The creatures and features of Lane Cove National Park
By ALEC SMART
It's beautiful, scenic, wild and glorious - and it's definitely worth a visit.
Lane Cove National Park is a 372-hectare national park situated about 10 kilometres north-west of Sydney CBD, which follows the Lane Cove River through Macquarie Park (west side) and West Lindfield (east side) north to Pennant Hills and Wahroonga, and south to Sugarloaf Point (at the mouth of Buffalo Creek).
The park encompasses a multitude of scenic, forested walking tracks, many of them following the course of the river. These pass through several picnic areas with gas barbecues, furniture, toilets and vehicle parking.
Wildlife seen regularly throughout the park include bandicoots, echidnas, swamp wallabies, goannas, squirrel gliders, legless lizards, Daniel’s pythons, black snakes, ringtail and brushtail possums. Birdlife includes boobooks, frogmouths, powerful owls, Azure kingfishers, honeyeaters, goshawks cuckoo doves, black cockatoos, and the ubiquitous brush turkeys.
Lane Cove River is divided by a weir about ¾ of the way from its mouth near its source, effectively separating the fresh water running downstream from the tidal saltwater coming up from the Parramatta River. It was constructed in 1938 to create a safe fresh water swimming and boating lake in what was then (and for the next half century) a very popular picnic area.
However, the weir, popular among congregating ducks and wide enough to walk and cycle over, can be slippery to cross during rainy weather, when occasionally it is submerged by surging stormwaters. The upper fresh water side, a catchment pool for drains flowing from new housing developments and industrial estates upstream, is now contaminated with run-off pollution. National Parks and Wildlife Service advise against swimming.
Adjacent to the weir is a curious series of what at first appear to be small stepping stones. In fact it’s a fish ladder, installed after negotiations between local govt departments and catchment management committees. The weir is a dam that halts movement of native fish up and downstream, but a fish ladder circumvents this problem.
According to Lee de Gail, former National Parks & Wildlife Service ranger, “The fishway provides the necessary link between salt and fresh water to enable native migratory fish to complete their lifecycle. It is a rock ramp structure that is built into the existing weir. It contains a number of small weirs that allow native fish to work their way back upstream around the existing weir on the river.
“Unlike Northern Hemisphere fish such as salmon that can leap tall waterfalls with a single leap, our natives are rather lazy and prefer to flip-flop their way up creeks and streams. The Lane Cove River fishway is designed to allow for this type of behaviour, providing plenty of pools along the way so the fish can catch their breath. Now they only need to escape the watchful eye of the white faced heron that has installed himself in the fishway.”
When this reporter visited the weir a clever white heron (aka a great egret) had indeed perched itself atop the ladder and was poised still and watchful as it awaited arrival of its dinner.
For more information, visit: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/lane-cove-national-park/visitor-info
Friends of Lane Cove National Park: http://www.friendsoflanecovenationalpark.org.au
A vehicle entrance fee is charged upon entry to the park.