By Andrew Wood, Convenor Blue Wrens subcommittee, Bulletin 5/2023, July


We very much appreciated receiving a donation to the subcommittee of $250 from a local resident which will be used to support the Society’s annual biodiversity lecture and the Craney grants to our preschools and schools.

Innovation and Ideas Grant 

In November last year, the Society was awarded an Innovation and Ideas Grant by the City entitled ‘Glebe’s Hill – unravelling its biodiversity secrets and potential’.  Grant contracts have been signed between the City and the Society, and between the University of Sydney (who will be performing the research studies funded by the Grant) and the Society.  We are still, however, waiting for the City to issue a Licensing Agreement so that work can commence on the Grant.

The President, members of the Blue Wren Subcommittee and Professor Hochuli from the University of Sydney, met with the City in the Green Room at Town Hall House at 11 am on Wednesday 14 June. The City was represented by James Macnamara (Grant Liaison Officer), Howard Chapman (Properties), Michael Szczebanski (Properties) and Cailin Martin (Property Strategy Planner). We were seeking an answer to the following question: Can the University of Sydney access the proposed five sites in the local government area [LGA] for the placement of wildlife monitors and to perform walk-throughs to study urban fauna and flora? 

The City agreed that the University could access the following four sites: Federal Park 1 (which contains the salt marsh), Orphan School Creek Park and two sites in Sydney Park. 

There are difficulties, however, with Glebe’s Hill. The City reported that The Hill is contaminated with asbestos and lead, and is not accessible to the public. Those entering the site must have received training to ensure safety in working in an asbestos contaminated environment and must wear full protective clothing (HAZMAT) clothing. The required training would be at the expense of the University and would not be conducted by the City. The City will investigate whether it is safe to enter that part of The Hill which was the former carpark for Harold Park dogs and trots.  This area makes up the eastern part of The Hill and is covered with bitumen; it can be directly accessed by the gate near the Jubilee Park light rail stop. The walkway, which is a designated road, between the Hill and the Tramsheds, has no restrictions on access. It may be possible for the City’s park maintenance contractors, who have access to The Hill, to install the wildlife monitors on behalf of the University. This would be at the contractor’s discretion.

Image: Google Maps

It was decided that the University will ‘pinpoint’ the proposed location of its monitors on maps of each of the five LGA sites.  Note: The locations for observations of Glebe’s Hill will be related to access from the walkway between The Hill and the Tramsheds, as well as from the bitumen covered areas of The Hill.  

Other things:

  • A Year 11 pupil at St Andrew’s Cathedral School contacted Andrew Wood with questions about Glebe’s Hill for his senior geography project. The questions were answered and he was also sent a copy of the Glebe Society Bulletin article about the Grant’s public information session on 7 May.
  • Yuqing Peng and Wei Zhiquan, journalism students from the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, contacted Andrew Wood about their project on Glebe’s Hill.  They attended the Grant information session on 7 May, and interviewed Professor Hochuli and Andrew Wood about the Grant.
  • The email chains related to the paperwork and contracts for the Grant now number over 170, corresponding to well over 1,000 emails!

Updates from Glebe’s bushcare volunteers

The Orphan School Creek Bushcare Group held a weeding day on Saturday 17 June which was attended by eight volunteers. David Lawrence has reported that, in Rozelle Bay, the fence around the site of last year’s National Tree Day plantings has partly fallen and some newly planted trees have been vandalised. He also commented on the increasing popularity of Glebe’s parks and the great number of people and their dogs who use them. 

An onsite meeting at John Street Reserve was organised by a resident of St James Avenue, Anne Sherriff, with the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cr Sylvie Ellsmore. The issues discussed included the need to continue the planting of native flora as specified in the original plans for the Reserve, the need to improve the Reserve’s signage so that dog owners are reminded to keep their dogs on a leash and a request for the City to change the park maintenance contractors from Skyline Landscape Services to the National Trust’s Bushland Management Services.

Anna Szanto, leader of the Glebe Palmerston and Surrounds Landcare Group, reported that a working bee was held from 8-9:30 am on Sunday 25 June. They are expecting to hear from the City about four concerns:

  • growth of moss, fungi and mould on gutters on the sides of the area needs regular removal when it has been wet – it’s a safety risk for our volunteers. 
  • a light for upper Palmerston Ave, which was promised for completion this financial year.
  • new plants to replace those recently removed by Sydney Water.
  • the removal of an octopus plant (Schefflera actinophylla), an invasive weed in Australia.

In Harold Park, the City has approved the removal of two Casuarinas spp on the eastern side of Johnstons Canal close to an Angophora, but an additional 10 Casuarina suckers also need to be removed. Nick Sangster will draft a letter to the City, to be signed by the President, regarding multiple issues related to the unsatisfactory maintenance of the Johnstons Creek parks.


Orphan School Creek Bushcare workers at morning tea (photo: Judy Christie)