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October 1996


This is a "bumper" issue of the Protectorate. Not only is there a lot to tell you about Port Hacking and its environment, we also wanted to tell you that the Port Hacking Protection Society is ten years old this year.

In those ten years, the Society has developed from a single issue organisation, formed to oppose the Tombolo proposal, to one that has been involved in a wide variety of discussions and proposals.

The Society's overriding objective is to safeguard the amenity of the waterway for the pleasure of the maximum number of people keeping always in mind its ecological needs.

More formally, the objectives of PHPS are stated in the accompanying box.
The Objectives of the PHPS (Inc.) are:
  1. The maintenance of the ecological, heritage and social values of Port Hacking, all the waters, catchments, foreshores and environs (the "Port Hacking").

  2. The protection and enhancement of habitats for flora and vauna in the Port Hacking.

  3. The prevention of any unreasonable construction or activity which would detract from the appearance and nature of Port Hacking.

  4. The undertaking of activity to ensure that the built environment within the Port Hacking is complementary to the unique natural quality of the area.

  5. The maintenance of the residential, tourist and transport usage of the Port Hacking consistent with the preceding objects.

These objectives have often seen PHPS branded as radical "greenies" who want to lock up Port Hacking and not let anyone use it. From the beginning of its work to fulfil its objectives, PHPS found it needed to deal with three related issues:
  1. The first was that a significant threat to the nature of Port Hacking was posed by the incremental nature of urban development and demand for recreational amenities. Decisions are often made in isolation, yet the totality of the effect is a gradual erosion of the Port amenity. Sutherland Shire Council and other agencies involved in regulating Port usage attempt to put in plans to ensure that the totality is catered for, but these plans are often watered down through compromises with interested parties who are able to successfully lobby their cause.

  2. The second issue was that there had to be a mechanism for integrating the various authorities and interests that govern and move development in the Port. PHPS started the ball rolling to try to set up such an integrating mechanism by convening a conference about the future of Port Hacking in 1992. Out of this we achieved an adopted plan of management by Sutherland Shire Council. This issue is further advanced by the existance now of the HRCMC and its significant coordinating function.

  3. The third issue is that most people are generally uninformed about the complex nature of both the physical/natural and the social aspects of the Port. As we talked with people, we became aware that there are more theories about why the Port is the way it is and what should be done to make it better than there are "experts". In effect, many people claimed to be experts when in fact everyone, including "experts" only had partial information. It is a significant development that in the past few years, "experts" have been set to work to collect and collate hard data about the Port and the impact of development and usage on the waterway. But even with more hard data, it is clear that much of this information is not filtering to the community at large. The community is often confronted with decisions that do not make sense without a greater degree of information.

    In PHPS we believe that this situation was not to the longer term benefit of anyone. We believe that the community needs to be properly informed about issues dealing with the Port. This is why we fill the pages of the Protectorate with information about the Port and about the competing presures on the Port.

A good examples of a competing pressures and the observation about the impact of incremental development is the current, widely discussed (through the local media) issue of development at Grey's Point. The Lilli Pilli Kayak Club have submitted a proposal to Sutherland Shire Council to build a storage facility for their Kayaks. Residents vehemently oppose such a building, claiming it will reduce the public amenity of the reserve. The Kayak club believes that the storage facility is tiny and will not take up much reserve space, and that the club has contributed significantly to the community at large by providing a good, clean and challenging sport that is enjoyed by many and even produced Olympiads. The storage facility will enable people to enjoy the sport without the (often impossible) hassle of carting canoes.

The argument in the press has moved from a simple exposition of the facts to personal and bitter accusations and name-calling. Hardly conducive to a rational discussion of the merits of the case.

The letter by C. Greig (Leader 13/8/96) captures nicely one of the factors that should be heavily weighed in this debate. C. Greig lists many developments around the Port "numerous surf club buildings, swimming pavilions, salt water baths, boat ramps, soccer, league and cricket clubs, child care centres and so on that are also built on public land and used individually by a minority". He suggests that if the Kayak club proposal is not to go ahead, then the existance of these other structures on public land should also be questioned. The fact of the matter is that these structures do exist. And they were constructed before people began to realise the impact on the total amenity of the Port of incremental developments. If we made mistakes in the past, we should learn from them, not repeat them. The fact of the matter is also that increased urban pressure is alienating more and more public space from public use. Those who suffer are usually the indivuals who don't belong to organised groups with lobbying expertise, but who nevertheless pay their taxes and rates, like to swim, canoe, sail, walk, picnic and generally enjoy Port Hacking and its foreshores.

The debate over the proposal at Grey's Point is just one current example and deals with land use. Other debates deal with allocation of public resources - such as funds. What has greater urgency, spending money on dredging or spending it on efforts to stop pollution into the waterway? Spending on infrastructure maintenance or studies of why fisherman say there aren't as many fish in Port Hacking as there used to be? Of course it can never be either or. Somehow resources have to found to do it all, but there has to be prioritising. Informed debate about how to prioritise is more likely to be fruitful in the long term than single issue lobbying.

Water Cycle Management Study

The Port Hacking Protection Society has commenced its Landcare funded project to look at water cycle management, using Bundeena and Mainbar as a case study.

Even assuming sewerage connection of these communities, reduction of waste, and contamination of water will be an increasing concern. We want to work out how major improvements can be made to the way we use and manage water.

Our approach will involve planning for:
  1. the gross flows of water into and from the community, with an orientation towards minimising non-natural flows. All water input (groundwater, rainwater as well as non-natural flows); water output (drainage, re-entry into the groundwater as well as non-natural flows); and the transformation of that water (consumption, grey and black water, garden use) will be considered.

  2. minimisation of the transport of water. This would give rise to consideration of water conservation, local capture and local use or recharging of natural streams.

  3. Minimisation of the contamination of water resources. This would in turn involve consideration of the on-site conservation of water, seperation of waste streams, minimisation of the use of contaminants and the control of contaminated run-off.

The project has received enthusiastic support from the Environmental Industries Development Network, and involves a team of experts drawn from the private sector as well as Sydney Water and Sutherland Shire.

Fishway at Audley

In 1992, NPWS initiated a project to construct a fishway at Audley Weir. The original fishway on the weir, built in 1913 was destoyed in 1955 by road works. Design for the fishway has been completed by the NSW Public Works State Projects. Funding is coming from: NPWS, Foundation for National parks and Wildlife and the Public Works Estuary improvement Program (on a $ for $ basis). An Environment Trusts application for funds has also been made. The outcome of that application will be known by the end of November this year. The proposal is to build the Fishway by the end of 1997.

