Public interest in developments at the Dams has continued to flourish and large numbers of people now come out to the Dams over the weekends. This is most encouraging. Merely the numbers present has improved the security significantly, both at the Dams themselves and in the adjacent residential suburbs.

The Lower Dam still holds good water and is now home to a large number of moorhen, black crake, cormorant, white-faced duck and teal. A fish eagle was seen on the Upper Dam but has moved on again.

Some restocking of the dam has been undertaken but we must stress that this dam will probably be empty again with the onset of the dry season - and when it does we will try get in to investigate and deal with the cause of the leaks.

On the gardens, things have not gone as fast as we might have hoped. Labour costs and direction remains an issue. We hope to have someone permanently there in a supervisory position soon. We take this opportunity to thank Mr. & Mrs P. te Velde for their kind efforts in coming to assist with the gardening as and when they could. We hope that they will continue in their efforts despite the frustrations; we really need their knowledge and dedication. Thanks also to Mr Mills, the Spooner family and Mr Dakin for assistance in cutting the grass which responded quickly to the early rains.

The lantana below the Upper Dam is being tackled, while the Aloe Garden is steadily being cleared and replanted. Care is however being taken so that the aloes are not disturbed unduly to ensure that we have a good flowering season later in the year. Several exotic trees have been felled and we must thank Beaver Tree Felling for the donation of time and expertise. Not everyone will be happy with the demise of the Jacaranda, Phyotlacca and Norfolk Pines but we assure you that many other Indigenous trees have already been planted in their place.

Re-licensing of the tearoom is still with Bulawayo City Council and we apologise to all of those who come to the Dams hoping that something is in place. It will be ready within a month as it is due to be discussed at the next full council meeting of the BCC.

The Banff Road entrance is being transformed as a rustic guardhouse is erected. A second guardhouse will soon go up at the Impala Road entrance. Our sincere thanks to MacAlisters, Davis Granite, MacDonald’s Bricks and United Portland cement who have made this possible. Two booms are being fabricated by Nimr & Chapman and thanks to them.

The old braai area has been restored and several additional benches and tables have been put in place thanks to the Ewing family. It is proving again to a popular weekend venue. Please remember to bring your own wood and remove all litter.

The toilets near the tearoom are being refurbished. Doors are in place and the plumbing is being repaired and facilities upgraded. We are thankful to Mr. & Mrs R. Lasker and Bathroom Vogue for their facilitating this. The toilets will be locked at times other than the weekends but keys can be obtained at the office or from one of our staff. We still need some help with the roof, paint and toilet consumables. If you can assist please contact us.

When the guard gates are in place we will make a small entry charge to cover part of our running costs. This is not designed to exclude anyone. The rates will be reasonable and the modalities are still being discussed. We will let you know well in advance. Initially it will cover cars, relying on your good will for donations to cover people and use of facilities. Entrance cards for a 6 monthly and annual basis will be available. We would in fact prefer that people take up this option for reasons of ease and security. Senior citizens will be exempt and we need to decide on how their entrance cards are distributed. If you have any comments and suggestions on these matters please let us know.

We must ask that people respect the rules of the area. Signs are presently being put in place. However existing BCC rules continue to apply – no dogs off their leash near the tearoom; no fishing in the Lower Dam; no swimming and boating; no radios; no cars on the grass, littering etc.

Please can you book beforehand for any functions. This can be done through the office on 242490 or by email. Bookings need to be done well ahead of time so other users can fit it in and get the necessary police clearance. Donations for the use of the area for these functions would be much appreciated. This would apply to parties, church gatherings and society meetings. We are not trying to hinder your visits just avoid unnecessary conflicts and have it safe.

Remember that fishing this is restricted to the Upper Dam. We have had advice from John Minshull, our fish expert, who says that the current off take is not a problem and that there are ample fish to cope. We may however have to put some sections of the shoreline off-limits for the wild birds and breeding. Please note that there is a daily fee for fishing payable at the office or to our staff who go around with the receipt book.

On the topic one lucky fisherman recently hauled in a massive carp after a fight of 21 minutes. He says he has seen bigger!!! He also believes that there is indeed a small crocodile in the Upper Dam so please beware.

There is still much to do and we appreciate all the assistance we are getting. We touched by the generosity of the Bulawayo community, well aware of the difficult times that we are all going through. We are still looking for a responsible person to man the office as well as any offers of garden equipment, assistance with labour, and children’s play equipment.

Various external well-wishers have pledged assistance and we are very grateful for their support. The modalities will be put in place so that we can use this to procure the imported components necessary for the security fence that we require. Please let us know if you are able to assist in anyway, wherever you are. Email estate@hillsidedams.com

We are also grateful for all the support and letters of acknowledgement we have received from members of the public. It is encouraging that the people are again reclaiming this special place.

Remember to check out the website

http://www.hillsidedams.com

Send us comments, corrections and pictures

Rob Burrett