Developer wants to cut large Blackbutt

Update – 31 July 2017   Thanks to community action this tree has been saved. Council’s position in the matter is that the tree is outside of the footprint of the building and must be preserved. The property owner has conceded that the section 96 modification application for tree removal will be withdrawn and an alternate design will be proposed. In addition we believe that the developer has been fined for damaging a tree in front.

The developer of a dual occupancy that is currently being built at 111 Gungah Bay Road, wants to cut down a beautiful Eucalyptus Piluaris (Blackbutt) in the backyard. Some of you might even be able to see it from where you live as it is at least 28m high.

The original DA for this dual occupancy was presented to Hurstville Council in its dying days last year and the following councillors voted to approve it: DA2015/0319 submitted 28/08/2015 Read Arborist report at:…/appl…/default.aspx…

His Worship the Mayor, Councillor V Badalati, Deputy Mayor, Councillor D Sin, Councillor C Drane, Councillor C Hindi, Councillor R Kastanias, Councillor J Mining, Councillor P Sansom

In the process permission was granted for the removal of five (5) trees, now gone but this tree and five others were to be retained. Tree 2 was only meant to have a branch trimmed, as indicated by arrow. However, this tree has already been subjected to non compliant pruning by the current developer. The tree is located towards the corner of the block of land where it has minimal impact on dwellings.

MCubed Design has now lodged (15 June 2017) a modification application to remove this tree.
If you are concerned and object to this proposal write to Georges River Council at with MOD2017/0067 Removal of tree in South-East corner at 111 Gungah Bay Road, OATLEY in the subject line ASAP.

On behalf of the tree, thanks!




Holding Back the Concrete – Dorothy Luther


Inner Sydney is fast becoming a concrete jungle, with high rise apartments & shopping centres driving out the houses & corner shops that formed local communities. Even the remaining houses are being gentrified, with high walls hiding buxus hedges & garden furniture. Trees and gardens are disappearing because they’re untidy & take too much work.

But some intrepid souls are fighting back – a small but determined army of bush carers, community groups & feral gardeners are trying to stem the tide, with support from local governments – also under threat. They’re creating bush pockets, rain gardens, walking & cycle tracks that enable us to still keep in touch with nature & watch the antics of birds & lizards.
This is the story of some of those groups.

Dorothy Luther says she has been a member of APSoc for about 20 years, since buying an inner suburban house that needed a bush garden. She has been through the struggles of indigenous vs what will grow and has killed many plants in the process. This has led to many discussions with community gardening groups in the area. She is currently investigating rain forest plants since they seem to grow best in the much modified habitat. Her love of plants comes from growing up in the bush, not from any formal studies & botanical names are still confusing.


Guide to Trees of Georges River Council Area

Historically, the tree cover of Georges River has been the result of a complex interaction between soil types and topography.

Ridge Top – The higher ridgetops which dominate the former Kogarah and Hurstville Local Government Areas have soils derived from the Wianamatta Shale group which break down to clays and thin beds of shale-sandstone soils. Here most of the land has been cleared for housing, leaving only remnants of the previous tree cover. Scattered throughout this area are tall Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera) and occasional Woollybutt (Eucalyptus longifolia), Broad-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus fibrosa) and Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon). It was forests of these trees which attracted early loggers who used Forest Road as their access. 



Broad-leaved Ironbark

Mugga Ironbark

01 Syncarpia glomulifera 03 Eucalyptus longifolia 05 Eucalyptus fibrosa 07 Eucalyptus sideroxylon
02 Syncarpia glomulifera 04 Eucalyptus longifolia 06 Eucalyptus fibrosa 08 Eucalyptus sideroxylon
Syncarpia glomulifera Eucalyptus longifolia Eucalyptus fibrosa Eucalyptus sideroxylon

Georges River Shoreline – The indented shoreline of Georges River and the steep slopes running down to the shore consists predominantly of the Hawkesbury Sandstone group, with the soils a mixture of skeletal sands, blocks of weathered sandstone and some small shale lenses. Here the tree cover is more intact. On the upper slopes there is often a woodland with taller trees including Smooth-barked Apple (Angophora costata), Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Sydney Peppermint (Eucalyptus piperita ).

