Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

The Westdene Dam is part of the series of connected streams flowing through Johannesburg. The dam was designed to reduce the impact of flood peaks and erosion potential of nearby spruits. It is also a park and a facility that supports plant and animal life.

Where is the Westdene dam?

The Westdene Dam is located near the South African Post Office (on Thornton street), the University of Johannesburg (Auckland Park, Kingsway Campus) and UJ sport fields. Entrance to the dam is free and it operates daily (weekdays and weekends) from 6am – 6pm.

Where is Westdene?

Westdene is predominantly a residential area located between Melville and Triomf in Johannesburg. It is close to Johannesburg City Business District and it is a place of choice for student accommodation.

My visit to the Westdene Dam

Although I live around Westdene, I drove and hiked past the Westdene Dam for more than two months before my visit to the dam. I remember staring at the dam’s beautiful free ranging team of waterfowls through its ClearVu security fence. Hiking over the cycle and pedestrian skywalker gave me an impressive view of the Westdene Dam. But, I was always shocked to find this interesting place often deserted. This peaked my curiosity and I wanted to find out what the Westdene Dam was all about and to share my experience.

Ducks, geese and playground at Westdene Dam

Ducks and geese at the Westdene Dam

I eventually found time to visit on a Saturday. Entering through the Lewes road access gate, my first encounter was with a raft of ducks I had been admiring from across the road. Neatly organised in two groups, they scrambled through trash left behind probably by visitors. The ducks were easy going and beautiful. The team of waterfowl I came across were made up of different breeds ranging from the yellow-billed duck, white-faced duck, Egyptian geese, snow goose and the Toulouse geese. They mind their business and pose no threat to visitors.

Playground and outdoor gym at the Westdene Dam

The Westdene Dam is an interesting community recreation area that offers great views, amazing relaxation spots, functional outdoor full body gym equipment and a well managed children’s playground.

The playground at the Westdene Dam

The outdoor gym equipment at the dam is great for members of the community to keep fit, for free. All the equipment comes with instruction labels which make them public-friendly. The kids section is also packed with different outdoor recreational equipment that is safe, structured and modern.

The gym at the Westdene Dam

Restrictions at the Westdene Dam

A number of rules are on display on the public boards around the dam. Some of the prohibitions include:

  • The littering and dumping of refuse.
  • Setting up of any sort of fireplace, braai or bush burning.
  • The riding of motorcycles are disallowed in the park but bicycles are acceptable.
  • Alcohol and drug use is highly forbidden
  • Camping is not allowed
  • Loud music is forbidden
  • Guns and any forms of dangerous weapons are forbidden
  • Sleeping at the park is not allowed
  • Feeding of the ducks and geese are prohibited
  • Trading within the park is forbidden
  • Swimming in the dam is not allowed
  • Fishing is not allowed
  • Boat riding is also forbidden

Permissions at the Westdene Dam

Meanwhile, the following activities are allowed on The Westdene dam:

  • Cameras
  • The use of the playing ground by kids however, adult supervision is advised for children below the age of 10.
  • Bicycle riding
  • Pets are allowed

Westdene dam bus disaster memorial

A memorial for school students stands on the dam’s northwest bank which is at a corner close to the Westdene Dam wall. The memorial stone which was built in 2009 represents the remembrance of 41 school children who lost their lives after their double decker school bus lost control, ramped through the road barricades on the bridge and drowned in the Westdene Dam on the 27th of March 1985. It remains one of the darkest moments for the Westdene community.

The park at the Westdene dam

The dam has a park with open grass fields, an appealing landscape and giant trees. Taking a seat on one of the concrete benches (near a curvy footpath) is a great way to observe the tranquility of nature. You will notice the intermittent quacks of the marching ducks and geese scavenging the park and marvel as they suddenly nose dives into the water. The sweet chirping and singing of the birds also add to the tranquility of the dam. The Westdene Dam is a pleasant and therapeutic distraction from the seriousness and busyness of life in the City of Johannesburg.

The park at the Westdene dam

The award winning dam

The Westdene Dam is a great initiative of Johannesburg City Parks and Joburg Zoo. It has even won a number of awards, including the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Gold Award for Specialised Landscape Design as well as the SALI Silver Award for Environmental and Water Wise Landscaping in 2017. In the spirit of maintaining the award-winning scenery, Joburg City Parks should consider providing more trash bins and constructing public toilets.

Entry into the Westdene Dam is free

The Westdene Dam is a free, safe and pleasant place for quality quiet time during the day. It offers a host of opportunities for personal and family recreation.

Please feel free to share your comments, questions or experience of the Westdene Dam. You can also read our review of the James Hall Transport Museum in Johannesburg.