Johannesburg

Bordeaux South Park

Entrances are highlighted by Arches and Aloes, welcoming you into the Park

Entrances are highlighted by Arches and Aloes, welcoming you into the Park

Tucked away in the boomed off suburb of Bordeaux South (the suburb is roughly located between Hurlingham and Blairgowrie in Randburg) in Johannesburg, lies a beautiful community park. The Park is well maintained and cared for through the efforts of the active residents association (BSRA- http://www.bsra.co.za/) who have invested a fair amount of money into upgrading the Park and this has really made such a difference.

A quote from the Bordeaux South Residents Association website:

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” George Bernard Shaw

Clear Pathways, Seating, Litter Bins all contribute to making this an enjoyable park

Clear Pathways, Seating, Litter Bins all contribute to making this an enjoyable park

Bike Track with Traffic Lights for Kids

Bike Track with Traffic Lights for Kids

The Park is well used by families because of the extensive play equipment making this an amazing playground for kids of all ages. There are shady spots for picnics, several seating options, a volleyball court, a bike track with miniature traffic lights, and even a small free community library that residents donate books to.

Free Community Library

Free Community Library

New jungle gyms for smaller tots have recently been installed with rubber matting surfaces.

New jungle gyms for smaller tots have recently been installed with rubber matting surfaces.

Signage indicates the appropriate ages for the play equipment

Signage indicates the appropriate ages for the play equipment

Water Bowls for Dogs visiting the Park

Water Bowls for Dogs visiting the Park

The Bordeaux South Residents Association is making a difference at improving their suburb

The Bordeaux South Residents Association is making a difference at improving their suburb

Such a lovely park to visit if you have kids. Take Note that there are no ablution facilities at the Park.

Delta Park

Delta Park is one of my favourite outdoor spaces in Johannesburg and I regularly (almost weekly) go there to walk my dogs, picnic with friends, run or let my daughter play on the jungle gyms. It really is a wonderful, slightly wild space to visit to take a breather from city life. It is also a park that you can visit in every season and I always enjoy seeing the beautiful changes that take place throughout the year. The Autumn colours are particularly striking with a stunning display of golds, yellows, oranges and reds. This is preceded by an explosion of Cosmos flowers in the area where the veldgrass is left to grow tall. Even Winter can be striking with bare branches reflecting in the cool waters of the lakes. See images below taken on a cold and frosty Winter's morning:

Top Dam

Top Dam

Middle Dam

Middle Dam

Winter Reflections in Delta Park
Dogs love running free in the wide open spaces

Dogs love running free in the wide open spaces

The park is situated between Craighall Park, Victory Park and Blairgowrie in Johannesburg. It is 104 hectares and consists of mostly grassland and woodland with abundant birdlife which can be viewed from two bird hides. The park includes the fenced off Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary as well as the Delta Environmental Centre which offers environmental programmes to children and also has an auditorium and function room for hire. For a detailed history of the park and how it evolved from a sewerage works to the green space it is today see Jane Carruthers article on the Delta Environmental Centre website.

The Park is very well used, especially on weekends, and is frequented by joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, families that picnic or have birthday parties and is also often used as a location for photo shoots.

Sensitivity Map by Launch Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning - www.launchlandarch.co.za

Sensitivity Map by Launch Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning - www.launchlandarch.co.za

Poplar Walkway that borders the Delta Park School

Poplar Walkway that borders the Delta Park School

This field is stunning when the Cosmos are in flower

This field is stunning when the Cosmos are in flower

Graffiti in a few selected areas, like this old reservoir, give character and make a great backdrop for photo shoots

Graffiti in a few selected areas, like this old reservoir, give character and make a great backdrop for photo shoots

Children's Play Area

Children's Play Area

A walk around the perimeter of the park will take roughly an hour and is about 5km. This is also the route used by Park Run every Saturday where often up to 2000 participants enjoy some exercise. When the serious runners have left you will find many dog walkers often with their dogs off their leads. A riding stable nearby offers lessons and rides through the park so it is not uncommon to see horses being taken on a slow trot through the park. There are also Girl and Boy Scouts bordering the park.

