What is the Sturt River Greening project?

    The Sturt River Greening Project will revegetate small pockets of land along the Sturt River in Glenelg North.   It will result in a refined corridor of greenery along the river system that will create biodiversity, amenity and wellbeing benefits for the community and local flora and fauna.

    The project began in 2019, with planting at the Bob Lewis Reserve (Highland Avenue).  The next stage of the Sturt River Greening Project will be the Stewart Avenue Reserve, with planting planned to take place during winter 2020.  From March 2020, the City of Holdfast Bay will be engaging with residents around the Stewart Avenue Reserve throughout the project to discuss and develop the planting plans for the site.

    Why is the Sturt River Greening Project taking place?

    From London to Paris to Sydney to Adelaide, there is a global trend to ‘green cities’ through the reintroduction of trees, plants and gardens for a range of health, comfort, biodiversity, and psychological reasons.

    Embracing this movement, the City of Holdfast Bay has committed to ‘re-greening’ part of the Sturt River, known to the Aboriginal (Kaurna) people as Warriparri.

    A scientific study in Holdfast Bay demonstrated that parts of the council area are lacking in flora and fauna.  A biodiversity assessment, conducted in 2018, identified Glenelg North as having low levels of biodiversity. The Sturt River Greening Project is an opportunity for council to work with the local community on the urban greening sites along the Sturt River.

    Which areas are you going to plant and in which order?

    To date we have completed planting at the Bob Lewis Reserve (Highland Avenue), which we invite you to visit. Please be mindful that the plants are all still very small and the regreening will take time to develop. We anticipate a real change to visibility and ambience over the coming 2-3 years.

    The next phase of the project is planting at the Stewart Avenue Reserve during winter 2020. We will be engaging with residents in the immediate vicinity of the reserve to develop planting plans.

    In all of the reserves identified for planting, only small parts of the reserves will be planted, not the entire reserve, leaving more than 50% of each site with plenty of open space for recreational activities.

    Plans for future planting in other reserves along the Sturt River will be considered subject to funding. We will continue to engage with local residents during the planning phase of any future projects.

    How can I find out more about plans for the re-greening project at Stewart Avenue Reserve?

    There are a number of ways to find out more about the re-greening project at Stewart Avenue Reserve:

    Visit www.yourholdfast.com/sturtrivergreeningproject for more information on the project and regular updates.

    Attend a drop-in session at Stewart Avenue Reserve on Sunday 29th March, between 2-4 pm. Come along to find out more about the project, ask questions, and let us know your thoughts about the site.

    We will have an independent landscape architect and representatives from the City of Holdfast Bay’s environment and community services teams on hand to meet with residents. Following this drop-in session the landscape architect will take away the feedback from residents and will create a planting design for the site. The final design will be shared with local residents via the www.yourholdfast.com/sturtrivergreeningproject website and by posting a hard copy prior to planting.

    You can also contact Alex Gaut for more information on the project: agaut@holdfast.sa.gov.au

    What are the benefits of this project?

    Council is committed to both improving the wellbeing of our residents, as well as increasing and improving our native flora and fauna, and this project aims to do both of these.

    It is important that this project has positive outcomes and benefits for both our human and natural communities. We know from scientific research that viewing and spending time in nature are exceptionally good for our health, both physical and mental.  

    The benefits to our natural communities are that as the native plants grow, they recreate habitat for animals such as native bees, butterflies, beetles, birds and more. The plants provide a more diverse and appropriate range of food, shelter and nesting habitat (e.g. specific native plants on which native butterflies lay their eggs) and materials that have not been available in these areas for a long time. Therefore, it is expected that these small pockets of plantings will help a range of native animals to survive in our urban areas.

    What is ‘biodiversity’?

    Biodiversity is a measure of the range and variety of all life at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. It is the variety of all life on earth. This consists of three components: 

    1. the different plants, animals and micro-organisms (the species level); 
    2. the ecosystems (or habitats) of which they are a part (ecosystem level); and 
    3. the genetic diversity within and between species (the genetic level).   

    Species depend on their habitat for survival. The term ‘biodiversity’ is most often used in relation to plants and animals, but it also underpins human life and the resources upon which we depend.  

