Norma Hawkins beside the tree planted in her honour. With her are (left to right) Ian Stephenson, Andrew Wood and Janet Wahlquist (photo: Jude Paul)

November 2021 from Bulletin 9/2021

On 19th October a commemorative tree was planted on behalf of the Glebe Society at John Street Reserve to recognise Norma’s outstanding contributions to Glebe and the wider community. It was also the occasion of Norma’s 99th birthday. Below is a speech given by Norma on the day:

Thank you to the Glebe Society and its Blue Wren Subcommittee for the gift of this beautiful melaleuca linariifolia. And thank you to the City of Sydney Council for planting it here, in John Street Reserve, in time for my birthday today. I first saw this lovely tree late on the last day of September when a phone call from Julie, my neighbour, told me ‘Your tree is there, and in five minutes time, Bob and I will take you for a tour’ … And there it was, standing sturdily in its protective railing. For me it celebrates not only my birthday, but also Neighbourhood and Community.

My 41 years in St James Ave have brought me many valued friends, including Julie and Bob Richards, who give me constant care (which is what they do for John Street Reserve) and Jeremy Oorloff, the Founder and committed Secretary of the Friends of John St Reserve, and his wife Karen.

The description, ‘John Street Reserve – a habitat for blue wrens and other small birds, and a bio-diversity garden’ was the inspired proposal of the Council’s Deputy Mayor, the late Robyn Kemmis. In close collaboration, the Friends and the Blue Wren group, informed, sought and received community endorsement of this description.

The creative design of the Reserve came from the City’s landscape architect, and was followed by a request that the Blue Wren Subcommittee submit a list of trees, shrubs and grass that would protect and nourish the concept of bio-diversity. Judy Christie (from Birds in Backyards) and the late Jan Craney provided some 500 names, which were then included in the plan.

Janet Wahlquist, Norma Hawkins and Ian Stephenson (photo: Andrew Wood)

Recently I noticed two small groups of picnickers in the Reserve, with food and drink, blankets spread on the grass, and small children running around chasing each other. There were no unleashed large dogs, and no unleashed soccer balls, just people quietly enjoying themselves. Those of us optimistic for the future of the Reserve need to focus on the words Robyn used in defining it as ‘a habitat for blue wrens and other small birds, and a bio-diversity garden’. We must guard and protect it …  it is our contribution to saving the planet.

Judy assures me that there are encouraging sightings of wrens. My hope is that they will rediscover their corridor and shelter safely in my tree – and that when its life span is ended, another tree will be planted. How timely for us that Bird Life Australia announced just this month that the superb fairywren had been voted 2021 Bird of the Year.

We hope that our Glebe community will have these tiny seductive little birds in our birdbaths again, and dancing on our clothes lines. Thank you all for coming.