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I was fortunate to see two mums with pups.

I was fortunate to see two mums with pups.

A bat huddle.

A bat huddle.

I recently visited the flying fox camp in Wolli Creek for the first time & what a delightful experience that was.  We have such a treasure on our doorstep.

The trees that the bats roost in are visible from Turrella Reserve. The walk to get there is quite easy.  You enter the bush of Wolli Creek at the National Parks & Wildlife sign & follow your nose taking the paths that travel downhill. Within 10-15 minutes, depending on how often you stop to look around, you come to a massive sandstone boulder locally known as ‘Dragon Rock.’   Look over the boulder & there across Wolli Creek are the bats – in all their splendor.

I really liked that the camp is separated from people because it keeps the bats safe.   The view from Dragon Rock is excellent & you will want to take your camera because the sight is amazing.

Wolli Creek is quite wild in this area. There is no concrete & no mown lawns. The bats hang from a group of tall Eucalypts & to a group of Poplar trees further along the creek. If you return to the main path & head west following the creek, you will see the bats hanging in the Poplar trees. These trees are much nearer to the path allowing a closer view of the bats roosting here.  Quiet though, as they are sleeping.

There are around 12,000 flying foxes, including endangered grey-headed flying foxes in the Wolli Creek camp.  This is an extremely important piece of bushland close to the city.  It provides much benefit for people & also offers a safe place for wildlife. Despite the weeds, there is much biodiversity here & there were many plants in flower.  I’ve seen birds in Wolli Creek that I haven’t seen in Marrickville LGA.  The bush is particularly useful for little birds.

It is worthwhile taking a trip up Nannygoat Hill. I did not know that there is an easy way to the top from the back of the hill, so we took the harder route. It is not too hard, but there are some sandstone boulders taller than people that require you to climb & scramble over.

Part of the walking track

Part of the walking track

Wolli Creek is a popular place for people to exercise. While we were there a number of people were running the tracks & one man had done the circle up & down Nannygoat Hill around fifteen times & had not finished yet. I mention this because how hard the trek to the top of the hill really depends on your fitness level.  The view from the top of Nannygoat Hill made any struggle worth it.

If you want to take the easy route, you can access ‘The Walk’ via Albert Park on Hocking Avenue. This path travels over flatter sandstone, but the track is not suitable for wheelchairs or people unsteady on their feet.

Every month volunteers for the Wolli Creek Preservation Society count the bats from Turrella Reserve as they fly out for the night. The Society welcomes volunteer counters. It is not hard to count the bats & training is provided.

Bring mosquito repellant, as the mossies are hungry in this area. Bring water to drink as well. The count takes between 45-minutes to an hour. It’s a peaceful experience & surprisingly to me, the bats are quiet as they fly overhead.   Any questions & to let the Society know you are coming email –

Bats galore!  It's a wonderful sight.

Bats galore! It’s a wonderful sight.

Wolli Creek looking west. The colony is on the left.

Wolli Creek looking west. The colony is on the left.

Wolli Creek looking east.

Wolli Creek looking east.



The Inner West is at serious risk of losing precious bushland of the Wolli Valley for the WestConnex Motorway.  If you have never been, this is a perfect opportunity to see why the community organization, the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, is lobbying hard to save it.



This is in the section of Wolli Creek that is under threat  Hopefully it will be untouched by the WestConnex Motorway and safe for future generations.

This is in the section of Wolli Creek that is under threat  As you can see it is a beautiful place.   It needs to be kept safe for both the wildlife & for future generations.

National Tree Day 2012 at Wolli Creek

I went to a lovely National Tree Day event today organized by the Wolli Creek Preservation Society – contact link on blogroll on the left-hand column.  A large crowd of all ages divided into small groups for a guided walk through the area of Wolli Creek bushland that is at risk of being destroyed for an extension to the M5 motorway tunnel.

