cricket and wine DO mix!

Image: Holy Name of Mary Church archives

Next time you are watching a game of cricket being played on the grounds opposite St Joseph’s College on Gladesville Rd, Hunters Hill – close your eyes for a moment and picture the entire area covered in grape vines.

Over hundred years ago the Villa Maria Monastery had its own vineyards. They were principally for the manufacture of altar wine with a small quantity set aside for table wine for the use of the Villa Maria community. The quality of the table wine left a lot to be desired, although the 1874 vintage appears to have been exceptional.

It was reported ‘This year our wine has been wonderful, we have made 16 barrels of wine, and good stuff too.”  The last recorded vintage was 1906.

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At home in our remnant bushland …

at Tarban Creek (Image Helen Temple)

A little bit of joyous news:  This beautiful female echidna was spotted in Tarban Creek Reserve today – unbelievable but absolutely true.

It had been waddling across Gladesville Road. We think it might have a burrow and a youngster so did not try and move it. We just hope it doesn’t get hit by a car or attacked by a dog or cat.

Nature is a wonderful thing – I hope we can hang onto our beautiful remnant local bushland!

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SAVED: Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct

Female Factory, watercolour, Augusts Earle, 1826

On November 14th 2017, the Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct was included in the National Heritage List under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.   Its outstanding heritage value to the nation has been recognised because of the place’s:

  • importance in the course, or pattern, of Australia’s natural or cultural history
  • possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Australia’s natural or cultural history
  • potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Australia’s natural or cultural history.

Read more about this extraordinary site and what the  Parra Girls have achieved for Australia.

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help save Moore Park

Anzac Pde protestors, 2016

In 1867, Moore Park was established by Charles Moore, the Mayor of Sydney City Council. Today the park is an essential part of Centennial Parklands. Known as the ‘People’s Park’ and ‘lungs of the city’, the park is of national significance.

In 2016, some of Sydney’s most magnificent heritage fig trees in Moore Park were senselessly destroyed to make way for the SE light rail project. A year later Moore Park is under threat again. This time from major redevelopment plans for Allianz Stadium.

Use this link:  Saving Sydneys’s trees to send a message to your MP asking them to put pressure on the Premier to protect the Park. Then urge your friends to do the same.

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Figtree Chapel

Figtree Chapel just before demolition

When next visiting the Hunters Hill Hotel stroll across the road to the Moreton Bay fig tree and small garden opposite the shops.  You’ll discover underneath the shade of the tree a sandstone plinth with a plaque. This marks the original entrance way to Figtree Chapel, the oldest public building in Hunters Hill, which was saved at the 11th hour from total destruction.

The sandstone church was relocated just down the road to Figtree Road, Hunters Hill where is resplendently stands today as St Mark’s Church.  After it was moved, the congregation added stained glass windows and other traditional features which have enhanced this lovely and quaint church.

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Trees in Sydney’s north: new clearing rules

Image: Friends of the Urban Forest

NSW Government has introduced new tree clearing laws.  What does it mean for the future of wildlife?  What about our ever-shrinking tree canopy?  You are invited to attend Total Environment Centre’s community forum:    Trees in Sydney’s North.

Speakers:  Jeff Angel TEC and Emily Ryan, Environment Defenders Office

When:  30 November, 6.30-8:30pm

Where: Cheltenham Recreation Club, 60-74 The Cres, Cheltenham
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Water Dragon strikes a pose

Image: Alister Sharp

Australian Water Dragons are out and about in Hunters Hill gardens this spring.

The recent drought conditions may be responsible for the visits from these dramatic creatures who are often seen in Brickmakers’ Creek in Boronia Park where there is usually ample flowing water, tree cover and basking sites.  This one trecked 300 meters from the riverfront.

Water Dragons have been around for a really long time.  Fossils found in Queensland show that this genus has existed in Australia for at least 20 million years. They grow to about 90cm in length and live on diet of insects as juveniles, becoming omnivorous as they mature, eating figs, crabs and vegetable matter.  A female in captivity was still producing eggs at age 27.

Check  the Australian Museum for more.  Send us your images of wildlife in suburbia.

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plan to reduce water going back to the Murray Darling Basin

image: Sascha Healy

The Murray Darling Basin Authority is proposing to reduce the amount of water that is currently going back into the river environment. This will stop water recovery in its tracks and limit the environmental outcomes of the Murray Darling Plan.

To give birds, fish, frogs and trees a fair go, keep salinity in check so that the rivers water can be used, and keep the mouth of the Murray open, the plan needs to recover 3200GL of water to flow for the environment.  If you have a minute, please sign the NSW Conservation Council’s submission before Friday 3rd November.

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North District Plan: what is the real story?

or get this?

do we keep this?

The Greater Sydney Commission has released the Revised Draft North District-Plan. It predicts there will be 200,000 more people living in 92,000 more dwellings in the North District by 2036.

It sets out priorities raised by all of us who commented on the 2016 draft, including:

  • Protection of neighbourhood character
  • Medium density rather than high density housing
  • Enhanced walking and cycling connections
  • Improved transport and infrastructure to support housing
  • Measures to protect biodiversity
  • Protection of natural landscape including foreshore and bushland
  • Protection of open space, including Green Grid and urban tree canopy
  • Protection of metropolitan rural areas, particularly South Dural.

Why is this so very different from the reality of what is happening around us right now?

Comment on this latest draft before December 15th.

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SOS green space: signs of hope

Community pressure and the SOS Green Spaces campaign is having an impact:

  • NSW Minister for Planning is appointing a Parks and Open Space Coordinator to provide leadership and direction
  • NSW Government Architect’s Office is preparing a best practice policy for Sydney’s green spaces
  • Greater Sydney Commission plans to significantly expand Sydney’s tree cover.


The habitat of koalas and other wildlife is threatened by plans to house hundreds of thousands more people in Western Sydney. Total Environment Centre’s forum on November 16th will unpack the issues and strategies to manage risks.

Register to attend: Last Chance for Western Sydney Bushland.

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