Monday, 8 January 2018

This War Memorial Park Is Under Siege.

  Manly Warringah War Memorial Park is a living monument of national heritage listed bushland –a tribute to Australians who have served in times of war..

The fragile mantle of rare biodiversity surrounds a body of water known as Manly Dam (originally acting as the water supply for the settlement of Manly). What makes it even more significant is that this beautiful and sacred place, rich also in Aboriginal heritage, is only 5 km's from central Sydney's concrete heart.

At the beginning of this century there was a momentous, but losing, struggle to save some of the bushland catchment from being bulldozed for a housing development. Check out a short video history here:

  Sadly...fifteen years later the sanctity of this special area is again being threatened on four fronts .

1/  Primary School expansion threatens threatened species.

 The Department of Education has lodged a Development Application with Warringah Council (now Northern Beaches Council) (View Documents Here - to build a new school in bushland behind the current Manly Vale school in Sunshine St. There are currently 400 plus students at the school..this would be expanded to over 1,000. The on-line documents show that the school's "footprint" would grow five fold and that 4.37 hectares would be "removed" primarily for Fire Asset Protection Zones. This bushland is a mixture of "Coastal Sandstone Heath Mallee, Sandstone Gully Forest and Sydney Sandstone Woodland  and is rated "very high" conservation value on Warringah Council maps). To comply with fire regulations the bushland would need to be cleared across the boundary into the Manly Warringah War Memorial Park and also into Condover Reserve, these are both natural places which are much valued by the community. The online documents show amazingly that the Eastern Pygmy Possum has been located on site (this unusual creature doesn't even appear as existing in the current Manly Warringah War Memorial Park Plan of Management!)  The Dept of Education's environmental consultant (Kleinfelder) has listed 327 trees which are planned for 'removal' as part of the development. These include Blackbutts, Silvertop ash, Bloodwoods, Grey Gums, Sydney Peppermint, Stringybark..all the beautiful endemic species that make the McComb Hill escarpment so special. Of course innumerable smaller shrubs will also be cleared and, in the process, the unique biodiversity of the hilltop- which is re-emerging after ecological burns, will be trampled and lost. (Many native trees have already been removed around the current school building for fire safety purposes) Check out the Final Species Impact Statement from Klienfelder and the response from Warringah Council's Natural Environment Unit. Keinfelder's report notes that the majority of potential habitat for the Eastern Pygmy Possum in the study area is considered to be of "high relative condition". It also notes that "No recovery plan has been prepared for this species. However, OEH is developing a targeted strategy for this species under the Saving Our Species program. This species has been assigned to the ‘landscape species management stream’ under the program as threats to this species are generally at the landscape scale (e.g. habitat loss and degradation)." The report admits that "potential deaths of resident individuals could occur during vegetation clearing".

 Adult Eastern Pygmy Possum 
(photo Gavin Smith)
In addition to this, at least four other endangered fauna species ( the Powerful Owl, the Eastern Bentwing Bat and the Grey Headed Flying Fox). Other iconic species animals such as Swamp Wallabies, Lace Monitors and Bandicoots also call this ridge-top location home. In fact surveys conducted (after a prescribed burn) have located 44 fauna species and 131 native plant species on site. Flora and Fauna Consultants, Total Earth Care conclude that  the proposal is "likely to have a 'significant impact' on the following threatened species:  Prostanthera marifolia  Tetratheca glandulosa  Pimelea curviflora var. curviflora  Red-crowned Toadlet  Southern Brown Bandicoot. The Consulting Company 'Kleinfelder' in its Preliminary Species Impact Statement remarks that the proposal would "contribute to ongoing incremental loss and degradation of habitat for (the listed endangered species) in the Warringah LGA".  Importantly, Keinfelder's survey somehow failed to detect the presence of the Red Crowned Toadlet which is listed as "vulnerable" and has been recently recorded by others (more than once) in the "asset protection zone" and logged on the NSW Office of Environment website

Check this link for rare and endangered animals in Warringah going going....