The fishway at Audley will:
  • allow continual migration of adult and juvenile fish into the upper reaches of the Hacking River and its tributaries

  • restore natural processes to improve local aquatic habitats by increasing native fish numbers and diversity and therefore protecting the Hacking River Catchment

  • provide a resource for scientifiic research. A viewing platform/research pit will be built adjacent to the fishway for research purposes

  • increase public awareness of aquatic habitat management by providing interpretive signs and displays as an educational tool

Example of a Fishway

Mysterious Bouys

A few people rang the Waterways Authority, Sutherland Shire Council and other agencies in an attempt to discover the reason for the flotila of white buoys that appeared off Lilli Pilli Point some months ago. No one appears to know why they were there. They were simply weighted plastic bottles. They disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared. (UF(loating)Os?).

Signposts for a Cleaner Environment

Creeks around the Hacking River Catchment have been signposted. The signs have been located in highly visible areas. They specify the creek name and carry the Hacking River Catchment name and the Total Catchment Management (TCM) logo. The Hacking River CMC Chairman Peter Wells said: "We really want to make people stop and think with these signs. As a community we need to realise that the local creeks and waterways will only be in good shape if we all look after them. We need to understand that if there are any chemical spills, or if we wash our car near stormwater drains, or let grass clippings or dog poo go into the waterways they will appear as pollution in Port Hacking. Through these signs, the Hacking River CMC is asking the community to actively protect local creeks.

The signs have been jointly funded by Sutherland Shire Council, Wollongong Council and the Hacking River CMC. It represents a positive and practical initiative between the three organisations.

Launch of Hacking River Pollution Source Inventory

The Hacking River Catchment Management Committee with the support of the EPA, Sutherland Shire Council, state government agencies, universities, local residents and land owners and community groups have produced a document that identifies pollution sources impacting on water quality throughout the hacking catchment.

The inventory targets, in priority order, the major pollution sources in the catchment and recommends methods of ameliorating the impact of those sources.

This valuable document will be launched:
  • When: 1 November 1996 10.00 - 11.00 am (Official Launch and speeches followed by morning tea)

  • Where: Westfield Shopping Centre, Miranda

New Pontoon at Dolans Bay

The new timber jetty at Dolans Bay is to be replaced with a floating, aluminium ramped pontoon at an estimated cost of $70,000. The pontoon will direct departing vessels away from adjacent seagrass beds. It will also provide improved wheelchair access for both fishing and boating and be cheaper and easier to maintain than the current jetty. Funding is half from Council funds and Half from NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation.

Small Powered Craft on Port Hacking

... a tale of Jetskis, PWCs & tinnies

The winter season has not only cooled the weather, it has cooled heated debate over jetskis. Unfortunately, as temperatures rise, the PWC (known generically as jetskis) issue is likely to surface again with much bitterness on both sides.

As a result of petitions and complaints and letters and an anti jetski rally, the Minister for Ports, Mr Carl Scully, called for submissions concerning the use of PWCs with a view of reviewing regulations governing PWCs. This review is meant to be completed by early October 1996, before the boating season commences.

In the debate about the right of small powered craft to use the waterway in the way they do, PHPS has tried to broker a compromise solution. Twice PHPS committee members set time aside to meet with members of the Jet Boat Associations. And twice they were contacted to be told that members of the Associations thought it was inappropriate to meet with the Association. Instead, PHPS received a letter from Kawasaki Motors Pty. Ltd. and were contacted by a Jetski dealer. In addition, PHPS received information that those people who had expressed opposition to the current use of PWCs at the rally had been subjected to intimidating actions and abusive letters from owners of PWCs. This type of vengeful action is hardly likely to promote constructive debate and an amicable solution. It is, however, likely to entrench views on both sides.

To try, once more, to present the arguments for a need to resolve the issue of use of jet skis and other powered craft on Port Hacking, we print the letter from Kawasaki and PHPS' open letter is response to that letter and other letter received in response to the article on PWCs in the last Protectorate.
Dear Sir,

It was with great interest that I was given a copy of the April issue of "The Port Hacking Protectorate", specifically concerning a most biased article on Personal Watercrafts.

In light of your concerns over the matter, I would like to point out the following matters.

JetSki is a registered trademark of Kawasaki heavy Industries - specifically one brand of Personal Watercraft. Other brands include SeaDoo, Yamaha Waverunner, Polaris & Tigershark. Unless you are talking about specific brands, the correct terms to be used is Personal Watercraft, i.e. and "anti-personal watercraft rally".

We are not aware of any country banning the use of Personal Watercrafts. Some local government areas will designate areas for Personal Watercraft use only, i.e. A compromise for Personal Watercraft users and local residents.

New Generation Personal Watercrafts are very quiet and fuel efficient, so it is hard to understand your comment about "wastefully polluting".

As a manufacturer of Personal Watercrafts, we too applaud the current blitz by the Waterways Authority on irresponsible users of this type of craft. We trust this action is ongoing and not just a knee jerk reaction by a minority group applying pressure to the authorities. For correct and harmonious use of Personal Watercrafts, this action must be ongoing.

It is interesting to note that of the numerous complaints to Port hacking Protection Society listed in your newsletter, that not one single complaint was registered with your local Maritime Services Board office.

If your complainants can identify a boat within 2 metres of moored vessels at night or committing any irregularity, would it be correct to report it to the Maritime Services Board immediately rather than report it to the Port hacking Protection Society after the event. Every Personal Watercraft has a registration number that is prominently displayed.

Surf Life Saving Association, Water Police, Coast Guard and Harbour Departments are large users of Personal Watercrafts. In fact, the majority of Surf Rescues are completed using Personal Watercrafts.

All manufacturers support the Australian jet Ski Boating Association (AJSBA) which promotes the correct usage of Personal Watercrafts and organises races, etc. Last month the Sydney Branch of the AJSBA conducted a 100km race for approximately 40 personal Watercrafts at Botany Bay with the department head of the Maritime Services Board present to observe the running of this event. Not one single complaint was evident which is proof of the AJSBA efforts to promote this sport in the correct way.

All Kawasaki brand JetSki Watercrafts are supplied with a safety video and every one of our advertisements promote respect of your surroundings when using Personal Watercrafts. Eg. "Kawasaki endorse safe and responsible riding. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Respect the rights of shoreline residents and other waterway users".

Your readers must have forgotten the terrible bushfires of 15 months ago when a large number of personal Watercrafts assisted in evacuating children from around Bonny Vale to safety at Cronulla and their use in assisting with wildlife rescue and fire control along the foreshores.

As a manufacturer of Personal Watercrafts, we too are concerned about the correct usage of this craft in harmony with the surrounding land and trust that anybody ignoring the rules of Personal Watercraft usage are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Don't talk about it. Report it while it's happening.

Before you present a one sided report again, please talk to the people who can provide a balance to your argument.

