by Andrew Wood, Convenor, Blue Wren Subcommittee, April 2021, from Bulletin 2 of 2021

Book co-authored by John Turnbull who is giving the Glebe Society’s Biodiversity lecture this year.

2021 Biodiversity Lecture


All members and friends are invited to the Society’s 2021 Biodiversity Lecture, entitled Biodiversity on our blue doorstep – fascinating creatures in Sydney harbour and coastline, to be given by John Turnbull MMarScMgt, MBA, BE, Research Fellow, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales. It will be held at 6pm at Benledi House (Glebe Library, corner Glebe Point Rd and Wigram Rd) on Tuesday 1 June and will be followed by drinks and nibbles – there will be no charge for attending the event.

Please note: under Covid-19 Safety Rules a maximum of 40 people can attend, and bookings are required at Eventbrite:

Report on completion of 2019 Craney Small Grant

A generous bequest from the late Jan Craney, a former convenor of the Blue Wren Subcommittee, is being used to fund biodiversity grants which support teaching and learning in Glebe’s 14 pre-schools and schools. In 2019, a grant of $1,000 was awarded to Mr Christopher Roberts, a teacher at Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay. Due to Covid-19 there were some delays in completing the work funded by the grant, but here is their final report:

Dear Blue Wren Subcommittee,

2019 Craney Small Grant Report: Sydney Secondary College Blackwattle Bay’s Native Tree Garden. With your generous assistance, Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay campus has utilised the 2019 Craney Small Grant to build a native tree garden and learning space.

This student led project has allowed students to develop links with the local community, learn about sustainability as well as engage in civic activism and project-based learning. As part of the planning process the student-led Environment Committee attended IndigiGrow in La Perouse to gain insights on native plants from Aboriginal community leaders. This was then followed by school events, such as clean-up days along the Blackwattle Bay foreshore and planting days. 

The native tree garden now includes two nursery beds which have coastal rosemary, sea berry saltbush and round leaf mint bush amongst others. The surrounding garden is also being developed with floor covering such as pigface and other young plants such as Cousin It, lemon scented tea tree and grevillea winter wonder.

The garden infrastructure was built by VET Construction students to include steppingstones, nursery beds and a seating area, which serves as a meeting and learning space. The seating area was also painted by the student body to develop a sense of connection and community to the space. The garden connects to the surrounding area and acts as a natural corridor for native species. This has allowed for students to have direct access to native foods and explore the relationship to our natural world. There are plans in the near future to include more plants, a water tank and ceremonial fire pit. The attached photo shows Year 11 students enjoying the garden.

We thank you for your contribution and will be sure to keep you updated as the native tree garden grows.

Best wishes, Christopher Roberts Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay

Year 11 students at Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay in their Native Tree Garden established with funds from a Craney Small Grant (photo: Christopher Roberts)

Other news from the Subcommittee

  • The Society has sent a letter to City requesting that it establish its own native plant nursery to supply flora for its parks and reserves (at present the plants are purchased/sourced commercially or from other Councils).
  • A Working Group of community, local and state representatives has been formed ( to consider the Transport for NSW proposals for the ‘specific recreation and sporting uses as well as any other required facilities’ for the Rozelle Parklands, which are to be constructed over the Westconnex tunnels at the northern end of The Crescent in Glebe. David Lawrence, a member of our Subcommittee, has suggested to the Working Group that the Parklands be given an Indigenous name, ‘Buruwan’, which is Aboriginal for ‘north wind’ and which was the name of the park in Annandale that was removed and is becoming part of WestConnex.
  • The Orphan School Creek Bushcare Group held working bees on 30 January and 14 February with attendance of more than 10 people for each day – activities were mostly weeding but also a little planting or seed scattering and pruning. A further planting day will be held on Saturday 10 April and all Society members are welcome to attend.
  • In Paddy Gray Reserve, with the recent rains, only a few of the native plants have died. There is a continuing problem of damage caused by over usage of the Reserve particularly by off-leash dogs digging up the turf. Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica, also known as cogongrass or kunai grass), is dominating at some sites and needs to be removed by the National Trust gardeners, who have the contract for the Reserve’s maintenance.
  • The Glebe Palmerston and Surrounds Landcare Group report that the overall upgrade to the parks will be completed in early April when their future maintenance is handed from the contractors to the City.
  • The Group is especially pleased with the new drains, the plantings of Lilly Pillies and Blueberry Ashes (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) and the installation of a tap in the lower part of Palmerston Avenue Park. The Group will be contacting the City regarding some work that still needs to be completed including an additional light in the upper Park, installation of additional loop fencing, the pruning of the Morton Bay Fig, the reinstallation of rubbish bins, and the trimming of ivy and lantana entering the park from the light rail corridor.
  • Harold Park/Johnstons Creek: Rock work on the naturalisation of Johnstons Canal is progressing towards Rozelle Bay; the project is to be completed in June. Ducks and herons are now frequently seen in the canal and it is expected that native flora will be planted along the banks once all the rock work is completed.