Party on the Grass next to the Top Dam

Party on the Grass next to the Top Dam

Pathway along Top Dam where houses have opened up views onto the Park

Pathway along Top Dam where houses have opened up views onto the Park

I have two parts of the park that I particularly love: the Top Dam where the adjacent lawn and big trees make it a very tranquil and inviting space and you will often see groups of people gathering here. The other area is the walk along the Braamfontein Spruit. The Spruit connects Emmarentia Park in the South and runs all the way through the suburbs to Rivonia in the North. This green belt has enormous potential as a circulation route for pedestrians and cyclists. It is already well used by cyclists but the paths are very informal (a single dirt track mostly used by mountain bikers) and certain areas are inhabited by vagrants which creates a feeling of unease. It would be wonderful to see what this park could become if the City of Joburg had the budget to apply interventions. It could become a world class inner city park that allows for sport and recreation, creates linkages, creates work opportunities, brings nature back, promotes tourism, encourages healthier lifestyles and gives Johannesburg a positive and connecting network of green open space.

Top Dam - view across to Dam Wall

Top Dam - view across to Dam Wall

Blue Bridge into Green Belt from Craighall Park

Blue Bridge into Green Belt from Craighall Park

Walkway along Braamfontein Spruit in Green Belt underneath Pylons

Walkway along Braamfontein Spruit in Green Belt underneath Pylons

The beautiful River often with Yellowbilled Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Swallows and Lapwings to be seen. Sometimes the dogs jump in the water and chase the ducks around :)

The beautiful River often with Yellowbilled Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Swallows and Lapwings to be seen. Sometimes the dogs jump in the water and chase the ducks around :)

All images in this blog were taken using my phone so are unfortunately not the best quality. Even though it is advisable to leave your valuables at home when visiting any public place in South Africa, I often take my phone along and keep it hidden from view. 

Further Reading:

http://www.jhbcityparks.com/index.php/list-of-parks-mainmenu-39/36-delta-park

https://deltaenviro.org.za/rand-water-water-wise-garden/

http://www.parkrun.co.za/delta/

https://www.lucilledavie.co.za/single-post/2011/09/09/Birds-flock-to-Delta-Park

https://www.lucilledavie.co.za/single-post/2002/05/02/Delta-Park-proves-that-exotics-can-be-useful

IERM Convention: Olifantsvlei Cemetery

I was fortunate to sit next to Reggie Moloi who not only acted as tour guide, giving us entertaining commentary as we drove through Soweto, but also passionately shared insights into the City of Johannesburg’s cemeteries. He proudly told me about the numerous awards the Diepsloot Cemetry has won... how the Jewish and Muslim sectors of Westpark Cemetry are run… how the crematoriums were mostly run by the Hindu community and how objective you need to be in this line of work when most people can be irrational and highly emotive. Another wealth of information in this field is a recently published book called “A journey through Johannesburg’s Parks, Cemeteries and Zoo” by Lucille Davie which was showcased at the convention.

Reggie continued to explain that Avalon Cemetry is 172 hectrares with a 45 hectare extension, but some areas are too rocky and it is nearing full capacity. Furthermore, all central cemeteries (besides Westpark) are full. For this reason the City of Johannesburg looked to Olifantsvlei to be the new cemetery that will serve Soweto. It is 400 hectares and estimated to last sixty years with 888,000 first burials. I found the “recycling” of graves quite interesting: one grave can be used for up to three burials as long as it is within the same family. Reggie jokingly said, “If we mix family graves, the ancestors will fight”.  

The cemetery has most infrastructure in place including roads, trees and impressive gabion entrances to the various sections of the cemetery. The circular forms referred to as “cells” give the cemetery an organic and spacious feel. Cells will have different themes including areas with headstones, a full memorial and a memorial garden with only plaques. The wall that has been built around the cemetery (at a cost of R80 million) has been built specifically to incorporate gaps in the pillars so that small animals can pass through it. This is to comply with the environmental impact assessments done for the site.

One problem they are facing, which is preventing the cemetery from opening, is constructing the entrance. Council has indicated that an expensive bridge needs to be built because of the busy road it is located on. There are further ambitious plans for the cemetery, including introducing game into the conservation area close to the stream, employing 200 people, building a one stop commercial facility with florists etc. and removing the paving in future to maximize space.