Five reasons why we love living in Earlwood

Anna Le Masurier

When my husband and I moved from renting in Bondi to buying a home in Earlwood in early 2006, what we loved about "the Wood" was:

1. The walking distance to a train station, buses, shops and (although we didn't have kids together at that point) the local school.

2. The proximity to Newtown, the burgeoning funkiness of Marrickville and being within 15km of the CBD.

3. Access to the Cooks River cycle track, west up to Rookwood Cemetery and east to Botany Bay.

4. The price of our 3-bedroom house with space enough for chooks, vegie patches, fruit trees, a deck overlooking the Bardwell Valley and a man cave for my husband's various hobbies.

5. Last, but definitely not least, the amazing bushland at the bottom of our street, part of the Two Valley Trail. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first walked through this long, narrow, piece of remnant bush along the Wolli Valley, a wonderland of native trees, birds, reptiles and sandstone cliffs. 

Discovering this bushland opened my eyes to the battles that had been fought over the 80s and 90s to preserve this important green space. The inital plans for the M5 motorway proposed bulldozing straight through it. 

I joined the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, volunteered to do bush regeneration and walked through the valley as often as time permitted. When I was on maternity leave after my daughter was born in 2007, I spent many relaxing hours walking along different parts of the bush track between Tempe and Bexley with her in a sling. We had her first birthday party in Girrawheen Park and many of the guests were amazed at that particular National Parks and Wildlife-owned oasis in the middle of the suburb. 

When the WestConnex toll road project reared its head a couple of years ago, my interest was piqued because I'd heard talk that politicians and the road bureaucrats were again eyeing off the Wolli Valley bushland to construct a motorway through it. This time, they were talking about duplicating the M5 East tunnel through the western end of the bush corridor, right near Bexley Rd.

What the planners fail to mention when they talk about building "higher, wider, flatter tunnels" is that to do so they'll need to destroy an area that contains many beautiful heritage-classified trees and is a haven for wildlife and native flora. Many dedicated volunteer and professional bush regenerators have invested hundreds of hours in the peaceful surrounds of the area, removing exotic weeds and creating space for native plants to flourish.

And so, together with many, many other people, I've joined the campaign against WestConnex! Not only because I want to save this precious area from being bulldozed but also because the more I learn about the it, the broader my concerns grow around transport planning in general and Sydney's metropolitan strategy. What some people write off as a NIMBY issue actually becomes just one piece of the Sydney planning pie. 

I'm going to keep writing about this because I think it's an important issue not only for the Earlwood community but also neighbouring suburbs Bexley, Bardwell Park, Tempe and Turrella, and anyone who wants to preserve the little inner-south-west green space we have left. 

What kind of neighbourhood and city do we want to live in?