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Parent Black Swans guarding the entrance to the ‘nursery’ while their babies sleep.

It was wonderful to see this family swimming around a pond at Sydney Park.

We were thrilled to see a pair of Black Swans & their three cygnets in one of the lakes in Sydney Park last weekend.   The parent birds closely guarded their babies, at one stage corralling them into a section of the reeds that protected them on three sides so they could have a sleep.  The parent Swans remained guarding the entrance to the reeds while also watching the people who were watching them.

This is the first time I have seen cygnets.  The story, ‘The Ugly Duckling’ is not true.  There is nothing ugly about cygnets.

I know there are Black Swans in Centennial Park, but it was great to see them so close to home in Sydney Park.  I was also very pleased to see that both lakes were fenced to prevent both people & dogs from being able to get into the waterbirds habitat.  The fencing was necessary after dogs in two separate incidents had mauled two Black Swans resulting in their death.  See –

We haven’t been to Sydney Park for a couple of years so it was nice to see just how much the trees & vegetation has grown.  It’s obvious that the City of Sydney Council keep adding to this park. They haven’t just planted & walked away.

Anyone know how many Fig trees in Sydney Park?  I can imagine how glorious these will look when they have grown.  I was also impressed with the amount of colour, with Callistemon hedges & Grevillias dotted all around the park.

I was pleasantly surprised to see & speak to a couple of Council Rangers who were cruising slowly around the park in their car.

Also surprising was the lack of litter anywhere, including around the food kiosk.  Even the toilets were clean.  The people who use this park respect it, making me wonder why the same doesn’t happen along the parks along the Cooks River in Tempe & Marrickville.  I wish it did. It was great to be in a park where one wasn’t confronted by lots of litter & black bags filled with dog poo.

Sydney Park is a beautiful park. There are some very large trees & quite a few are flowering at the moment.  I had the best toasted cheese & tomato sandwich I’ve had in years at the kiosk (they use real bread) & I was told that even the coffee was good.  It’s worth going to see the swans & especially the cygnets.  They are incredibly beautiful with their fluffy grey down & it is a joy to watch them.

Look at this magnificent tree in full flower.

There was lots of colour around, especially near the children’s playground.

Sydney Park has great areas of trees – small urban forests.

One of the iconic views of Sydney Park




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frogs in AB Croft Playground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Ibis nesting high up in the trees

We discovered this park a couple of months ago & what a discovery it was.  If you are into nature, a bit of bush, water, birds & walking, this is a great place for a wander.   The sign says it was opened for the bicentenary in 1988. The park is divided into 3 sections known as North, South & East. This post is about East & North Bicentennial Park. We have yet to visit South Bicentennial Park, which looks more of a wild park as it’s part of wetlands. It’s a big place that joins with Scarborough Park, which has its own North, East, South & Central. Scarborough Park Central is more like a regular park with playing fields & a skate park filled with talented kids.

View from one part of the walk

If you wander through the playing fields to the bank of trees, you find yourself entering a bush area filled with trees. Many of the trees are quite substantial in girth & height & must be a few decades old.

A ring of moving water does an oval journey around a couple of islands before it travels to a wetland lake in South Bicentennial Park on the other side of President Avenue.  The islands are filled with natural bush & trees. Many of the trees have Ibis nests high up in the branches with families of Ibis perching. It’s quite a sight.

The sound from baby birds trilling, as only Ibis do, was lovely.  There were also wild ducks & geese when we were there.  The path around the islands & to the pedestrian bridge is a wide path of mown grass, no concrete anywhere, which feels like a luxury these days.

Bridge over the water near the car park

It’s safe with enough people with dogs walking around to know that someone would hear you if you needed help, yet you are far enough away from the traffic & the sight of buildings to feel you are anywhere other than in the Inner South East of Sydney. The terrain is mostly flat, suitable for a pram, but not a wheelchair. However, there is a car park near the water & a pedestrian bridge that is suitable for a wheelchair.

It’s a fabulous place for a walk or a picnic as there are plenty of shady places to lay a blanket & watch the birds & other wildlife. There are also plenty of places for the kids to have a run or explore.  The skate park is part of Scarborough Park. When we were there it was filled with kids & I watched while they took turns allowing the little less experienced or younger children have a go before they did their runs & leaps into the air.

Another view along the path

Rockdale Council has done a very great thing with this group of parks.  They have ensured that there is something for everyone whilst protecting areas purely for wildlife habitat.  The map shows they have protected & worked on a significant wildlife corridor that is perfect habitat for water birds.  I think they should be commended for this. In the past the area would have been drained, filled in & housing built on it or the park would have been made accessible for people from corner to corner with the wildlife having to make do. That this area has been made a wildlife sanctuary is a wonderful thing.  We loved the place & will go again because there is a lot to see.




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