Johnstons Creek Naturalisation

Sydney Water

Sydney Water has naturalised the lower reach of Johnstons Creek by stabilising the creek with natural sandstone, native plantings, intertidal rock pools and endangered saltmarsh benches. This project has significantly enhanced the liveability of the waterway environs and improved the ecological and social values of the creek.

Johnstons Creek Naturalisation

Owned and managed by Sydney Water, Johnstons Creek is a concrete stormwater channel constructed in 1898 and one of Sydney’s earliest purpose-built stormwater drains. A condition assessment identified Johnstons Creek as needing renewal due to deteriorating banks. Instead of relining the channel with concrete, Sydney Water chose to naturalise and stabilise 610 metres of the creek with native plants and sandstone blocks.

Johnstons Creek is located within the local government area (LGA) of City of Sydney, adjacent to Inner West Council and is close to the City West Link. The work area included Jubilee Oval, Bicentennial Park, Federal Park and Harold Park; which provide an important recreation opportunity for visitors, sport groups and the local community.

Diona was engaged to deliver detailed design and construction of the naturalisation which involved:

  • removing the concrete lined base and banks and recycling 5,800 tonnes of concrete
  • replacing concrete banks with large sandstone blocks, stabilised rock banks and native planting
  • planting 2,730m3 of endangered saltmarsh
  • widening the channel in parts, including constructing saltmarsh benches and ecological intertidal rock pools
  • building new paths, lookout areas and a boardwalk for the community to enjoy the naturalised waterway environs, along with inspirational interpretive signs and seating
  • minor reshaping of the banks to reduce bank slope and increase safety
  • creation of a unique in-stream sandstone invert in the channel base to provide in-stream aquatic habitat for diverse native marine species.

Photos above show the before and after of the naturalisation project.

Johnstons Creek Naturalisation is an exemplar of excellence in asset management given the significant asset life improvement delivered alongside enhancing the liveability of the creek through vast ecological and social benefits.

This is the second naturalisation project that Diona has undertaken for Sydney Water, having completed the award-winning Powells Creek project in 2018.

Summary wording credit: Sydney Water

Watch the project timelapse video below.

I would like to thank Sydney Water for the wonderful work you have undertaken on Johnstons Creek. It will be an environmental wonder when it is finished, Sydney Water is to be congratulated for their forward thinking on the environment. I live on Johnsons Creek and am grateful Sydney Water is doing this work, it will look fantastic when it is finished and all the plants have grown.
Community member - Johnstons Creek Naturalisation Project
Just wanted to say thanks and congratulations on completing the Johnstons Creek project. Thanks to the designers and the whole crew and Sydney Water. The design and very hard work has transformed a sluggish and broken-down ugly sluice to a beautiful natural stone waterway that is a joy to behold! The birds and bees will love it, as will the passersby and locals. Can’t wait for the vegetation to grow. It was a mammoth task. We are so fortunate to live close by.
Community member - Johnstons Creek


  • Winner: 2021 Greater Sydney Commission Planning Awards Place-based Collaboration category
  • Winner: 2021 Stormwater NSW Excellence in Asset Management Award


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