Tag Archives: Cooks River


Media Release 5 February 2014

Local bike activists save cycleway from Cooks River to Camperdown

Local bike activists and Greens Councillors on Marrickville Council have successfully defeated an 11th hour attempt to kill a long-waited cycleway project.  The “Carrington Road Separated Cycleway” is the missing link in Regional Route 5, which runs from the Cooks River to Marrickville Station and beyond to Camperdown. The decision by Marrickville Council last night means the final link in the cycleway will be constructed by the middle of the year.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “The Greens on Marrickville Council are strong supporters of separated cycleways. Lanes specifically for bikes, separate from other traffic, protect the safety of cyclists and have been proven to encourage more people to cycle.


Greens Councillor David Leary, who represents the Sydenham area, said “We received many submissions from commuters and young families who currently feel unsafe when using Carrington Road. They are particularly concerned about cyclists sharing the road with trucks, and have been calling on Council to build the separated cycleway.

“We also received submissions from people running or working in businesses on Carrington Rd, who will now be able to cycle safely to work,” he said. Other submissions in support of the cycleway were received from members of Bike Marrickville, Bike Leichhardt, Ashfield BUG, ArtCycle, Ride 2 Work and the Dulwich Hill Bicycle Club.

Clr Ellsmore said, “Over the last five years the Greens and local bike activists have successfully defended the Carrington separated cycleway against several rounds of threats, always led by conservative Councillors and a handful of local businesses opposed to the small loss of parking.”

“The most recent threat to came in the form of a recission motion, which was moved by Independent Councillors Macri and Hanna and former ALP Deputy Mayor Tsardoulias at the final Council meeting of 2013. The recission motion effectively placed the project on hold for two months until it could be debated again.

Clr Ellsmore said, “If Council had passed the recission it would have sent the project back to the drawing board & reduced the cycleway to a painted bike symbol on a busy road for years to come. Council would have lost $150,000 in State funding.

“Last night’s vote is a victory for the growing number of cyclists in our local area. The Carrington Road Separated Cycleway will be one of only a handful of separated cycleways in the Marrickville Local Government Area, but the Greens want to see more built in coming years. We have a responsibility to keep our residents and commuters safe,” she said.

Media contact:

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213, sellsmore@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Greens Councillor David Leary 0409 421 323, dleary@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Protection for historic Fatima Island

The Greens have welcomed this week’s Marrickville Council decision to fund urgent investigations into the work needed to protect Fatima Island, one of the last remaining islands in the Cooks River.

At its 3 December 2013 meeting the Council voted to allocate the $25,000 necessary to obtain a professional report about the current state of the island and to provide recommendations for appropriate remediation strategies.

The action was taken after the Greens put an urgent notice to the August Council meeting (see August 2013 post below), urging Council to take action to prevent the island from eroding away.  

Greens Councillor David Leary said, “There has been a huge groundswell of community support for Fatima Island, which helped sway some of the Labor and Liberal Councillors who had previously a expressed reluctance to fund or take responsibility for protecting Fatima Island.

“Protecting our precious green spaces, local biodiversity and heritage are important to our residents. This was evident from the many people who forwarded stories of their association with Fatima Island, going back as far as the 1950s.”

Some of this important heritage and environmental values of the island are detailed in the background to the Greens motion (below).

“The Greens look forward to receiving the report early next year, and hope that our fellow Councillors continue to stand with the community in voting to protect Fatima Island,” said Clr Leary.

For more information contact Clr Leary at dleary@marrickville.nsw.gov.au.

In the lead up to the meeting the following community groups expressed their support for the investment by Council in Fatima Island:

Cooks River Valley Association

Marrickville Heritage Society

Wolli Creek Preservation Society

The Mudcrabs (Cooks River Eco-Volunteers)

Saving Our Trees

Total Environment Centre

NSW Heritage Network

Botany Bay and Catchment Alliance

Friends of Tempe House

As well as numerous individuals including parishioners of Sts Peter & Paul Parish Tempe and members of the Cooks River Motor Boat Club.

A new FRIENDS OF FATIMA ISLAND email list has also been established by residents who are driving the campaign. To receive updates, please subscribe to: fatimaislandfriends@gmail.com 

Photo by John Veage, from St George Leader, at http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1608145/fatima-island-memories-of-little-surprises/
Photo by John Veage, from St George Leader, at http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1608145/fatima-island-memories-of-little-surprises/

Greens Notice of Motion for 20 August 2013 Marrickville Council Meeting

That Council:

  1. Urgently investigate the erosion of Fatima Island in the Cooks River;
  1. Undertake any urgent, necessary remedial works identified, in order to protect the island against further erosion pending the development of the Cooks River Plan of Management;
  1. Liaise and consult with relevant agencies and community groups to ensure that any urgent works are identified and undertaken appropriately, including the Cooks River Valley Association, Canterbury Council, Sydney Water, Metro Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Marrickville Heritage Society;
  1. Include in the investigations consideration of whether nearby work on the banks of the Cooks River and/ or people visiting the island are contributing to the erosion;
  1. Consider funding for any urgent works in the September budget revision; and
  1. Provide a report to Council of the investigations.