From the Wolli Creek Preservation Society newsletter June 2012 – “The top priority for the society at present is the threat posed to the Wolli Valley bushland by the Roads & Maritime Services proposed duplication of the M5 east motorway tunnel. Plans for a cut-and-cover tunnel east of Bexley Road would wipe out a rare stand of remnant rainforest trees, wreck the natural creek line & destroy two hectares of high-priority bushland where restoration work has proved highly successful.  Exploratory drilling could happen at any time.”

A lovely way to indicate the path, trees & places of note

Painted hands prepared by local school children marked the track & here & there in the bush some of the beautiful trees were wrapped in colourful material.  This was very successful in bringing one’s eye to the range of trees within this area.  It was a gorgeous effect & must have taken quite a while for those who prepared the site for today.  It was interesting to have the time to look at the trees that could be lost to the M5 tunnel & appreciate just how many very large trees are located in this section of Wolli Creek.

What was also nice & helpful was that plants, weeds & trees were labeled along the path allowing us to learn their names, as well as know what vegetation was good & what were weeds.

This Sydney Peppermint was massive with a girth of around 5-metres

There was also a historical section called ‘Bowen’s Camp’ showing where a couple with two children lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  This would not have been an easy time & though water is close, growing food must have been hard in the sandy soil.  I thought it quite lovely that the sandstone markers the Bowen family used for their paths & gardens had been preserved & not lost over time.

The walk finished at the new Bioretention Basin – see –  & then went up to Johnston Avenue where a sumptuous morning tea was waiting.  A volunteer gave a number of illustrated talks about the history of this section of Wolli Creek & how the M5 motorway tunnel would literally destroy the area we just walked through.

I’ve been to a number of National Tree Day events & planted trees. This was the first event where I was given time to admire trees as well as information about an area of bushland that I knew very little about.  I enjoyed the experience & very much hope that a new route is found for the M5 motorway tunnel.

A short diversion of the M5 tunnel route would allow a very special piece of vital bushland to be retained.  This would be very good for wildlife that have very little in terms of real areas of habitat left in the inner west & also provide many ongoing & important health benefits for the community.  Wolli Creek itself & the Wolli Creek Preservation Society deserve our support to retain this precious area of remnant Sydney bushland.

The section of Wolli Creek under threat is more than trees. It is also huge sandstone rocks & all the flora, including rare orchids

Wolli Creek is full of trees just like these.


This is in the section of Wolli Creek that is under threat

The only local event for National Tree Day this year is ‘Hug a tree in Wolli’ organised by the Wolli Creek Preservation Society.  Their pamphlet says, For National Tree Day this year, instead of planting trees in Wolli we want to celebrate some of the magnificent mature trees that are already there!”

This precious pocket of rainforest is the subject of a great news segment recently on the 7.30 Report on ABC1, which you can watch here –

It will happen on –

  • Sunday 29th July
  • 10 am to 12 noon
  • Meet at the junction of Bexley Road & the footpath leading to Johnston Street for a short guided walk.
  • They ask that you, “wear sensible walking shoes & clothes & bring a plate & join other tree huggers for tea, cake & a chat about the threat to the area.”

There is also a short video about the event here –

It is quite an important event as this area of Wolli Creek that is at extreme risk should the NSW government decide to extend the M5 at the end of 2012.  If this area were destroyed it would be an incredible loss to the community & especially the wildlife.

Wolli Creek is a very special & important area.  It is vital habitat for flying foxes as well as the overall biodiversity of the Inner West.  We cannot destroy everything for roads.  Nature needs a place & people also need nature.  I’m with Ansel Adams who said, “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”  Let’s hope this doesn’t eventuate & they find an alternative route for the tunnel expansion.

Marrickville Council will be celebrating National Tree Day later in the year on Sunday 9th September 2012 with tree planting planned for the Marrickville Golf Course.  I will write more about this closer to the date.

Showing the basin from the top with part of the swale in the foreground

On a steaming hot day last October we went to see the recently completed Johnston Street Bioretention Basin at Earlwood & go for a walk around Illoura Reserve.

