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The Sickest Urban River in Sydney

Once praised as a “fine stream” by Captain Cook, the Cooks River has sadly become a de facto waste dump and sewerage pipe.  

Beau Miles, award-winning filmmaker, writer and proud “polyjobist” has taken it upon himself to kayak the 23km river to see for himself just how sick it really is. 

Overcome by Sydney’s dense population, the river simply can not cope with the effects of urbanization, and unfortunately, this isn’t a new issue. For over 30 years, people and news outlets have discussed the river’s health, or lack of it- with it being so toxic, the local saying became prevalent. 

“If you fall in, you’ll dissolve” 

Throughout his travel through the Cooks River, Beau collected 9 bags worth of rubbish and litter and took all the plastic bottles and cans found to his nearest Return and Earn Recycling Kiosk. He received a refund of $46.20, saving 462 bottles and cans from being littered.  

You can watch Beau’s journey through the Cooks River in his video production, ‘Kayaking the sickest river in Australia

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