    A highly diverse and complex ecosystem is a sign of good ecosystem health.  

    What birds, and other animals, do you hope to attract that we don’t already have in the area?

    While we cannot say for sure which ‘new’ bird species may be attracted to the area following the replanting, findings from some recent bird surveys indicate that some additional nectar-feeders and insectivores could return to benefit from the new sources of nectar and habitat that the plantings will provide.  We also anticipate that the planted area will attract insects such as butterflies, moths, ladybirds, beetles and native stingless bees, as well as lizards.

    In 2019 Council commissioned an ornithologist (a bird specialist) to survey the reserves along the Sturt River in Glenelg North, and our three gullies (Pine, Barton and Gilbertson). All sites were surveyed once in April and once in May 2019.

    The research found that there were twice as many species recorded in the gullies than at the Glenelg North sites. The findings suggest that the planting of the Glenelg North reserves may attract new bird species to the area, prospectively mimicking some of the species currently found in the gullies. These include:

    • Laughing kookaburra
    • Eastern spinebill
    • Red wattlebird
    • Singing honeyeater
    • Willie wagtail
    • Silvereye


    This next section provides more detailed information about the results of the 2019 bird surveys. The following birds were observed by the ornithologist only in the gullies:

    • Collared sparrowhawk
    • Laughing kookaburra
    • Peregrine falcon
    • Eastern spinebill
    • Red wattlebird
    • Singing honeyeater
    • White-plumed honeyeater
    • Striated pardalote
    • Golden whistler
    • Willie wagtail
    • Little raven
    • Silvereye
    • Mistletoebird


    The following bird species have also been observed in the gullies by City of Holdfast Bay staff from ongoing monitoring occurring through all four seasons:

    • Nankeen kestrel
    • Tawny frogmouth
    • Australian magpie
    • Magpie-lark


    However, because the surveys were only conducted during autumn it is expected that some other species probably also occur in the Glenelg North area such as wattlebirds and New Holland honeyeaters, all of which are common in urban settings, but they were not observed during the surveys due to a range of variables. The only birds seen in Glenelg North but not in the gullies were:

    • Silver gull
    • Long-billed corella (considered ‘alien’ to Adelaide)
    • Masked lapwing
    • Pacific black duck
    • Australian white ibis


    The following bird species, most of which are waterbirds, have also been observed in Glenelg North by City of Holdfast Bay staff from ongoing monitoring occurring through all four seasons:

    • Nankeen kestrel
    • Red-necked avocet
    • Australian pelican
    • Hoary-headed grebe
    • Australian wood duck
    • Grey teal

    There were 17 other bird species found in all areas.

    Will the plantings attract snakes?

    The chance of encountering a snake in this area is unlikely to change because of the plantings. Snakes are not uncommon in urban Australia.  While it is possible that snakes may use the planted areas as the corridor that it is intended to be, we anticipate that they will not typically use the plantings as an area in which to find food.

    Snakes are sometimes seen in highly urbanised areas of Holdfast Bay but will usually quickly move away from noise or exposure to hide from threats such as humans (unless provoked).

    If you do see a snake and you feel that it is a threat, please call the Council.

    Will the plantings attract litter and dumping?

    There is no evidence to suggest that this will be the case.

    While more plants may stop more wind-blown litter, residents are welcome and invited to call Customer Service at any time to report litter, whether dumped or not, and request it to be picked up by our Rapid Response team.

    With regard to illegal dumping, our Regulatory Services team have a procedure to investigate the source of the dumping. If the responsible party is identified they are issued with the appropriate fines.

    How will the plantings be maintained with a neat and tidy appearance?

    A tidy appearance will be maintained through a number of strategies:

    • scheduled monthly maintenance will ensure weeds are removed and suppressed through continued mulching, spraying and hand pulling
    • when staff are on site to undertake this maintenance they will also collect any litter caught in the vegetation, and as mentioned before you are invited to call Customer Service at any time to request our Rapid Response team to collect litter in between maintenance visits
    • clean lines between mowed turf and the naturalised vegetation will be maintained through  spraying of the turf edging

    Why is mulch used in urban settings?