Graeme Elder
State Manager NSW & ACT
Kawasaki Motors Pty Ltd.
7 May 1996

Anti-Jetski Rally

George Harrison

In May a group of canoeists called 'paddlers for peace and quiet' organised a rally to highlight their concerns about irresponsible use of PWCs (jet-skis) and "tinnies".
Max Kelly told the rally that Australia lagged behind other countries such as France and the USA in legislation to control the irresponsible operation of such vessels.
Around 100 people gathered at Bonnie Vale on the foreshores of the Hacking in a colourful protest. Former President of PHPS(Inc), Max Kelly told the rally that Australia lagged behind other countries such as France and the USA in legislation to control the irresponsible operation of such vessels. He proposed the creation of "water parks", at some distance from residential and recreational areas, where PWC riders could gather to pursue their hobby without distress to the rest of the community. The rally decided to send a motion to Minister for Ports Mr Scully, "That Personal Motorised Water Craft and jet boats be banned from Port Hacking in a line from Glaisher Point and Jibbon Point and west therefrom." Some PWC user claim to have been present at the meeting but declined to address the crowd. Representatives of Waterways also declined the opportunity to speak. PHPS(Inc) encourages readers to let Waterways know of breaches of the rules, dangerous behaviour or noise problems associated with PWCs or any powered vessels.

Our latest information is that Waterways can be contacted on 9563 8555 or the boating officer on 0418 460 293

It pays to be persistent.

An Open Letter from PHPS

This letter is in response to letters from those who are concerned about criticism of small powered vessels, notably those referred to as 'tinnies' and 'jetskis', which have been carried in the Port Hacking Protectorate.

The Protectorate is a locally distributed newspaper concerned with the sustainable use of Port Hacking. The Protectorate invites submissions from a range of viewpoints, including those that are in opposition to the environmental protection viewpoint of the Port Hacking Protection Society (PHPS). To date, the overwhelming bulk of material and reports we have received have reflected adverse reactions to problems attributable to these craft within the Port.

The PHPS position

There is community concern about noise, safety and environmental impact of PWC's. We have sought to secure action on planning and enforcement. Our approach has been 'up-front' and public. Our actions to date have been to publicise reported problems, and invite interested people to our Annual General Meeting (publicly advertised) to discuss possible management approaches. We have publicised the outcome of that meeting in the Protectorate.

The present management approach is deficient. We do not believe that the present rules are capable of effective enforcement. Unless a workable approach which meets the needs of all concerned groups (including foreshore residents, swimmers, and those who seek peaceful enjoyment of the environment) can be found, PWC activities should be severely curtailed within the Port.

Our intention

Our aim is to seek to have a workable plan in place. We have indicated our intention to convene a planning group, representing a range or perspective. We anticipate a plan can be worked out that does meet all concerns. This will require recognition of the problems that really do arise from the use of PWCs within the Port. Ignoring these problems will only result in more extreme community responses.

The following comments are intended to respond to the arguments that were put forward in the letters we received. I will deal mostly with the noise nuisance, since it is not being at all seriously addressed.

Noise nuisance

The argument that PWCs are not a noise nuisance is based on decibel measurements of current technology PWCs under controlled conditions, measured at water level. This is not an accurate reflection of the experienced reality.

Noise is contextually experienced. The decibel measure of a mosquito is minuscule. The conscious experience of its presence on a quiet night is however significant within the context.

In the case of PWCs contextual factors make the noise more impactful than decibel measures under controlled conditions would suggest.

Port Hacking is relatively quiet (particularly on the Southern side and the more remote Northern side locations). There is little non-natural background noise.

The noise of PWCs is more abrasive than would be otherwise the case. For many this machine noise is a violation of their legitimate expectations of quiet enjoyment.

For waterway users aware of the safety hazards of PWCs, (particularly those who have had personal experience), the noise of the PWC is a reminder of the hazard, and the anger and frustration that they experienced. It carries an emotional overlay that increases its felt impact.

Domestic or recreational context

For many on the foreshore, or seeking quiet enjoyment, non-natural noises are a direct challenge to the enjoyment to which they are entitled. The users of these craft enjoy their pleasure at the cost of the pleasure of others.

The author of this letter has had the experience of a lady at the other end of the telephone line, crying with anger and frustration at the destruction of her much valued peace and quiet. I have also seen (otherwise peaceful) people on the foreshores shaking their fists and yelling at PWC users to leave them alone.

Physical environment

The water geography of the Port causes sound to resound. It is also the case that the noise attenuation effects mean that sound nuisance is experienced at distances well outside the normal expected range.

Noise measured on the water does not adequately reflect the magnified noise that residents experience.


These effects are cumulative. An individual PWC compliance with decibel levels is not the central concern for those adversely impacted.


Individual PWC users may stay in one area for a relatively short time. However, PWCs are frequently experienced in series, creating a continuing stress.

Number of vessels

Often PWCs are present in large numbers on particular days. The effect is to compound the impact of these craft.

Substandard craft

It is claimed that newer PWCs are not noisy. On this basis, the experience of those who find the sound offensive is that there must be a significant population of older, defective or consciously modified craft on the waterway.

The fact that the newer craft operate at lower noise levels calls into question earlier PWC promoters' claims that there was not problem with the craft. Those who are concerned about noise problems have little confidence on the basis of history that the industry is exerting its best endeavours today, for it clearly did not do so previously.


The pattern of noise created by PWCs is an aggravation of these problems.

They arrive quickly, sometimes in large numbers. They wave jump, creating changes in volume and pitch that aggravate the noise impact. The pattern could not be better calculated to aggravate and cause distress.

Environmental nuisance

The argument that PWCs are not an environmental hazard flies in the face of the reports and observations of our members.

PWC users DO plough through the seagrass beds. They DO create wash in areas where such wash is destructive of the foreshores. They DO chase dolphins and engage in such destructive "play" within the Port. They DO ignore the speed restrictions.

Whilst such actions may be the result of a small percentage acting in a delinquent manner, the number of such delinquents, and the irreparable harm they are doing, is a cause for real concern.

Safety hazard

Recent publicised deaths demonstrate the hazard of these vessels. The reported safety incidents are justifiably a cause of disbelief. We find it hard to imagine such carelessness with vessels that have a demonstrated lethal capacity. But these are real reports and observations, for which we can in many cases produce witnesses.

In one instance to which you allude (a PWC rider 'buzzing' children under the age of eight off Cabbage Tree Point), the witness was myself, and the children my own. One of the writers in support of Jetskis refers to the responsibility of their own two sons. Congratulations. I would like my children to have the same opportunity to grow up safely enjoying the Port.

We note your assertion that none of the incidents we highlighted in our article have been logged by Waterways. A number of these instances were reported (including the incident above, which I reported). The fact that there was neither action nor report on them is a further cause for concern about policing.

The system has no credibility. No effective action has traditionally been taken on complaints. To ask those adversely effected to report the registration number of the offending PWC is an absurd abdication of responsibility.

In saying this, we would not like to be taken as critical of the individuals charged with policing. The policing regime is simply non-feasible, no matter how dedicated the endeavours of the small number of people charged with its implementation.

Minor corrections

The PHPS has been consistent in its use of the acronym 'PWCs', using 'jetski' as an example of such craft. Our editorials and correspondence reflect this policy.

