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Mittagong Creek Rehabilitation Project

Mittagong Creek Rehabilitation Project

The Mittagong Creek Rehabilitation Project is a long-term plan to rehabilitate one of the most significant and treasured waterways in the Southern Highlands.

The project is guided by the Mittagong Creek Riparian Management Plan and funded principally through Council's Environment Levy and project partners including South-East Local Land Services.

pdfMittagong Creek Rehabilitation brochure (PDF, 3Mb)

linkCompleted works

Mittagong Creek

Where is Mittagong Creek?

Mittagong Creek is a natural watercourse beginning its journey near Mansfield Reserve - a pristine pocket of native bushland at East Bowral. From here, the creek meanders for almost twelve kilometres, through a diverse landscape of rural properties, parks, bushland reserves, private backyards, industrial areas and the Bowral commercial district, before finally flowing into the Wingecarribee River at Burradoo.


What's so Special about the Creek?

The creek and its beautiful parks, walkways, bushland reserves, Memorial Cherry Tree Walk, plants and animals, are all treasured community assets, contributing substantially to the beauty, character and charm of Bowral, and reflecting the tranquil surroundings and connection to nature experienced by local residents and visitors to the Southern Highlands.

Mittagong Creek is also an important part of the Sydney Water Catchment, with much of the water flowing down the creek eventually finding its way to Warragamba Dam, supplying drinking water to over 4.5 million people in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Mittagong Creek Bridge

A place for recreation, relaxation & reflection: the pedestrian bridge alongside the War Memorial.

What are the Plans for the Creek?

The rehabilitation of the creek is guided by the Mittagong Creek Riparian Management Plan which was developed throughout 2011 & 2012 following an extensive period of community consultation.

The plan is a guide of best practice riparian management, supporting local residents, families, Council, recreational users, farmers, tourists, business owners, and ultimately all who live and work in the Sydney Catchment area.

Given the creek’s importance and significance to Bowral, the plan recognises that people connect with the creek in many different ways, and that we all benefit in improving the health and amenity of the watercourse.

Key issues outlined in the plan include weed management, rural farming practices, urban & industrial land uses, bank stability and sediment loading. Together, these issues create complex challenges requiring a range of differing and unique design and management responses.

Further details of the plan (including maps, drawings, recommended plant species and in-stream structures) can be downloaded here:

linkMittagong Creek Riparian Management Plan (PDF, 2.8MB)
linkMasterplan Section 1  (PDF, 3.5MB)
linkMasterplan Section 2  (PDF, 3.5MB)

What Work can I Expect to See?

The Mittagong Creek Riparian Management Plan outlines a series of recommended priority actions to be undertaken over the next 10+ years.

Some of the initial projects identified in the overall rehabilitation of the creek include:

  • Rehabilitation of the riparian zone on both public and private residential land between Bowral St & Shepherd St (2015-2017)
  • Mapping and removal of problem willow species (2015-2016)
  • Rehabilitation of the riparian zone on Council land between Old South Road and Bowral Street (2015-17)
  • Removal of woody weeds and rehabilitation of the riparian zone adjacent to Sherwood Avenue and Sherwood Village business park (western side of the railway line)

River health and wetlands are a priority area identified for support through Council’s Environment Levy. Additional funding for work will be sourced through grants & partnerships with other agencies.

Further project sites will be guided by priorities outlined in the plan and strategic identification of key locations.

Internal link  Completed Works - Mittagong Creek

Mittagong Creek Erosion

Evidence of severe bank erosion caused by cattle. Fencing-off the creek on grazing properties will help improve bank stability and reduce weed impacts.

Plants & Animals

The creek is home to a wide range of plants and animals, although the pressures of urban development have had a detrimental effect over the years, particularly on aquatic life. Weeds are also a major concern, with both noxious and environmental weeds being an ongoing issue.

At the same time, BirdLife Southern Highlands have been surveying the creek’s diverse birdlife for over ten years (see survey results below), and have also undertaken the first known amphibian study of the creek. These studies indicate the presence of many bird and frog species, including a significant population of Latham's Snipe, an internationally protected migratory bird that flies each year from Japan to the east coast of Australia.

The creek habitat also supports numerous turtles, yabbies and other aquatic life.

Mittagong Creek Bird Survey Results

June 2014 Bird Survey Report.pdf

Dec 2015 Bird Survey Report.pdf

June 2015 Bird Survey Report.pdf

Dec 2015 Bird Survey Report.pdf

June 2016 Bird Survey Report.pdf

Mansfield Reserve

A fabulous place for a bushwalk, Mansfield Reserve is a relatively unknown gem in Council’s bushland reserve system. It is also where Mittagong Creek begins, and provides a glimpse into how the creek may have looked prior to development and clearing. A walk along the creek reveals beautiful tree ferns, paperbarks and native grasses clinging to the bank of the creek. This pristine pocket of Australian bushland is open daily, and can be accessed via Mansfield Road, East Bowral.

