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You can get a nature hit at Tempe Wetland. There are no concrete paths, & there are hills, curves, flat areas, 3 ponds & a lot of birds. This is a special place.

Research about to be published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that people suffering clinical depression feel better & have improved memory after a walk in a park.

A study led by Dr Marc Berman from Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute with other researchers from the University of Michigan & Stanford University in the US found that a nature environment as opposed to an urban environment is better at positively affecting people’s mood & cognitive performance.   It is thought that people’s brains can relax in a nature setting.

In 2008 published research, “Dr. Berman showed that adults who were not diagnosed with any illness received a mental boost after an hour-long walk in a woodland park – improving their performance on memory & attention tests by 20 percent – compared to an hour-long stroll in a noisy urban environment.”  So it seems that we all benefit from a walk in the park whether we are depressed or not.

(Note: All the links below are to short videos.  YouTube automatically sets the videos to play at lowest quality. All my videos are HD so if you want to watch without a pixilated image, change the settings by clicking on the wheel at the bottom of the video).

The key words above is ‘woodland park.’  I think we have only one park that could be classified as woodland & that is Tempe Wetland. Though the trees are mostly Casuarinas the wetland is a special place & well worth a regular visit. You can also easily do a 50-minute walk around the three lakes & get in some hills too.  Once in, you could be anywhere & the bird watching is great.

The newest research shows that a nature environment not only elevates mood, but also improves our ability to think & concentrate.  The research found that walking along streets also improved mood, but walking in the park resulted in a 16% increase in cognitive abilities, particularly short-term memory in those with clinical depression.

This is important for residents of Marrickville LGA, which has the smallest amount of public green space in Australia & according to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index published by Deakin University, we are also the unhappiest community in Australia. 

We have to travel longer to reach a park, so many may take a walk along the streets instead. This research shows that actually going to the park & strolling for 50-minutes will have more benefit making it worth while to travel to one of our green spaces.

It is thought that walking in a park away from the sight & sound of traffic & other external distractions allows the brain to relax.  Many of our parks don’t allow this, as Council places an emphasis on clear sightlines, so you can often see the traffic from one side of the park to the other.  Good examples are Enmore Park in Enmore & Wicks Park in Marrickville as both parks are on busy roads.

Steel Park Marrickville

I had a think about which parks in Marrickville LGA would be large enough for a good 50-minute walk & which have enough trees, landscaping & ‘nature’ to fit with what the research described as necessary.  I am not including features like playgrounds or off leash dog areas, just the practicality for a walk among nature.

We are very fortunate to have the Cooks River in our municipality as it has many sections of great beauty despite the presence of plastic bottles. There is also the increasing bird life to grab your interest.  It’s almost guaranteed that seeing a bunch of waterbirds will boost your spirits.

You can also walk or ride to Brighton or Olympic Park in Homebush via the shared pathways, which are on the whole, safe & excellent.  Hundreds of people do this on the weekends & it is quite a friendly buzz down there as almost everyone smiles at you as you pass.

Of the larger parks, Steel Park on the Cooks River is good as your attention is drawn to the river rather than any traffic.  It also has lots of tall trees & landscaping & I think the park area looks pretty special all year round because of the Poplar trees & the wetland area.

Henson Park in Marrickville & Arlington Recreation Ground in Dulwich Hill are good, even though there are not many trees, because you enter into a enclosed space & can get a good walk in both places.  It’s the same with Jack Shanahan Park in Dulwich Hill as long as you don’t mind passing trains, though it doesn’t really have a nature feel as the trees are mostly around the perimeter.

Petersham Park is a wonderful park for a walk because of the sheer size of it, its beauty & the many really large trees, plus garden beds. Johnson Park in Dulwich Hill is also wonderful & also has many great trees.  O’Dea Reserve in Camperdown is very popular & has great landscaping.  Parts of Camperdown Park are also quiet with great trees. It offers a large area to walk.

Tillman Park in Tempe  is lovely & the trains are interesting rather than annoying for me at least.  Although Kendrick Park at Tempe is next to the Princess Highway, it is also on the river & has a number of areas. Walking along the path at Kendrick Park & following it under the railway bridge & along the river to Tempe Railway Station car park & back again is a nice walk.

Tempe Reserve is huge & great for walking & riding bikes, but it is often very windy & cold & you can clearly hear the hum of traffic from the Princes Highway & Airport Drive.  Because the Cooks River & the Alexandra Canal are on the three sides of Tempe Reserve, there is enough interest to help distract from the hum of traffic.  Personally, I think Tempe Reserve could do with hundreds more trees to block the sound & sight of traffic & offer protection from the relentless & often ferocious wind & there is certainly room for them.

I also think we are fortunate to have Marrickville Golf Course.  It is perfect to get away from it all. You walk on the ground, instead of a concrete path, which is actually very good for you.  Once in the grounds you mostly can’t see or hear traffic.  The golf course is full of trees, many of them large, everything is green & the river is beside you.  You can do a long walk here.  18-holes of golf takes around 3.5 hours to complete.

Of the smaller parks, I think the following have enough beauty to satisfy the nature component & you could walk through & around these parks for 50-minutes.

Beautiful Hoskins Park in Dulwich Hill is great & even though it is sandwiched between two roads, traffic is very light & there are many large trees to defect sound.  Brighton Street Reserve & Weekley Park in Stamore are also good, though smaller in size.  Maundrell Park in Stanmore is medium sized & has quiet streets on both sides.  The beauty of the trees & landscaping in this park allows the mind to ignore busy Stanmore Road.