The use of the term jetski is generic (largely as a result of the promotion of this brand). Where correspondents have used the generic, we do not see that it is incumbent on us to intervene editorially.

We have been consistent in treating all personal water craft (including 'tinnies') as a class, only distinguishing between the subsets when our correspondents have cited 'jetski' as the identity of the vessel. They may or may not be accurate in their observation.

A second confusion is that PHPS convened the 'Anti-jetski rally'. This rally was put on by canoeists, to highlight their concern. Our aim is to ensure debate and discussion on issues of importance. This rally will further this aim, and we support it to this extent.

Responsible users

There are responsible PWC users. We have always acknowledged this. The unfortunate nature of PWCs is that it takes only a small number of users to create major problems. The increasing number of these craft means that even if the proportions of responsible users to irresponsible users remains as it is today, we are in for major problems. We want to ensure that this is not the case.

The competing claims concerning the actions of some individuals (both responsible and irresponsible) during the bushfires are not inconsistent with a mix or responsible/irresponsible users. Both types of behaviour are consistent with our experience of Jetski usage and other PWCs.

It is in no-one's interest for the present unsatisfactory state of affairs to prevail. We would be more than happy to publish any proposals that supporters of PWCs might have to remedy the immediate problems and put forward a better approach for the future.

Paul Martin - PHPS President
27 May 1996

HRCMC "Small Project Fund"

The Hacking River Catchment Management Committee (HRCMC) has $30,000 available to fund small community action projects.

The funds can be applied for at any time by any local community group. Generally, grants are less than $5000. The funds are provided as a boost to community groups to implement education/information strategies or undertake works to complement the goals and activities of the HRCMC. In fact , several issues of this newsletter were funded by the Fund. Projects must show evidence of matching funds ($ for $) which may include "support in kind".

Successful applicants for funds as of 30 July 1996 are:

  • Helensburg & District landcare group - for weekly testing of the major creeks flowing from Helensburgh into the Hacking

  • BEWARE - stormwater Detention Pond Trial

  • Coonong Creek Bushcare Group - Primary weeding of "Elesmere" laneway, Gymea Bay with reinstatement of vegetation as required to stabilise the site

  • Kareena Park Bushcare Group - Primary weeding of Kareena Park. Repair and revegetation of eroded tracks to minimise sedimentation of Yowie Bay

  • Bundeena Reserve Bushcare Group - Primary weeding of Lilli Pilli Reserve o Lilli Pilli Point Bushcare Group - Primary weeding of Lilli Pilli Reserve

  • Cabbage Tree Point Bushcare Group - Primary weeding of Cabbage Tree Point Reserve after the control burn in 1995

From the original $30,000 allocation, approximately $10,000 remains.

For further information or to obtain application forms, contact the Coordinator of HRCMC on telephone (02) 9895 7769 or by fax (02) 9895 7222.

Gorse - An Environmental Disaster?

Not if we act now!!

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) has been identified as possibly the next major environmental disaster. The Hacking River Catchment Management Committee has recognised that the noxious weed, Gorse, is infesting residential properties in the Helensburgh and Otford areas. if no action is taken to eradicate the weed now from the upper Hacking River catchment, the Royal National Park and other areas are in danger of being infested with Gorse weed.

Briefly, Gorse has its main flowering season between July-October and this is the best time to remove the gorse. It is a medium sized, multi-branched shrub, with bright yellow-pea-like flowers and dark green spiky leaves. Gorse can be controlled through physically removing the whole plant, using biological control (for example, the gorse weevil) or spraying with a herbicide, such as Round Up or Grazon Foliar. The latter is the most effective method for Gorse weed removal.

In August, Mr Chris Wilmott (Hacking River CMC member), distributed a leaflet from the CMC to residents approximately 30 houses in areas of Helensburgh West, including the Princes Highway, Lawrence Hargraves Drive, Walker Street and Otford Road who had Gorse weed on their properties.

The leaflet informed residents about noxious weeds, how to identify Gorse and how to control and eradicate the weed effectively. It also advised residents of the generous offer made by Mr Allan House and the Helensburgh Landcare group to remove Gorse for FREE from residential properties. If this campaign is successful then the Hacking River CMC will target other weed species in the catchment in an effort to control and eradicate them.

If you require any further information on Gorse weed you can contact the Hacking River CMC Coordinator on (02) 9895 7769.

Port Hacking Mangroves

Rosemary Engel, RNP Fields Studies Centre

Port Hacking is one of Sydney's four major estuaries. The Port used to be fringed with extensive stands of mangroves, salt marsh, fresh water wetlands and sea grass flats. These types of habitats are the supermarkets and nurseries of the sea. Plant life in estuaries is dominated by the mangroves. Mangroves inhabit tidal swamps, areas of muddy silt at the mouths of river systems, and other areas regularly inundated by the sea.

Soldier crabs, amphipods, Isopods, Snapping Prawn, Semaphore crab, Oysters, Oyster borers, Comptess' top shell, small whelk, Sydney whelk, ants, weevils, flies, golden orb spider, air breathing snails, Siva biddy, mullet, luderick, silver bream and polychaete worm are some of the animal life that depend on the mangroves detrital system. That is, the system by which mangroves breaks down plant matter (mostly leaves) and release nutrients. When leaves fall to the ground, they are colonised by bacteria and fungi and small animals called nematodes. The nematodes fragment the leaves and feed on the micro-organisms coating the leaves. The leaf fragments and the waste of the animals are in turn colonised by micro-organisms and also provide food for crabs, prawns, worms and snails. These animals are food for larger animals such as crabs, birdlife and fish (some of which end up on our dinner tables).

A Mangrove Food Chain

Mangrove estuaries are among the world's most famous productive ecosystems. Solar energy captured by mangroves enters the estuaries as leaves, twigs and fruits from the trees, It may take a year for the energy and nutrients contained in a leaf to be released by decomposer organisms - bacteria, algae and fungi - and used by the estuary's animal life. Some of the energy fixed by mangroves may be harvested by humans as fish, prawns and oysters.

Illustration: RNP Field Studies Centre
As well as a rich source of food, the mangroves provide roosting spots for wading birds that live off the mudflats and among seagrass at low tide. Spoonbills, sandpipers, curlews, stints and dotterels eat the worms, crabs and other shellfish at low tide from the mud. Herons and egrets stalk fish and prawns in the shallows. Ibis forage and oyster catchers stalk the tidal flats. Land birds such as silveryes, wrens, fantails, magpies, currawongs and turtledoves also forage in the mangrove trees although they don't depend on the marine life.

Little remains in the Port of the formerly rich estuarine habitat. Before urbanisation mangrove habitats were abundant in the bays and up the Hacking River. Audley in the Royal National Park, with its grassy picnic grounds, was once a mangrove swamp. Most of the mangroves in the past were destroyed by filling in to make room for urban development. The remaining pockets of mangroves are unlikely to be "developed" in this way, but they still face severe threats.

