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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.

 

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Showing around 200-metres of remediation of the riverbank either side of Cup & Saucer Creek

The view from the bridge howing around 200-metres of riverbank remediation either side of Cup & Saucer Creek

The view back to the bridge. The need for trees is obvious in this image.

The view back to the bridge. The need for trees is obvious in this image.

One of my favourite places along the Cooks River is Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, which was created by Sydney Water. Once just a patch of boring lawn, it is now a haven for waterbirds & an area of peak biodiversity.  It is also very beautiful.

Beside Cup & Saucer Creek

The eastern side of Cup & Saucer Creek

Sydney Water appears to have almost completed their works beside the river on either side of Cup & Saucer Creek. They have created a new large pond right beside the river, with two sandstone islands, which will be great sites for waterbirds to perch & good for bird watching.

There are three new seating areas, all looking towards the river. I think it is nice that Sydney Water has continued with the design theme of compressed clay & gravel pathways & sandstone bench seats. These seats are just as comfy as a wooden bench, but to my mind, far more attractive. They also blend into the environment.

The largest seating area, which overlooks the new wetland, has a weather shelter & this too has minimal visual impact.  The wetland is classified an endangered ecological habitat, so it is wonderful to see these areas being created along the river.

Looking over Cup & Saucer Creek to the new wetland.

Looking over Cup & Saucer Creek to the new wetland.

A large impressive swale has been built from the Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland to the Cooks River.

Sydney Water had planted hundreds & hundreds of native plants. I can’t wait to see this develop into an area of vegetation that supports wildlife. The only thing that concerns me is the lack of trees, though it is more than likely that I am posting an update too early & the trees have yet to be planted.

To do these works, twelve trees on the wetland side were removed, plus at least another six on the side of the creek nearer the bridge. Thankfully two gorgeous mature Eucalypts were retained. The plans do show 34 new trees. Having trees here will make a big difference to the beauty, plus add habitat & food source for wildlife, as well as provide precious shade.

It looks like much of the fencing will be removed with small sections of fencing provided at the viewing sites, I presume for safety. They do not detract from the river outlook like the previous fencing.

The sandstone boulders provide a gradual incline from the bank to the river & already waterbirds are sitting here in large groups.   I was very surprised at how quickly the plants grew at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, so I imagine that within a year, this stretch of the Cooks River will be looking glorious.

Sydney Water has done a wonderful job repairing the damage of the last century & both humans & wildlife will benefit immensely.

One of the smaller seating areas. I love the permeable pathway, the sandstone benches & the non-obtrusive safety fencing.  The two remaining trees are spectacular & I am glad they were retained.

One of the smaller seating areas. I love the permeable pathway, the sandstone benches & the non-obtrusive safety fencing. The two remaining trees are spectacular & I am glad they were retained.

The larger seating/viewing area that looks over the wetland.  This will offer great birdwatching opportunities.

The larger seating/viewing area that looks over the wetland. This will offer great birdwatching opportunities.

Showing about one-third of the new wetland pond.

Showing about one-third of the new wetland pond.

A large swale to take water from Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland to the Cooks River.

A large swale to take water from Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland to the Cooks River.

 

Either side of Cup & Saucer Creek is being naturalised by Sydney Water.  Apparently there are turtles in the Cooks River.

Either side of Cup & Saucer Creek is being naturalised by Sydney Water. Apparently there are turtles in the Cooks River.

The pond or wetland area on the far side of Cup & Saucer Creek.

The pond or wetland area on the far side of Cup & Saucer Creek.  I hope the fence becomes a thing of the past.

Work is well & truly underway to naturalize a section of the Cooks River at Cup & Saucer Creek. For a background see – http://bit.ly/J0WT67

Sydney Water has removed the ugly concrete bank, the fencing & twelve trees to install a sloped riverbank constructed with sandstone boulders. This area will be planted with lots of new trees & native plants, bringing a softer, more natural feel to this part of the river.

On the Canterbury side of Cup & Saucer Creek, they appear to be building another pond – or it may be a saltwater wetland.  A large swale has been created, which would take water from the wetlands to this area. Whatever it becomes I am sure that it will be wonderful.

Personally, I think the Cup & Saucer Creek Wetlands is the best work that has been done along the Cooks River.  The wetlands not only clean storm water before it enters the river, but they also bring an astonishing beauty to what was once just another area of boring lawn.  The biodiversity in this area has increased exponentially with the wetland offering the community a peaceful place to watch waterbirds in their natural habitat. If I were to recommend visiting just one place along the Cooks River, this would be it.

