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Last Sunday we went to the Community Information Day held by Sydney Water at Whiddon Reserve Croyden Park.
The first site where naturalization will occur is here, upstream from the Second Avenue Bridge. Work will start late July 2013.
Work will commence at the second site at Flockharrt Park to Beamish Street Campsie late 2013. Work for the third site at Haynes Reserve Canterbury outside Cup & Saucer Creek Wetlands will start early next year & expected to be finished by June 2014.
At the Whiddon Reserve site, both sides of the river will be naturalised. Currently the river here is a steep concrete channel with parkland on either side. All the concrete will be removed & the bank on the south side lowered considerably & stabilized with sandstone blocks. The bank will be planted with sedges & reeds that will filter the water as well as provide habitat & food for all kinds of wildlife.
The northern bank will remain steep to prevent flooding into nearby homes & to allow the mature trees to be retained.
The fence will be removed & the area planted with trees, plus an understorey of indigenous plants. There will be a compressed clay & gravel walking path with seating at places to take in the view.
Sydney Water says changing the banks will not place this area at risk when it floods as the banks will be able to withstand extreme weather conditions, including flooding. They also say they will regularly remove any plastic bottles or other rubbish that gets caught in the naturalised banks.
The staff at the Community Information Day were very helpful & answered my myriad questions. As usual it was on the way home that I realized I didn’t understand what wildlife could be using this concrete drain that had very little water in it & this was a question I should have asked. The literature mentions turtles so they must be there. For other kinds of wildlife it may be a case of build it & they will come. It will be very interesting to observe what wildlife uses this area in 12-months time.
To stand at the fence & look at the concrete drain that is the river here, it is not hard to see why the site was chosen or just how great this park will become once the work has been completed. Some trees will have to be removed because they will be changing the whole slope, but the plans show many more trees will be planted.
Aside from the obvious benefits to wildlife, there are considerable benefits for people too. The river will become beautiful here, which will have a positive on the local community, including their happiness levels if they use the place. The work will also have a positive impact on property values. One block of housing looks onto the river. This group will be cheering at their outlook in 6-12 months time. I imagine the park will become a popular place to spend relaxation time.
This naturalisation work on the river gives me hope that one day all the concrete & metal edging will be removed & the river healed. This is truly a project that is providing real & usable habitat for wildlife, as well as leaving something special for future generations. Sydney Water is doing something excellent here & I hope the naturalisation of the Cooks River is an ongoing project.
Last week I was sent an email seeking information about two black swans sighted on the Cooks River. Then I saw posts about the swans on Facebook. Following a trail I found a Facebook page called ‘Henry & Matilda.’ Here they documented the cygnets C1 & C2 leaving Sydney Park on Friday 18th January
Monday 18th February to destinations unknown. (see below)
By Thursday 21st February the swans had been found on the Cooks River & identified as the same pair that left Sydney Park
earlier that week. last January 2013.
Last Sunday we went black swan hunting & found them where I expected them to be – at the most popular place for waterbirds on the river – just outside Boat Harbour at Hurlstone Park.
I think it is a really good chance that the Black Swans have made their home at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetlands because they are vegetarians, eating algae & river plants. Cup & Saucer Creek Wetlands is a very safe place for birds because people cannot enter. Really safe places are unusual along the river.
On Sunday we watched a Pied Cormorant fishing in the wetlands, which was a first for us.
I am thrilled that black swans have come to bring a touch of glamour to the Cooks River. These two are only 5.5 months old. We were fortunate enough to see them when they were very young in Sydney Park. See - http://bit.ly/QAQQ85
Black swans can live for 20-30 years so the community will have lots of time to get to know them & any others that come to live on the river or who are born here.
More to add – The owner of the Facebook page ‘Henry & Matilda’ contacted me & said that a glitch duplicated the photo of the swans leaving Sydney Park & added the wrong date. The swans actually left Sydney Park on 18th January 2013, not 18th February as was written above. The swans have spent time in the Alexandra Canal & Wolli Creek before setting in at the Cooks River.
Don’t blame me. Blame the Library who gave me this book to read over Christmas. The book is called, ‘Jack of all Trades – Mistress of One’ & was written by actor Grahame Bond, famous for his role as Aunty Jack.
