Reclamation in Sydney Estuary, 1788-2002

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Reclamation is an integral part of harbour development. Ports are deepened to accommodate vessels with large draughts and the dredged material is used for creating wharfage to support equipment and produce. The foreshores of Sydney estuary were modified soon after European colonisation to accommodate large fleets of ships bringing in people and manufactured goods and exporting agricultural produce. However, reclamation was not confined to the port area, but expanded throughout the Sydney estuary. Reclamation of land in Sydney estuary was also undertaken to remove odorous, unsightly mud flats at the heads of embayments and to create recreational and residential areas close to the water. The majority of reclamation took place in Sydney estuary between 1922 and 1955 (534 ha), followed by 1889-1922 (333 ha) and 1955-78 (203 ha). A total of 1135 ha, or about 22 per cent of the estuary, has been infilled, mostly upstream of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Keywords: GIS; Sydney Harbour; Sydney estuary; infilling; landfill; reclamation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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