is the dominant rock in the area. This coarse reddish
igneous material is about 2172 million years ago. The
overlying soils are acidic and sandy while the topography
consists of open plains with broken kopjes and scattered
boulders – a scenic asset and an ideal place for
children to roam and explore.
natural woodland vegetation is dominated by Terminalia,
Acacia, Burkea, Sclerocara and Peltaphorum with a greater
variety of species amongst the rocks or along the streams.
park is a proclaimed bird sanctuary and its diversity of habitats
means that there are many species present. Unfortunately there
are very few wild animals at present, although we have had
offers to assist in restocking if we can provide an adequate
and secure infrastructure.
the property there are several nationally important archaeological
sites. It was here that one of the earliest collections of
Stone Age tools was gathered while there have been small archaeological
excavations in some of the rock shelters. One panel of rock
paintings has been located and there are reports of others.
early Farming Communities built villages in the area. A particularly
large site near the Upper Dam was partially excavated in the
late 1960s and was extremely important in developing our current
understanding of the Leopard's Kopje Tradition (10th to 13th
Centuries). It was associated in someway with the internationally
important site of Mapungubwe near the Shashe-Limpopo confluence.
the 19th Century it was the site of one of King Lobengula
Khumalo’s favourite outlying villages to which he could
escape the daily routine and strains of life at koBulawayo
(Old Bulawayo), the state’s capital. This was Matsheumhlope
or White Stones. Said to be an hour and a half’s gallop
from koBulawayo through plains, rocky kopjes and reed-infested
marshes, it was a retreat where the monarch would entertain
many of his more trusted visitors.
1895 several of the leading Rhodesian settlers started work
on the country's first commercial water supply, building the
original Hillside Dams. The three structures took some time
to build and were only completed by January 1898. The London-based
firm then waited with bated breath as they slowly filled.
All was going well until on January 10th 1898 when the upper
two dams collapsed, unable to cope with the force of inflow.
The remaining lower wall and one of the upper ones were subsequently
rebuilt to higher standards. These structures are the cores
of the existing two walls. In 1924 the Hillside Dams and associated
water reticulation facilities were sold to Bulawayo Town Council.
Soon after the dams were decommissioned in favour of better
sources elsewhere – Khami (1927) and Ncema (1943).
an aside when the Upper Dam was being raised in 1915, the
contractors uncovered a rich, limey deposit that contained
many wild animal bones. Thought to be the “kitchen waste”
of earlier inhabitants it was investigated by Mr Zealley of
the Geological Survey Department. Some of his conclusions
are suspect but unfortunately the bones have been lost. We
are always on the lookout to find another similar treasure
the area became a prime residential area while the strip of
land adjacent to the dams was declared the country’s
first bird sanctuary. In 1942 it was designated a National
Monument (number 34), a status it retains although no one
is sure of the actual boundaries of the proclamation which
may in fact cover much of the adjacent residential suburbs!
attempts have been made over the years to develop the area
but these have not been sustained. There was a flurry of work
in the late 1950s following the recommendations of an international
parks consultant, Professor RH Compton. At the time the main
roads and paths were formalized and the tearoom at the lower
dams was erected. Another key development was the creation
of the Aloe Garden in the 1960s building on a sizeable collection
of over 1500 aloes donated by Cram Cooke who worked at the
the 1990s there was a marked deterioration with vandalism
and poor security. Few people would dare to go to “The
Dams”. This is reason for the current initiative, we
citizens of Bulawayo need to take back what was once ours
making it again a safe venue to relax, meet and for children
M.S. 1995. The geology of the Bulawayo Greenstone Belt and
the surrounding granitic terrain. Zimbabwe Geological Survey
T.N. 1974. The Leopard's Kopje Tradition. Museum Memoir 6.
National Museums & Monuments of Rhodesia.
N. 1926. The Stone Age in Rhodesia. London: Oxford University
O. 1968. Bulawayo: historic battleground of Rhodesia. Cape
Town: A.A. Balkema.
R. & Pagden, C.W. 1970. The Warriors. Cape Town: Books
A.E.V. 1915. A breccia of mammalian bones at Bulawayo Waterworks
Reserve. Proceedings of the Rhodesia Scientific Association
XV. pp. 1-16.