South Para Reservoir, Williamstown, officially opens to recreational activity

With the official opening of the South Para Reservoir for public use from this Saturday, well known SA poet and writer will also be on hand to share in the experience.

The reservoir, outside Williamstown, opens December 7 to recreational activity including kayaking, fishing, bushwalking and picnicking.

Mr Johnson will join at 9am to talk about the people who lived at the work camps during the dam's construction.

"I spent my entire childhood, from six months old (1951) to twelve years of age (1962), growing up in the 'Married Workmen's Camp', affectionately remembered as the Twenty House site," he shared.

"As I grew older and began to write, I visited as many past residents of the work camps as I could to record their experiences for future generations."

There were two other work camps on the site. The 'Seven House Site', which housed the resident engineer, office workers, canteen operators and kitchen staff, and the 'Single local men's/Immigrant labourers Camp'.

"Their stories are fascinating and testament to the origins of the multicultural society we enjoy today," he said.

Mr Johnson's talk will begin at the entry gates to South Para Reservoir with a story about the nightly bus deliveries of men from the Yatala Labour Prison, and those described as 'vagrants loitering about the streets of Adelaide'.

"How they, and others fared in, by today's standards, tough living conditions and hard manual work."

His self-published book, Twenty Houses - an anecdotal history of the building of the South Para Reservoir 1948-1958, will be available on the day. A banner display will be on show, depicting the various aspects of work camp/working life.

There will also be a display of authentic jars and bottles which were from the original rubbish dump used by the residents of the work camps.

The free event kicks off at 9am and for details visit: www.reservoirs.sa.gov.au.