The Save Our Waterways Now project committee was formed on 1 March 1994 as the catchment group for Enoggera Creek. Save Our Waterways – Now Inc. incorporated on 18 February 1998.

Central to SOWN’s organising model was the idea that members could adopt a section of a creek to rehabilitate. These sections of creek were on both public and private land. In the early years when funds were available, SOWN employed a coordinator to manage members’ volunteer activities. Later this coordination role for groups working on public land was assumed by Brisbane City Council officers through the Habitat Brisbane program. There are about 30 active bushcare sites in the Enoggera Creek catchment.

Also central to SOWN’s model was the idea of having a plant nursery, run by volunteer members, which could provide plants to members free of charge. These plants could be planted on public sites or in members’ own backyards. In 2010 SOWN formed a partnership with Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre to produce tube stock of Lomandra species, dramatically increasing the quantity of plants available to members.

Hoping to inspire landholders to rehabilitate their creek frontages, SOWN published the first edition of The creek in our backyard in 2011. More than 35,000 copies of two editions were distributed throughout South-East Queensland. Download the 2013 edition of The creek in our backyard.

In 2019, SOWN celebrated our 25th anniversary with the publication of a book which provided a history and snapshot of the organisation at the time. You can download Save Our Waterways Now: Caring for Enoggera Catchment 1994-2019.

How SOWN started

In September 1993, at a meeting of The Men of The Trees (MOTT), which was held in Twahamwe Cottage in Paten Park, The Gap, Naigretta Brennan, President of MOTT (Qld), asked Brian Hallinan, then Alderman (Councillor) for the ward of The Gap, if he would manage the portfolio of ‘new project funding applications’.

For some time. Brian had been concerned at the deteriorating state of Enoggera and Ithaca Creeks and the Brisbane City Council’s view that creeks were but drains for the speedy removal of storm water. He was also critical of the bull dozer methods used to clear the creeks of weeds, without realising that those weeds, though mostly exotic, were the habitats for many species of native fish, birds, animals and reptiles.

His plan was to establish a community-based organisation, which would provide the knowledge, energy and enthusiasm, to carry out the rehabilitation of the creeks and gullies in the catchment area of the Enoggera and Ithaca Creek system. The section chosen stretched from the weir, near Kelvin Grove Road, below which the creek was affected by tides, to the base of the Enoggera Reservoir, above which was then managed by the Brisbane Forest Park Authority. The catchment, under SOWN management, would cover an area of twenty-eight square kilometres.

In order to tap into local knowledge of the creek system, Brian invited the existing Enoggera Creek Committee, under the leadership of Trevor Ozanne, a lecturer in horticulture at Grovely TAFE, to form the nucleus of the steering committee to establish SOWN. The SOWN Committee was formed on 1st March 1994 and Bob Whiteman was the first Chair. Because it had not been incorporated, initially operated under the auspice of the Men of The Trees Inc.

The committee’s first action was to establish six objectives:

  • Provide a working model for the rehabilitation of waterways and their local environments.
  • Develop a catchment plan with which to manage the rehabilitation work.
  • Recruit volunteers for each area and to provide support to assist them in carrying out their tasks.
  • Rehabilitate the waterways and their local environments by the removal of rubbish and unwanted vegetation and to plant and maintain appropriate native species of vegetation .
  • Maintain records of the rehabilitation as it progresses.
  • Encourage other like-minded communities to adopt the SOWN program.

Activites leading to SOWN

SOWN Founder Brian Hallinan (second from the right) at a Weedbusters Day in 1996 with Woody the Weed, community members and State Member for Ashgrove Jim Fouras (far left). PHOTO: BCC