Grahame’s Mum worked days at the Marrickville Post Office & at nights, “as a cleaner at the Marrickville brake lining factory. She described walking into the factory late at night, ‘the air filled with white flakes, like dandelions floating on the breeze.’ Her job was to vacuum up the loose asbestos. That’s the bad news. The good news… my dear mother lived to 98.”
The story gets better. An excerpt -
“Originally the area bordered by Illawarra Road & the Cooks River had been glorious marshland stretching all the way from Marrickville to Botany Bay. In the early 1930s Marrickville Council in its wisdom decided to divert the river using rubbish as landfill, which resulted in the area becoming a floodplain. Today this might be called land reclamation.
In the early 1940s, the garbage landfill concept was expanded & the floodplain became the Marrickville Municipal Rubbish Tip. Suddenly we had an open garbage dump metres from private housing, & Gary & his parents lived directly opposite. What the council had approved was criminal, but for us kids it was a treasure trove of pickings; old toys, prams, comics, even beds. It was idyllic, except for the tons of rotting food & vegetable matter.
And further on -
“In the late 1940s Marrickville Council made a momentous decision to remove the rubbish tip & rezone the area to become parkland. The plan was to move the tip to another suburb & create a landscaped masterpiece from the denuded garbage tip. To fashion the park, the Council simply reversed the technique used originally to reclaim the land. This time they brought in the bulldozers to scrape off the surface rubbish & truck it to Tempe. What was left was then covered with tons of mud & debris from the bottom of ‘good old Cooksie.’ The new parkland was now littered with old bits of broken shells from mussels, oysters & cockles. The area was aptly named Steel Park, where I played for West Marrickville primary school’s rugby league team. Steel Park by name & steel park by nature: the surface was punishing, uneven & dangerous. With so many objects protruding from the grass it was Tetanus City.
We soon discovered that the opposing teams preferred to forfeit rather than compete on our playing field.”
History is grand. It can answer so many questions like why are the river banks straight & why strange objects are often found to be protruding from the dirt. I’d recommend reading Jack of all Trades. It’s not only interesting, especially for locals, but it is also funny.
Today I received the following email from Gayle Adams, the Water Quality Co-ordinator for the Cooks River Valley Association.
“On Saturday 1 December around 3:30 pm with the tide halfway out, one of our keen-eyed members reported seeing a great number of dead fish near the bridge over the Cooks River at Illawarra Road/Homer Street.
Have you seen dead fish in large numbers in the River lately? Or something you think might be related? If so, please let us know by return email so we can accurately log this latest fish kill.
The last major fish kill in the Cooks that I am aware of was November 2008 which we think was mullet adversely affected by a toxic discharge from the stormwater drain at Younger Avenue Earlwood. But fish kills can happen due to ‘natural’ causes. It looks like oxygen levels in the River were very low in the days before last Saturday & Saturday itself was very hot.”
If you have seen something, please contact Gayle at email@example.com
I received some really exciting news about the Cooks River from Mudcrabs. Sydney Water recently spent over $3-million removing more than 6,000 tonnes of silt from the Cooks River & now intends to naturalise over 1km of the riverbank at three sites. They have called for tenders & work is planned to start in early 2013.
The three areas of riverbank to be targeted are at Whitten Reserve in Belfield, Flockhart Park to Beamish Street Campsie & the area in front of & adjoining Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland at Canterbury. All planning diagrams for the three sites show the planting of many new trees. This is a bonanza for the health of the Cooks River, the wildlife & the community.
From Sydney Water’s website - “Riverbank naturalisation can take different forms, but generally involves the removal of some, or all of the steep concrete channel bank & creating a more gently sloping bank. This is stabilised with native plants, trees & rocks. Naturalisation creates a softer landscape feel & can greatly improve the riverbank habitat for native birds & other animals. Wetlands can also be established as part of the naturalisation process. Wetlands have a significant role in improving the river’s ecology & health by treating stormwater runoff from streets & industrial areas, before it enters the river.”
Last year the Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland won the Highly Commended award at the NSW Stormwater Infrastructure Association Annual Awards for Excellence. Sydney Water deserved to win. The wetland cost $900,000 & was money well spent. Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland is a fantastic achievement & is very beautiful. Lucky are the people whose properties back on to or face the wetland. I’d love to be waking up to the sound of the birds in the morning.
