I’ve been living in Marrickville, near the Cooks River for the past 25 years. Prior to that I was in the eastern suburbs near the ocean.

The smell of the river is the smell of the mud of the river. It is particularly pungent, and it smells toxic.

Like rubber tyres, when you are in close proximity to a large number of them. It’s like the mud is the distillation of the industrial history of the river. Mud should be cleansing, but this mud is not.

Once while taking my dog for a walk, the dog fell in, and I had to jump in, fully dressed, boots and all. I was worried about what sort of rash I was going to come out with.


Cooks River Mud. Rubber tyres. Toxic industrial. Mangrove Juice.


Isobel Johnston