BY FRANCESCA ORI
Tamarama Park is not as big as it looks. The top entrance to the reserve, an unmade section of Birrell Street, is not legally part of the park but that may soon change.
Waverley Mayor Ingrid Strewe has taken action to prevent that strip of land from becoming a driveway and has promised, if successful, she will hold a BBQ with locals to celebrate.
‘I live on Birrell Street, Bondi, and I’ve done so for the last 22 years. A short walk from my front gate takes me to the end of Birrell Street and to a small green overlooking Tamarama Gully and out to sea,’ Councillor Strewe said.
‘There is a bench there and for all the years I’ve lived here this has been my favourite place to sit and reflect on the day. I’ve done so at early mornings during summer months, caught the warm summer sun, seen migrating whales and some spectacular full moons.
‘A grey white owl can often be seen at the darkest face of the moon, surveying the depths of the gully from the lamp stationed at the top of the steep steps. I have sat there with my ageing parents and in-laws and with each of my two children now adults. Needless to say the place holds many special memories.’
This special site could soon be spoiled and the bench swept away: that’s why residents are writing letters like the mayor’s to the Department of Lands.
The saga began in December 2006, when Waverley Council opposed a DA lodged for 362 Birrell Street.
‘They wanted to build a big driveway down through what looks like Tamarama Park to their house and to subdivide a piece of land in two lots on which to build another dwelling site over the waterfall,’ Cr Strewe said. ‘Council opposed the DA because we thought it would really desecrate the top of the park and it would make it dangerous for people to access the reserve, because it is the only western entrance to Tamarama Gully and beach.’
Cr Strewe explained that a driveway there would create conflict between people driving in and people trying to walk down the path, and the proximity of pedestrians and vehicles would make the steep descent in the gully unsafe. It would also make it impossible to sit on the bench and look over the ocean: if they built the driveway, there wouldn’t be any seat.
The case went to the Land and Environment Court, which approved the subdivisions but rejected the roadway.
That was the third time Waverly Council opposed DAs on that site. The mayor applied to the Department of Lands to formally close that unmade section of Birrell Street and to incorporate it into Tamarama Park.
‘I am surprised the council didn’t try to unmake the road in the past. I’m very grateful to the Minister of Lands who agreed to listen to us. The fear of losing our park for roadwork is too great,’ the mayor said. ‘It’s very important the Department understands the depth of community support before making their decision. That’s why I ask local residents, if they share our desire to unmake this road, could they please write to the Department of Lands.’
To support the council’s application write by Friday, July 4 to: Mr Barry Ede, Team Leader Roads Section, NSW Department of Lands, PO Box 3935, Parramatta NSW 2124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org