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Newsletter of the Hillside Dams Conservancy
Issue No. 3 - 24 April 2010

Greetings to all our friends after a bit of a break. Thank-you for your continued support and the regular emails that we receive – it is always encouraging. The summer rains were a bit of a mixed bag this year and the seasonal total masks several long dry spells followed by the late deluges that we have experienced of late. Sadly it is unlikely that the two dams will fill this year. The Upper Dam is still about 20cm short while the Lower Dam is about 40% capacity. Hopefully we will get through the coming dry times.

We continue to work away at various projects in the Conservancy and it is looking good, even if we say so ourselves. I took a long walk out-and-about this morning to work out our coming weeks’ strategies; this was despite the apparent “winter chill” of most mornings of late. Our plan remains to maintain several areas around the Lower Dam and between the Lower and Upper Dam. These will be kept open as public space for general recreation. For interest here are two photographs of a portion of the Lower Dam lawn in April three years apart.

April 2007

April 2010

The remaining portion of the Conservancy will be left wild, although we will continue working on removing lantana and other invasive plants such as the dreaded “Mexican Sunflower” – that orange-flowered pest that has infested huge areas of Bulawayo including most road verges. Several paths through these wild areas will be kept open for those of us wanting a stroll in nature or for the birders/tree specialists to enjoy their thing.

The task of keeping open the general recreational area has not been easy what with limited budget and equipment, but we were much better prepared this year. Yes, we lost control of some sections but we achieved much. Thanks in particular to Mr. Dakin for assisting us with his tractor to mow the main lawns early in the season and to JK Motors who recently sourced for us a wonderful 3-wheel heavy-duty mower. It is a real gem and will enable us stay ahead of the growth next year.

Other improvements include an upgraded entrance to the Conservancy off Banff Road; the repair, painting and relocation of many of the old benches; building of additional braai area both on the far side of the Lower Dam and towards the Aloe Garden; road repairs; closing off gaps in the boundary walls (“security challenges”); putting in a further volleyball court; and then there are the many other smaller issues – weeding, tree trimming, repairs to toilets, clearing up after visitors, repairing and upgrading sewage systems …..

We will soon be finishing a security boom at the Impala Road. Be assured that all income, and more, goes straight back into the Conservancy.

The Dams still attract considerable numbers of people from across the City. We cannot deny that it gives us real pleasure to see the numbers of people who do come; a mixture of ethnicities, income, age and interests. Several church groups have become regulars marking special festivities or simply seeking a suitable place for recollection. Birthday parties are also a regular feature, and we remember earlier this year when a number of families came together to hold a joint party for their young people. It was a pleasure to host them.

A recent event was our first wedding at the Dams. It was a wonderful afternoon and we are currently establishing a suitable area/open chapel for future memorable days.

Like many of us we were very disappointed when the Cancer Association event “Music by Moonlight” was postponed following a massive storm. It was all go and then the heavens opened with tropical vengeance. We look forward to its happening in May. The Association does so much important work in Bulawayo but is facing serious financial constraints. Please come along and assist them to help themselves. We, the Conservancy, are proud to be associated with this good cause and it is precisely community-related events like this that we encourage at the Dams.

The Boma remains busy, especially over weekends and public holidays. We are delighted to welcome our new manager, Soraya, and look forward to her extending the menu and service hours. We aim to open on some evenings on a regular basis as well as resuming the popular special evening functions – theme evenings, picnics under the stars etc. Please watch this space.

We hope to see you at the Dams soon,think of those balmy winter days out in the Conservancy!!! By the way, it is indeed true that we had a wild elephant through the Conservancy one early morning last week. Coming from the south it broke several of our trees, swam through the Lower Dam, chased a pedestrian who had to hop the locked boom and then it headed off to the golf course and Woodlands suburb. We did not believe it. ‘It is not 1 April’, ‘was it a pink elephant drinking gin’ or ‘what were you smoking’ were our initial replies when told. However, the tracks were there plain to see. When was the last time there was an elephant at the Dams?

Lost-&-Found this Month

In clearing in the Conservancy came across a number of interesting bits and pieces.

There are those old milk bottles – 1 or 2 pints as well as more recent 600ml from DMB or MD (was the later the Model Dairy?).

There was the rusty remains of a FN clip and then the pictured wizard – is it Gandalf the Grey or Merlin?

Less interesting is the unwanted garbage that some neighbours still dump on the property. It is sad that some people still abuse the situation.

The Hillside Dams Boma is currently open from 9-6 (summer hours) but we will change as winter arrives. For peak times, especially over the weekends, it is desirable to book ahead of time. Their number is 242490.Why not join us after work as the Dams are a great place in the late afternoon. We can arrange group or corporate sundowners and/or evening events. Do contact us.

Hillside Dams, Banff Road, Hillside | Tel + 263 9 242490 | Email estate@hillsidedams.com