The remnant vegetation of Mansfield Reserve comprises Southern Highlands Shale Woodland, Mt Gibraltar Forest and Robertson Basalt Tall Open Forest, all Endangered Ecological Communities under the Threatened Species Conservation Act (NSW). 

An information sheet on Mansfield Reserve and its flora and fauna can be downloaded here: Welcome to Mansfield Reserve (PDF 270 Kb).

A Mansfield Reserve Bushcare Group formed in November 2016 and undertakes working bees on the 4th Wednesday of each month. For details see: 

  Wingecarribee Bushcare Program

Mansfield Reserve

Mittagong Creek starts its journey at Mansfield Reserve - and a great spot for bushwalking and bird spotting!

Friends of Mittagong Creek

The long-term success of the Mittagong Creek Rehabilitation Project depends on strong community support and the commitment of local residents, particularly those who live along the creek or use it’s recreational spaces regularly.

Local residents keen to see the creek restored back to health are encouraged to become part of the Friends of Mittagong Creek, a small group of friendly volunteers who are assisting Council and other local residents with on-the-ground projects. 



What a difference! The local community was instrumental in revegetating the Mittagong Creek tributary at Centennial Park. What was once a weed infested drain is now a haven for local birds and wildlife.

PDF logoFinal Report HN 9140 (PDF, 1.9MB)

Friends of Mittagong Creek Rivercare Group

The Friends of Mittagong Creek Rivercare Group are a small group of volunteers assisting in the Mittagong Creek Rehabilitation Project, supported by Council's Bushcare team. The group's work is primarily concerned with controlling weeds along a 500 metre stretch of the waterway behind Sherwood Village in Bowral.

If you are able-bodied and keen to get involved, meet some like-minded people, and do something practical for your local environment, we would love to see you there! 

Date: Every second Thursday of the month
Time:  9am – midday
Location: Sherwood Avenue, Bowral (meet near the Scout Hall)

Volunteers should wear long pants and sleeves, sturdy enclosed shoes, a hat and gloves and must be aged at least 10 years. Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For more information contact Council on 4868 0888 or visit www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/MittagongCreek

Friends of Mittagong Creek Rivercare Group

The Friends of Mittagong Creek Rivercare Group are supported by Council's Bushcare team.

Frensham Students 

An ongoing partnership between Council and Frensham has seen the students from Year 8 to Year 11 undertake a major planting activity every December, and Mittagong Creek has been the focus for three years.

In 2015-16 the Frensham students demonstrated what can be achieved with 'girl power' when they planted 6,000 native sedges, rushes and clumping grasses on Mittagong Creek adjacent to Bowral Street. 

This area has been identified as significant waterbird habitat, including for the internationally protected migratory bird Latham's Snipe, and this revegetation work will enhance the habitat values for them as well as helping stabilise the creek banks and improving water quality.

 Photo Galley of Frensham 2016 planting (PDF 4.8 Mb )  pdf icon

  Profile of Frensham 2015 planting at Mittagong Creek  (PDF 3.3 Mb)

Frensham students

'Girl Power' - Frensham students planting at Mittagong Creek in December 2015

Frensham 2016 and National Tree Day 2016 Sites

Trialling a new approach

These former paddocks are being regenerated as native grassland and wetland habitat for water birds and other animals. The majority of weeds at the site are annual or biennial grasses or forbs and are not particularly troublesome as long as their populations are kept low. These types of weeds are nearly impossible to completely remove because they can germinate, develop and set seed quickly and the soil already harbours large numbers of their seeds. The best way to keep their populations low is through having a dense groundcover of native plants.

We are currently trialling different methods at the site to assist with the gradual and sustainable reintroduction of a vigorous and diverse native groundcover community. Through the use of survey plots, we are determining:

  • the level of natural regeneration occurring now that threats to the site such as grazing have been removed; 
  • which native species are more capable of successfully competing with the exotic grasses;
  • whether the use of plant guards increases the vigour and success of plantings as compared with no guards and using the Paspalum as protection from the elements;
  • the extent of initial weed spraying required to assist the native planting out-compete the exotic grasses.

Whilst we help the site regenerate we are taking care to ensure that the soil is not left bare and open to erosion or colonisation with more serious weeds. 

Waterwatch Program

Council's Waterwatch program monitors the health of several key urban waterways, including Mittagong Creek in Bowral.

Water quality monitoring is a great way to keep an eye on the health of a particular catchment. Conducted regularly and consistently, water quality tests can highlight trends through time and indicate when something is not right and requires further investigation.

The parameters currently being tested include temperature, pH, electrical conductivity (salinity), turbidity and dissolved oxygen.

pdfWaterwatch Fact Sheet & Results for Mittagong Creek  (PDF)

Last Updated: October 17th, 2019
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