    Mulch is essential to the success of the plantings. It serves several functions:

    • Reduces evaporation from the soil
    • Acts as a temperature buffer from heat and cold
    • Reduces weeds to prevent root competition
    • Prevents soil compaction
    • Contributes to a healthy soil system, supporting a complex network of microbes, which in turn help support healthy, luscious vegetation above.


    Without mulch, council would need to:

    • use much more water than with mulch, contributing to very high water use
    • Manage dry top soil, which reduces root development
    • Manage increased soil compaction, and poor soil quality
    • Manage an increased weed load

    Will the plantings reduce my view?

    With careful planning, the aim is that the new vegetation will enhance the view. Rather than seeing the metal SA Water fence, which runs along the creek for safety, the view is likely to be improved through ‘screening’ as the plants mature and additional attraction of birds and butterflies that we anticipate will return.

    You are invited to attend the drop-in session on Sunday 29th March, between 2 pm and 4 pm at the Stewart Avenue Reserve, to discuss the plans and provide your input to guide the planting design.

    What will happen to our recreational space?

    Only sections of the reserves will be planted, not the entire reserve. This will leave more than 50% of each site with plenty of space for recreational activities.

    What plant species are you going to use?

    A range of native Adelaide plants, recommended by a scientist, will be used. This ensures that we will use plants that are well suited to this environment.

    This approach will allow us to include a range of life forms, and in so doing, increase the local biodiversity. We anticipate using a range of the following: grasses, sedges, wildflowers, small and medium shrubs, climbers, groundcovers, and small, medium and tall trees.

    Some sites will not require any trees at all as they already have enough. However, other sites will need some trees because they don’t currently have any.

    Each site will have a unique list of species chosen from this list, so not all species will be planted at all sites.

    Acacia acinacea

    Acacia cupularis

    Acacia pycnantha

    Adriana quadripartita

    Allocasuarina verticillata

    Atriplex semibaccata

    Austrodanthonia caespitosa

    Austrostipa spp. 

    Banksia marginata

    Billardiera cymosa

    Bursaria spinosa

    Chrysocephalum apiculatum

    Chrysocephalum semipapposum

    Cullen australasicum

    Dianella brevicaulis

    Dodonaea viscosa var. viscosa

    Einadia nutans ssp. nutans

    Enchylaena tomentosa var. tomentosa

    Enneapogon nigricans

    Eucalyptus camaldulensis ssp. camaldulensis

    Eucalyptus porosa

    Eutaxia microphylla

    Goodenia amplexans

    Hardenbergia violacea

    Helichrysum leucopsideum

    Leucophyta brownii

    Lomandra densiflora

    Lomandra multiflora

    Lotus australis

    Myoporum parvifolium

    Olearia axillaris 

    Pelargonium australe

    Pittosporum angustifolium

    Poa poiformis var. poiformis

    Pultenaea largiflorens

    Rhagodia candolleana ssp. candolleana

    Senecio sp.

    Themeda triandra

    Vittadinia gracilis

    Xanthorrhoea semiplana


    Where can we go to experience a similar established urban greening area?

    As mentioned previously we invite you to have a look at the Bob Lewis Reserve (also in Glenelg North), although it is still in the early days of plant establishment.

    The Oaklands Wetland and Reserve on Oaklands Road, Oaklands Park. This lovely urban park is approximately a 10 minute drive from Glenelg North. It is quite a large site with constructed wetlands, natural areas, playgrounds and car parks. It is surrounded by urban development and has the Sturt River running down one side.

    Also close by is the Appleby Road Reserve, Morphettville. The area to look at is similar to the Blackburn/Goldsworthy reserve in that it is a linear site along the Sturt Creek opposite some housing.  There is a bitumen bicycle/walking path and the area between the Sturt Creek and this path has been planted with native Adelaide plants in the last few years. The area has been planted to reflect a natural situation and so a landscape architect was not involved. The City of Holdfast Bay is planning to contract a landscape architect to assist with making our Sturt Creek reserves aesthetically lovely using some of the native species in the list above.

    Further afield, we also recommend Lochiel Park, Campbelltown. This site is an award-winning urban green village incorporating the best of sustainable technologies including water sensitive urban design and green space elements.