A Brief History

There was a time when Curl Curl Lagoon was a pristine waterway with a sandy bottom, clean beaches, large fish and a healthy natural environment. It would flush to the ocean from time to time but never completely empty. The openings were natural, too, not caused by locals with spades!

Surprisingly, that was only about fifty years ago. In a few short decades of urban development, we humans managed to poison the water, destroy the surrounding vegetation and habitats and silt up the stream.

Because, the lagoon area was a garbage tip!

The final insult came in the late 1970s when there were proposals ranging from filling in the whole creek and running it through pipes – to piping in sea water to flush the lagoon sludge out onto the beach. And so was born the Curl Curl Lagoon Committee… To put some reality back into the situation, on the 15th July 1980, at the North Curl Curl Surf Club, a committed group of citizens formed the Curl Curl Lagoon Committee.

At that first meeting, David James, an environmental consultant to Warringah Council, stressed the need to protect the few natural environments still existing in the area. He urged the new committee to adopt a constuctive, well-informed approach to gaining the respect of Council and Government and pressing for improvements to the health of the lagoon and the surrounding environment.

They set about the rehabilitation of the lagoon… Throughout the years the committee has initiated and sponsored many projects and events – all with the singular aim of improving Curl Curl Lagoon, the beach, the sand dunes and John Fisher Park. Imagination was the name of the game – who can forget the great “Clean-a-goon” campaign?

Protecting native flora and fauna by providing or preserving natural habitats has been a major part of the committee’s work. This has involved plantings of native trees and other plants that used to grow here naturally – as well as a biodiversity of wetland species for stormwater treatment.

Between Harbord Road and the beach, there are an amazing thirty-six places where water enters the lagoon system – the creek itself plus lots of stormwater drains. Through mini-wetlands, gross pollutant traps and bush regeneration, the committee and the Council have always worked together to clean up this water – meeting challenge after challenge.

The committee also recognises the role of children and young people as the environmentalists of the future and has contibuted widely to educational programmes.

Of course, the biggest project is one that is still going on – the Curl Curl Lagoon rehabilitation project. This is a four staged program me of works which started with the Gross Pollutant Trap at Harbord Road (to stop silt and things like plastic bags from getting into the creek) and continued with the fantastic works on Greendale Creek during 1998 and 1999.

This whole project is a tribute to what a dedicated community and an imaginative Council can achieve when they work together.

There have always been battles to fight There have been inevitable fights – especially when a very significant part of the area is John Fisher Park – which is used for both sporting and recreational purposes. From time to time one body or another starts to demand dedicated facilities, more carparking, fences or larger buildings despite all commonsense evidence pointing to them not being in the interests of the area and the environment.

Of course, there have been major victories – like acceptance of the Rehabilitation plan, the fun of having the community get together to plant trees and enjoy our fantastic asset and the satisfaction of seeing more and more community members joining the group and becoming stronger – standing up for their rights and making their views heard. It’s the people who do it Over the last twenty years, dozens of dedicated people have served on the Curl Curl Lagoon committee. They’ve always been backed up by hundreds more who help by joining the planting days, helping the “Regenerates” – our bush regenerators – or just by paying their membership fees.

The contributions by Warringah Council and local businesses are always significant and fantastic – but so much of the hard-slog work of looking after the lagoon and the area around it is done by volunteers who head out in all weather to dig and plant and chat and prune and pull weeds.

Then we became friends… In 1998, the Curl Curl Lagoon Committee became the Curl Curl Lagoon Friends Incorporated – to better reflect the reason for its existence and to recognise its important role in a more formal structure.

In 2000,  that Stage 3 of the Curl Curl Lagoon and Greendale Creek Rehabilitation project took place. This stage saw the cleaning up of the bed and banks of the creek up to the point where it meets the lagoon. The bridge at Park Street was built over the lagoon and the rock weir was built to make sure that even when the lagoon is empty, the creek won’t be.

Initially Stage 4 was the next big challenge but the benefits of dredging proved to be contentious. Initially Council spent over $1 million in studying and implementing the Rehabilitation Plan. As part of the plan, more than a dozen reports were done to study the Lagoon and at the time the majority favoured targeted dredging in the main body of water. They concluded dredging would provide ecological, economic, water quality and aesthetic benefits.

However over the years, further research commissioned by Warringah Council concluded that dredging would not produce the benefits initially foreshadowed.

Our focus continues to be on improving the water quality by reducing the amount of run off and waste entering the lagoon and the placement of oyster balls in parts of the lagoon to trial them as an effective filtering system.

Curl Curl Lagoon Friends look forward to continuing to maintain the the focus clearly on making Curl Curl Lagoon, Curl Curl Beach, John Fisher Park and the surrounding area places that will always be huge assets for Warringah – and in fact the world environment.

“Treat the earth well – it was not given to you by your parents. It was lent to you by your children” –  Native American Saying