Urban runoff, bringing with it silt and pollutants severely tax the capacity of the mangroves to efficiently recycle nutrients. As a study in Yowie Bay found, the mangrove stand habitat on the eastern foreshore of Camellia Creek Bay has been diminished by the accumulation of flotsam (grass, leaf litter, driftwood and urban litter). Reduction in habitat quality reduces its carrying capacity. Consequently there are fewer micro organisms, worms, crabs, shellfish. In turn there are fewer fish in the Port - reducing the pleasure for recreational fishermen and providing less incentive to the dolphins to enter the waterway.

Another threat is from the increased number of boats and their sometimes thoughtless use. The wash from boats driven at high speeds erodes the banks of rivers. The evidence for this is particularly clear in the upper reaches of the Port. Some of the banks have been so eroded that giant angophoras have lost their hold and toppled into the river. The destabilised banks release silt into the water, disturbing the natural flow of the river and its nutrient balance, placing stress on the ecosystem.

Unless we are careful to modify our activities to particularly protect and care for the few remaining mangrove areas, we will loose this nursery and food source of the Port and the diversity of the waterway we all enjoy so much.

The Aftermath of the 1994 Bushfires

If you visit the Royal National Park now, you will hardly believe that the bushfire in 1994 has made an impact on the flora and fauna. The Waratahs look wonderful, the spring flowers are a carpet of colour over the heathland, the grass trees have thrown up spectacular spearheads. Only a few charred trees and bush skeleton's remain to remind us of a past destruction.

But all is not well. Fire is threatening to reduce the biodiversity in the Park. Since 1978 there have been 370 fires in the Park. The 1994 blaze that ravaged 95% of the Park followed one in 1988 that burnt 60% of the Park. One more fire before the year 2005 and many of the heath shrub species will be wiped out. They, and other species of plants, take several years to reach maturity. The few plants that do regenerate after a fire must repopulate the area. It may take ten years before the species once again reaches a viable population - sufficient to be able to withstand another great fire. Although spectacular, the grass trees - hardly glimpsed before among the tangle of vegetation - are evidence of the reduced number of other plants.
The fire, of course, wreaked havoc on animals as well as on plants. Recent studies of wildlife in the Park failed to find evidence of greater gliders, powerful owls or dusky antechinus. Brown antechinus, possums, bush rats and long-nosed bandicoots are scare. Sooty owls found in the Park are apparently hunting outside the Park. Only New Holland mice and feral deer seem to be thriving.

NPWS is making major improvement to fire trails in the park and educating land owners about the fire threat. There have also been calls to keep wildlife corridors open to the Royal to allow recolonisation of both fauna and flora.

10th Anniversary Celebrations

On Sunday, 23 September 1996, PHPS celebrated its tenth birthday with a party.

All past and current members (some 600 individuals!) and those who had been significantly associated with the Society were invited to the party, held in a committee member's residence on Hordern's Beach, Bundeena.

The weather was beautiful, the Port sparkled at its best, the food and drink was delicious (thanks to a wonderful catering effort!) and the camaraderie enjoyable.
Protectorate editor Miriam Verbeek and designer Belinda Allen at the celebration
Paul Martin, the current PHPS President, gave a heartfelt speech. He began by noting that the day was tinged with sadness at the sudden death of Max Kelly on 12 August this year. Max was a past president of the Association and had given it a motivation and direction still alive today. Paul said that Max's death had caused him to reflect on what linked Max to Port Hacking. Max treasured the "nobility of those who are neither rich nor proud, but who create value and lead ordinary lives and try to do the right thing. On behalf of Max, the day was to celebrate those heroes who may go unnoticed. These heroes are people like Bob Spencer, first president of PHPS, Max Kelly, Colleen Summers, Joan Holland, Ceryl Szpak, Steve Ward, members of the current committee and many others too numerous to mention but whose efforts are nevertheless not forgotten nor unappreciated". Paul made special mention of the Donoghues and Tim Tapsell who are particularly involved in arresting the damaging developments in the upper catchment of the Hacking and bear the cost today of their efforts, on behalf of the environmental movement, of pending legal action from the developers they helped to thwart.
President Paul Martin addresses guests at the party, including Vic Leuliette, Steve Ward and Tim Tapsell
President Paul Martin addresses guests at the party, including Vic Leuliette, Steve Ward and Tim Tapsell
The first President of PHPS, Bob Spencer was called upon to make a speech. He reminisced about the way PHPS started. "There were about fourteen of us. We met in my lounge room. We'd just got this brochure in our post boxes from Public Works that said we were going to get a Tombolo in Port Hacking. We just knew it was going to destroy everything that we loved about the Port. We didn't know what to do about it. We were babe's in the wood in how to oppose this. We just knew we had to try." He spoke of how the community rallied, how contacts with experts and other environmental groups were made. He paid tribute to another departed PHPS member, Colleen Summers. Colleen was PHPS' wonderful secretary for many years. "I tend to take things head on," said Bob. "Many times I'd write something, Colleen would read it and hand it back to me. 'You'll probably want to rephrase this' she'd say." Bob complimented the work of the Association since the day when it started as a single issue movement. He especially praised the work of Paul Martin. "Paul has a way of thinking through issues that added immensely to the way we did our work. I think that the Port is in good hands now with the people who are currently involved in PHPS."

Victor Leuliette, PHPS' first secretary and long-term Treasurer, also made a speech, relating how history unfolded over the tombolo issue and since and the significant actors in the Society's development. Victor reproduced this history in article form published in this newsletter.

Paul closed the formal part of the party by saying: "Today is a celebration of good feelings that come from companions who share a belief that consumption is not the ultimate goal, that to contribute is good, and that reason and good faith are the way forward."

Vale Max Kelly

The death of Max Kelly was a blow to all who knew him. A true "gentle man", Max was always prepared both to listen, and to stand up and be heard even if the audience was hostile to what he had to say. His clear intellect and fine nature always shone through. We will miss him, and owe him a great deal for what he did to preserve the Port that he loved.

How and why PHPS began

Victor Leuliette

In late August 1986, the Press carried reports of a statement made by the Minister for Ports and Public Works, at Cronulla. The Public Works Department was to construct a "Tombolo" in Port Hacking so as to overcome the problem of siltation of the waterway.

A glossy booklet, and a folding map of the Port, were released. No one from Bundeena or Maianbar was present when Mr Laurie Brereton, the then Minister for Ports, spoke.

Early in September 1986, the subject was discussed at a routine Quarterly Meeting of the Bundeena District Progress Association (of which I was Hon. Secretary at the time). "Concern was expressed" and Joan Holland (the President) asked for volunteers to form a sub-committee "to consider the ramifications"

For various reasons, the first get-together of the sub-committee was not until Thursday, 25 September, in Bob Spencer's house. I volunteered to take notes, and am looking at my pages of scribble as I write this. It starts with "Need for a Public Meeting ASAP" with "9/10" (i.e. 9th October) in brackets.

