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Water pipe repair

Whilst we could get by in the nursery using municipal water for the time being the community veggie garden is entirely dependant on our pipe so we decided to tackle that first.

It turned out to be quite a complicated affair as our next door neighbour, Thomas, is not keen to have our pipe across his land and suggested we use this opportunity to reroute it along his perimeter. This adds a considerable distance but at least it would run through a servitude and be accessible to us.

Thanks to the generosity of various people we managed to get the pipe donated as Ellie’s FB post shows:

A very big THANK YOU to Wesley Goddard from Ideal valves, to Andre Pietersen from Multi plastics and Kyle Trytsman from Astore, you all made this possible. If it wouldn’t have been for your generous donations we would never have been able to get this fixed already. The community vegi’s got water this afternoon and from what we heard they are already looking much happier. Just a thank you is far not powerful enough for the gift you have given!

We would not be able to finish the whole project in one go so Ellie used her considerable charms to talk Thomas into allowing us to do a temporary repair and just replace the burnt pipe across his land which we set out to do together with Cathy, Keith and Rob and also with David and Tony from the Farming God’s Way vegetable garden project.


Ellie checking out where we can attach the new pipe with the arboretum in the far distance.


The damaged pipe snaking through the burnt trees.


The new temporary pipe being laid.


Part of the new route where we attach the pipe to the fence.


Rob opened the stopcock on the far side and, after what felt like an eternity, the water is flowing again.

Tony is very happy he can water his plants again.

Conflagration–the positives

One can dwell on all the damage that the fire has done, all the signs gone, the bird hide gone, our water supply gone, picnic tables gone, some of the planting burnt etc. but that is pretty self-defeating so we try to look for the positives and the opportunities this new situation brings.


For the past few month we have tried to trace the old Boulder Trail along the western boundary. Once it was one of the more spectacular trails in the Reserve but Wesley closed it down after some people got into difficulties. It was now very overgrown and we did not have the time and the resources to open it up again. Well, the fire did it for us and it was very exciting to figure out how it went amongst the still smouldering anthills and pine tree stumps.

The cycads along the way looked rather desolate but they will recover.

10-P1070251-001There are still quite a few burnt sticks to be negotiated so we turned out pretty black. Though the path is a little exposed in places it offers some spectacular views across the gorge and to the river below. It would be a great addition to the perimeter trail between the River Walk and the Link Trail and also provide better access to control the wattle, pines and hakea on these slopes.

The trail winds it way down to the river turning into a bit of a dead end so we climbed upwards to the Lookout picnic area which would fit in better with the overall layout of the various trails.11-P1070254

We also had been looking for the trig beacon which is somewhere in the Reserve but due to dense, impenetrable bush have not been able to find it. Well, now it was a breeze,


The vane was lying next to it, so I fixed that and I think with a lick of paint it could be a nice landmark, These beacons are now obsolete but people are trying to preserve them so why not.


We are also looking forward to see the vegetation recover and following their progress just as we are doing with the Paranomus in the Arboretum. Just eight days after the fire we saw the first fire lilies and that with no rain at all.


I’m catching up with this blog because it has been quite hectic after the fire which was the most extensive fire in the reserve for years. It apparently started in Longmore forest and, due to very strong westerly winds, made its way to the Van Stadens gorge and burnt large areas around Thornhill, Lady Slipper and beyond.

We went to check up the day after to see what was left and it was very little. Thank goodness the nursery, most of the Arboretum and some sections which burnt last year were spared.

I think it is best said with some images:


Ellie looking at what’s left of the ‘Big Bang’, just the previous week we admired the Sterculia in full flower, now only a stump is left.


The remnants of the bird hide we were so proud of and, judging by all the comments in the now vanished visitors book, was popular with many. Not to mention the trees and various flowers we planted around it.


A blue haze still hung over the forest which was largely saved but some trees have fallen over and were still smouldering.


Electricity supply was interrupted and some poles had to be replaced.


Miraculously the wooden seat on Rob’s Roost was still intact though badly scorched, not sure if it will still be useable.


The very solid picnic table at the lookout which has been there for many years is damaged beyond repair and the plaque honouring Gwen Skinner has disappeared.

It has been a very hot fire judging by the extent to which the Proteas have burnt and, even though many seeds have spread, it remains to be seen how quickly everything will recover during this severe drought.


The fire also spread to the neighbouring farm with the result that a large section of our water supply pipe has burnt. This leaves the community vegetable garden run by ‘Farming God’s Way’ without water to irrigate.

Forest Walk

The monthly meeting for a change was not about work but about enjoying ourselves and we were curious how the forest coped with the drought. It was remarkable how dry and sparse the vegetation on the forest floor had become and how many leaves the trees had shed.

A positive aspect of this was that we could see the lay of the land much better and we noticed rock formations we hadn’t seen before.


We took our time to inspect and discuss everything …


and had a lovely rest at the trickle which remains of the forest stream.

There were still a few plants in flower including this Heamanthus albiflos


Afterwards the two birthday boys, Rob and Keith, were treated to their own special individual birthday cakes lovingly baked by Ellie.