South Para’s past revisited

WILLIAMSTOWN locals shared fond memories as they toured through the South Para Reservoir on Friday.
Martin Johnson, Shauna Gejas and Colin Wilksch told countless stories of their time living and working at the reservoir, as part of a visit to prepare for a major celebration later this year.
The trio are all members of the South Para Anniversary Committee and will be hosting an event to commemorate the reservoir’s 60th birthday on October 17.
At the occasion, Mr Johnson will also launch the republication of his book ‘Twenty Houses’, which is a record of the social history of the South Para.
Both he and Mrs Gejas lived in the Twenty Houses site as children with, in the early years of the reservoir’s construction, with their parents while Mr Wilksch worked at the South Para.
Today, the South Para’s Twenty Houses site lays relatively bare and is closed to the public.
But on Friday’s tour, a variety of small artefacts and remnants of the houses were found.
“It’s unusual to see something like this left there, but that’s all that remains of someone’s back step,” Mr Johnson said, while looking at a concrete structure.
“We are standing in what would have been the laundry.
“It was quite substantial what you had in the house, it was three bedrooms with a passageway.
“You would get the outside painted, but you could only have two rooms inside the house painted, so you had to pick…that was due to budgetary (constraints).”
The trio, led by an SA Water staff member, continued through the site and found abandoned glass bottles, a Vegemite jar and a make-up compact.
Mr Johnson and Mrs Gejas both described life at the reservoir as relatively progressive, saying their homes both contained flushing toilets and had electricity.
In contrast, the pair said the majority of the homes in the nearby Williamstown township had neither.
“Even though we were living out here in the scrub in the camp (we had flush toilets),” Mr Johnson said.
“(But) when we moved into Williamstown it was back to the kerosene bucket.”
During the visit, the trio also stopped and viewed the old tennis court site and the reservoir’s spillway.
“It is just a wonderful thing to come out here and see where we grew up as kids,” Mr Johnson said.
For more information on the South Para’s 60th birthday celebration, or to register interest in attending, contact Mr Johnson ( or 8522 4268).


Growing up in Roseworthy and attending Kapunda High School, Laura joins The Bunyip in June, 2016 whilst completing the final year of a double degree in Journalism and International Relations at University of SA. This is Laura's first role as a Journalist following a stint at Gawler Council in the Communications Department. She will cover the news in the Playford and Mallala council regions. Outside of work, Laura enjoys anything health and well-being related, and can be regularly seen shopping for fresh, healthy produce at local markets.

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