About 20 people were present, all with ideas in opposition to the project as announced. "Tombolo" equals "sand breakwater" or "dam" was the general view.

What should we call ourselves? "Port Hacking Action Committee" was quickly amended to "Port Hacking Protection Society". And so it went on. "Bob as spokesperson", myself as secretary, "Colleen Summers as Treasurer". Various people and organisations to be contacted. Etc, etc.

After that evening, it was weekly meetings. The public meeting was deferred from the 9th to the 16th October. I noted the main points made by thirty-eight speakers before the Motions began. All Motions vigorously opposing the Tombolo options were carried - usually with only one dissenter among the (roughly) 150 present.

The weekly meetings of PHPS continued right until Christmas. I suffered a coronary at the New year. Colleen Summers immediately took over as Secretary. (The next meeting at which I took any notes was not until 25th February 1987).

And so the resistance continued, increasingly and enthusiastically until the coalition government "saw the light" and acknowledged that dredging when and where necessary was the only way to go, some six months after they ousted the ALP in March 1988.

But victory did not lead to the disbandment of PHPS. On the contrary, we all maintained our positive attitude and determined to strive for the Port's improvement.

This we have successfully accomplished, gaining on the way the support of all who recognise Port Hacking as an area worthy of constant attention and (forgive cliche) "tender loving care".

The entire Hacking River now has a Catchment Management Committee (at State Government level) as well as the Planning and Advisory Committee at Council level.

Council passed a Port Hacking Management Plan, the far-reaching provision of which are gradually being implemented.

And the Protection Society itself is flourishing. Long may it do so!

Holsworthy Airport Plan

Neil de Nett - Bundeena

I would like to warn your readers about the monster about to be unleashed on the Sutherland Shire environment and residents.

The Federal Government is committed to building a second airport in the Sydney region and, be warned, Holsworthy is the preferred site.

From the Government's economic viewpoint it is the logical place. It is close to the CBD and Kingsford Smith Airport and the Government owns the land. Road and rail links already service that area and the site is three times larger than Badgery's Creek and there is an interest from private enterprises to construct the airport. The guidelines for the EIS indicate that the Badgery's Creek site is not large enough to comply with the air traffic movements (360,000 per year).

From the viewpoint of the environment, the place is illogical! It contains pristine native bushland, considered to be the best remaining example of its type. The flight paths will be over the Woronora dam catchment - a significant site capturing water for the Sydney population. Exhaust fumes and excess fuel will dump into the area. The flight path, with their attendant exhaust emissions will also be over the Heathcote, Royal National Park, and the Hacking - shattering an area of tranquillity close to Sydney, visiting grounds for many urban dwellers, refuge for already beleaguered fauna and flora!

The enormity of the "carefully concealed before the election" disaster has triggered the formation of dozens of protest groups. Among these are an alliance of conservation bodies from the Sydney area, local Members of Parliament, Councils and not least thousands of very angry residents.

The Federal Government has hinged its second airport for Sydney on the site at Holsworthy. If it fails here it will have lost out on an airport in the Sydney area. It will not give in easily.

The support of every resident and organisation will be needed to defeat this monstrous proposal.

Jibbon Beach

Jibbon Beach, located on the Southern Shores of Port Hacking is a popular recreational area for both residents of Bundeena (Jibbon is located at the eastern end of Bundeena but in the Royal National Park) and visitors to the Royal National Park. During summer, Sundays and public holidays, there may be six hundred visitors to the beach in a day. These visitors come by boat - it's not unusual to see 25 to 30 pleasure cruisers anchored of Jibbon Beach and about as many tinnies beached, or by car through the National Park, or by ferry (initially to Bundeena then walk to Jibbon).

Jibbon is a long (about a kilometre) curved beach sheltered from the sea by Port Hacking (or Jibbon) Point and backed by dunes. The sheltered and warm northerly aspect of the dunes has enabled them to support a littoral rainforest unique for the area with rainforest species. The Tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) and native morning glory (Ipomea palmata) are found here at their southern most limit.

However, all is not well at Jibbon Beach.
Many plants have escaped from gardens into the forest. In particular, asparagus fern has matted over the ground suffocating native species. Other weeds such as ground cell, mother of millions and lions tail have also staked a claim. In addition, the impact of visitors has further degraded the foredunes. Paths have been tracked into the dunes, killing plants that serve to stabilise the sand. And litter from the hundreds of visitors is a persistent problem.

The Bundeena District Progress Association has made a number of representations to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) regarding the adequate care and maintenance of Jibbon Beach. On sunny weekends residents endure visitors' cars parked on the sides of narrow streets, on lawns and in front of driveways. They also witness and help National Parks tidy masses of litter left by thoughtless picnickers both on the adjacent Bundeena streets and on Jibbon Beach itself. There are no toilet facilities on Jibbon Beach so visitors tend to use the littoral rainforest as their toilet. To a plea by the Progress Association for toilet facilities, NPWS responded by saying that if people on Jibbon Beach needed to use a toilet they could use the ones at Bonnie Vale (three kilometres away)! To date, neither Sutherland Shire Council (who are charged with caring for Bundeena public space) nor NPWS (who are charged with caring for Jibbon Beach) have been able to arrive at an affective solution for managing visitors' activities on Jibbon Beach.

In spite of all odds, people who love to care for Jibbon continue to clean it up and, for the past two years a band of dedicated volunteers, coordinated by NPWS staff, has been working at restoring the littoral forest. The spend a day a month removing asparagus fern and other weeds from the dune forest and planting seedlings propagated from seeds collected in the area. So far they have managed to clear two hundred metres of the one-kilometre tract of forest. It is a painstaking task with the constant need to carry out maintenance weeding as weed seeds propagate.

If you are able to spare half-a-day once a month, you could join the volunteers in helping to restore this important example of littoral forest. Contact Nathan Summer or Andrew Hordon at NPWS (02) 9542 0666.

Navigation Channel Maintenance

The latest round of dredging in Port Hacking started in November 1995 and was finished on 11 May this year. The dredging was conducted within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding for navigation, initiated by the PHPS and developed by the Sutherland Shire Council's "Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee". The total volume of sand extracted was over 65,000 m3. The dredging contractor faced a number of difficulties during the dredging work. Southerly winds, summer storms, wave action, fast currents, rain and pump lines cut by boats were the major problems.

Clearing the channels was welcomed by many in boating community. Cronulla National Park Ferry Cruises is one happy beneficiary of the operation. For the first time in four years, cruises can run to a timetable.

However, even while channels were being dredged, they began to in-fill - especially at Burraneer Point-Bar at West End, Gunnamatta Bay and Burraneer Bay. The Burraneer Point channel was dredged to a depth of 2.5 metres but is now only 1.2 metres. The process of infilling was always anticipated, though the rate was perhaps unexpected.

