There are claims a proposed residential development on the shores of the Cooks River will destroy a local boating and fishing association. MARY MRAD and SOPHIE PEUZET investigate.
Looking out from the Muddy Creek Boating & Amateur Fishing Association headquarters, the tranquil waves conflict with the polluted water. The MCBAFA spend regular time clearing the washed up waste. The appeal of such a deserted and contaminated creek is invisible, until ‘Grumpy’ the boat roars and goes out into the water.
Members of the club have secured the location for their boats, each with it's own signature feature and some a part of history.
However, all the history and work of the club is at risk with the construction of a possible golf course as part of the proposed Cooks Cove development across the creek.
The controversial $100 million plan to build 5000 residential apartments involves relocating Kogarah Golf Course to 52 hectares of public land centred around Barton Park.
This has outraged members as it could mean the MCBAFA could be at risk of losing their current building and access to the Creek.
“Who needs another golf course, the Eastern suburbs there’s got to be at least 15 golf courses. Why have another one ? Just for the rich people. Let the normal people have a life” - MCBAFA Member John Penman
The Muddy Creek Boating and Amateur Fishing Association is a community-built fishing club, uniting a range of people who all share a love of fishing. The fishing club is located near the busy Sydney Airport in Kyeemagh.
The club was founded in 1952, originally located along Brighton Beach, and relocated to the current position in Kyeemagh in 1968. Originally the site was a sewage farm, and the land was rehabilitated by the fisherman’s club when they moved.
Despite the location, the mangroves along the creek make it seem isolated and serene, distant from the bustling airport.
According to Marine Biologist David Booth, if the preparation of the land for the golf course isn't done properly then the fish population is at risk.
“A golf course could be an absolute disaster to waters ways...usually they would fertilise the lawn well beyond what you do with a normal area and that fertilising contains nitrogen and some phosphorus and when it gets to the waterway, it causes algal blooms.”
In order for the development to benefit marine life, “they need to create a riparian zone (a more natural zone next to the water), in order for fish to breed,” Mr Booth said.
The fight to ensure the club continues, has brought members together, some with a lifetime connection.
“I’ve been here a long time, knew all the boys that started this club, it’s a blue-collar amateur club,” John Ackland said.
John is the vice president of the club. His father was one of the original members and he grew up fishing.
"We’ve already been put through the ringer here by politicians I believe, just trying to take over something that was built by just normal blokes,” he said.
The concerns listed by the MCBAFA in their council submission include that the spirit of the original covenant ‘land and access given in perpetuity for community and recreational use’ will be subverted and that the effects of short-term-only permissive occupancy is choking opportunities for further improvements
The Fisho’s building where the club is located, lost building ownership in 2012 due to liquidation. The building has belonged to the former Rockdale and now Bayside Council for the past five years under temporary occupancy conditions. Therefore, the club’s future is uncertain.
Despite this, the club continues to increase membership and according to club president Bob Young, who has been a member of the MCBAFA for over 50 years, the club’s existence is an important part of the community.
"It’s all run by volunteers for the community. As you can see we are increasing our volunteers and membership. We’ve got the garden community involved with it, Vietnam vet guys, police legacy. These are all people who want to join the club because they want to see the community benefit from it,” he said.
Club member John Penman said, “the guys here are fantastic..it’s a good place to be, to have a cup of tea. I spend a lot of time on my boat and helping out the other guys with their boats".
The MCBAFA utilise most of their tools and time cleaning the polluted creek in order to encourage community involvement, esp on Clean Up Australia Day (30th June)
“[Rubbish] is going to be a problem here. We are very active with the local council and very helpful in ways, in particular with Clean Up Australia Day. We do quite a bit of work,” Mr Young said.
“Any new development is a run off things and what they are destroying is the environment, like the wetlands over here,” he said.