The bioretention basin was much larger & more interesting than I expected.  The bush at this location was also a surprise being quite different than other areas of Wolli Creek that I have walked.   The trees were gorgeous. Towering Red Gums & Turpentine trees lead into the bush & the dreaded Privet was blooming so the air smelt nice.

We went back again today just to see how much the plants in the basin had grown after all this rain we had.  It was as expected, lush & green. What wasn’t expected was all the work done by the volunteers of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society.  Signs say they are regenerating the bush around the basin. They had opened up a pathway that allowed us to walk right around the basin & up to the Red Gums.   It is so nice being in bushland. That it is so close to Marrickville LGA makes us very lucky in my opinion.

Red Gum - there are many great trees in this location

I had not heard of swales & bioretention basins until after starting SoT, so here is a brief rundown of what they do & some stats about this particular basin.  A bioretention basin is constructed to manage & clean stormwater before it enters creeks or rivers.  Stormwater enters our waterways at a terrific pace. This can erode the bank in places, but also erode the bottom of the watercourse.  Stormwater also delivers an enormous amount of pollution to our waterways – nitrogen, phosphorus, heavy metals & fine sediments.  All these have a detrimental effect the water quality of our rivers & creeks.

A bioretention basin is really a scooped out landscaped area of land that can be big or small.  They generally contain 3 layers: course sand or pea gravel at the bottom, another layer of sand in the middle & sandy loam at the top.

The idea is that stormwater from our streets is directed to the bioretention basin where it literally percolates through these levels.  This not only slows the stormwater, but it also cleans it of oils & other substances that comes off our roads.  The cleaned water is either allowed to seep naturally into the ground to make its way to the river, or channeled via a pipe or pipes at the lowest layer as it is in this case.

Finally the surface of the basin is planted with native grasses & small shrubs. The plants need to be able to tolerate water as well as periods where the basin is dry.  Swales work on the same principle, but rather than a shape of a basin they look similar to a rocky creek bed.  The Johnston Street Bioretention Basin also includes a long wide swale running downhill beside the basin.  There is a large pipe that directs water from the basin to the bottom of the swale.

The Johnston Street Bioretention Basin, built by Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, is expected to remove approximately 2,353 kg of sediment & 13kg of nitrogen annually before it enters Wolli Creek, which flows into the Cooks River & on to Botany Bay.   Their sign says that the system is designed to remove 100% of gross pollutants, 79% total suspended solids, 57% total phosphorus & 30% total nitrogen.  It’s beautiful & a terrific boon for the environment.  It’s also well worth a visit.

I made a short video of the Johnston Street Bioretention Basin & Illoura Reserve here –

Showing the swale & the path to Illoura Reserve which is just around the bend.

One of the great trees at St Mary MacKillop Reserve beside the Cooks River

The Canterbury Aboriginal Advisory Group, the Cooks River Valley Association & Canterbury Council have organized the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk on Sunday 18th September 2011.

The walk will recognize & celebrate the role that Aboriginal people, past & present, have played in caring for the country of the Cooks River Valley & the Wolli Valley.

The walk is broken into 2 sections of Wolli Creek & 4 sections along the Cooks River allowing people to join any of the sections & leave when they like or participate in the whole walk. This is a great idea as it makes it much easier for people with health or time restrictions to be able to participate.


  • 1st section meets at 10am at Girrahween Park. To get to the meeting place you need to either enter the car park above the park from St James Avenue or Joy Avenue Earlwood & walk down the steps or walk in from Fauna Street Earlwood.
  • 2nd section meets at 11am at Turrella Reserve. The closest street is Finlays Avenue Earlwood.


  • 1st section meets at 10.15am at Lees Park.  The nearest street is Brighton Avenue Croydon Park.
  • 2nd section meets at 10.30am at Mary MacKillop Park. The nearest cross streets are Fore Street & Canterbury Road Canterbury.
  • 3rd section meets at 10.45am at Ewen Park.  The nearest cross streets are Smith Avenue & Tennent Parade Hurlstone Park.
  • 4th section meets at 11.15am at Steele Park.  The nearest cross streets are Illawarra Road & Wharf Road Marrickville.


