The Lane Cove River is the closest major waterway to my place. Over several trips, I have run and kayaked from the source to its mouth, where it joins the Parramatta River/Sydney Harbour.

The Lane Cove River has many beautiful spots. It is divided in two by a weir in the Lane Cove National Park. Above the weir is fresh, below is tidal and briny.

Fifty years ago, it was a much healthier river, which had beautiful swimming spots and even an amusement park called Fairyland above the weir.

Water begins to trickle from among the rocks near Thornleigh
By Wahroonga it is the size of a creek
It grows with multiple little creeks joining, until it becomes passable by kayak under the Ryde Rd Bridge
A pretty waterhole
The remains of Fairyland in Lane Cove National Park (an amusement park until the late 1960s)
The weir
Chatswood West
Near Lane Cove River Kayakers Club
From Riverview, you can just see the Harbour Bridge
Nice houses along the river near Woolwich
The mouth of the Lane Cover River where it joins the Parramatta River/harbour

As well as the beautiful spots, there is a lot of pollution, especially above the weir. Anything in the water above the weir like sticks, trunks or rubbish gets coated with a layer of brown algae.

Orange gunk going into the river from a little side creek
Junk floating in the water
Opaque and milky water above the weir
Lots of invasive weeds along the shoreline and rubbish caught in overhanging trees

There is a multi-council initiative to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025. As someone who sails on the Parramatta River, I love this.

Unfortunately, the Lane Cover River does not have as much support, but there are some groups which are working hard to improve it. Ones I have found so far are:

  • Lane Cove Rivercare – kayakers who meet every 2 months to remove garbage from the river. I joined in early August and we removed piles of rubbish, especially towards the weir.
  • Stringybark Creek Streamwatch – volunteers who do sampling on a creek that is a tributary of the river.
  • Sydney Water faults ([email protected]) – if you smell or spot any leaking sewer pipes or hatches, you can report the location (GPS/Google maps) and they will send a crew out to repair it. I’ve reported in one spot that is always smelly on the edge of the river, and you can see traces of overflow near the hatch. A crew has gone out to fix it quite quickly – I’m impressed!