(Australia has undergone an extraordinary rate of mammal fauna decline in the last 200 years, with over 10% of our endemic terrestrial species lost forever and a further 21% of fauna currently threatened. This is a stark comparison
to the world’s modern day extinction rate of 1.5%. 28 Australian mammal species that have gone extinct since 1788

The development plans also include substantial excavations for stormwater ponds, pipes and roads in a fragile catchment area that drains ultimately into Manly Creek via Mermaid Pool the site of an important ongoing restoration project Mermaid Pool Restoration Blog   

Kleinfelder’s own SIS report details numerous other adverse effects that the proposed development will have on this ecologically sensitive site:-Sediment, pollutant and nutrient run-off; Soil erosion, Habitat fragmentation/isolation; Altered hydrology regimes;Weed invasion;  Introduction and spread of pathogens (e.g. Dieback Fungus (Phytophthora) and Myrtle Rust (Uredo rangelii);  Noise;  Dust; Light pollution; and Increased human activity adjacent to sensitive vegetation/habitat. Their report also  says that "it is assumed that all native vegetation within the proposed development site would be removed, including all vegetation strata".

What makes this matter worse is that the community managed to save much of this same land in 1995 when a plan by Landcom to build a medium density housing project here was rejected and the land was ultimately incorporated into
Manly Warringah War Memorial Park.  This is in an area currently earmarked for  the fire buffer zone clearing. Development across the site has the potential to  also disturb  Aboriginal cultural heritage items.

The irony is that this school was once designated as a NSW “Centre of Excellence in Environmental Education”. Even their own designated "conservation" area is scheduled for destruction ! Despite this the school's website proclaims that "the school has maintained an ongoing commitment to environmental education which is integrated into daily life" Surely there is a better way to improve this facility without sacrificing an area of such high natural values!  Why can't the school use their current building footprint and build up instead of out
Google Map

[NB Apparently alternatives were explored through a feasibility study: Manly Vale Public School Upgrade - Gateway Business Case (2014). But this document is considered classified information and is not available for public view].

This is the environmental Education Bill as introduced by Dr Terry Metherall (NSW Liberal Government) in 1992 Hansard

Below is a link to a short film clip and some images of the fragile bushland that borders the school grounds and Manly Warringah War Memorial Park.

And below is another short video by David Sawyer which highlights the habitat values of the area.

On 29th March 2016.Warringah Council voted unanimously NOT to willingly agree to a request from the Department of Education to acquire crown land in Manly Warringah War Memorial Park and Condover Reserve to enable a massive fire break to be established. Mayor Michael Regan said this in the Manly Daily on2.4.16 " Manly Vale Public School desperately needs an upgrade and the precious bushland of Manly Dam War Memorial Park (sic) needs to be protected. I was proud of Councillors this week who unanimously voted to oppose the sale of 16,000 sqm of Manly Dam wildlife corridor to the Department of Education for its school redevelopment plans. But why did we have to fight in the first place? Why can't the Department of Education find a design for the school that preserves the environment? Surely an investment in good design now, would reap enormous benefits for all in the long term-including teachers and students. Councillors and I call on the Department to rethink its plans. 

Sadly moves to compulsorily acquire (and clear) land in Manly Dam Reserve and Condover Reserve are now proceeding.

(Sept 2016) After intense community and Council pressure the Department of Education is now modifying the plans and a new D.A. will be submitted soon. There are fears that the redesign will be of a minor and superficial nature.  If the new school was built on the original footprint as was originally conceived, then the environmental destruction would be kept to a minimum. 

(Nov 2016) I turns out that the modified plans will save only 0.35 hectares of bushland and will intensify the impact on the School's Outdoor Learning area.  In fact new buildings will sit on top of the Eastern Pygmy Possum habitat !  Lobbying against this damaging proposal continues as we await a date for the Joint Regional Planning Panel review.

(Dec 2016) On 19.12.16 at the Northern Beaches Council Chambers in Dee Why, the Sydney North Planning Panel ruled 3 to 2 in favour of the Department of Education's destructive expansion plan for Manly Vale School. There were 28 speakers against the proposal (inc Council Administrator, Dick Persson) and 3 speakers for. The wheels are now in motion for ongoing land clearing, tree felling and habitat destruction in this area of rich natural heritage.


