have an interest in birds or want to learn about them in an easy-going way with a bunch of friendly people, then you will enjoy this free outing.

A male Blue Wren seen this morning


Rows of barbed wire along the top of the Gannon Street fence of the Tempe Bus Depot

The completed renovation to the Tempe Bus & Tram Depot (corner of Gannon Street & Princes Highway) looks great.  The area looks much cleaner than it used to look.  They kept all the old historic buildings & surprisingly, even a very large tree on site.

All lovely, except that they have used razor wire on the entrance gate & rows of barbed wire over some of the perimeter fencing.

Thankfully, they did decide to keep this very tall tree

Why?  Tempe isn’t a war zone.  They are not doing it purely for security reasons as the fence along the Princes Highway & around a third of the fence on Gannon Street is topped with spikes preventing all, but the determined from climbing over.  I know how to get over the spikes.  Movies on TV taught me this.

I think the cost of the fence along the Princes Highway & Gannon Street was much more expensive than the black cyclone fencing used for the remainder of the fence along Gannon Street.

Now if I know how to get over a spiked fence from watching TV, so do others.  The technique is the same for barbed wire, though who would bother in this case.  Wire cutters would do the job of cutting an entrance hole in the cyclone fencing in under a minute removing the need to climb.

What I am saying is people will get in through the cyclone fencing, therefore the need for razor wire & rows of barbed wire on the top is totally unnecessary.  It is also potentially dangerous which is why I am posting about this.  There are other places where one could enter the property with relative safety.

Someone may be silly enough or intoxicated enough to decide to climb & could suffer horrendous injury from doing so.  Birds & other wildlife could also be slashed to bits. And for what?  I’d like someone to give me a legitimate explanation.

Barbed wire, & particularly razor wire, is ugly & dangerous.  I can think of no reason why the peaceful people of Tempe should have to be living with razor wire & barbed wire.

Razor wire on top of the Gannon Street gate to the Tempe Bus Depot

Marrickville Council have recently planted 10 Gordonias as street trees along the Tempe Railway Station side of the bridge that crosses over from Richardsons Crescent Marrickville to Unwins Bridge Road Tempe.  What a great choice of tree & what a great location to plant this particular species.

It's great that these trees were planted with an ag-pipe to help with watering

Gordonias have a regular & predictable shape so it is unlikely they will cause any problems with the railway line or cables below.

These trees are not deciduous so the community will have a row of trees that have glossy green leaves all year round.  In my opinion, far too many of our street trees look like witches fingers for 5-6 months a year allowing for the hard landscape to show through.

Gordonias produce large showy white flowers with a yellow centre & look like fried eggs. They drop their flowers as a characteristic & in this location will land on the surrounding grass.  The birds & bees love Gordonia flowers so this is a useful tree that provides food for urban wildlife & beauty for people.

The addition of spectacular flowering trees will improve the streetscape dramatically.  The Gordonias should also provide much needed shade for the many pedestrians that cross this bridge.  Excellent work Marrickville Council.

I have written more about Gordonias here –

We saw three butterflies cross the road to get to the flowers on these trees in the short time we were here. All up there are seven new trees in this location

Sydenham Green before the upgrade- the placement of the benches was interesting

The upgrade of the front section of Sydenham Green along Unwins Bridge Road in Tempe was completed a couple of weeks ago.  This park has always puzzled me in that there are relatively few trees for the space. Sydenham Green seems to have been designed with a Placemaking idea behind it as there is an obviously designated meeting place in the centre of the park. This section is quite theatrical with an amphitheatre & a great arch. There is a giant teapot, kettle & a giant lounge that offers stepped seating.  I guess these represent home & pay tribute to the homes that were once here before they were demolished due to extreme noise from planes taking off & landing.  Much of the artwork is painted & fired tiles made by local school children & they are great, well worth a look.  I have been there a number of times & it is always empty.  Maybe because it is hot.

The entrance to Sydenham Green opposite the St Peters-Sydenham Library is the section of the park that was most puzzling to me.  It was, until recently, a large area of grass, a couple of Gum trees & a large section of terracotta coloured pavers & grass that had benches placed in & around it.  It puzzled me because I couldn’t work out why the seats had been placed in that particular way & why this layout was deemed inviting.

I thought that the best things about this section of the park was a row of Callistemon that lined the front edge of the park.  I also quite like the sculpture that tells of the history of Sydenham Green & I love that it has a natural birdbath carved into the sandstone.

Today we went to have a look at the finished upgrade.  Hmmmm.  We did not think it good-looking, but this is only a matter of personal taste.  Maybe plenty of other people will think it looks good.

The problem I have is that Marrickville Council removed the permeable hard & soft surfaces & replaced them with hard, impermeable surfaces – concrete & black bitumen.  This will make the area hotter than before & ensure that the stormwater runs off instead of the rain soaking into the ground as it did previously.

Council has also removed the row of bird-feeding Callistemon replacing them with grasses, some other small growing plants & 2 Crepe myrtle trees, none of which provide food for birds.

Should we care about this?  I believe we should.  So many food sources for urban wildlife have been removed over decades due to urbanisation.  Current garden trends are removing even more.  I believe that it is incumbent on Councils to ensure that they plant sufficient food sources for urban wildlife all over the place; in car parks, as street trees & especially in parks.  If there are insufficient food sources our urban wildlife will slowly disappear. Most of them just can’t move to another area.  Plant a couple of Grevilleas or Red Flowering Gums & watch the increase of birds. They arrive in large numbers. It’s a happy sound.

An ornamental wall has been built at the front with the name of the park in silver letters.  Clear, visible letters is great.  The benches are back in a new configuration & now you have to choice of facing the grass or the bitumen.

8 Crepe myrtle & 8 Lilly pilly trees have been planted.  2 Lilly pillys have already died.  The trees were not planted near the benches, nor are they of a species that will create shade so the place will remain hot. Time will tell whether it remains empty.

The 2 Prunus trees on the footpath have either been replaced or have come back to life after they were vandalised.

The design layout is an improvement of what was previously there, but the choice of both ground surface materials & tree species fail to meet the needs of this era of climate change.  I am confident in saying this because all recent literature about urban landscaping & placemaking speaks about such simple things as using albedo surfaces & planting sufficient shade-producing trees to make a cool environment that is not only useable for the community, but actually encourages them to go there.

See what you think. I have put up a 1.47 minute YouTube video of the works at Sydenham Green here –

Sydenham Green after the upgrade


The IKEA website has this update regarding the IKEA Fig –

The weekly inspections by an arborist have confirmed that the Fig Tree is performing well, despite the visual transformation it is currently undergoing. The tree was hit by a root fungus which is common in times of heavy rain. The problem was treated & the tree is responding very well, hence the heavy new growth and the associated shedding of old foliage.”

It’s great that IKEA are giving the community an update on the health of this tree & that an Arborist is checking on it every week.  Many people feel strongly connected to this tree, especially the people of Tempe.  Thanks.

IKEA Fig January 2011 - doing well



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