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Hands Off Royal Park and Our Sacred Sites

by Julianne Bell, President of Protectors of Public Lands

Protesters gathered in Royal Park today at the drill site for a proposed road link which would cut through the park.

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC)) and the Royal Park Protection Group Inc. called a protest today at the drill site on the grassland hill top - once an Aboriginal corroboree ground- in Royal Park to the north of the Royal Children's Hospital. The protest was over proposals by the Baillieu Government to route the 4 lane East West Link roadway/tollway through this part of Royal Park including the historic Aboriginal corroboree site. We regard drilling on a traditional aboriginal corroboree ground as sacrilege and the construction of the tollway through parkland as State-sanctioned vandalism.

Today a large crowd of protestors walked into the Park and gathered around the drilling rig on the grassland hill top which has magnificent views of the CBD skyline. In 1987 the City of Melbourne had a competition to draw up a Master Plan for Royal Park. The winning entry by landscape architects Brian Stafford and Ronald Jones expressed a philosophy that the character of the Park was inherent in its form – “a place where the earth swells, the dome of the sky soars overhead and the horizon beckons”. A sense of the landscape at the time of Europeans’ first encounter was to be evoked by planting indigenous species and enhancing the park’s spacious quality. Removal of a sports pavilion and cricket pitch and extensive replanting of native grasses has transformed this part of Royal Park.

The Baillieu Government and Linking Melbourne Authority have minimised the historic connections of the Wurundjeri with the historic corroboree site. Records reveal that the Le Souef family, the first Directors of the Melbourne Zoo, left accounts and photos of "tribal dancing" in Royal Park. Also the Meaker family - Park Bailifs and Rangers - who lived in the Walmsley House on Gatehouse Street left extensive records of the Aboriginal tribes whose lands included Royal Park and the Moonee Ponds Creek. Today we welcomed Tony who is the greatgrandson of Frances Meaker and has valuable family momentos of their life in Royal Park from 1862 to 1932..

Contact: Julianne Bell Secretary PPL VIC jbell5 [ AT ] or 0408022408

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Only after seeing the site can one appreciate the enormous impact the 4 lane freeway going right through our city and Royal Park would have. These grasslands have been part of Melbourne's heritage, and the Master Plan shouldn't simply be deleted and ignored. Any open space or "vacant" land is now up for grabs by our government. It's a treasure of open space and native grasses, bordered by trees. Melbourne's destruction has never before been so obviously a threat. Back in 2003, a proposed tunnel linking the Eastern and Tullamarine freeways under the Melbourne General Cemetery and Royal Park was shelved after a Government study found it would be too expensive.
It appears that the East West Link will rip through the heart of Royal Park and may not be a tunnel but a an open cut freeway. The drilling site locations indicate that the new route will be through the heart of the grasslands to the north of the old Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). How are sick children meant to recover near noise and pollution of traffic just nearby?
The growth of Melbourne means over-riding heritage values, open-spaces, living standards, increasing pollution, and destruction of natural landscapes and native species.
Major current campaigns by the Royal Park protection group include opposition to the alienation of parkland for a private real estate development (the 2006 Games Village in disguise) on the Royal Park Hospital site and to the extension of the Eastern Freeway.
Royal Park protection group
Our politicians are living in fantasy land of perpetual growth. There's little strategic thinking about oil supplies, greenhouse gas emissions, our city's amenities and qualities that need preserving, or the end of the fossil-fuel age. It's tunnel-vision of growth, and blinkered "planning" of "business as usual".

From CommunityRun

Stop Penrith Council's destruction of our environment

Campaign created by Suzie Wright

Dear Councillor,

Please do not approve the direction proposed by Penrith Council planners in their Local Environment Plan (LEP). I urge you to seek a thorough review of their plans so far and an open community consultation period of at least two months.

I value the natural environment and want you to take this planning decision very seriously in order to ensure a decent quality of life for our children and grandchildren. We do not want wall to wall housing, more transport gridlock and the further degradation of our natural environment in Penrith.

Please ensure that you are given the time for a thorough and independent review of Penrith Councils proposed LEP in terms that it undermines the Cumberland Plain Recovery Plan and the protection of Priority Conservation Lands as mapped by the NSW Government. The proposed LEP destroys any hope of achieving the Cumberland Conservation Corridor within the North Ward of Penrith and it will have far reaching impacts including on the Nepean River.

I urge Penrith Councillors not to proceed with their Local Environment Plan until the North Ward Priority Conservation Lands are protected with conservation zonings and that these zonings facilitate the creation of the Cumberland Conservation Corridor. Penrith Council must map and protect these national treasures. No Councillor should vote on this matter until they have visited these conservation jewels to see for themselves what is at stake.


Why is this important?

Penrith LGA is home to some of the rarest and most valued bushland areas in the Sydney basin. The Castlereagh Woodland area within the North Ward of Penrith is unique and endangered. It provides habitat for hundreds of species of plants and animals. Many of these are themselves endangered. We are at that point in history where we need to decide if we want them to survive or to face extinction.

It is up to Penrith Council and they are proposing "business as usual" - more houses, more roads, more profit for developers and in their latest LEP proposal to the newly elected Councillors. The city planners are insisting the elected Councillors endorse this "developer dream" direction.

On top of this they are railroading the Councillors saying that they do not have time to consider this matter carefully. Not even enough time for them to visit the sites or allow the normal community consultation period, which in their proposal has been reduced from 2 months to 28 days.

Our city planners are insisting that the Councillors have to set the direction on Monday 19 November. Its not true.

The LEP determines the whole shape of our city and our countryside forever so it is the duty of Councillors to get this right. They must act in the public interest.

Re-zoning lands is a very serious matter and has huge implications for landowners, the rare and endangered species, the Nepean River, the wild places, commuters, shop owners, businesses and visitors alike.

Why should it be rushed? Why should new Councillors in particular, who have little or in some cases no idea what an RU4 or an E2 zoning is, be asked to make a decision on the future of this city without even understanding what these zonings mean?

Council needs to tell Council planners to back off, take their time and do their due diligence.

How it will be delivered

In person to the Council meeting

I was present at the rally on Friday November 16th opposing the East West Link through Royal Park, Melbourne.

The project is part of the endless push for continuing road building and the accompanying neglect of new public transport. As Federal MP Kelvin Thomson pointed out at the rally, Melbourne already has “east-west links" in the form of the Western Ring Road and the West Gate Bridge. Mr. Thomson also pointed out that the state government should be focusing on a rail link to Doncaster which he described as a “no brainer”. He empahised that funds should be spent on public transport.

Apart from the drilling activities (respectfully suspended during the rally) the scene was very peaceful with native grasses blowing in the foreground and the city skyline in the back ground.

A mammoth road project in this spot would destroy entirely the integrity of Royal Park and render it largely unuseable. To the state government, Royal Park is obviously a dispensable "terra nullius” It is a shame that the previous dysfunctional State Labor Government was not returned at the last election as at least they had shelved the idea of the East West Link project.

Successive state governments in Victoria have had no appetite for public transport and a huge appetite for population growth. This combination means more and more roads which will continually fill up with cars. With perpetual population growth we will never reach a point where the roads accommodate the cars and people can get to their destinations easily. Meanwhile we all live on a permanent construction site. Of course while the seemingly blind politicians put their energies into road plans, oil depletion continues inexorably. It is inevitable that the last road project if is ever finished will be the ultimate while elephant.