(DEC 19th 2016)

The Sydney North Planning Panel (ina public meeting at Northern Beaches Council Chambers Dee Why)..voted 3-2 to approve the contentious Manly Vale School Development.


(Jan 2018)

On 7th Sept 2017 (Threatened Species Day and World Outdoor Classroom Day)..developers moved in to clear the site.  Rare biodiversity was bulldozed away, a frog filled pond was torn assunder, ancient grass trees (some over 200 years old) were removed.  It is assumed that the small colony of Eastern Pygmy Possums are now locally extinct. Swamp Wallabies, displaced from their sanctuary have been found dead on local roads. One was located highly stressed in the centre of Manly. Much of the fragile McComb Hillside has been carted away in semi trailors. Later on this year, a huge swathe of the new Manly Vale Public School's woodland surrounds will be cut down for a massive fire break. 

Dillwynia Retorta
Epacris Longiflora
Xanthorrhoea (Grass Trees)
Lambertia Formosa (Mountain Devil)
Lobelia Dentata
Woollsia Pungens
Rocky Overhang
Sundew (Drosera Binata) Carniverous Plant
Xanthorrhoeas (Grass Trees)
Views Looking West Across to Manly Dam
(Manly Warringah War Memorial Park)

2/ Sydney Water land belongs in park

 A parcel of Sydney Water bushland at Kirkwood St, Seaforth was deemed surplus to requirements and consequently advertised for sale and subsequent development. This former Crown land had inexplicably been zoned R2 (low density housing) by Warringah Council (despite being surrounded by the park on three sides. After a flurry of protests, the land has currently been withdrawn from auction. The community is asking the NSW Premier and the Minister for Land and Water to transfer this land for incorporation in the War Memorial Park. Below is the property as advertised by Blackleys Estate Agents:- 

A newspaper article,31.5.16, reports that the sale of this land has been put on hold "indefinitely" .Manly Daily   The community will continue to work towards ensuring that the land is encompassed within the War Memorial Park. 

3/  Will Council compromise the catchment?

  Warringah Council has (very questionably) withdrawn the entire Warringah Aquatic Centre precinct from the War Memorial Park Management Plan and has an elaborate 'Master Plan" to develop and commercialise the area.  At this stage there seems to be no consideration of the fact that this land is at the top of the sensitive Manly Dam catchment and that expansive areas of rare vegetation would need to be cleared to comply with modern fire safety regulations. It is also believed that this is still technically Crown land, and therefore, outside the jurisdiction of council to sub lease it. Council has now concurred that a much needed environmental impact study needs to be instigated before further action is taken  (surely the high conservation value of the area has already been well documented)  More details here:-

The new Northern Beaches Council is currently assessing tender submissions.

This area is now being earmarked for Frenchs Forest school..which would mean more extensive land clearing for fire safety.

4/ Massive New Roadways are Destroying Wildlife Corridors.

Check out the plans for immense new freeways past the new French's Forest Hospital (which in itself has replaced a site of incredibly high ecological significance. 

Another 6.1 hectares of bushland is earmarked to be flattened here, important wildlife corridors are being replaced by increased roadkill and the fragile Manly Dam Catchment will be exposed to increased siltation and stormwater pollution.

View the Biodiversity Assessment Report.
Must the community have to continually strive to protect Manly Warringah War Memorial park from assault or can government step in and provide the long term conservation it deserves?

Manly Warringah War Memorial Park is the largest single area of bushland managed by a local council in Sydney’s northern beaches. It is a valuable natural area for the protection of native flora and fauna. Linkages to other reserves (both Council managed and National Parks) through bushland corridors, provides an important genetic exchange and contributes to a more sustainable biodiversity for the wider region. Its role in the region is unique and its attributes are highly valued by the community and visitors to the Park.

