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A new lookout, planting & clay paths.

A new lookout, planting, sandstone benches & clay paths.  All the fencing has been removed, with  just this little bit in place. Regardless. people preferred to slip under the fence & sit on the sandstone blocks to watch the river. 

Showing the graduated stone riverbank which will create habitat & places for birds to sit.

Showing the graduated stone riverbank which will create habitat & places for birds to sit.

Sydney Water has done a great deal of naturalization work along the bank of the Cooks River near Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland in Canterbury over the last few months & it is looking terrific.   The remediation work extends from way past Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland & to the other side of Cup & Saucer Creek almost to the pedestrian bridge over the river.

They have added seating – their trademark sandstone benches, which are comfy, durable & quite attractive in my opinion. The seating is under a light shade structure, which does not impede on the landscape.

They have added compressed clay paths & a couple of lookout areas. A massive saltwater wetland has been built. I understand that this will only fill during king tides & if expected sea level rises impact on the river.

Thousands of plants are in the ground. It already looks much better than the lawn that was there before work started. This area was almost always empty of people, except for those passing through, so hopefully this newly vegetated space will encourage people to use this part of the river.  It will be a peaceful place to sit & watch the river & the many waterbirds that are often gathered opposite.

Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland is connected to this new remediation work. This  is a magnificent space & the rate of plant growth in under twelve months surprised me. I expect the growth of the newly planted areas will also look dramatically different this time next year.

The work done will provide new habitat for the wildlife of the Cooks River.  One day I hope the whole of the river will be naturalised.  The damage done during the last century was incredible, so it is wonder to see work being done to return natural beauty to the river.

The only thing that made me wonder is – where are the new trees promised?   Sydney Water removed twelve trees to make the land slope towards the river. They said they would plant “many new trees.”   To increase the urban forest more than twelve trees should be planted along here. There is certainly room for triple the amount of trees that were removed.

I hope I am just posting about this too early & they have not got around to planting the trees yet.

Showing the newly created saltwater wetland.

Showing the newly created saltwater wetland.  It’s very large.

Showing a large section of new planting.

Showing a large section of new planting.  It needs trees.



Sydney Water plans for bank restoration at Cup & Saucer Creek

The restoration will give a home for these Cormorants. They are sitting at the point on the diagram above.

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 –

For more information see Sydney Water’s website –

Sydney Water plans for the area from Flockhart Park to Beamish Street

Sydney Water plans for Whidden Reserve


I am a real fan of Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland for they did a fabulous job & not only created something that is very beautiful, but something that has greatly improved habitat & biodiversity for the area. It is also a very nice place for the community.

Every year on 2nd February World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands & hopefully result in more conservation of wetland areas around the world.  The first World Wetlands Day was held in 1997.  This year’s theme is ‘Wetlands & Tourism.’

From the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities website, “In 2009–10 tourism directly employed over half a million Australians & contributed $34 billion or 2.6 per cent to Australia’s gross domestic product.  Many tourism destinations are at wetlands, including iconic sites such as Kakadu National Park. Wetlands also provide local tourism & recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing & bird watching.”

Our closest wetland is Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland managed by Canterbury Council who are having an open day at the wetland on Saturday 17th March 2012 from 10am-1pm.

Canterbury Council run many community environmental activities & don’t mind people from out of their area joining in.  If it interests you, a new working group is starting on March 17th & then the third Saturday of each month.  Activities will be weeding, planting & maintaining the wetland.  Training, tools & equipment is provided. Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland is located at Heynes Reserve, Berna Street Canterbury.  For more information contact: Environmental Strategy Team Leader 9789-9422 or email

I think Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland is a stunning place & visit often taking others for a look.  It’s always beautiful & always changing.  The Wetland is a huge improvement of what was once a large area of lawn & is a boon for urban wildlife with all sorts of birds, frogs & turtles taking up residence. This whole section of the Cooks River is very beautiful with much variety & bird life so it is a great walk, not too far & mostly flat.

While I was checking details of the open day at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland I noticed that Canterbury Council had other environmental activities set out in their 6-month calendar for 2012.  They will be doing community tree planting in March, April, May & June. Presumably this will continue for the second half of 2012.

  • In March 500 native trees, shrubs and grasses will be planted at Karne Street Reserve Riverwood.  Native vegetation will be planted at Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland.
  • In April 300 native trees, shrubs & grasses will be planted at Heynes Reserve Canterbury.
  • In May 200 native trees, shrubs & grasses will be planted at Wiley Park, Wiley Park.
  • In June 1,000 native trees, shrubs & grasses will be planted at Salt Pan Creek Reserve Riverwood.

That’s a total of 2,000 native trees, shrubs & grasses. Canterbury Council are happy for anyone to join in on these activities so for more details –

While Marrickville Council only do tree planting on National Tree Day, there are other environmental volunteering activities supported by Council.  However, there are no tree planting events planned through to April 2012, nor is there 2012 calendar dates set for the other volunteer activities, except for Clean Up Australia Day.  I guess you would need to contact Council for information if you were interested in participating in these activities.  They are listed here –

I made a short video of Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland here –

& later here –

I saw a little miracle yesterday.  It probably happens every year, but this time I was witness to it.  After a delightful picnic on the Cooks River we took a friend to see Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, which by the way, is fully grown & is now a thriving metropolis of birds, turtles, frogs, lizards, dragonflies & other living beings.  Walking up the side path that runs alongside the concrete stormwater channel that is Cup & Saucer Creek, our friend called our attention to something happening in the stormwater channel.  As we moved to look down into the concrete channel, thousands of small fish flicked in the shallow water & changed direction showing that they were fully aware of our presence.

Cup & Saucer Creek 2011

The concrete stormwater channel looks like all other stormwater channels in the area. It is dry concrete further away from the Cooks River with very shallow water increasing to something that would be perhaps less than 1-metre (39 inches) deep by the time it enters the river.  It’s tidal so the depth changes & also when it rains.

In the extremely shallow end, which would be between 8-20 cm deep (3 – 8 inches), were many schools of very small fish turning & swimming as one unit, some turning on their side looking like flashes of sliver light in the murky water.  Each school had hundreds of fish.

The fish quickly assessed us as limited threat (or their primal drive was too strong to stop) & continued on with their water dance.  It was quite amazing to watch & even more so because this was happening in a concrete environment, not somewhere that one thinks of for a David-Attenborough-type experience.

I have no idea how long it lasts, but if our goldfish are any indication, this probably happens every day for a couple of weeks until the females release all of their eggs.  Amazing too that the Herons were absent because food was in abundance.

Canterbury Council who now manage the very beautiful & entirely successful Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland have put up an educational sign that has a photo of what the creek looked like in 1901.  The difference could not be more marked.  From what was once quite a large creek with small waterfall, ‘modern progress’ has changed it into a concrete stormwater channel.  That the spawning of fish still occurs here despite the environmental changes is astounding to me.  It also gives me hope of the resilience of nature to adapt to quite radical changes.  Many species don’t & so we lose them from areas or they become extinct.  Here at Cup & Saucer Creek, we have spawning of fish that was probably observed by other people in 1901 & for thousands of years before.

I made a 3 minute-21 second video of this little urban miracle here –

Cup & Saucer Creek 1901. This photo is taken from Canterbury Council' s educational sign about Cup & Saucer Creek & Wetland.



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