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.
People 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.
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.