Smooth-barked Apple
Red Bloodwood
Sydney Peppermint 
09 Angophora costata 11 Corymbia gummifera 13 Eucalyptus piperita
10 Angophora costata 12 Corymbia gummifera 14 Eucalyptus piperita
 Angophora costata  Corymbia gummifera  Eucalyptus piperita


On the protected slopes there is a richer vegetation and more varied large tree presence. The dominant species are Smooth-barked Apple, Grey Gum (Eucalyptus punctata) and Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis). Extensive Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina) forests occur in sheltered areas of the Georges River but only a few individual plants (chiefly in Lime Kiln Bay) grow to tree-like size.

Grey Mangrove Grey Gum Blackbutt
23 Avicennia marina 15 Eucalyptus punctata 17 Eucalyptus pilularis
24 Avicennia marina 16 Eucalyptus punctata 18 Eucalyptus pilularis

Avicennia marina

Eucalyptus punctata

Eucalyptus pilularis

Oatley Park

One area of special interest is the sandstone-shale interface which occurs near the entrance to Oatley Park. Here there is a very localised stand of the large Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus sclerophylla), some on the margin of Oatley Park Avenue. Nearby on the slopes, benefiting from the richer soils, is the tall Brown Stringybark (Eucalyptus capitellata).

Scribbly Gum

Eucalyptus sclerophylla


19 Eucalyptus sclerophylla



20 Eucalyptus sclerophylla

Brown Stringybark Eucalyptus capitellata

22 a Eucalyptus resinifera

21 Eucalyptus resinifera 22 Eucalyptus resinifera


Guide and photos by Alan Fairley author of Native Plants of the Sydney District


Greening Oatley West Rail Park

Oatley West Train Park PlantingMatt Allison organised an OFF tree planting ‘event’ on Sunday 28 May at the Oatley West Rail Park (next to the underpass). We put in over 300 shrubs, grasses and ground covers as well as two trees – a Sydney Iron Bark and a Turpentine. Both are appropriate for the area.  OFF is working towards making our urban spaces greener as in  202020 Vision has been helpful in framing our latest project on trees.


Oatley West Train Park PlantingOFF dedicated the Iron Bark to the memory of Glen Turner, the OEH Officer murdered while trying to prevent illegal land clearing in Moree district in 2014. Remnant natural vegetation on farms was being cleared by a greedy and insensitive farmer who disregarded the essential habitat needed to support koalas among many other creatures. Glen’s murder was essentially ignored by our state government who are keen to further weaken laws to protect native vegetation. To learn more about this significant Australian story look for the movie “Cultivating Murder” which was shown by OFF at our meeting back in April at the RSL.

P1020236The Turpentine was planted in memory of Val Boyan, an active member of OFF for many years before her death in 2014.  The nearby Myles Dunphy Bush reserve contains Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (STIF) which is an Endangered Ecological Community. It is the only remnant in the Georges River LGA that is of good quality, retaining a tree canopy, under story and ground cover of native species. To accommodate the development on the former Oatley Bowling Club, trees and shrubs at the entrance to the site will need to be cleared as asset protection from bushfire danger. This will see the removal or severe disturbance of a strip of Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (an Endangered Ecological Community under NSW legislation ) up to 20 m wide at a location where the Bushland Reserve is only 50 m wide.

We will be holding a second planting day in the coming month to complete the work at the site so keep a lookout for the details on our Facebook page .                                  


Cultivating Murder – Cost of Protecting Native Vegetation

Cultivating Murder movieOn 24th April, 75 members and guests were treated to a premiere showing of the crowd-funded documentary film “Cultivating Murder” by Film Projects. This is a collaborative effort from Director Greg Miller and Producer Dr Georgia Wallace-Crabbe. It features the story behind the murder of OE&H compliance officer Glen Turner in 2014 by Ian Turnbull, who happens to be one of the wealthiest farmers in NSW.

Glen turnerGlen worked on the frontline of habitat and wildlife protection in the Moree district and was investigating the illegal land clearing operations of the Turnbull family. The Turnbulls would purchase grazing landholdings and any remnant native vegetation on the property was bulldozed to improve the cropping potential of the land. However these remnant copses were clearly home to native wildlife (like locally highly threatened koalas) and, as such, were protected by state government legislation. Previously repeated large scale land clearing prosecutions of the Turnbulls meant they had already racked up multiple million dollar fines. In spite of this they continued clearing land. While Glen had been filming these further violations, Turnbull cold- bloodedly murdered him in front of an OE&H colleague. This witness would help to ensure a murder conviction but the killer died within 12 months of his effectively life sentence.

