Saturday, 4 July 2009

Paddling puddles in Joburg

Joburg's most popular paddling venue is probably Emmarentia Dam - affectionately known as Emmies. Germiston and Florida (West Rand) are also home to paddling clubs and as these dams are bigger than Emmies, they make for good training. My favourite spot is Homestead Dam in Benoni - big, pretty and not as affected by the wind as Germiston.

The only problem with these dams is that they're a 20-50 minute drive from my home. And if the traffic is bad... And yet I live close to Bruma and Gilloolies. These are small dams - like Emmies - but they're not paddling venues. I don't know whether boats are not allowed or whether people just don't paddle there because the water is too shallow (silted up) and too revolting?

I went flying around Google Earth to look for water spots near home. I drew tracks to get an approximation of lap distance. And I found two locations I didn't know existed. I think my new mission may be to give them a try - illegal or not.

All views are taken from 1.45km above.

Emmarentia DamEmmarentia Dam (1.1km)
Joburg's main paddling spot. Dabulamanzi Canoe Club is located to the east of the dam wall. Time trials are on Thursdays. It you paddle from buoy to buoy each lap is meant to be 1km. If you use more of the dam to get max distance you can get in about 1.1km (as per my track).

Germiston LakeGermiston Lake (2.6km)
Germiston Lake is home to canoe, rowing and sailing clubs; and it is also used for open water swimming events. The amount of weed in the water varies - they use one of those machines to pull out the weed. Wind often blows West to East to you get waves on the end near the wall. I haven't paddled here for years because I have psychological issues with this dam - I've swum here too many times. This track is 2.6km.

Homestead Lake, BenoniHomestead Dam, Benoni (3.3km)
This is the one I like - big, pretty and great paddling water. We used this dam a few times last year for long sessions in preparation for Abu Dhabi. I think a canoe club may be on the southern side... there is definitely a sailing club. This lap is 3.3km

Rolfe's Pan Nature Reserve, Jet ParkRolfe's Pan Private Nature Reserve, Jet Park (2.5km)
Now look at this gem! I've never been here. Size is good (2.5km lap)- the water may be quite shallow. If you know anything about this place, let me know. Boats may not be allowed because it is a Private Nature Reserve? It's right in the middle of the Jet Park industrial area - I doubt boats are more of an environmental impact than the airport and surrounding industrial activities...

Bruma LakeBruma Lake (0.8km)
This one is so conveniently close to me - but it is a cess pool. I remember when the lake was built in the early 90's - something to do with controlling flood water from the Jukskei, which flows into the dam from Bez Valley and then through to Gilloolies and then past Alexandra. As varsity students we used to go to student nights at clubs in the shopping centre on the lake's northern shore. Kids would get drunk and jump off the bridge. Now the dam is so badly silted up - looks like the ducks walk on water. A few years ago a number of bodies were pulled from the lake... they drained the dam and cops were wading up to their armpits in silt. Yuck! A pity because this would have been a superb and convenient paddling venue. A lap, as I've drawn it, is 0.8km (lots of stilt where the river comes in on the left). I've never seen a canoe on this dam. I think they had a Dragon Boat race here once? But that must have been 10 years ago perhaps. Now boats probably dissolve in this putrid water.

Gilloolies (0.9km)
This spot of water is downstream of Bruma. I run through the park to access Linksfield Ridge for trail running. Lots of ducks and geese around the lake. Parking lot is about 250m from the water's edge. Again, I've never seen any kayaks here. This lap is 0.9km - that is assuming you can get a boat all around the island, which I think you can. Like Bruma, this water is quite gross.

Primrose Primrose Residential development (1.2km)
I received a flyer at the lights a few weeks ago for a development in Primrose - some kind of 'nature' residential estate with a lake. I didn't know there was a lake in Primrose... I don't think there was one - until the development started. It could be beneficial to me - not far from the cemetry. Lap is 1.2km. Worth checking out...

Meadowdale quarry Meadowdale Quarry (0.85km)
This quarry has been around for decades. It is near the Hyperama. I remember going down to check it out some years ago and I seem to recall the area being fenced in. May need another visit. Water should be decent - maybe.

ModderfonteinModderfontein Nature Reserve (1.4km)
We have this nature reserve mapped for orienteering - I don't think we've run here in about 3 or 4 years. Nice sized dam - bigger than Emmies. Good spot for bird watching. The northern side of this reserve is suffering under Gautrain construction - I don't know how the lake has been affected?

So that's it for the significant water spots on my side of Joburg. Some interesting locations. I'm definitely quite interested in the new Primrose development and also that Pan in Jet Park. Mmmm... I do enjoy paddling and it would be more enjoyable if I didn't have to spend so long in my car to get to water. And this is what makes some of these puddles quite attractive. If you know anything about these lesser-known ponds, let me know.


Viper said...

Rolfe's Pan Private Nature Reserve, Jet Park (2.5km) - if it is the one I am thinking of, then it is in the middle of an industrial access may be a problem.

michael fletcher said...

The Jet Park pan is out of bounds, tried before from the IBM offices bordering on the edge. Was quickly grabbed by a local businessman ! Its a very closely guarded bird sanctuary with no-access signs all around.

Meadowdale is good though. You can phone a number on the gate and speak to the owners who will give you a gate key for a fee ( it was very pricey though ) for a year. There is a jetty but been the old corobrik site up to the early 1980's there is alot of bricks in the water so certain sections get dicey when the level is low. Water is clean but a fall can be fatal with the bricks so close to the surface. Well protected from wind and very quiet. Has loads of potential !!

michael fletcher