  • At approximately 11.30am participants from both walks will meet at Gough Whitlam Reserve Bayview Avenue Earlwood for a free barbeque.  There will be Indigenous & environmental themed activities for children & families.
  • At 12.30pm there will be an Acknowledgement of Country as part of a short official program.

The barbeque & Acknowledgement of Country program is open to everyone, & you do not need to participate on the walks to attend.  However, bookings are essential for catering purposes.

Numbers are limited on both walks & bookings are essential.  Registration forms are available online on the Cooks River Valley Association website –  Inquiries phone 0414 910 816 or email 

Ibis feeding at the Cooks River Marrickville South




Feasting Lorikeets

1. The Newcastle community have taken the axing of the Laman Street Figs to the Land & Environment Court today.  In their favour is the Arborist’s Report prepared by Mark Hartley.  Mr Hartley assessed the trees as not dangerous & had serious concerns with several mistakes in previous Reports supplied by Newcastle Council.  I hope the community win. You can read about the decision & the Independent Arborist Report here –

2. In a great move to support Wolli Creek being established as a national park, Canterbury Council have agreed to transfer part of the Wolli Creek bushland at Earlwood to the National Parks & Wildlife Service.  The land is between Bexley Rd & Waterworth Park.

3. Large amounts of Eucalypts are dying across Australia & it is thought to be caused by Bell Miner Associated Dieback. One little bird guarding the psyllid, a sap-sucking native insect that provides food for the Bell Miner is thought to be responsible in some areas.  In New South Wales alone, up to 2.5 million hectares of forest are wasting away. Another theory published in 1968 by ecologist William Jackson of the University of Tasmania & regaining favour is that the Australian bush needs regular bushfires to survive. Interesting reading.

4. Frightening results in a recent survey about climate change of local, state & federal Australian politicians conducted by the University of Queensland.  Of the 300 politicians surveyed, nearly 70% believed anthropogenic climate change was real, but “more than 40% thought a temperature rise of 4 degrees would be safe.” Scary stuff as these people are making decisions for all of us.

5.  2 Fig trees were to be removed in Kensington by the City of Perth Council without community consultation. The Council said the trees were damaging the footpath & could affect fibre-optic cables. Well roads can be fixed, so can footpaths & fear that a tree may damage underground cables is a pretty poor excuse to remove the Fig trees.  I wish Councils would use floating or permeable footpaths to allow them to keep trees. These trees would far outweigh any concrete or bitumen in value & benefits to the community. It’s that old way of thinking again, rip out a tree-it’s the easiest route. The City of Perth Council will now do community consultation about these trees.

6. By contrast, Brisbane City Council ordered a redesign of the $10.2 million Perry Park upgrade to save a row of Fig trees.
A spokesman said council policy was to retain “mature, healthy trees” where possible. In QLD, trees & street landscaping is everywhere & is wonderful.
 It really looks like a different country. Loud applause from me.

7. A row of 14 old, ‘ulgy’ & ‘past their use by date’ Nicolai gum trees along Chiefly Road Lithgow will likely have been chopped down by now.  Lithgow Council said “the trees had been inappropriately pruned in past years by electricity authorities.” I’ve no doubt that this approach to Lithgow looked old & ulgly. Shame it happened in the first place. I wonder when this cycle of tree management will end.

8. A report done by the WA Environment Protection Authority said “declining rainfall & rising temperatures were taking a heavy toll on parts of the 1.2 million hectare state forest area south of Perth.” Paul Vogel, the head of the Environment Protection Authority said there was “more biodiversity per square metre in some of these forests than there is in the Amazon.” The Conservation Council, WA Forest Alliance & Wilderness Society want clearing & logging stopped immediately in affected areas. 850,000 hectares of WA state forest is available for logging, however, the current management plan is deemed severely lacking.