From being a lawn with a couple of trees, it is now an important habitat area filled with waterbirds & other life, including turtles. On top of this, the wetland cleans the stormwater coming down the Cup & Saucer Creek channel before it enters the Cooks River. The community will benefit from the new works too, as we have already benefited from the environment of the Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.
The habitat around Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland from the pedestrian bridge at the Sugar Factory to Mary McKillop Park will be extended & the lawn removed. This is a good length in an area filled with waterbirds. There will be new viewing platforms, new seating (great because there isn’t much), saltmarsh plants & gravel paths, plus many new trees. The area from Burwood Road to Beamish Street will also have new trees, saltmarsh plants, a viewing platform & a gravel footpath. Similar additions are planned for the area at Whiddens Reserve.
Slowly this beautiful river will be repaired from the terrible damage inflicted upon it over the last century. The restoration works by Sydney Water will be a better legacy to bestow on future generations & I am quite excited about it.
You can download the plans here – http://bit.ly/RriIM7
For more information see Sydney Water’s website – http://bit.ly/SmzOgl
Recently I was sent emails with news articles about the vandalized & dying mangroves near Lang Road Canterbury opposite Ewan Park on the Cooks River, but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I went for a bike ride last weekend.
As I stood there surveying around 50-metres of dying & dead mangroves I wondered how would you go about killing them. It would have to be a low tide where you would pour litres of pesticide onto them killing the thousands, if not millions of little mud crabs & other creatures that live in the mud & the mangroves themselves. Then the tide would rise taking the pesticide further into the ecosystem probably killing as it travelled. Perhaps the pesticide leached out of the mud where it was poured over two or three tides or perhaps the vandal poured pesticide over the mangroves over a few consecutive low tides. Whichever way, it must have been a lethal, yet invisible force moving through the river.
Then I wondered just how many fish were caught & taken back for the family dinner while the toxin was moving through the river?
This vandalism to the mangroves was a phenomenally ignorant & harmful act to the river & whoever did this must have no respect for the environment. To them the river ecology must be something to be contained & controlled whatever the cost. Neither would they would not respect the hard work done by the volunteers of Mudcrabs & the Cooks River Valley Association, who have been working to improve the river for many years, including this section of the riverbank.
According to an article in the Canterbury Bankstown Express, if the vandal were caught they could be fined up to $110,000, plus up to $11,000 per saltmarsh plant. See - http://bit.ly/VFusyS
What do you do in this situation? Replant the mangroves? Maybe plant some trees along here as well? Keep doing it until the vandal gives up? I don’t know, but I do know that doing nothing makes the vandal a winner & the river, the wildlife & ultimately the community miss out because of one or perhaps two people.
A couple of months ago we saw a pelican sitting with a couple of Ibis on the Cooks River bank at Kendrick Park. Neither of us had seen a pelican on the riverbank before, except for the Boat Harbour peninsula at Hurlstone Park, as they usually keep well away from people.
The pelican surprised us by starting to walk over. Then two young men standing nearby watching put an end to this by deliberately kicking a soccer ball at the pelican & of course, it flew away.
Last Sunday the same pelican was again sitting on the bank with an Ibis. We know it was the same pelican because immediately it started to come over to us. After making an assessment he came to stand no more than a metre away. We spent around 30-minutes chatting to him & telling him how beautiful he was. At his own good time he took a slow dawdle back to the riverbank & we went on our way feeling like the happiest people in the world. Here are a few photos.
A light weekend post –
I came across three people doing art at the Cooks River today. One was working in pastels, one in oils & the other in acrylics. It was a beautiful day made even the nicer by seeing this. I thank them for allowing me to take photographs, especially as their work was unfinished.
I think this is a great initiative by a local newspaper & well worth supporting. If you don’t want to write a public comment you can still be involved by sending an email to the Editor.
“The Express has launched a campaign to save the Cooks River and for the introduction of a NSW container deposit scheme to reduce the large amount of plastic bottles and cans being tossed into the waterway. Email us your messages of support and we will send them to State Environment Minister Robyn Parker for consideration.
Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org OR leave your comments below.” http://express.whereilive.com.au/news/story/join-our-campaign-to-save-the-cooks-river/