(From MWWMP Plan of Management)

Check out this Guardian article on habitat loss and extinction

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Re-Wilding A Sydney Backyard

 When I first came to the Australia from the UK, I had a fondness for the environment but knew virtually nothing about Australian nature.  Years later, when I moved from inner city living into a suburban house with a backyard, something special happened. Fascinating visitors such as Blue Tongue Lizards, Leaf Tailed Geckos and Possums provided magical wildlife encounters and my conservation passion, long suppressed, became reignited. As a result, when fragile bushland was threatened by a development nearby, I joined an action group. And, when the local council began planting native plants along a degraded creekline, I started to sit up and take notice.

Discovering a baby 'southern leaf tailed gecko.

When the ‘windows of awareness’ gradually began to open up, I realised that I needed to acquire some knowledge of native plants and environmental weeds. I really wanted to plant some genuine natives...and not the hybrid ones with showy flowers that you find in Bunnings.

 Later I discovered that, in Sydney, each suburb has its own original suite of endemic native plants which are vital in supporting local biodiversity For example there are nearly 1,000 wattles (Acacias) native to this continent but only 7 were endemic to my area.
One of my 'local' wattles:- Acacia Linifolia

 It subsequently dawned on me that almost every garden in my street had no indigenous plants at all. What was worse, many of the plant species visible, such as Agapanthus, Cotoneaster and Privet. were invasive weeds which spread into bushland reserves and actually caused harm. The irony was, none of the local plant shops even sold species which belonged in the area. To find them you had to travel to obscure specialist outlets or wait for the occasional Council native plant ‘giveaway’. Something had gone horribly awry in this city of Sydney. I realised that the original rich biodiversity had largely been scraped off the face of the earth, just like the indigenous people who once occupied this unique place. Meanwhile the current population seemed overwhelmingly unaware and unconcerned.

 Amazingly the Sydney area has more native plant species than the whole of the UK, they have a subtle, fragile beauty and have evolved both to live on the nutrient poor “Hawkesbury Sandstone” soils and adapt to climatic extremes.  But try telling that to the gardening commentators in the media.  Unfortunately, growing local natives is not good business as it doesn’t profit multi-national fertiliser, pesticide or horticulture interests.

Local bushland:-genuine 'Hawkesbury Sandstone country.

 I realised that my new philosophy was to do the polar opposite of what the so called “Garden Gurus” were advocating.  My plan was to remove all “foreign specimens” that were not of habitat value for local wildlife.  I would plant species that were endemic to my area (trees, shrubs, groundcovers, grasses); identify any remnant natives and carefully retain them; remove weeds by hand and commit to never using commercial fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. I might occasionally use a weed killer made up of 99% white vinegar and 1% detergent.

A fish pond was transformed into frog habitat featuring a self seeded. 'birds nest' fern.

 Interestingly, my neighbours remember when my standard “quarter acre” backyard contained only a solitary lemon tree (which was given a stay of execution) and little else. But past decades have seen various plantings and re-growth.  The house was built on remnant bushland in the 1920’s and since then suburbia has filled in most of the remaining undisturbed natural areas in the neighbourhood. I often think that what is now happening to the Amazon rainforest in terms of land clearing, happened in this very place, not so long ago.

 At this stage I should recommend an excellent book “Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney” By Les Robinson, which helped guide my progress. This amazing work contains invaluable information on our native flora including traditional Aboriginal uses for “bush tucker” and medicine.

 My garden contained a large lawn area of Buffalo grass, several Radiata Pines, a smattering of eclectic garden species and a few natives.  On the edge of the lawn there was actually some naturally occurring native grass Microlaena Stipoedes, some native Geranium (Geranium Homeanum) and some native Violets (Viola Hederacea) plus some naturally occurring Commelina Cyanea (which was eaten by early European pioneers to prevent Scurvy).

The native commelina..yes you can eat it !

A few years beforehand I had followed the current trend and planted a vegetable garden but I decided that even this had to go and it was ultimately replaced by natural vegetation. Luckily there is a fantastic organic food market nearby for delicious supplies and also a wonderful community garden if I get the urge to plant more veggies.

