October 29, 2015

Saving Wolli Creek

The Wolli Creek Valley might have been an 8-lane freeway, but it was saved by Sydney’s longest conservation fight.

The valley is inner south-west Sydney’s environmental gem – a tranquil haven in a busy city, preserving an irreplaceable remnant of the pre-European landscape.

For 40 years a struggle over Sydney’s future has been fought out here, a struggle that isn’t yet over. It’s been a battle between freeways and public transport; between open space and over-development; between urban sprawl and consolidation; between high-carbon and sustainable futures.

Saving Wolli Creek – Part 1: From Mussolini to the County of Cumberland Plan

In Part 1: From Mussolini to the County of Cumberland Plan, we trace the secret history of the freeway paradigm, see how freeways came to Sydney, how one of the world’s largest tramways systems was dismantled to favour the car and how the 1948 attempt by urban planners to create a compact city with open space for all, was subverted.

Saving Wolli Creek – Part 2: From the Fig Street confrontation to the Kirby Inquiry

In Part 2: From the Fig Street confrontation to the Kirby Inquiry, we look at the successful 1974 inner-city revolt against the NSW Department of Main Roads’ radial freeway plan for the Los Angelisation of Sydney, and the department’s subsequent attempt to restart their program by prioritising their 1945 plan for an 8-lane freeway down the Wolli Creek Valley.

Features footage of the violent September 1974 confrontations at Fig Street Pyrmont shot by legendary Australian documentary filmmaker Tom Zubrycki.

Saving Wolli Creek – Part 3: The Greiner Government’s cruel and cynical hoax

In Part 3 we take the story from the formation and early years of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, through the 1988 state elections, in which the Liberals, led by Nick Greiner, promised to remove the freeway reservation through the valley, to the subsequent cynical manoeuvre by which the proposed freeway was returned to the valley and the proposal’s defeat in the 1989 environmental impact process.

Saving Wolli Creek – Part 4: A tale of two tunnels

In Part 4 we see how the fight against a surface freeway through the valley led to the construction of the Airport Rail Line and eventually pushed this section of the M5 East into a tunnel that avoided the valley’s open space east of Bexley Road.