Smiths Creek Reserve 'Enhancing Koala Habitat' Project

Koala sitting in a gum tree

Smiths Creek Reserve supports significant local and regional environmental values, containing many threatened plants and animals and remnant areas of critically endangered Shale Sandstone Transition Forest.

The vegetation in the reserve forms part of an important regional biodiversity corridor which supports core Koala habitat and is a culturally significant local for the local Aboriginal people.

Find out more about Smiths Creek Reserve.

Over a decade of Restoring Urban Koala Linkages in Smiths Creek 2011-2023

Campbelltown City Council under the Weed Action Plan & Waste and Sustainability Improvement Plan begun works at Smiths Creek, Ruse in 2011, targeting the removal of listed Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and other Priority Weed species and habitat restoration project within core koala habitat.

From 2013-2023 supported by funding from Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GSLLS), Campbelltown Council has had an ongoing habitat restoration project.

Together through the engagement of bush regeneration contractors, this has seen the restoration of bushland across approximately 26.1ha and 6.7km of creek-line.

The project has also seen the establishment of a regular bushcare group that has contributed 549 hours, planted 4750 plants and removed invasive weeds and rubbish across 2ha of the reserve. In addition, the ongoing project has engaged three local schools in four environmental programs and 279 community engagements through four native planting days and 11 free community guided bush-walks.

About the Project

Smith’s Creek Reserve and its satellite reserves form a substantial wildlife corridor, 88ha in size that runs through the heart of Campbelltown. It supports Endangered and Critically Endangered Vegetation Communities, notably Shale Sandstone Transition forest, as well as many species of threatened flora and fauna, such as the gang-gang cockatoo.

The reserve is best known for its koalas, supporting both breeding individuals and serving as an important corridor for koalas moving between the suburbs of Ruse and Kentlyn as well as many other threatened species.

Further the reserve serves as a corridor of high priority for restoration with Smiths Creek itself, an upper tributary of the Georges River catchment, performing important stormwater quality improvement functions.

The site ranges from poor to very good condition with minor to moderate infestations of woody, grass, vine and herbaceous weeds, which affect both riparian areas, and the reserves stands of key koala Shale-Sandstone Transition Forest habitat.

The reserves suburban location means that it experiences high community use - both authorised and unauthorised and is frequented by bushwalkers, trail runners and dog walkers making its restoration key for the local community.

Consequently the reserve is an ideal candidate for an ongoing program of bush regeneration and community engagement. This to both improve the status of the reserves habitats and the perception and behaviour of the local community towards it and its wildlife.

The project will specifically focus on:

  • Bush regeneration and weed management works across two areas of critically endangered Shale Sandstone Transition Forest vegetation adjacent to Waminda Reserve, Nymboida Crescent Road and Leichardt Street
  • Improvement of habitat for threatened species such as the Koala and Cumberland Plain Land Snail
  • Ongoing support of the Smiths Creek Bushcare Volunteer Group
  • Undertaking four 'Bush Explorers' community bushwalk events
  • Providing six environmental education sessions tailored to the needs of the local schools.

Project Objectives 

  • The objectives of this ongoing project are the following: 
  • To engage with the local community, businesses, NGO’s, government agencies and other key stakeholders to deliver conservation projects and initiatives to further the conservation of Smiths Creek Reserve.
  • Improve and enhance the condition of the reserves key habitats, particularly the threatened vegetation communities present, e.g. critically endangered Shale-Sandstone Transition Forest and its dependent koala population
  • To reduce the invasive weed-load and improve stormwater entering into the larger Georges River catchment
  • To engage the local community in environmental awareness raising activities, e.g. bushcare, tree planting days, guided bushwalks etc

  • To engage local schools in educational programs to raise awareness of the value of the natural environment, both locally within Smiths Creek and within the wider environment. 

On-ground Achievements

Bush regeneration contractors have undertaken 4,217 hours of works targeting weed infestations along c. 6.7km of creek-lines, 26.1.ha of shale-sandstone transition forest and 180m of bushland-suburban fringe

2011 – Smith’s Creek Weed Action Program

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration Bush regenerators undertook 130 hours of work targeting key WoNS weed infestations along c.2km of creek-lines

2013-14 – Enhancing Koala Linkages

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration Bush regenerators undertook 872 hours of work targeting WoNS weed infestations along c.1.8km of creek-lines

2015 - Smiths Creek/Cooks Park Bush re-generation 

Total Earth Care undertook 207 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.450m of creek-lines

2015-16 – Improving Urban Koala Habitat Linkages and Community Stewardship

Dragonfly Environmental undertook 648 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.1.1 km of creek-line and 3ha of Shale-Sandstone Transition forest

2017-18 – Smiths Creek Restoring Koala Habitat

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration undertook 518 hours of work targeting weed infestations within c.2.5ha of creek-line

2018-19 - Improving Urban Koala Habitat Linkages and ‘Hollow as Homes’ Education

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration undertook 750 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.450m of creek-lines, through c.7.6ha of Shale-Sandstone Transition forest

2019-20 Improving Urban Koala Habitat Linkages Stage 4 and ‘Waterwise Waterways’ Education

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration undertook 656 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.400m of creek-lines, through c.3ha of Shale-Sandstone Transition forest

2020-21 ‘Enhancing Koala Habitat Smiths Creek Reserve Stage 5 and ‘Wild about Wildlife’ & ‘Hollows for Homes’

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration undertook 436 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.500m of creek-lines and across c.10ha of Shale-Sandstone Transition forest

2021-22 ‘Enhancing Koala Habitat Smiths Creek Reserve Stage 6 a

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration undertook 603 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.500m of creek-lines and across c.7ha of Shale-Sandstone Transition forest

2022-23 ‘Enhancing Koala Habitat Smiths Creek Reserve Stage 7

Toolijoa Environmental Restoration will undertake c.522 hours of work targeting weed infestations along c.500m of creek-lines and across c.6.6ha of Shale-Sandstone Transition forest 

Educational Achievements

Eleven schools educational programs undertaken between 2015 and 2021

  • Storm-water community Stewardship
  • Hollows as Homes
  • Water-Wise Waterways
  • Wild about Wildlife
  • 11 in-school visits undertaken between 2015-2021 and a ‘COVID friendly’ virtual online workshop with NPWS with 880 students participating
  • Design, printing, installation of ‘Water-Wise’ & ‘Wild about Waterways’
  • Educational materials
  • Installation of 26 nest boxes in Smith’s Creek & local schools plus installation of two nest cameras to monitor usage at local school.

Community Engagement Achievements

  • From 2017-2020 Smith’s Creek Bushcare group undertook 549 hours of works, , removing invasive weeds and rubbish maintaining native plantings across c.2ha at the Worrell Park creek section of the reserve
  • From 2016 – 2022 Over five community planting days (2016, 2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022) 314 participants planted 3750 native stems
  • 2019 – 2022; ‘Bush Explorers’ & ‘Junior Rangers’ community guided walks: 13 events – 152 participants.

How can you get involved?

Community involvement will help guarantee the success of the project and you can help by joining Council's Bushcare Program.

For further information regarding the Smiths Creek Linking Urban Koala Habitat Corridors and Hollows as Homes Education contact Council's Natural Areas Team on 02 4645 4601.