Urgent action is needed to protect Fatima Island, which has become seriously degraded in recent years.

Fatima Island is an important historical and environmental site in the Cooks River, near Kendrick Park, Tempe. It is a sanctuary to local birds such as pelicans, ibis, common silver gull, little pied cormorant, little black cormorant and the crested tern.

In recent years the island has been getting smaller, and the rock retaining wall along one side of the island has partially collapsed. At least two trees have been washed away, and the roots of the large remaining tree on the edge of the island are increasingly exposed and appear at risk of falling over.

Fatima Island is the only remaining island of several that existing prior to European invasion.

It is close to a significant midden site at Kendrick Park and, together with the two adjacent islands that were known to have existed circa 1880, was a place of early contact and relationships between the local Aboriginal Traditional Owners and non-Aboriginal communities.

In 1951 it became a place for a Catholic rosary pilgrimage, honouring a Portugese statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It was from the 1950s that it became known as Fatima Island. In recent years this name has provided a familiar reference point for Muslim community members.

Local organisations such as the Cooks River Valley Association and the Marrickville Heritage Society have been campaigning to protect Fatima Island.

In 2013 Marrickville Council committed to include Fatima Island in the Cooks River Parks Plan of Management.

However the current state of the island requires urgent action to prevent further damage to this important cultural and environmental site.

Cooks River No Swimming Carnival a success

Greens Councillors joined with local residents this weekend at the ‘No Swimming Carnival’, to raise awareness of the ongoing campaign to make the Cooks River safe for swimming again.

The Cooks River is a significant landmark in the Marrickville Council area. Originally a natural river, which became an industrial sewer, the Cooks River has been tranformed in recent years through the coordinated efforts of local residents, environment groups, bush care, State agencies and the various Councils in the river’s catchment.

The rehabilitation of the Cooks River and its banks has been a priority for the Greens on Marrickville Council, who were successful in establishing the Cooks River Committee in 2006. Council’s support has included native plantings, wetlands, salt marshes, swales and permeable embankments, as well as investment in building/ upgrading the shared walkway along the river.

However there is still much work to be done. An ongoing concern is the continued flow of sewerage and stormwater into the river. Following active lobbying by residents and Council there has been significant investment achieved through Sydney Water and the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, to improve wastewater systems and to complete the (re)naturalisation of the banks along the river.

The No Swimming Carnival organised by the Cooks River Valley Association on Sunday 24 February 2013 highlighted that much more needs to be done if the river is to become swimmable within the next 10 years. Water testing undertaken by the Association shows continued high levels of bacteria in the river. There are also high levels of rubbish (especially plastic bottles) and a stench from the river in certain stretches.


The Cooks River Valley Association released a postcard at the event which shows the Cooks River Valley Lifeguards – who operated from the 1930s. Some of the participants in Sunday’s event recalled swimming in the river up until the 1950s.

swimming postcard

The Greens share the aim of making the Cooks River swimmable again, and will continue to work with the community, other local Councils and State agencies to ensure proper investment to make this happen.

Greens pledge support for a new pedestrian/bike bridge over the Cooks River

Greens Marrickville Council candidate Dr David Leary has pledged support for apedestrian/bike bridge over the Cooks River to improve safety and access and encourage commuter cycling and enjoyment of the local area.

“The existing pedestrian bridge attached to Unwins Bridge near Tempe station is narrow, unsafe and residents are forced to navigate dangerous roads to cross the river,” said Greens South Ward (Magura) Candidate, Dr David Leary.

“If elected I’ll be looking at options for another pedestrian/bike bridge across the Cooks River in South Marrickville.”

“This would provide better amenity by linking the parklands on both sides of the river. The community would have pedestrian access to twice the parkland than is currently available.”

“Marrickville Council’s recent Recreational Needs Study prioritised increased parkland and suggested Council work with surrounding councils in order to provide it. By working with Canterbury Council to build a bridge Marrickville Council would be fulfilling the recommendations of its own study.”

“If we want people to live healthier lives councils need to provide the facilities that allow them to do so. Cyclists, joggers and pedestrians would all benefit from a new, better river crossing.”

“If elected to Council, I’ll be glad to make sure a pedestrian/bike bridge over the Cooks River gets the yellow jersey,” Dr Leary said.

Media contact: Kristian Bolwell 0411638320

Don’t let the New State Government dump the GreenWay

From Friends of the Greenway:

Friends of the Greenway today called on the NSW Government to commit to funding and implementing the 5km long Iron Cove to Cooks River GreenWay, as an integral component of the light rail extension from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill.

