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HomeLatest NewsMarking the man who helped save Curly Lagoon

Marking the man who helped save Curly Lagoon

A timber viewing deck on the edge of Curl Curl Lagoon has been named after local conservationist Ray Cox, who dedicated many years improving the native habitat surrounding this tidal waterway.

Ray, who sadly passed away recently, just one day before his 97th birthday, was a committed environmentalist who was very active in the conversion and preservation of the lagoon and its surrounds.

The viewing deck overlooks a natural pool where Greendale Creek flows in from the west, above a stone weir and close to John Fisher Park sports courts and amenities.

Ray’s wife Veronica, four children and other relatives, as well as Mayor Sue Heins, attended an official naming ceremony on 11 April at the viewing deck, where a sign commemorating Ray and his achievements was revealed.

In addition, a memorial bench seat was unveiled at nearby Stirgess Reserve Garden on the southern side of Greendale Creek.

Mayor Sue Heins (L) with Ray Cox’s wife Veronica and kids Graham, Lorraine, Alan and Deborah at the naming ceremony of the Ray Cox Viewing Deck beside Curl Curl Lagoon. Photo: Alec Smart


Originally a lush wetland, Curl Curl lagoon was used for landfill in the 1950s. Extensive rehabilitation was required to make it the valuable recreational asset it is today.

One of the key drivers of the lagoon’s conversion from public dumpsite and neglected asset to scenic parkland was Ray. After his arrival in Curl Curl in 1988, he combined tireless campaigning with physical labour to rehabilitate the bushland and reserves around the lagoon.

Mayor Heins recalled his selfless activism in her speech at the naming ceremony. “Mr Cox’s tireless efforts have left an indelible mark on our community,” she said. “In naming this deck we honour his selfless commitment to our community. This area will now serve as a reminder of the power and impact one individual can make on the lives of so many.”

She continued, “As a long-standing committee member and founding life member of the Curl Curl Lagoon Friends Inc., Mr Cox was instrumental in spending countless hours tending to the ongoing rehabilitation of Curl Curl Lagoon and nearby bushland at Alan Newton Reserve, Stirgess Reserve and Greendale Creek.

“He was also a member of the Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee advocating for the heritage listing and ongoing conservation of Manly Dam as a place of tranquillity and as a war memorial.”

The Ray Cox Viewing Deck beside Curl Curl Lagoon. Photo: Alec Smart

Tireless advocate

Mr Cox’s daughter Deborah also spoke at the moving ceremony yesterday 11 April, recalling her father was an advocate for a range social justice issues as well as a keen environmentalist.

“Dad was a wonderful example of how people can continue to contribute to remain involved, relevant and a source of great wisdom as they get older,” she said. “He was a mentor and confidant to many younger people he knew and of course to us who were lucky enough to be his family.”

She continued, “Other things Dad did that have left an indelible impact on us are his kindness, his willingness to always make time for people, and treat everyone the same regardless of their social standing. And while I could go on and on, I think something dad exemplified was a commitment to contribute to the greater good of our society…. He always impressed on everyone that we all have power through the political system when we vote, or the economy with the purchase decisions we make, or how we interact with each other every day, to make the world a better place for all.

Ray Cox’s wife Veronica with son Graham and daughters Deborah and Lorraine on the memorial bench dedicated to Ray in Stirgess Reserve Garden, Curl Curl. Photo: Alec Smart

“Dad was a great believer in the power of the collective. He was always very aware of the power and responsibility we each have as individuals to impact the world. He’d be so humbled and deeply chuffed knowing a viewing deck overlooking the water and lagoon that he thought was so special and precious was named after him.”

A Council spokesperson revealed, “In addition to his commitment to the environment, Mr Cox was an advocate for many social justice issues including Community Aid Abroad (now known as Oxfam) and establishing a local Walk Against Want event on the Northern Beaches. He was very passionate about advocating for First Nations people and supported Australians for Native title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) through their Sea of Hands days.”

According to Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, “The name Curl Curl may have been derived from a Dharug Aboriginal phrase curial curial, meaning river of life. The name Curl Curl Lagoon was originally applied to Manly Lagoon, which empties into the ocean at Queenscliff. The lagoon that empties into the ocean at Curl Curl Beach was named Harbord Lagoon until it was renamed Curl Curl Lagoon as part of a renaming program in the 1980s….”

Sign detailing the tremendous work Ray Cox did transforming Curl Curl Lagoon parklands. Photo: Alec Smart

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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