The cemetery in St Stephen’s Anglican Church is a well-known peaceful hideaway from all the noise & traffic of Newtown (althought it is not a park – sorry) & if you really want quiet, try Warren Park at Marrickville South.

A path in Marrickville Golf Course. What makes this place especially lovely is the trees & the lack of concrete, all located beside the Cooks River

I found a 2009 TAFE paper that says, Marrickville LGA is densely populated with 4,325 people per square kilometre & has the least amount of green space of any LGA in Australia.”  This is an astounding statistic & with something like another 4,300 people going to live here as part of the last state government’s housing strategy, our green space will become even more important than it is now.

Some of our larger parks are classified ‘active parks,’ that is, parks that are primarily used for organized sporting activities. As such, some residents feel they cannot use the parks for much of the time.  Therefore, ‘passive,’ parks with playgrounds, picnic or grassed areas become very important to the non-sporting association community.

Residents need both ‘active’ & ‘passive’ parks.  Some like those along the Cooks River blend active & passive beautifully because of the size of the parks & access to the river.  A number of our passive parks are beautiful & visiting them is worth a trip out.  I will post about these over time.

A beautiful mature Fig tree complete with a great set of aerial roots in Weekley Park. Council has planted another Fig tree recently.

A couple of weeks ago we visited Weekley Park.  Almost everything about this grand old historical park is beautiful in my opinion.  Located between Percival, Albany & Clarendon Roads Stanmore, Weekley Park is full of large, tall trees & is laid out in grid pattern with every path meeting in the centre where there is a circle of very tall Canary Island palm trees.  20-years ago there used to be prolific flowering red, pink & white roses in the raised central garden, but instead there is now a few Nandinas with empty garden beds.  Some of the roses in other garden beds that connect with the central paths are still here so hopefully they will continue to be retained.

The Nandina look very ordinary & a bit scraggly in the centre feature garden that is supposed to bring the components of the park together.  Perhaps one day when Council has the funds they might bring back the roses or plant something a bit more dramatic & beautiful that suits the park, though this is a matter of personal taste. Other people might like Nandina. They certainly sell at nurseries.

Weekley Park is very popular green space as evident by the many people sitting in the shade on benches, on the grass or watching their kids play in the playground.  Lots of people, including adolescents, were in groups or alone reading.  It was nice to see.

The park is also full of bird song & this coupled with the visual aspect of the many tall trees makes it quite a relaxing place.  The playground equipment is new & there are toilets & drinking bubblers.  You can take your kids for a while & have no need to rush home because someone needs to go to the loo.

There are 2 large trees towards the centre that look to me to be in trouble, maybe even dead.  It’s hard for me to tell because it is still winter.  They have large areas of decay, holes & dead areas in the branches.  Actually, these holes would make fine homes for urban wildlife, but I doubt that the trees will be allowed to stay.  I hope when they do come down that they are replaced with equally large growing trees so the feel of the park can be retained.  The rest of the trees are in great health & there is a nice variety that all seems to come together well & give a stately look to the park.

Art installation 'Tree People' by Graham Chalcroft

There is a great piece of public art called ‘Tree People’ that was created by artist Graham Chalcroft & installed in June 2009 as part of Marrickville Council’s public art strategy.  I like it a lot. It’s whimsical & also functional as it includes double-sided benches.  Year 5 students from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School collaborated with the artist by drawing the animals that are ‘the guardians of the park.’  Council contracted public art is popping up around the LGA in public spaces, which is very nice.

One of the old Fig trees has the best aerial roots forming that I have seen in the LGA.  It’s great that they have been left to grow & have not been chopped off. One day they will do what they are supposed to do & offer structural support to the branches when they grow larger.

If you like parks, then I think you will like Weekley Park.  It is worth paying a visit & spending some time.  Dogs need to be on a leash & there are free poo bags supplied & a bin on site.  There are a few chess tables with bench seats, loads of park benches all facing good views of the park.

Council has recently planted quite a few new street trees on the verge that will also add beauty to the area.  The intersection is a Box or Murraya hedge (I didn’t go close enough to see) & this too looks grand & lovely.  Green intersections make any street look great in my opinion.  All these things work unconsciously in the mind saying this is a nice area.  One block away is the intersection almost everyone knows about.  It is the hundreds of agapanthus & white roses at the roundabout at Salisbury Road & Northumberland Avenue.  This was radical for the area in the mid 1980s & I remember a friend taking me from Balmain just to see it.  It’s still there, though not in as good condition, but still giving a strong message that Stanmore is a nice area.

I imagine some would wonder why I go on about such basic things like intersections.  I do so because the majority in Marrickville LGA are concrete or concrete patterned bricks.  Any green landscaping that softens the hard infrastructure is a plus in my opinion.  I strongly believe that landscaping makes an area nicer as do a sufficient number of good-looking street trees.  Some suburbs in Marrickville LGA have this as a norm while others look bare & somewhat harsh in comparison.  This has an impact on how our society feels about an area or even a whole suburb.

I have made a short YouTube video of Weekley Park here –


& the Salisbury Road  intersection here –

The centre of Weekley Park has a circle of mature Canary Island palm trees. There are also a couple of Canary Island palms at the perimeter. Instant charm. In the foreground are two rose gardens, dormant because of winter.



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