 It’s been a gradually transition but over a few years a large area of lawn has been dug out and the native grass has gradually taken over. A smaller area of Buffalo Grass was replaced with a groundcover called Dichondra Repens.
A native ground-cover has replaced my lawn

 I no longer have use for a lawn mower! Endemic species of Grevillea, Hakea, Correa, Banksia, Persoonia, Angophora, Eucalptus, Bracken and Blady Grass etc are growing well and providing food and habitat for wildlife.  Additional accommodation has been provided in the form of various nesting boxes. 

A Hakea in flower

 Insects such as Blue Banded Bees, Mud Dauber wasps and Golden Orb spiders are proliferating.  A fish pond has been transformed into a frog habitat which has also spawned an abundance of Spectacular Dragon Flies.

A Golden Dragonfly.

 A ban on toxic substances means that butterflies and cicadas can fly around more safely. Caterpillars are allowed to chomp away to their heart’s content. This type of garden requires virtually no watering; falling leaves don’t have to be swept away (as they provide natural mulch) and the local possums kindly provide their own brand of proprietary fertilisers.

 I have also converted the “nature strip” of foreign grasses and weeds in the front of the house into a mini habitat area with Lomandras, Dianellas and trees. (again, this is now a mow free zone).
Now it really is a 'Nature Strip'

 American Gardener and Writer, Benjamin Vogt struck a chord with me when he wrote this: - “We need to stop gardening solely for ourselves and see the incredible, beautiful, soul-magnifying existence that happens when we open up our gardens to the rest of the local environment by using native plants. We believe in giving to the needy and poor of our own species, and to other causes near our hearts, why not the birds, insect pollinators and amphibians in the gardens we supposedly cherish so much?”

 As the years go by, the native garden becomes more and more established and only occasional hand weeding is needed.  Additional species are occasionally added from a recently established community native plant nursery where volunteers propagate tubestock with seed collected from nearby bushland reserves. I sometimes try this myself with mixed results!

The “re-wilded” suburban backyard has provided greater biodiversity, a better connection to nature and more enjoyment whilst it has removed the time, cost, and energy of mowing, fertilizing and “manicuring”.   It’s the ultimate “win win” gardening experience!

The re-wilded native garden.

Check out the story by Robin Powell in the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum pages  siren-song-of-backyard-wilderness-in-Manly-Vale-   and have a look at her blog post on this garden"Wilding the backyard"

Monday, 5 June 2017

How To Revive A Mermaid.

The Compelling Story of The Mermaid Pool Restoration and How You Can Be Part of The Action!



Imagine a guy walking his dog through the back streets of Manly Vale. Every day he saw shopping trolleys dumped in the local creek and thought to himself angrily “someone should do something about that....”  He finally realised that he was the someone in question! I’m not sure if they’ve forgiven him yet, but he eventually convinced other local residents to join him! *

Andrew and Wol removing discarded graffiti spray cans from Manly Creek.


 Ah it seemed so easy then, just yank a few trolleys out of the water and we can all go back to football and beer. Trouble is, the closer you looked, the more garbage there was. The beautiful oasis that once was Mermaid Pool had literally become a rubbish dump over recent years and what should have been spectacular remnant bushland was now also clogged with invasive weeds such as morning glory and privet. What were we getting ourselves into?
Ken removes dumped rubbish from the bush


 Many things have since happened to help restore the tarnished jewel of Mermaid Pool, kicking off on ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ 2002, when 4 tonnes of rubbish were removed by 71 volunteers. Subsequently the Clean Up Australia organisation adopted the project as a ‘Fix Up’ Site. Two grants have been applied for and received from the Natural Heritage Trust, which has helped pay for rehabilitation contractors, whilst volunteers have stencilled storm water drains, produced brochures, planted trees and much more.

