ecological health of the Parramatta River

A living river means many things. Our mission includes seeing the Parramatta River become a river that is packed with life and healthy ecosystems, where plants and animals can flourish in the water and surrounding environments (also known as the Parramatta River catchment area).

Our five Parramatta River Mascots are species that live and rely on the river. Chosen by our community, they are core to our ecological health research studies as their ability to thrive will be used as an indicator of water quality and catchment health.

The Mascots dwell in different types of ecological environments around the Parramatta River. The environments are:

  • Estuarine - the Parramatta River is tidal up to the Charles St Weir at Parramatta, and the salinity changes along the length of the river with the changing tides, the amount of fresh water flowing downstream and the weather.
  • Terrestrial - the land areas in the catchment, including forests and woodlands around the river.
  • Riparian - the riparian zone is the transition zone from terrestrial to river (either Estuarine or Freshwater), and includes saltmarshes, wetlands, mudflats, mangroves and creek beds. 
  • Freshwater - the tidal impact is blocked by the weirs, and upstream the Parramatta River is now fresh water.

We will be designing community based projects around all of our mascots based on our Ecological Health ReportSign up to our newsletter to stay informed, or regularly check back in here.




Image: Rosie Nicolai

The Powerful Owl inhabits forests and woodlands. Forests and woodlands help the formation of native vegetation corridors. The corridors act as filters cleansing water before it enters the creek. They also can stabilise creek banks, limiting erosion and sedimentation, therefore suppressing further water quality decline. An abundance of owls and other woodland birds demonstrates we are maintaining the benefits the native vegetation corridors provide.

Striped Marsh Frog


Image: Rosie Nicolai

The Striped Marsh Frog dwells across the catchment. Species that thrive in clean water can be a good indication of aesthetic, recreational and (often) primary contact water quality. A diverse frog community tells us that the freshwater and riparian environment is healthy.



Image: Jon Irvine

The Bar-tailed Godwit is a fishing bird that lives on sand and mud-dwelling invertebrates found along the estuarine areas of the Parramatta River. Foreshore birds like the Godwit demonstrate we are maintaining our mangroves, saltmarsh and mudflats against urbanisation, pollution, weeds, erosion and reclamation.



Image: Steve Parish & Les Hall

The Southern Myotis is one of Australia’s two fishing bats. It requires creekside vegetation and catches water insects and the smallest fish. An abundance of microbats tell us that the natural environment closest to creeks has complexity and diversity needed for waterway health.



Image: Rosie Nicolai

The Eastern Long-necked Turtle lives in freshwater creeks and needs deep ponds to swim and forage, and sandy banks to lay eggs. Healthy turtles informs us that creeks are not overly polluted by pesticides and other chemicals, banks aren’t badly eroded and flows are just right.

Download the Ecological Health Research Study summary to read about how these species will be used as indicators of river health, view the action plan to restore and enhance their habitats, and understand how this all feeds into the mission to make the river swimmable again.

There are many more plants and animals that call the Parramatta River catchment home. Learn more by downloading a print file for our collectable fact cards of the 19 species we voted on, or our beautiful postcards of the winning mascots.  We also have a children's colouring-in map available of the river and the various ecosystems where these species reside. Contact us if you would like access to these resources for your next event.