What makes the wetlands a special place?
This natural spring has been a resource for people and animals in the Sydney area for thousands of years and was an essential source of fresh drinking water for the establishing city. It exists because of the unique geology of this part of Sydney. Deep, sandy soil allows rain to penetrate easily, filling up the porous sandstone layers beneath and throughout the Botany Sands with water. Like a giant sponge, these rocks then release that water gradually. It bubbles to the surface where conditions allow and feeds the wetlands that still stretch from Centennial Parklands through suburbs like Eastlakes down to Botany Bay.
Lachlan Swamp sits on the headwaters of this system and stays wet throughout the most protracted droughts, supporting the swamp forest and marsh surrounding the spring. The green open spaces of Centennial Parklands are an essential part of the system, allowing rain to refresh and replenish the groundwater, like a green island in an urban area.
The swamp paperbarks are the dominant species in the swamp forest. They were deliberately planted in the late 1800s and replaced a lower and more open swampy heath environment. This species can easily handle waterlogged soils and has thrived, with generation after generation of new seedlings filling in gaps in the canopy as old trees die. Various other species have also colonised the area, including bats, wing ferns and soft bracken, palms and sedges, and paperbark figs, which have created a mid-storey that feels almost like a rainforest.
Animals in Centennial Park’s wetlands
The dense vegetation and moist microclimate make the wetlands an important haven for many species of animals, including insects, frogs and lizards, many species of birds both large and small, and even large mammals. For many of these species the swamp is a breeding refuge in the middle of a bustling city, where they can rest safe from disturbance.
Keep reading to learn more about our most important and interesting species, some of which are an active part of the ecosystem.