Friends of the Greenway Convenor Jud Agius said the GreenWay is a 15-year vision to turn the former goods line into a bushland and integrated active transport corridor for walking, cycling and light rail, linking the Cooks River with Sydney Harbour.

“It is vital that the new Government follows through on funding for the GreenWay, so that the benefits of this integrated transport project are realised. Integrating the GreenWay with the light rail was a commitment made by the previous Labor Government, and it is what the community are saying they want” he said.

The GreenWay will include a shared pedestrian and cycle path and regeneration of a diverse bush corridor, alongside the light rail route.

The regeneration will assist with the recovery of the threatened population of the Long-nosed Bandicoot which has been found living in the corridor.

The former NSW Government committed around $20-30 million for the GreenWay, less than one fifth of the total project budget of $150m for both the light rail and GreenWay. Despite requests by Friends of the Greenway and the Councils, the new State Government has not confirmed GreenWay funding, while committing to funding the light rail.

“We are now hearing rumours from credible sources that the GreenWay funding is to be cut in the State budget to be released in September. We are calling on residents of the Inner West to let the State Government know we want the GreenWay as much as the light rail, and it must not cut the GreenWay’s funding.” Mr Agius said.

“The GreenWay will be a show case for a people-friendly Sydney, and a glimpse of what a sustainable Sydney could look like in the 21st Century, with walking and cycling happening alongside sustainable public transport. In fact the GreenWay will increase patronage for the light rail.” Mr Agius said.

“The GreenWay is a once in a generation opportunity that we cannot afford to lose. It will be much more difficult and a poorer outcome, if the GreenWay is not built and designed at the same time as the light rail.”

“The GreenWay vision was actually around long before light rail was even mooted, so the current refusal of the NSW Government to commit to it is very concerning.

“Without the GreenWay, we’ll simply be turning an industrial goods line corridor into an industrial light rail corridor and leaving a degraded, weed-infested area around the line. With all the new medium density housing going into the area this would be a sub-standard result for the area.”

Mr Agius said the GreenWay would have many advantages including:

  • Helping to increase patronage of the light rail, by linking regional cycling and walking routes (such as the Parramatta to Botany Bay route along the Cooks River and Bay Run to City route) with the light rail operation;
  • Creating a regional active transport corridor linking with Sydney’s CBD for the growing (and ageing) population of not only the Inner-West, but surrounding Sydney sub-regions;
  • Providing much-needed open space for the community, volunteer bushcare groups and habitat for local flora and fauna;
  • Protecting an Endangered Population of bandicoot, and establishing a green bush corridor though a highly urbanised part of Sydney;
  • Getting people out of their cars and on to other sustainable transport forms – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting Sydney as a sustainable city;
  • Providing an opportunity for children to walk or cycle safely to school, with some 23 schools within the GreenWay catchment area. The State Government and Councils have already created this expectation with parents and teachers in the area.

Mr Agius thanked Ashfield, Marrickville, Canterbury and Leichhardt Councils for their ongoing support of the GreenWay.

“The Councils have been doing a fantastic job, advocating for the GreenWay and promoting it to the community. There are many Council run projects already underway in the GreenWay that have involved several thousand residents and school kids.” Mr Agius said.

In 2009, the NSW Government provided a $1.8m Urban Sustainability Grant to Ashfield Council on behalf of the four Councils to help build community support for the GreenWay. In addition, the Government has given a number of grants to help plan for the corridor.

The ‘2nd Greenway Festival’ from 23-29 October 2011 is being organised by the Urban Sustainability team based at Ashfield Council.

To write to the Premier and Minister for Transport, download campaign letters at www.friendsofthegreenway.org.au

For more information about the Greenway go to www.greenway.org.au

How to get better pedestrian access across the Cooks River? Build a bridge!

Sign the petition here

A new campaign has started in South Marrickville to get better, safer pedestrian access across the Cooks River. The Cooks has rapidly improved and the community is responding to the river’s new, greener status by using its banks for recreation and alternative transport.

There are still some black spots and one of these is Unwins Bridge, Tempe. As can be seen in the photos below, the north-western side of the bridge doesn’t have pedestrian access. Those people who use the riverside pathways on the banks at this point are forced on to busy Bayview St. This is dangerous and unnecessary.

The Greens on Marrickville Council want to improve the safety and amenity of the river and are calling on the state government to help make Unwins Bridge more pedestrian friendly. Fixing this is a real “no brainer”. Many people in the South Marrickville/Tempe area agree this simple measure would vastly improve safety and accessibility. Add  your name to the online petition http://www.gopetition.com/petition/40571.html, or, email Clr Peter Olive on polive@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

This map shows two possible locations for a new foot bridge across the Cooks River: Unwins Bridge, Tempe (see above photos) and at Warren Park, South Marrickville. Either or both of these options would be deliver a great result for the surrounding community and sit very well with Council’s policies on pedestrian access, bike infrastructure, public transport usage and amenity.