The tale of The Mermaid Pool and what happened there 20 years ago has kicked off an amazing legacy of looking after our beautiful bushland that’s still going strong today, thanks to the Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee. They’ve kindly allowed us to share the story…

Imagine a guy walking his dog through the back streets of Manly Vale. Every day he saw shopping trolleys dumped in the local creek (which he didn’t realise was once the beautiful Mermaid Pool) and thought to himself angrily “someone should do something about that….” He finally realised that he was the someone in question!

I’m not sure if they’ve forgiven him yet, but he eventually convinced other local residents to join him! *

Andrew and Wol removing discarded graffiti spray cans from Manly Creek.


Ah it seemed so easy then, just yank a few trolleys out of the water and we can all go back to football and beer. Trouble is, the closer you looked, the more garbage there was. The beautiful oasis that once was Mermaid Pool had literally become a rubbish dump over recent years and what should have been spectacular remnant bushland was now also clogged with invasive weeds such as morning glory and privet.

What were we getting ourselves into?

Ken removes dumped rubbish from the bush


Many things have since happened to help restore the tarnished jewel of Mermaid Pool, kicking off on ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ 2002, when 4 tonnes of rubbish were removed by 71 volunteers. Subsequently the Clean Up Australia organisation adopted the project as a ‘Fix Up’ Site. Two grants have been applied for and received from the Natural Heritage Trust, which has helped pay for rehabilitation contractors, whilst volunteers have stencilled storm water drains, produced brochures, planted trees and much more.

Weekend Detainees from Parramatta Gaol also spent a number of years physically removing pest species along the waterway.

Clean Up Australia founder, Ian Kiernan, visits Mermaid Pool


The best way to get involved now is to come to the monthly bush regeneration volunteer workdays. “Bush regeneration” basically means identifying and removing a range of noxious weeds that are impacting the natural environment by out-competing the native plants.

We are part of Northern Beaches Council’s “Friends of the Bush” program It’s a great opportunity to learn about the local environment and help protect it whilst keeping fit and meeting (slightly crazy) new people. Professional supervision is provided. We even have some amazing ‘masochist’ volunteers who wear waders to remove the introduced aquatic weeds (such as Ludwigia Peruviana from Peru!) that are clogging up the waterway. We are conscious of advocating hand removal of weeds and keep any herbicide use away from the water and to an absolute minimum.

Sue removes weeds with Landcare Ambassador-Beau Walker

Mermaid Pool Volunteers meet on the 4th Saturday of every month. Turn up anytime from 9am to 1pm.

Where: Outside Manly Hyraulics Lab Gates, western corner of King St, Manly Vale.

For more information email: Malcolm Fisher

(NB Volunteers are required to complete a short OH and S training session with Northern Beaches Council before working on site).

Keith, Dave and Kris “getting fit” by removing non-native and invasive water weeds


Mermaid Pool is at the western corner of King St, Manly Vale, Sydney. It boasts a lovely waterfall and is fed from Manly Dam by Manly Creek. The creek then winds its way down to the surfing beach at Queenscliff via Manly Lagoon. (As you can see it’s got a lot of Manly connections).

An aerial view of the pool surrounded by a small remnant of bushland


If physical labour is not your thing we also need people with I.T, communications, research and admin skills plus individuals who are able to conduct ecological surveys.

Tiny native fish (the original “Mermaids”) migrate up Manly Creek


The great thing about getting involved in environmental restoration is that you can discover fascinating insights into local biodiversity and help ensure that habitat for our native fauna is improved. In the Mermaid Pool environs for example, Bandicoots have returned after a 40 year absence, Swamp Wallabies have recently been spotted nearby whilst Dwarf Green Tree Frogs still survive in the reed beds. There are 10 types of native fish that call this waterway home. Some of them have migrated up Manly Creek from the ocean to spawn for millennia (the original “Mermaids”) but accumulated silt, exotic weeds and other obstructions have made this increasingly difficult. Juvenile Cox’s Gudgeon were recently photographed (by local resident and native fish expert Andrew Lo) ascending Mermaid Pool waterfall using their fins to climb the sheer rock wall.

Juvenile “Cox’s Gudgeon” climbing a sheer rockface

Unprecedented rains hit NSW in early March leaving many communities flooded across the State. Unfortunately the deluge resulted in a huge amount of debris (bricks, glass, rubbish) being deposited on the shores of Mermaid Pool. (see below images). To counter we organised a human chain event on 26th March where our “bucket brigade” passed material up to King St and into a Skip. Ironically we did a similar activity on our 10th anniversary.


Are you a local business that can appreciate the need to restore our waterways and conserve our bushland ? Every industry from tourism, surf products and fishing to manufacturing and administration benefits from looking after the environment. The “Return of the Mermaids” project needs your support now to help fund future important conservation work along Manly Creek and to ensure momentum continues. If you’re interested in partnering the community please email

Mermaids Sapphire and Skye (courtesy Manly Sea-life Sanctuary)

Join the Facebook Group: Mermaid Pool Restoration project

Save Manly Dam Facebook page

Keep Manly Dam Wild IG page.

Manly Dam Biodiversity project website:


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