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The Three Creeks

Macquarie University is located in a relatively steep landscape of distinctive ridges and valleys. Through each of these valleys, small creeks wind their way northward towards the Lane Cove River:

  • University/College Creek – wrapping around the south-eastern edge of the Campus near Herring Road
  • Mars Creek – the large valley lying to the west of the academic core of Campus, dammed at one point to create the ornamental lake; and
  • Culloden Creek – the landscaped waterway in the centre of the Macquarie University Village (student housing)

The Campus Creeks – Looking Back

It is many decades since these creeks would have flowed from forested catchments. As this 1940s aerial image shows, the area now occupied by the University was part of Sydney’s rural outskirts. Small farm and orchard paddocks backed onto the creeks, which were mechanically straightened to suit.

1940s Air Photo

1940s aerial photo of the pre-university landscape with Campus boundary overlaid

Campus Creeks Since Urbanisation

Following the era of orchards and market gardens, the suburb of Marsfield has expanded and developed at a similar pace to the Campus itself. All three creeks are now mainly fed by extensive stormwater drains collecting runoff from the buildings and paved surfaces of this area. Being in a high rainfall location, high-intensity storm water has contributed to creek erosion and sedimentation.

During the 1990s, several sections of the creeks on Campus were armoured with rock and surrounded with flood overflow basins as a response to the impacts of accelerated storm water flows from the urban catchment.

Campus Creeks Looking Forward

The University has developed stormwater and landscape plans for Mars and University /College Creeks as part of its commitments under the 2009 Concept Plan. In these new plans, the ecological and aesthetic values of the creeks have been given greater weight in designing suitable rehabilitation approaches.

Local native vegetation is to be gradually reintroduced or restored along much of the length of both water courses as a major habitat enhancement. Future stabilisation work will use a mixture of dense planting, rock work and more gently-sloping stream banks to better enable accommodating occasional high flow levels. The use of reed beds and other pollution interception methods will create points along each creek where in-coming storm water can be filtered to a cleaner, more wildlife-friendly state.

Snapshot of Current Projects

Mars Creek Rehabilitation ProjectMars Creek Rehabilitation work 2012 – the completion of this rehabilitation fills the main missing link in a spine of natural vegetation extending 1.2 kilometres right through the Campus from Epping Road to Talavera Road along the Mars Creek valley.


Native Vegetation Planting2011 native vegetation works completed as a buffer between the
X8 car park and Mars Creek

This site is an excellent example of the concept of Natural Succession in native vegetation. The prolific grasses are Sydney native tussock species such as Poa, Scented Top and Kangaroo Grass. These were grown from a seed mix sown on the site. In coming months, the currently small trees and shrubs will accelerate in growth and begin to form a canopy, so reducing the level of sunlight reaching these grasses. As this occurs, the balance between the growth in the tree/shrub and ground layer vegetation will begingto shift, and the area will start to resemble a forested environment.







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Advocating Biodiversity
Sustainably Managing Macquarie’s Biodiversity

Background Information
The Three Creeks
Native Bush on Campus


Like to get involved?

  • Become part of our Bushcare Group as we aim to re-establish the riparian zone along the creek and reduce mowing.
    » More information