Weekend Detainees from Parramatta Gaol also spent a number of years physically removing pest species along the waterway. Sydney Morning Herald article by John Huxley

Clean Up Australia founder, Ian Kiernan, visits Mermaid Pool


The best way to get involved now is to come to the monthly bush regeneration volunteer workdays.  “Bush regeneration” basically means identifying and removing a range of noxious weeds that are impacting the natural environment by out-competing the native plants.  We are part of Northern Beaches Council’s "Friends of the Bush" program It’s a great opportunity to learn about the local environment  and help protect it whilst keeping fit and meeting (slightly crazy) new people.  Professional supervision is provided. We even have some amazing ‘masochist’ volunteers who wear waders to remove the introduced aquatic weeds (such as Ludwigia Peruviana from Peru!)  that are clogging up  the waterway. We are conscious of advocating hand removal of weeds and keep any herbicide use away from the water and to an absolute minimum.

Sue removes weeds with Landcare Ambassador-Beau Walker

Mermaid Pool Volunteers meet on the 4th Saturday of every month. Turn up anytime from 9am to 1pm.Where: Outside Manly Hyraulics Lab Gates, western corner of King St, Manly Vale. For more information email: Malcolm Fisher

(NB Volunteers are required to complete a short OH and S training session with Northern Beaches Council before working on site).

Keith, Dave and Kris "getting fit" by removing non-native and invasive water weeds


Mermaid Pool is at the western corner of King St, Manly Vale, Sydney. It boasts a lovely waterfall and is fed from Manly Dam by Manly Creek. The creek then winds its way down to the surfing beach at Queenscliff via Manly Lagoon. (As you can see it’s got a lot of Manly connections).

An aerial view of the pool surrounded by a small remnant of bushland

(The UNSW water lab is to the left)


If physical labour is not your thing we also need people with I.T, communications, research and admin skills plus individuals who are able to conduct ecological surveys).

Tiny native fish (the original "Mermaids") migrate up Manly


 The Sydney region has a much greater number of plant species than the whole of Great Britain combined and each of our suburbs have their own individual endemic varieties.  Sadly as the city has grown we’ve eradicated much of our bushland and planted our gardens with exotics from Europe, Asia or South America. Most natives available in the major nurseries are hybrids or out of area plants. Increasingly though, people are seeking out species indigenous to their area and finding them perfect for local weather conditions, soil types and for attracting wildlife. The New Northern Beaches Council can offer advice on what to plant and where to buy them. There is even a community native plant nursery now at Manly Dam (near the Rangers Office).

Dillwynia Retorta


Our waterways and natural bushland are under threat due to the invasion of environmental weeds. These introduced plants out-compete or smother native plants. The trouble is, many of these foreign pests begin life in someone’s backyard and are spread by birds eating their seeds or from people dumping garden clippings in the bush. Once these weeds take over, the natural character of the bush is lost and habitat for wildlife is reduced.
Identify weeds here. 

The invasive and pervasive Lantana


 The great thing about getting involved in environmental restoration is that you can discover fascinating insights into local biodiversity and help ensure that habitat for our native fauna is improved.  In the Mermaid Pool environs for example, Bandicoots have returned after a 40 year absence, Swamp Wallabies have recently been spotted nearby whilst  Dwarf Green Tree Frogs still survive in the reed beds. There are 10 types of native fish that call this waterway home. Some of them have migrated up Manly Creek from the ocean to spawn for millennia (the original “Mermaids”) but accumulated silt, exotic weeds and other obstructions have made this increasingly difficult.  Juvenile Cox’s Gudgeon were recently photographed (by local resident and native fish expert Andrew Lo) ascending Mermaid Pool waterfall using their fins to climb the sheer rock wall.

Juvenile "Cox's Gudgeon" climbing a sheer rockface


 Of course indigenous people occupied the Northern Beaches area for thousands of years and we are hauntingly reminded of their ancient presence through rock carvings and engravings in our locality. As more and more discoveries are made, the significance of the area to Aboriginal people is taking on a greater dimension and the environs of the Mermaid Pool are now being nominated as an Aboriginal site by the MLALC and others.

   In 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip traversed this creek-line when it was surrounded by dense forest and swamps. In the Depression years of the 1930’s there was a camp at Allambie for people who had lost their homes. Girls used to slip away to the pool to swim naked-hence the name-Mermaid Pool. In those days the water was crystal clear, the bird-life rich and varied and the bushland vibrant and colourful.  There is still a rare pocket of coastal rainforest beneath the rocky overhangs of Mermaid Pool which echoes a long distant era. A mere seventy years ago much of Manly Vale was unspoilt bushland, platypus still occupied some waterways and even quolls and koalas were ‘in residence’.

