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Return of the Mermaids Fix Up Project

On Saturday 24th March, Ian Kiernan AO, founder and Chairman of Clean Up Australia, joined volunteers and a team from Eco-Divers to create a human chain to help remove accumulated sediment, silt and rubbish from in and around the Mermaid Pool. Below is a video from the day.

The project to restore Mermaid Pool on Manly Creek at Manly Vale began after Clean Up Australia Day 2002, when 71 volunteers removed more than four tonnes of rubbish from the site. Since then weekend working parties have continued to collect decades of rubbish, remove weeds and plant more than 2000 native saplings.Water quality has been restored through concerted lobbying for fixing of storm-water run-off - and as a result the pool is now back to its original condition.

This achievement is a showpiece of regeneration that has won awards and been featured for three consecutive years in the annual international Earth Day campaign.

The Mermaid Pool fix up project is a winner of the People's Choice Award for the 2011 NSW Landcare Awards and is a winner of the 2011 SMCMA Community Group Environment Award.

How to get involved

Join the group of volunteers to be a part of the project.

When? - Fourth Saturday of every month
- Between 9am and 1pm
Where? - Mermaid’s Pool on Manly Creek at Manly Vale, located 300 metres below Manly Dam wall and is in the Manly Lagoon catchment.
What to bring?
- Water, sunscreen and a hat. Volunteers are provided with tools

For more information about Return of the Mermaids please contact Malcolm Fisher at cowfish5@bigpond.com

Visit their website Or follow their progress via their blog

The History of the Pool

The Pool was formerly a pristine swimming area with a sandy beach and sparkling waterfall, surrounded by diverse bushland and rainforest.
This site has a long history in the community - Indigenous people believed creator spirits resided in water holes and Australian’s earliest white settlers discovered fabulous birds on this site.

It was known as Mermaid Pool because girls from a nearby shantytown during the 1930s Depression would swim naked there in the evenings.

The Damage to the Pool

Poor catchment management, illegal dumping and urban development meant that over the years the pool became a dumping ground, its sparkling waters polluted and the nearby creek, which once abounded with freshwater mussels, was clogged by invasive, noxious weeds.

The depth and width of the water in the pool was reduced to half of what it once was. Urban runoff had caused a vast decline in water quality, with the pool registering high faecal coliform levels in water tests. Adjoining bush land was overrun by a host of exotic invasive weeds many of them garden escapees.

The Objective of the Return of the Mermaids Project

The “Return of the Mermaids” project aims to rehabilitate Mermaid Pool and as much as possible return this riverine environment to its former glory as an environmental asset for the community.

Clean Up Australia Day 2002

Clean Up Australia Day 2002 saw 71 volunteers remove 4 tonnes of rubbish from the site, including a bath, parts of a VW Combi, a washing machine and a stove.  After the day, residents approached Clean Up Australia to be included in the national Fix Up Program and Chairman Ian Kiernan AO paid a visit to the site.

Impressed with local enthusiasm for the project, Clean Up Australia has included the project in its national 'Fix Up' program providing networking and promotional support.

Since then the ‘Return of the Mermaids’ community group applied for and received two Natural Heritage Trust grants amounting to approximately $50,000.  This money has been spent to educate the public about dumping in bush land areas, the importance of planting natives and to be aware of garden plants that become bush land weeds as well as on professional bush regeneration contractors.

Community Engagement

Drain stenciling has been carried out to encourage residents not to allow rubbish and leaves to enter the stormwater system. The messages include ‘Protect your Mermaid Pool’, ‘Your local waterway starts here’ and ‘No rubbish, no leaves, just rain’. This initiative will be expanded to include streets in the wider catchment area.

The rehabilitation efforts will involve weed removal and bush regeneration as well as a comprehensive community education program, both intrinsic to water quality and overall environmental improvement.

Regular volunteer events are held to get the community involved in bush regeneration and rubbish removal.

Community Support

Community members have worked hard to accomplish a great deal at Mermaid Pool.

The size of the pool has been greatly increased since the removal of large quantities of noxious waterweed. Rubbish is collected on an ongoing basis.

Even local organisations have donated their services to the project. Eso Surveyors provided survey plans, Northern Beaches Envirolink donated funds for signage, North Balgowlah Earth Moving trucked in sandstone as a planting medium, Ground Force Management supplied landscaping machinery, Just Chip Tree contractors removed Coral Trees, Fishing Tackle shop Fish Outa Water provided waders, Northside Water provided fresh drinking water, Sydney Wildlife provided wildlife advice and rescue, Corrective Services Parrammatta Gaol bused ‘weekend detainees’ to the site every weekend for a number of years to remove invasive weed from the creekline, many university students have carried out research projects and school students have helped achieve their Duke of Edinburgh Award on Site.

Conservation Volunteers Australia are now sending their volunteers to work along Manly Creek, Oz Green have given their assistance and companies such as Roche have sent staff members to volunteer.

Government Support

Warringah Council and Mayor Michael Reagan have supported the community in overseeing ‘Friends of the Bush’ as well as commissioning a plan of management for the site that covers an area from Manly Dam wall to 50 meters below the Mermaid Pool. The community now has a regular representative on the Manly Lagoon Catchment Coordination Committee. Mike Baird, State MP for Manly and Councilor Jean Hay, Mayor of Manly, have also both shown their support for the project.

The Natural Heritage Trust has granted repeated funding to the Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee for work on the rehabilitation project.

Wildlife at the Pool

Volunteers have been encouraged and rewarded in seeing some diverse wildlife whilst working at Mermaid Pool and surrounding bushland.

As well as the magnificent water dragons that patrol the area, we have seen long necked turtles, green tree frogs and diamond pythons.

On one occasion a massive lace monitor was seen near the upper reaches of Manly Creek. Especially satisfying is the evidence of bandicoots which were once common in the locality but haven't been around for approximately 40 years. The birdlife can be quite spectacular at Mermaid Pool and azure kingfishers, fairy wrens, firetail finches and pardalotes are just some of the species spotted. Some people say that the native fish (such as jolly tails) which have been migrating up Manly Creek and spawning at Mermaid Pool for around 6o million years are the real Mermaids!