The film is a tribute to Glen and his family but it goes far beyond this personal tragedy. It highlights the greed of certain landholders and the political pressure they have placed on our present State government which has caved in ensuring the watering down of native vegetation protection laws*. This had originally been designed by scientific experts to protect the already critically endangered remnants. But as Ian Turnbull’s son says dismissively outside court: this tragedy will happen again unless the government stops contesting farmer’s business plans.

Click here to see more at Cultivating Murder Website

Click here to follow on Facebook

Native VegetationThe Native Vegetation Act and the Threatened Species Conservation Act were replaced in November 2016 by the Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act. OFF made a submission on the draft legislation pointing out many shortcomings. Now the draft regulations for the Act are on exhibition for six weeks from 10th May.

OFF will make a submission and OFF members are encouraged to do so too.

Details on the NSW Government website



Street Tree Removal

A copy of a letter from concerned Oatley West resident, addressed to the Administrator, Georges River Council.

Today I rang Council to inquire as to why 2 street trees have recently been removed in Oatley West. I believe tree canopy on both private and public property is very important in terms of the ecosystem services that trees provide in our urban neighbourhoods. There is the matter of cumulative loss of tree canopy and the general council response to this, and I will take that up in subsequent correspondence.

I was dealt with politely by the Customer Service Officer who was keen to act in a helpful and transparent manner. He provided me verbally with the following information, apparently from the date base access he had to the relevant Council Reports. He also assured me that he would refer my verbal inquiry to the appropriate council officer and that I would receive a phone  call back, and this has not occurred.

Here is the information that he reported to me, and my comments in response to it.

79 Gungah Bay Rd (2)Street Tree removal directly outside  79 Gungah Bay Rd. Oatley West. The Report stated that a “pruning request” only was approved. The Council Customer Officer could see no approval for further removal and could not explain why the Street tree has been removed. So my first questions are ; Why has this tree been removed, and why is this  council report seemingly inaccurate?


79 Gungah Bay Rd (6)In the absence of any other feedback, my own research has established that a D/A has been approved for 79 Gungah Bay Rd; D/A 2016/0055. Whilst the applicant as required by the form is identified as ‘MCubed’, there is no documented identification of the property owner. Why is this the case, and Who is the owner? Doesn’t transparency of process require the declaration of ownership? Furthermore an examination of the Approved site plan  seems to suggest that the Street Tree may have been ‘in the way’ of the driveway configuration that was approved. My questions are ” Was this the reason that this street tree removal taken place? Why has this happened  in the apparent absence of any transparent approval process? 

29 Baker St (1)Street tree removal outside 29 Baker Street, Oatley West. The  Customer Service Officer said the report had stated that this tree “fell over in a storm”. I have much admired this majestic tree, and did note in a recent storm it dropped a branch, that was ‘cleaned up’ by a crew on a particular day. Much to the disappointment of both my husband and I, the next day the whole of the  tree was removed,  though it looked healthy to us, and in fact the stump looks that way and it is still in the ground.

29 Baker St (2)So since we know to the contrary that the whole tree did not fall over in a storm, we are witnesses to the fact that the report, as reported to me today is inaccurate. My question is, what is Councils’ official explanation of this?

In the meantime I would also request replacement  street tree plantings of significant native species, in positions as close as practical to the sites where these trees have been removed.  In the case of 79 Gungah Bay Rd, an opportunity exists not just for a street tree outside that address, but for a native garden strip planted with a biodiverse  mixture of species, from 79 towards the corner of Douglas Haigh Street with Woronora Pde.  This would effectively screen a view of a fence and into backyards providing a more aesthetic solution for all on the adjoining public land.

Georges River Tree Project


 Alt text caption



OFF is a community group trying to maintain and improve the tree canopy and extensive bushy nature of our Region. 

Our latest project. ….Community Tree Watch – working to protect healthy public trees in  Georges River Council Local Government Area from inappropriate removal.  New web pages are under construction.

If you have information  on the topics below please email us at


GOOD GREEN AREAS – A good example of public green space

NOMINATE A TREE – A Significant Tree