A PLAN to reopen the South Para Reservoir to the public is gaining momentum, since the idea was first brought to the community’s attention last month.
In March, local historian Martin Johnson launched an appeal to have the reservoir reopened permanently or, at the very least, for a 60th anniversary of the site’s commissioning, scheduled for next year.
He cited the cultural and social significance of the reservoir, which contained camps to house labourers and their families during its construction between 1948-58, resulting in the growth of the nearby Williamstown township.
Last week, Water Minister Ian Hunter told the Legislative Assembly SA Water will be planning to commemorate the reservoir’s 60th anniversary.
“I am advised activities will include displays of photographs, historical artefacts and records of the important and fascinating history of South Para,” he said.
“SA Water will work closely with the Barossa Council to ensure the activities are well-promoted to the local community.”
Mr Johnson has also received enough support from the public to form the South Para Anniversary Committee, which has already met twice to begin planning next year’s special event.
Committee member and former campsite resident Shauna Gejas, whose father worked on the reservoir all his working life and drove the children of labourers to the nearby Williamstown school, jumped at the opportunity to help organise the anniversary.
“I grew up there when I was small,” she said.
“When he (Mr Johnson) let me know that this was going to happen I was so excited, I had to get on board.”
Fellow committee member and Williamstown resident Tony Lange said the anniversary would be the perfect opportunity to relive old friendships and memories, and reflect on the reservoir’s impact on the town.
“I just want to catch up with a whole lot of people that I haven’t seen for a while, and also to enlighten the public about what it was like in the town at the time, when everything was going on,” he said.
“It was a huge thing, it doubled the size of Williamstown.”
Mr Hunter said there were no plans to reopen the reservoir – which was closed to the public in 2010 while works to upgrade the spillway were undertaken – at this point in time.
“However, I am advised that SA Water can facilitate tours on request for local groups interested in seeing the reservoir,” he said.