Grevillea flowers

Down along the Cooks River - Marrickville side

Dulwich Hill & Marrickville got a mention in an article about conservation in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently Echidnas live here.  Earthwatch Institute & Landcare has launched a new research program & they are asking the community to let them know of minute changes to their local environment. You can log on & let them know of new birds, new insects, less birds & insects, earlier flowering seasons &  what kind of animals/birds live in you area.

Just in my area over the last 12 months has seen the arrival of a Spotted Pardalote, a baby Ring-tail Possum, a huge increase in birds & a bunch of Wedge-tail Eagles flying overhead.  We have discovered the Bandicoots living in Lewisham, although WIRES already knew about them. Kookaburras are living in Lewisham trees that are fast been chopped down.

There must be things happening in your area. If we report it, then we have a greater chance of saving its habitat should the need arise.

Earthwatch –

Landcare –

Beautiful Wolli Creek also gets a main article on page 12 of today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Wolli Creek Valley is 50 hectares of natural bush along 13 kms from Bexley North to Turella & is the only bushland of any size left in the inner south-west Sydney. More than 260 plants have been identified in the Wolli Creek Valley & it is the home to many birds, animals, insects, flying- foxes, fish & frogs. It is very precious & a vital space for urban wildlife.

In 1998 the NSW state government of Bob Carr announced the prospective establishment of a Wolli Creek Regional Park under the management of National Parks & Wildlife Service. The Wolli Creek Regional Park remains nothing more than a promise almost 12 years later.

The Wolli Creek Preservation Society has an online petition as part of their campaign to have the Wolli Creek Regional Park established. It takes 1 minute to do something that will help keep a precious piece of historical bushland for future generations & for urban wildlife. Please sign.

To read the SMH article –

An area planted over the 2-3 years at The Warren

I nearly fell over when I saw this street in Newcastle

Festival of the Trees: When I think about festive trees I think of Christmas trees.  As it isn’t Christmas, the next tree I would call ‘festive’ is the Fig tree because it is so large, brimming with life & has the amazing ability to make me feel good.  Fig trees it is.

I love Fig trees, any type & the bigger the better. I love that they grow very tall & if left unpruned, can look like a mammoth upturned bowl of leaves.  The Hill’s Fig is my favourite.  I love the colour of its leaves & the way its branches get a whitish look & grow skyward.

Fig trees have featured in the greater part of my life.  They are all over Balmain were I spent a good chunk of my adult life & were in the grounds of most places I worked.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours sitting under Figs working, reading & chatting with friends.  I’ve had picnics & held parties under them.  I’ve even had a ‘first kiss’ underneath one.  Unfortunately I have never lived with a Fig tree on the property, though I have had friends who did.

I don’t live close to a Fig tree these days, but in the past I did.  I used to love listening to the bats eating the figs in summer.  In particularly hot summers, the fruit would ferment & the bats would become drunk & fight amongst themselves, which made it difficult to get to sleep at times.  After a couple of summers, the bats’ behaviour became white noise & I would have to specifically tune in to hear them.

I also like to watch bats as they fly around.  Just last month I spent half an hour watching the bats circle the Fig trees at a local park.  Quietly, the bats flew around & around.  After a while, I realised it was play.

Sometime I will get myself organised to go to the east entrance of Wolli Creek to watch the thousands of bats fly out for the night.  I am told it is quite a spectacle.  As previously mentioned, the bats in the city are also beautiful to watch & I think this is a terrific bonus to tourism for Sydney.

a gorgeous Fig in Sydney's Domain

I love the thick branches of Fig trees.  I particularly like the way part of their root system is above ground.  I like the roots that descend from their branches ready to support the branch as it gets bigger & heavier.  I like the knots that develop after a branch is cut off &, of course, I love their trunks.

I like how dark & cool it can be when there are many mature Figs planted close to each other.  Other than being in the water, there is nowhere cooler on a hot summer day.  I even like that it takes a while for the rain to get to you if you are taking refuge from the weather by standing under a Fig.

