Stage 5 Opening: Glebe Foreshore Walk

(12pm, Saturday 25 October 2014, Ferry Road, Glebe)

Thank you, Stephen [Gilby] and hello, everyone. Welcome.

Today marks the culmination of a decade of our work to open up the Glebe foreshore and restore an uninterrupted 2.2 km stretch of waterfront to the public for the first time in 225 years.

We have spent almost $20 million on the foreshore, beginning with Bicentennial Park and Bicentennial Park East, installing new lighting and furniture, planting numerous fig trees and landscaping.

We restored Bellevue House at a cost of $1.3 million, restored Jubilee Park Grandstand, upgraded the pavilion and sports field and this year unveiled improvements to the children's playground.

There is now a superb swathe of public open space for active and passive recreation, accessible to all.

Today, we are opening the final stretch of land that will provide waterfront access from Bicentennial Park in the west to Bridge Road in the east, connecting 27 hectares of open space with streets, paths and new facilities. It will also give easier access to Wentworth Park and the Fish Markets.

In 1789, 400 acres of land was granted to the Anglican Church for the colony's chaplain, the Rev Richard Johnson and from 1828, the Glebe lands were subdivided, and since the reclaimed foreshore was not considered suitable for housing, tanneries, abattoirs and timber yards sprang up around the waterfront.

The waterfront was effectively privatised and became polluted and run-down.

The Glebe foreshore parks as we enjoy them today are the result of almost four decades of campaigning, by residents and, from its foundation in 1969, the Glebe Society. Some of the many campaigns include the fight to save Bellevue in the 1970s - finally bought by Leichhardt Council in 1981 and restored by the City in 2006.

There was fierce opposition to a proposed marina in the 1980s and a campaign to retain public access to the foreshore in front of the Bridgewater development in 1995.

Until January, this final 300-metre stretch of the Glebe Foreshore Walk was an eroded embankment with a collapsed sea wall, and the land was overrun with weeds and casuarina trees.

It's now a grassy area with granite and sandstone paths, and new seating and a boardwalk installed by Roads & Maritime Services.

The new path also has steps for safe access to the water, over 50 new native trees as well as shurbs and native grasses. The paths have terrific walking, cycling and wheelchair access; there are racks for canoes and storage and energy-efficient lighting.

New habitat for native plants, birds and marine life have been included along the foreshore project to attract once-abundant wildlife back to the area.

Native shrubs and grasses will shelter small birds such as the Superb Fairy Wren. The edge of the foreshore has been excavated to create a small beach and saltwater mangrove and endangered coastal saltmarsh habitats have been planted.

Sydney University scientists have created concrete pods on the seawall to provide artificial rock pools for marine flora and fauna like starfish, snails and algae, which in turn will attract crabs and fish.

The whole project brings us closer to realising our long-term vision for continuous foreshore access from the city to Rozelle via Circular Quay, Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour and the Pyrmont peninsula.

It was partly funded by the NSW Government under the Sharing Sydney Harbour Access Program and we are pleased to have had the support of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and in particular. The Department of Education and Training, as owners of the land, should also be thanked for allowing us an easement to create this fantastic new space.

I'd like to acknowledge all those who brought this vision into reality, including:

  • Kim Woodbury, Director of City Projects and Property
  • Gynt Drinan, program manager
  • Russell Kosko, Project Manager
  • Adam Fowler and Stephen Merchant, design managers
  • Our landscape architects Anton James, Ingrid Mather and Don Kirkegard of JMD and
  • Our contractors Mark Moult, Tasman Soames and Simon Roddick of Ford Civil Contractors and also
  • Sydney Secondary College's Blackwattle Bay campus
  • Glebe Rowing Club for providing the boating awareness sessions
  • Pacific Dragons for the outrigger canoes displayed at the canoe racks
  • Sydney University for the Marine Biodiversity display

I know that you will all enjoy this wonderful foreshore access and that it will be well used by the people of Glebe, and the people of Sydney.

Thank you.