Fatima Island: memories of little surprises

This little island brings back happy memories of the mid to late sixties, I would look from the city train just before Tempe Station, to see  what decorations would adorn it that week.  Christmas would bring the usual tinsel, stars and maybe Santa Claus, Easter would be bunnies and eggs etc. and through the rest of the year there would be little surprises.

I never knew who did this, but it always brightened up the train passengers and made the trip go faster.  

Over the years I noticed it had been shrinking, but thank you Paul Dunford and your biology teacher and friends for trying to keep it intact.   I doubt whether any authority, state or federal, would be interested, as it would cost money which seems to be scarce in these times.

This article appeared in the recent Marrickville Heritage Society newsletter:

Fatima Island, situated on Cooks River between Kendrick Park and Tempe House, is a small natural sandbar with a collapsing rock retaining wall at the western end. the Cooks River Valley Association is mounting a campaign to preserve the island as a site of historical and environmental significance, and is calling for memories and memorabilia.

The history of fatima Island provides a microcosm of our nation’s cultural diversity.

Although the retaining wall (including recycled convict-hewn rock) was added in 1901 as a part of public works, the underlying mudflat or sandbar is a natural feature of the Cooks River, and indeed Fatima Island is the only remaining island of several that existed prior to settlement. Together with two adjacent islands that can be seen in a photograph taken circa 1880, Fatima Island would only have provided a crossing place for the Aboriginal traditional owners of this part of the river. It is surely no coincidence that a significant midden site is nearby at Kendrick Park.

The island’s name alone resonates with two significant components of our local community. It comes from a Catholic rosary pilgrimage made to the island in 1951, honouring a Portuguese statue of Our lady of Fatima. This name in turn has provided a familiar reference point for the more recent Muslim community members, because the beloved daughter of the profit Mohammed was named Fatima.

Currently under threat from flooding, erosion and visits of thoughtless people, this precious bird sanctuary and heritage site is in urgent need of support at both community and official level.

Nadia Wheatley, secretary of Cooks River Valley Association (info@crva.org.au). 

Picture: John Veage.

Picture: John Veage.

Picture: John Veage.

Picture: John Veage.

Picture: John Veage.

Picture: John Veage.

What are your memories of Fatima Island?

Comments