Eight kilometres. That is only eight times one kilometre, or five minutes at 120 km/hour. It is cycling distance or even jogging distance for some. Yes, that is how close nature has come to town when Waterlake Farm opened its doors to its new residents.
We grew up in the suburbs, before security became an issue in this country. Long rolling lawns, a tennis court, and zipping off on our bicycles to our buddies in the neighbourhood without even telling our parents. You could kick a ball as hard as you could and it would still land in your own yard. The only fences we knew were the low wire types that kept our dogs and the neighbours out of each other’s hair, and on which my mother grew berries.
First came the fences, then came the rules. Six-foot walls eventually became eight, and then got graced with electrical wires on top. Alarms moved from inside to out, shifting the focus of protection from property to people. Our land became smaller, as we felt the need to huddle together for better common protection. Gone were the open spaces and the freedom to roam within our suburbs or so I thought until I saw Waterlake Farm.
I have often cycled past the Waterlake gates out on the Boschkop road. It is blissful being out in the countryside with very first light, the early-morning breeze pushing through your face and the water birds in the wetlands stirring up the day. Finally, I decided that I had to see what waited behind these gates, and took a drive and walk through with one of the Waterlake Farm representatives.
As a farm, the old Waterlake must have been a real gem, all 300 hectares of it. It is etched in the North by a rising hill, sloping down towards the most beautiful and expansive stretch of water in Pretoria. This is no pond. It is a real lake, with clean water from the Bronberg and a living, breathing ecosystem of fish and birds that thrive in these wetlands.
The lay-out of the modern estate has given careful attention to the contours of both the land and the river that feeds the lake, and large swathes of bushveld trees were left undisturbed to offer shelter to the antelope and residents alike who share this green lung. The waterside has a green picnic area, and a small jetty or two allows swimmers, kayakers and small sailboat owners to enjoy the finest feature of this farm. No motorised sports are allowed.
Waterlake Farm is already a massive development success. All stands are sold despite the recessions and Covid. According to residents, the biggest obstacle has been people’s perception that it is too far out. Yet, my quick drive out there and back puts that misplaced perception to rest. And security is absolutely top-notch, with three fence perimeters and 24/7 guarding on-site.
A large contingent of families have already made Waterlake Farm their permanent home, and have built beautiful houses. The tennis courts, gym facility, squash courts and indoor swimming pool are already in use. Open stands are available right against the river, and where people have built or are busy building, a certain sensibility appears to permeate the area. Clearly this nature development appeals to people who are well-anchored
As we turn back to leave, I watch the sunset to the west throwing its last beams over a father and son on the opposite bank casting their fishing lines. And as scripted, two deer are grazing on the greenest grasses next to us when we cross the bridge over the lake. I can smell the fresh water and imagine myself and my kids on kayaks exploring the deeper reaches of the lake close to the forest section where I noticed hoof prints and cycle tracks earlier. It is with a sense of relief that I drive home marvelling at the ingenuity of some who have wrestled back our love of nature and space from that impostor, security.
Waterlake Farm is literally on our suburban doorstep, and just one more property boom away from being part of town. I cannot help tilting my hat to the clever wordsmith who wrote the remarkably accurate description that Waterlake Farm is the finest country estate in town…
Extract from an article by Charl du Plessis published in Capital Life 2010