Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Cooks River

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Cooks River

"We are all Cooks River People"

Photo: Fatima Island, Tempe by R. Whitehall.To Aboriginal people, the Cooks River is known as Goolay'yari meaning 'pelican'. Since British colonisation, the Cooks River has had a tumultuous history. It has been dammed, diverted, dredged, dumped and thoroughly degraded.

In more recent times, thanks to the enormous work and efforts of Cooks River people – individuals, community groups and government bodies – the River is recovering. Increasingly it is is recognised as a fantastic environmental and community resource with many natural and cultural features.

Can we swim in the Cooks River?

Photo: Kendrick ParkPeople used to swim in the Cooks River until in the mid-1900s it became too degraded. Many people now want to swim in the river again, as reflected in the Marrickville Community Vision and other local catchment plans.

In 2013, the Cooks River Committee selected and Marrickville Council agreed to investigate Kendrick Park, Tempe, as a possible future swimming site. There is a sculpture in Kendrick Park of Aborigines gathering in there by the river. The Committee wants to restore the river, increase its health and improve the biodiversity so people can once again swim and play in it.

Kendrick Park was selected because of its accessibility, toilet and other facilities and probable better water quality compared to other sites as this area is regularly flushed out with sea water because it is in the tidal zone. However, the river's currents and water quality can be variable so the water has to be tested and monitored to understand the site's issues and how to make it suitable for swimming once more.

Council is supported by community organisations, particularly the Cooks River Valley Association, and many other people in the community to achieve this aim. It has been working with other Cooks River Catchment councils through the Cooks River Alliance, as well as Sydney Water, Beach Watch and the NSW Department of Health on how to make swimming in Cooks River possible.

Here are to some of the many projects in which Council is involved to improve the Cooks River as a natural and community resource in which we will one day be able to swim.

  • Cooks River Alliance
    This partnership between 6 councils bordering the Cooks River is focusing on the long-term improvement of the Cooks River catchment. It commenced in October 2011 and follows the successful OurRiver - Cooks River Sustainability Initiative (CRSI) grant-funded project that finished on 30 May 2011.
  • Cooks River Foreshore Working Group
    This project involved a team of representatives from local councils and NSW State Government agencies working together to coordinate improvements to the health and amenity of the Cooks River system. It ended on 30 June 2011.
  • Cooks River Integrated Interpretation Strategy
    A strategy finalised in January 2008 with the ultimate aim of integrating interpretation into the forward planning, management and conservation of the river.
  • Cooks River Sustainability Initiative (CRSI)
    This partnership between 8 councils bordering the Cooks River to focus on long-term improvement of the Cooks River catchment was finalised on 30 May 2011.
  • Marrickville Cooks River Committee
    Established to work with the community in improving the environment for the Cooks River and promote the value of the river's value as a natural system
  • Cooks River monitoring:
    • RiverScience – Ecological monitoring program conducted jointly between Marrickville, Kogarah, Rockdale and Canterbury councils between 2008 and 2011.
    • Cooks River Health Report Cards – River Health monitors water quality, vegetation and macroinvertebrates providing an assessment of the Georges River and Cooks River (since 2012) that feed into Botany Bay. Facilitated by the Georges River Combined Councils' Committee with its nine member councils, the Cooks River Alliance's eight member councils, Streamwatch, the community and others.
  • Planning assessment in relation to water management – evaluation of Cooks River councils
    The Cooks River Alliance evaluation report includes an analysis of Cooks River Catchment councils' LEPs and DCPs in relation to water management and makes recommendations to improve their performance.

A sign of the tides

King tides are extra high tides that occur when the Earth, Sun and Moon align and their combined gravitational force is at its strongest. Sydney experiences king tides twice a year – but predicted changes in climate will result in higher tides and an increase in flooding of low-lying areas.