Sydney City Council puts Fig trees to great advantage by using their spectacular size & canopy to highlight many areas in the city & surrounding suburbs.  The fairy lights wound around the branches of the avenues of Figs in Hyde Park & make it a very romantic place after dark.  I think they add more fairy lights during the Festival of Sydney & this immediately creates a magical party feel.

Leichhardt Council has many old Fig trees throughout the LGA.  They have recently planted Fig trees every 4 metres along Lilyfield Road (which is at least a couple of kilometres long).  Apart from being a beautiful feature to the street-scape, they also hide the railway line.  Give the trees a few years to grow & this thoroughfare will look tremendous, with a huge canopy spilling over the road.  I predict property prices here will rise even more.

Marrickville Council has its own Figs including the oldest Fig in Sydney, though I’m not absolutely sure of this.  The St Stephen’s Fig was planted in 1848.  See – It is most certainly the oldest in the LGA.

Part of a Fig tree in Enmore Park

Another very old Fig tree is on a private property in South Street Tempe.  This is also a very special tree. Then there is the ancient Morton Bay Fig in the IKEA development that the community is concerned about.  Council also planted a ring of Figs in Tempe Reserve that I hope I live for long enough to see mature.

I would think most Councils in Sydney have a significant quota of Fig trees as these were popular in the early 1900’s.  Now many are getting old (read senescent in ‘Arborist Speak’) & I fear they will be replaced with something like Tuckaroos.  If this happens, it will be such a loss.

If I were a Town Planner, I would insist that a Fig tree was planted at as many street corners as possible.  Imagine the dramatic entrance to ordinary suburban streets if this is done.  They do this in the Sunshine Coast to great effect.  Shopping strips are kept cool by these trees & people linger just to sit in their shade.  Because shoppers linger they spend more.  Research has shown 11% more.

I would also make Fig trees mandatory in public parks & in the grounds of hospitals, because a green outlook helps people feel emotionally good as well as increase the body’s healing ability.  I would have Fig trees in school grounds to protect the children from the sun & stimulate their imagination, because Figs are magical trees & easily the stuff of fairy tales & tropical islands.  Children, particularly girls, learn better when they can see trees during study.  Boys tend to be calmer in leafy surrounds.  The Fig tree is a giant in this regard.

To my mind the most amazing Fig in Australia is the ‘Curtain Fig’ in North Queensland. to see photos. To quote from the site:

  • It is one of the largest trees in north Queensland.
  • To count the tangled roots of the Curtain Fig would take a week.
  • Its curtain of aerial roots drops 15 metres (49 feet) to the ground.

How can I get Marrickville Council to plant one of these?

Fig trees in the Domain, outside the Art Gallery of NSW & in Hyde Park

There will be tree planting & bush regeneration work at the following places. Thanks to Planet Arc web-site & The Valley Times newspaper for the following:

Marrickville Council – Tempe Reserve – Holbeach Ave, Tempe @ 11 am – 1.30 pm

The Wolli Creek Preservation Society & Canterbury Council – Wolli Creek – Bray Avenue, Earlwood @ 9 am onwards

Girraween Park Wolli Creek

Girraween Park Wolli Creek

City of Sydney Council – Sydney Park – St Peters cnr Sydney Road & Princess Hwy @ 11am – 1.30pm – BBQ & refreshments

Pyrmont Ultimo Landcare Inc & City of Sydney Council -Wentworth Park Light Rail Station near Wattle Street @ 9am – noon – refreshments

UniLodge & City of Sydney Council – Broadway near Bay Street @ noon – 4pm -BYO BBQ – RSVP required – Ian Franks 9338 5000

Blue Wren Sub Committee & City of Sydney Council – Paddy Grey Park, Glebe @ 10am – noon – refreshments

Leichhardt Council –  Whites Creek Valley Park, Annandale  along the canal near Brennan Street @ 9.30am – 12.30pm – BBQ

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