The naturalization works can only enhance this section of the river making this special place especially attractive to those who love wildlife.  I can’t wait to see the work completed & will post an update later.  Fabulous work Sydney Water.

Cup & Saucer Creek

Cup & Saucer Creek with another view of the pond or wetland area.

The new riverbank

The new riverbank.

The swale from Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.

The swale from Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.

The very beautiful Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.

The very beautiful Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.

 

Long shot from the bridge looking towards Marrickville.

Long shot from the bridge looking towards Marrickville.

From the bank

From the bank. Look how full it is & all those perches for the waterbirds.

Looking towards the bridge with the naturalisation work in the background.

Looking towards the bridge with the naturalisation work in the background.

Big thanks to Canterbury Council who have installed a floating litter trap & boom in the river next to Boat Harbour at Hurlstone Park. The boom collects floating debris that comes downstream, including the bane of the river, plastic bottles. The trap is full already & has only been installed within the last week or two.

What I particularly like is that the boom itself has been left bare, so that the birds can perch on it & watch the river as is their natural behaviour. It is the exact opposite of the bird-deterring boom in the Alexandra Canal that is covered in spikes to prevent the birds landing on it.  I found that so pointlessly cruel, especially as there is nowhere on the Alexandra Canal for the waterbirds to perch. See – http://bit.ly/1rucdNQ

Boat Harbour has the fenced off bird sanctuary on the peninsula, the first wildlife sanctuary on the Cooks River & now, a great big floating litter trap with perches, as well as a 40-metre or so boom to sit on. I bet the waterbirds are ecstatic.

Full of this muck!

The trap is full of this muck!

The boom & trap will go a long way to help clean the river & will also be a magnet for waterbirds to spend time. I saw fish swimming near the entrance of the boom & bet the cormorants are already diving under it to source their dinner.

The Bird Sanctuary & boom is an excellent addition to the Cooks River & will encourage waterbirds to stay on the river. The more waterbirds there are, the more the river will be attractive to people.   Hopefully, seeing the birdlife will encourage people to treat the Cooks River & surrounds with respect.  I hope that other floating litter traps with booms will be installed elsewhere along the river.

Other fabulous news is that Sydney Water has started naturalization work along the riverbank outside Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.  The works include removing the concrete from the riverbank, adding gradually sloped standstone banks so the birds & the turtles can exit the river.  Sydney Water will also be extensively re-vegetating the area.  The naturalization works extend from past the Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland all the way to the pedestrian bridge over the river at the Sugar Factory apartments – a massive area.

We have seen what Sydney Water can achieve with their naturalization work at Whiddons Reserve in Croydon Park (See – http://bit.ly/VNsuP4) & with the spectacular work creating the jewel that is the Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland. This new naturalization work will make this section of the Cooks River very beautiful & fantastic for the river ecology & wildlife. I will post more as work proceeds.

A long shot that covers most of the riverbank to be naturalised.

A long shot that covers most of the riverbank to be naturalised.

A close-up showing where the concrete riverbank has been removed.

A close-up showing where the concrete riverbank has been removed.

The entrance to Cup & Saucer Creek, which used to be an incredibly beautiful place until it was concreted to provide work in the Depression.    Soon beauty will be restored.

The entrance to Cup & Saucer Creek, which used to be an incredibly beautiful place until it was concreted to provide work in the Depression. Soon beauty will be restored.

 

Belfield side of the Cooks River

Belfield side of the Cooks River

Whiddone Reserve side of the river

Whiddon Reserve side of the river

About a month ago we went to have a look at the restoration of the Cooks River at Whiddons Reserve in Croydon Park – or Belfield on the other side of the river.  I first wrote about this work here – http://bit.ly/1wXDIzg

The work had almost been completed & what has been achieved is impressive.  Sydney Water has done a terrific job.

26,000 native plants have been planted on both sides of the river. These consist of saltmarsh, sedges, rushes, shrubs & trees. It will be wonderful to see what it all looks like when they have grown.

Unfortunately one of the mature Hill’s Fig trees in Whiddon Reserve had been removed with another in the process of removal. I hope they are replaced with other Figs – for the wildlife, the wonderful shade & beauty these trees provide & for the wow factor that Fig trees provide.  There is room.

Sydney Water has also installed a compressed clay path, which I love. I have been interested in the longevity of the compressed clay path at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland.  It is still doing well after around three years of foot traffic, bicycles & weather.

While I was initially surprised that the concrete floor of the river had not been removed, after thinking about it decided that it was probably not done due to a high cost factor & because this section of the river floods. Concrete would prevent soil erosion & silt build-up further downstream.

