Start: Corner of Station Street and South Street, south of Tempe Station
End: Circular walk around the pools
Time taken: 1.5 hours
USP: Close to the city and packed with wildlife
For a long time after arriving in Sydney, weekends were spent catching trains out of the city and out of the urban sprawl to get to the real bush; the Blue Mountains, Royal National Park, Kuring-Gai Chase… the list goes on. There we’d find quiet tranquil water holes, cascading waterfalls and mind blowing coastline. But we’d also do it for the wildlife and in particular the bird life. The more research we did and the more blogs we read, we started to realise that you don’t have to escape the city limits to find some great nature reserves that will satisfy your need to connect with nature if you only have a few hours.
Tempe wetlands is one such place. It’s just south of the CBD, just west of Sydney International Airport and on the edge of an industrial estate. It’s not going to be attracting the Instagram crowd in a hurry, but don’t click away just yet because it hides some great secrets.
The area has had an unglamorous past. Originally a shale mine in the 1920’s, it became a greyhound track in the 40’s and the local rubbish dump up until the 70’s. The area then lay dormant and unused until 2004, when Merrickville Council reclaimed the land and turned it into three filtration pools for local stormwater treatment, planting thick beds of reeds to help the process and thick vegetation to shield it from the nearby housing estates.
Fast forward to 2011 and the area was recognised as a Priority Biodiversity Area. Walking around t now it’s easy to see why.
Superb Fairy Wren flit through the thick undergrowth, chased by Silver Eye and Thornbills. The reeds hide skulking White Faced Herons and elegant Great Egrets. Out on the water Pacific Black Duck and Australian Wood Ducks dabble for weed. In the trees around the reserve, Black faced Cuckoo Shrike, Willy Wagtails and Sacred Kingfisher move silently through the shadows.
The local bird watching enthusiasts, the Tempe Birdos, run species counts every Saturday morning, encouraging newbies and experts, young and old to join them. Since they started keeping count in 2011 they’ve recorded over 100 different species of birds and several other creatures like Blue Tongued Lizard, skinks and even an Echidna!
It’s the perfect place to lose a few hours and see some of our local wildlife, without having to plan a whole day’s trip.