Our area runs alongside the forest for more than a kilometre, we have some spectacular tree-lined avenues, there are hidden waterways and anyone fortunate enough to have a garden in Newlands knows that pretty much anything grows here. We are very lucky.

Keeping it all looking good, however, is more down to hard work than luck. And it takes many people make that magic happen: the NRA’s Environment Portfolio and Green Team, the City’s Department of Recreation & Parks, The Friends of Paradise Park, the Friends of Kent Road, the Friends of the Liesbeek, the Alfred Road park gardeners and many more.

Valuable open spaces in the NRA area:

1. Papenboom Meadow
2. Pinewood Road Park
3. Palmboom Park
4. Kent Road Park
5. Paradise Park
6. Newlands Avenue
7. M3 ‘Green Belt’
8. Newlands’ Streams incl. the Liesbeek River (blue lines)

All of the public open spaces fall under the authority of the Dept. of Recreation & Parks. They have a mandate to mow grass, prune trees, maintain walkways, etc. But, like every public body, they have limited resources and the NRA’s ethos is do as much of the work ourselves as we can – and ask the City to step in when we don’t have the skills or the equipment.

In practice this means that we can collaborate with Rec. & Parks to help shape our parks to residents’ needs. We use volunteers and part-time staff to landscape and maintain where we can, while the City mows and does the heavy lifting where necessary. For example, at Papenboom Meadow, Chumani Sayo works for the NRA once a fortnight, to keep the park in good order, and if we approach them with a planting idea, the City never fail to bring in saplings from their nursery.

Hidden away in Kent Road, the small but perfectly formed Kent Road Park is a little oasis in the village, with an active residents support group.

Paradise Park is a big and many featured park. It has a formal playground, the Liesbeek River, wonderful tree-house structures, swings, and picnic areas. It is also the venue for the recently revived Duck Races.

It’s amazing to think that much of this was reclaimed from overgrown chaos by residents, not so many years ago.

Papenboom Meadow, opposite the BP garage on Newlands Avenue, is another reclaimed jewel. It can be accessed from Newlands Avenue or the Green Belt. It has woodland, open grassy areas, wild meadow and the new Fynbos Circle.

There’s a wonderful stream running through it, apparently arising from little spring in the middle of the park but this is actually an overflow from the real spring under the concrete cover at the top of the park – the source of water for the Newlands Brewery.

Palmboom Park is a huge favourite with young families. Great play equipment for small kids, completely fenced and a good ethic about picking up litter and dog poo.

There is always someone in this park, usually with a pram! After a some petty vandalism by overnight visitors, the NRA and the local residents asked for permission to manage access to the park – so it is locked up from dusk to dawn.

Pinewood Park punches above its weight! Despite being very simple, it is a much-used open space, tucked away in Upper Newlands. If the residents wanted to put up some payground equipment here, I am sure that our Councillor would oblige. Perhaps a project for this year?

The Green Belt along ‘our’ side of the M3 used to be a rather forbidding, and sometimes unsafe, straggly mess. Over several years that has been progressively cleared and landscaped by the Green Team (a joint effort by the Lockyer family and the NRA). The City has put down a great path and now it’s a real asset to the many walkers and cyclists who use this stretch to reach the mountain, via the Cedar Road underpass.