The whole site looks fabulous & Sydney Water has done a wonderful job in beautifying what was essentially a large concrete drain. The community that lives nearby have had their local environment greatly improved & it will only get better as the plants grow & the wildlife move in. It is also a massive boost for biodiversity, which is always welcome.

I made a short video here –

Looking towards the bridge at Second Avenue.

Looking towards the bridge at Second Avenue.

Masses of plants & places for wildlife

Masses of plants & places for wildlife. Eventually the fencing will be removed.

Everywhere I looked there were a range of plants. Not just native grasses, but shrubs as well.

Everywhere I looked there were a range of plants. Not just native grasses, but shrubs as well. There is quite a variety in this photo.

Showing some of the new plants at Whiddon Reserve

Showing some of the new plants at Whiddon Reserve

All the grassed area from the foreground to the arrow at the pedestrian bridge over the Cooks River will be naturalised.  No more concrete & no more fence.

All the grassed area from the foreground to the arrow at the pedestrian bridge over the Cooks River will be naturalised. No more concrete & no more fence.

Plan of the naturalisation works at Cup and Saucer Creek.  If the end result looks anything like the Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland, this will be a beautiful place indeed.

Plan of the naturalisation works at Cup and Saucer Creek.   If the end result looks anything like the Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland, this will be a beautiful place indeed.

Last month I went to an information event at Cup & Saucer Creek put on by Sydney Water.  The event was to display their upcoming works along the Cooks River at this location.

They will be removing the concrete from just past Cup & Saucer Creek wetland all the way to the pedestrian bridge over the river at the Sugar Factory apartments.  Work is due to start this month & may have already started at the time of this post.

If I remember correctly, twelve trees will need to be removed to allow for the current grassy area to be sloped naturally down to the river.  However, they do plan to plant many new trees & a couple of the larger trees closer to Cup & Saucer Creek wetland will be retained.  A saltwater wetland will be created, as well as compressed clay paths, seating & a viewing platform.  The ugly fence will not be necessary.

Stormwater catchment model

Stormwater catchment model

There was a great model at the event, which is used at schools & other educational events to demonstrate the impact hard surfaces have on stormwater management.  It clearly showed the benefits of permeable surfaces, be they gardens, verges, rain gardens, swales or wetlands.

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.”

I am quite excited by this remediation work, as I believe it will have a great & positive impact for the wildlife, as well as return a more natural look to the river.  Apparently we have turtles in the river & they will be able to leave the water at these more natural places.

It is costing a lot of money to remove the damage done in the past, but every little bit of naturalisation helps.  I was told that further up the river at Strathfield, concrete that is degrading is not being replaced.  Hopefully one day the Cooks River will have no concrete walls.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful.

I’ll post some photos of this site & Whidden Reserve when the work is done.  I wrote about the other remediation sites along the river here –  http://bit.ly/StsjU6

All the trees will yellow dots will be removed.  Luckily the large tree on the left gets to stay.   I suspect most of the trees located on the other side of Cup and Saucer Creek will need to be removed too.

All the trees will yellow dots will be removed. Luckily the large tree on the left gets to stay. I suspect most of the trees located on the other side of Cup and Saucer Creek will need to be removed too.

Another of the trees to be removed.

Another of the trees to be removed.    The big tree on the left is planned to be retained.

Two more small trees that will be removed.

Two more small trees that will be removed.

Another two trees for removal.

Another two trees for removal.

 

 

 

This is what you see when you enter Whiddon Reserve. Here the Cooks River is essentially a concrete channel.

This is what you see when you enter Whiddon Reserve. Here the Cooks River is essentially a concrete channel – nothing lovely or inspiring about this.  Thankfully, this is all about to change.

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.

Showing the Cooks River from Second Avenue Bridge. This is where naturalisation of the river will start.  At the top of the grassed area is a housing development. These residents are going to have their outlook improve dramatically.

Showing the Cooks River from Second Avenue Bridge. This is where naturalisation of the river will start. At the top of the grassed area is a housing development. These residents are going to have their outlook improve dramatically.

Looking upstream. All this will be depaved & the banks naturalised. I think it will look beautiful once completed.

Looking upstream at the south bank of the river. All this will be depaved & the banks naturalised as per the photo below. I think it will look beautiful once  completed.

Showing what will happen to the south bank of the river at Whiddon Reserve.  It is incredibily different from the concrete channel that it is right ow.

Showing what will happen to the south bank of the river at Whiddon Reserve. It is incredibily different from the concrete channel that it is right now.

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