13,800 cubic metres (completed)
5,880 cubic metres (completed)
26,670 cubic metres (completed)
6,900 cubic metres (completed)
Disposal area
Dredging deleted
Total 11,510 cubic metres (completed)
Disposal area
Sutherland Shire Council estimates that further dredging work will need to be carried out in eighteen months to two years. The NSW State Government has allocated $200,000 to the works in the 1996-97 budget if further work is needed.

The EPA require that before further dredging work can be carried out, the Department of Land and Water Conservation (who is in charge of the dredging program) must conduct an investigation into spoil disposal options. In the just completed round of dredging, sand was disposed of in deep areas in Burraneer Bay and near Lilli Pilli. The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) is concerned that there is not sufficient information about the ecological function of deep holes in Port Hacking and how dumping of sand into these holes might effect their function.. The Department of Land and Water Conservation commissioned consultants to advise on a number of options.

The options included use of sand for beach nourishment, recovery of dredged sands for commercial processing and any other options. The consultants delivered an initial report on the viability of the various options in April 1996. They concluding that disposal to prograding delta fronts (that is, the part of the delta opposite to the direction of tide and wave movements from the sea) and on Deeban Spit were the most feasible strategies.
The consultants analysis of how sand is being moved in the Port is not consistent with the opinions of others experts. All experts agree that it is existing sand that is moving, and creating navigation difficulties (not siltation), and that Port Hacking is naturally a shoaled waterway unsuited for deep keeled vessel use. But the question is "what sand is moving?" Significant decisions about what to do turn on the answer to this question.

Dredging of Port hacking started in 1881. The first dredging round involved keeping open the ferry route to Audley. shellgrit mining in the 1930s and 40s led to the dumping of many tons of shellgrit spoils into the waterway around Deeban Spit. Subsequently, dredging was carried out to clear the main channel from the entrance upstream to Lilli Pilli, opening Gunnamatta Bay, maintaining the channels between Lilli Pilli and Gunnamatta Bay, and keeping open the Maianbar and Simpsons Bay wharves. Since the mid 1970s, there have been nine rounds of dredging in the Port. Most of the dredging has taken place within the entrance to Gunnamatta Bay and in the channel off Burraneer Point although the areas between Gogerlys Point and Lilli Pilli Point has also been consistently dredged. Each time, about 60,000 to 90,000 m3 of sand has been removed from the channels.
Professor Albani has made a long term study of the Port sediments, and is an international expert. His view is unambiguous. His view is that the sand moving in the Port is sand that has been locally displaced, such as the spoil of shell grit mining in the 1930's and 1940's and previous dredging exercises. The spoil forms at times man-induced sand bodies which are reworked by natural processes. The rest of the system is stable - in a near-equilibrium state. Work by PWD confirmed that sand was not entering the Port from Bate Bay.

Under this view, dredging should be directed towards a "pseudo-final" solution. That is, the quantities as well as the areas should be considered in the proper time-sequence to avoid further sand movement and thus need for re-dredging. At the moment, only the "navigation channels' are considered, and these are only a part of a solution for water - directed towards continued access to deeper keeled vessels.

PHPS has another major concern regarding the discussion on future dredging. Sutherland Shire Council and Public Works have both quoted the Memorandum of Understanding (discussed in Protectorate Nos 10 and 11) as the underpinning for dredging. However, the emphasis has been on only one of the three major categories of agreement in the Memorandum: the navigation channels.

Funding for dredging was given on the basis of community consensus about long-term viability. In the development of the Memorandum all parties agreed that the management of these issues was essential to the long term viability of boating activities. A failure to implement fully carries the risk that future funding will be prejudiced because the consensus on which funding has been provided will be destroyed.

Pesticides in Dent Creek

On the 13 August 1996, a resident in North West Arm Road notified the EPA of an eel kill in Dents Creek Gymea. Dents Creek starts at President Avenue on the eastern side of North West Arm Road and flows south to Saville Creek and then into North West Arm and Port Hacking. The creek is fed by a series of drains and open channels extending up to Flora Street, Kirrawee industrial area and to the Waratah Street/Bath Road industrial area.

When the Sutherland Shire Council Health Officer carried out an initial investigation, he found twenty dead eels in a four hundred metre section of the creek. Tests of water samples showed that it contained pollutants toxic to the aquatic environment. Because there was a possibility that the pollutant could be hazardous to residents, the Council erected signs to warn people of the danger. The Council also prepared and distributed a leaflet to residents within a two block radius from the area of the creek above Avenel Road.

The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) dammed off the Creek at Avenel Road and Forest Road bridges. A creek entering Dents Creek was also damned to stop inflow of uncontaminated water. The water between these two bridges was pumped out into large waste tankers and disposed of at an aqueous waste disposal centre. Mains water was used to flush the creek below the bridges. The clean up cost $30,000 to $40,000, not to mention the involvement of EPA staff and Council staff and equipment.

Five and a half days passed from notification of the incident to completion of the cleanup operation with most of the clean-up operations and warnings to the public occurring on the last two days after water sample results showed evidence of toxicity. During this time rumours ran rife about the possible nature of the pollutant with some residents panicked by information that significant quantities of cyanide had been dumped into the Creek.

The pollutant was most likely dumped and the EPA found it to be a mix of two commonly used insecticides (organo phosphares called Diazinon and Ethel Chlorpyrifos). Certainly these pesticides were found in the gills of the dead eels found in Dent's Creek. Traces of these pesticides were also found at the end of a storm water drain that sources from several drains near Prince's highway and run roughly east under Avery Avenue and President Avenue in Kirrawee to Dents Creek.

The Hacking River Catchment Management Committee Chairman, Mr Peters Wells said "The spill was at best a careless and stupid act and at worst a wilful and criminal act. Kids and their parents may now think twice about using the creek as a recreation area which is a very sad thing."

Sutherland Shire Council is now looking at ways of increasing community awareness of the urgent need for reporting pollution sightings. Pollution prevention is also being emphasised as part of the environmental audit and food premises inspection programs.

Pollution in Gunnamatta Bay

Pollution sources in Gunnamatta Bay has been an ongoing concern of many groups around the Port and of the Sutherland Shire Council, EPA, Waterways Authority and Sydney Water.

Water Quality monitoring programs conducted by several groups (Sutherland Shire Council, Sydney Water, Stream Watch, Harbourwatch) show that the main sources of pollution are:
  • Sewerage pollution origninating in the area extending west to Green Street, north along Flinders Street and east to Croyden Street and also in the area extending to Gerrale Street. The sewerage makes its way through stormwater drains into Gunnamatta Bay. Sydney Water has started a program to investigate for illegal sewerage connections.

  • Litter entering from stornmwater drains, off vessels, and blown in from surrounding parks. This continues to be a problem despite installation of Gross Pollutant Traps by Council and efforts to encourage people not to litter. Littering incurs a fine of $200-$1500 but is difficult to police.

