A Concrete Creek: Glebe’s Johnstons Creek

By Charlotte Simpson-Young and Asa Wahlquist

Like many creeks and coastlines in urban areas, Johnstons Creek and Rozelle Bay have been significantly changed from what it would have looked like before European settlement. Johnstons Creek once spread across the valley with mudflats, estuarine wetlands and mangrove forests. The original banks would have traced around what is now Bicentennial, Jubilee, Federal Parks and then across Harold Park where The Tramsheds are today.

It emptied into Rozelle Bay which originally extended further inland, covering what is now Bicentennial, Jubilee, Federal and Harold Parks. The area would have been mangrove forests, rugged rocks, saltmarshes and brackish swamps and an intertidal zone of sand and mud.

But after European settlement, the creek and bay were polluted by stormwater, industrial waste and sewage. The area was hated by locals and filling started in 1886 and the land was reclaimed. In 1898 the naturally meandering Johnstons Creek was straightened and turned into a stormwater channel. It was one of the first stormwater drains constructed in Sydney.

The reclaimed land was dedicated as a park in 1899, and in 1902 it was named Federal Park to commemorate the federation of the Australian colonies in 1901. The Creek became the dividing line between Glebe and Annandale, and in 1909 the park on the Glebe side was named Jubilee Park to celebrate Glebe’s 50 years.

The Creek has a 500-hectare catchment, and it rises and falls with the tides. Sydney Water plans to naturalise Johnstons Creek in 2019, replacing the concrete with sandstone and establishing native plants.

For the original articles go to Asa Wahlquist’s website.

For more posts on the Glebe Foreshore:

Under the Terrace Houses: Glebe before European Settlement

Biodiversity in Urban Sydney: the Glebe Foreshore Walk

The Last Mangroves in the City: Jubilee Park Mangroves

Where the River Meets the Sea: Glebe’s Coastal Saltmarsh

Historical Palms at Jubilee Park



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