The home of the Douglas Family in the 1930's in what is now "Jenna Close"


 Land owners and occupiers between Manly Dam wall and Mermaid Pool have recently collaborated with The “Return of the Mermaids” project representatives on ways to restore the creekline in their specific areas. It’s an important step forward which means that Sydney Water, the Department of Services, Technology and Administration, Manly Hydraulics Laboratory, The University of New South Wales Water Research Laboratory and the community are working productively together. Further downstream Warringah Golf Club and Conservation Volunteers Australia are also doing very positive remedial work. There are also some grave threats to the bushland in the surrounding area (see blog article "This War Memorial Park is Under Siege)

A Water of the popular local residents.


 On Planet Ark National Tree Day 2005, volunteers planted a grove of endemic native shrubs along King St, Manly Vale to the approaches of Manly Warringah War Memorial Park. This was to commemorate 60 years since the end of World War 2 and to also highlight the importance of planting local native species.  A NSW Government  Community Partnership Program grant was subsequently applied for which helped us to finish the job using contractors from  Australian Bushland Restoration. The “avenue of honour” has since been dedicated to the sacrifice and service of merchant seamen in world wars 1 and 2. It is now a significant memorial and important educational feature of the area. NSW War Memorials Register            
    Ex Merchant Seamen, Don, Ray and Don at the "Avenue of Honour"  central monument. 


 We are currently positioning  nesting boxes for native wildlife in the area (from pygmy possums and micro bats to king parrots) which will provide homes for wildlife (acting as surrogate tree hollows). We are hoping to retrofit tiny cameras inside the boxes to help give the community knowledge of (and empathy with) their local species by being able to observe them. Vision from inside the boxes would be transmitted live via the internet.  Our beautiful remnant of bushland has no power or communications, so we will provide our own – wirelessly, to bring images from the site. Each nesting box in addition to it’s Raspberry Pi computer will be connected to a Mesh wireless network which connects to the internet. Additionally each box would be powered by a dry-cell battery that is charged via photo voltaic solar collectors. As many of the residents are nocturnal, we will illuminated their nesting boxes with infra Red which our cameras pick will up as monochrome images.

King Parrot nesting box


 Our parent organisation, the Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee has also helped fund important restoration work at Orara Reserve at Allambie, in conjunction with the Beach School.  This work involved contracting a team from Bushlink ( a bush regeneration organisation which employs people with a disability).  Collaborating with students,  they are gradually removing the invasive weeds from this beautiful area of remnant bushland. We hope to contribute more funding to this important project in the future.

Bushlink website 

The "Return of The Mermaids" restoration project won the Inaugural KNSWB Blue Star Sustainability Award in 2015 in the Habitat and Wildlife Guardianship Category.


 Are you a local business that can appreciate the need to restore our waterways and conserve our bushland ? Every industry from tourism, surf products and fishing to manufacturing and administration benefits from looking after the environment.  The “Return of the Mermaids” project needs your support now to help fund future important conservation work along Manly Creek and to ensure momentum continues.  If you’re interested in partnering the community please email

Mermaids Sapphire and Skye (courtesy Manly Sea-life Sanctuary)

 Special thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who have worked so hard to ‘Return the Mermaids”* (Many of the first volunteers had spent the previous decade campaigning to save the headwaters of Manly Dam  from the infamous ‘Ardel’ housing development which ultimately destroyed the creekline upstream. This restoration project initiated by The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee was seen as a way to compensate for some of the environmental damage).

Join the Facebook Group: Mermaid Pool Restoration project

Check out these video links:-

Segment with Costa on Gardening Australia 2014

Mermaid Pool Sydney Metro CMA Award winners 2012

World Water Day 2012. 10th Anniversary of "Return of the Mermaids"

 Jess Amos Film

And here's article on the Mermaid Pool by Peter Fitzsimons that was featured in the Sydney Magazine