  • Discharge from vessels. The Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee has been discussing options to encourage boat users to comply with the Clean Waters Act which prohibits the discharge of effluent into the waterway. One of the options is to instate a policy of introducing holding tanks and porta loos on boats so that current legislation is more effective. Another option is to provide a pump-out infrastructure.

In his report to Council, the Sutherland Shire Council's Director of Environmental Services noted "Maintaining and improving water quality is vital to the eocnomic growth of our Shire which is so dependent on its reputation for beautiful waterways. Any environmental sacrifices made may result in short-term financial gain, but will be to the medium and long-term detriment of the Shire".

Yowie Bay

In September 1994, a Yowie Bay Estuary Management Committee was set up by Sutherland Shire Council for the purpose of preparing a management plan for the bay. The plan is intended to define action that can be taken by Council, Government agencies and the community to ensure a balance between development and conservation that meets the needs of present and future generations.

As a first step, the Committee Commissioned an Estuary Processes Study. This was tabled on the 26 March 1996. Its major findings were that:
  • The majority of total sediment volume of the deltas, at the heads of Yowie Bay, was deposited prior to European settlement. It is a thick, silty shelly layer comprising intact estuarine shells formed over the last 6000 years and overlies what is believed to be Pleistocene silty sand deposits.

  • Since European settlement, catchment clearing has caused sandy sediments to be washed off the catchment, resulting in the shoaling of the surface of the deltas by approximately 1 metre. The top .5 or .8 metres of the sandy sediments is associated with urbanisation over the past 50 years. Only this top layer of sediment would be useful for fill if the Bay was dredged.

  • The distal edges of the deltas prograded approximately 20 metres during the main period of catchment urbanisation (between 1950 and 1965) and have been relatively constant since. There has, however, apparently been a build up of sediment along the shore lines affecting jetties and pontoons. o Because of the relatively lower sediment supply from the catchment, low flow channels which flow across the deltas are cutting into the delta surface and Ewey Creek delta has developed a pavement surface

  • Generally, the water quality in Yowie Bay is good. The good water quality stems from good tidal flushing (100% per day), ensuring waters are well mixed with the Port Hacking estuary. Only Camellia Gardens Creek is high in nutrients and bacteria. That creek probably requires a water quality management plan.

  • The sandflats of both Ewey Creek and Camellia Gardens deltas have substantial biomass with the Ewey Creek delta the richer of the two. They provide significant feeding/foraging habitats for marine birds. Extensive dredging of these sandflats is undesirable although some maintenance dredging on the shingle and gravel surfaces may help promote the growth of seagrass and provide small boat access at low time for some foreshore properties.

  • The only area of significant native, terrestrial vegetation, at the head of the Bay, is the dry sclerophyll scrub on the eastern foreshore of Camellia Creek Bay. The habitat value of this area would be enhanced by understorey weed removal along foreshore areas.

  • There is no evidence of foreshore erosion in Yowie Bay. Shoaling of the Bay and poor visual water quality during storm events is not the result of any particular development within the catchment but rather it is due to catchment-wide development.

Generally the water quality of Yowie Bay is good, the sandflats provide significant feeding/foraging habitats for marine birds, and there is no evidence of foreshore erosion
Based on the findings of that study, the Committee is now working towards an Estuary Management Study and Plan for Yowie Bay that:
  • identifies and describes likely future development pressures confronting Yowie Bay and its catchment;

  • identifies management objectives and options which address existing adverse impact, limit future impacts and seek to balance competing community demands for usage, conservation and enhancement of the waterway and catchment;

  • identifies specific management activities including planning and development controls, as well as, where appropriate, a program of remedial works and measures that may be implemented by Sutherland Shire Council.

(Source: SSC Minutes and Yowie Bay Estuary Processes Study, Patterson Britton & Partners Pty Ltd)

The Upper Catchment

The Pollution Source Inventory, prepared for the Hacking River Catchment Management Committee, identified a number of pollutants entering streams and rivers that run from the upper catchment areas of Stanwell Tops, Otford and Helensburgh through the Royal National Park and into Port Hacking.

Some of the problems the study identified are:
  • High faecal coliform levels arising from both human sources and animal concentrations. In some areas there were high levels of streptococci.

  • Higher than acceptable levels of ammonia, and total phosphorous, most likely to arise from over stocking and poor management of rural properties draining to the catchment.

  • High levels of various other contaminants including high grease and oil, zinc, copper and lead concentrations.

  • Litter and weed incursions into the National Park.

  • Sediment into the river system, arising from poor land management and some industrial uses (including the Helensburgh Colliery)

Studies described in the Pollution Source Inventory have also shown reduced numbers and species of life in the creeks. This is not surprising once the range and extent of pollutants had been identified.
On Saturday 3rd August, some of the members of the Hacking River Catchment Management Committee toured upper catchment areas. They were able to observe pollutant sources and effects of pollution. The aim of the tour was also to see where progress is being achieved to redress problems and to consider what the Catchement Management Committee might be able to do to help.

Positive signs

There were positive signs of progress in rectifying past problems. The Helensburgh Colliery has embarked on a major program of works to improve stormwater detention and reduce runoff into the Hacking Catchment. The management of the colliery showed a genuine interest in protecting the waterway and discussed other improvements the mine and put in place. Upgrade of drainage on the Helensburgh tip. This work should provide welcome improvements.

Private land use

There are still many areas requiring work. Many of these need to be tackled through improved management practices by private landowners. A number of the problems identified in the Inventory arise from livestock being farmed within the catchment. Better control of animals close to the catchment (notably pigs and horses), and improved controls of effluent runoff, would do a great deal to improve water quality, at relatively little cost.

There are areas of past industrial use (notably sand mining) which urgently require remedial work, and weed invasion into the waterway (which spreads down through the National Park( is a growing problem. These problems will require expenditure, and may take longer to bring under control.

Irresponsible behaviour

The most galling set of problems are simply the result of irresponsible behaviour. These include unlawful dumping of rubbish, horse riding in the Park or in sensitive catchment areas, and poor animal control. Better enforcement, coupled with better education, will hopefully, provide a basis for a more responsible approach to this important waterway.


Real progress is being made in other areas. The major challenge still remains to create a community sense of responsibility for the well being of the waterway, so that everyone takes that little bit of extra care in what they do around the catchment.

Prioritising action

The Catchment Management Committee has prioritised the problems, and developed a set of plans to address these in priority order. This will take quite some time, because of the diffuse nature of the problems.

There is a lot individuals can do. Landowners in the Upper Hacking are in the best position to ensure that they are not adding to the problems. Faecal matter should not leave the property on which animals are housed. Inspect your own property for potential problems. Fences should prevent animals leaving the property. Weeds should be controlled as soon as they appear. Nothing should be dumped into a gully, creek bed, or other part of the catchment.

There are also groups that you can join which are working hard to improve the situation throughout the catchment.

Problems of the catchment can and will be corrected with just a little effort from all of us.
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