By the time we neared the dam, the batteries would have started to run low, and "I got You Babe" would start to sound like it was sung by Tom Jones. Arriving at the water's edge, we would immediately throw in a line, then get out the provisions. Peanut Butter samboes, sardines, Cashel Valley baked beans, onion rolls (from one Glenn Norton), and other assorted leftovers raided from our mom's kitchens.
A Cadac mini-stove would appear, and most of our assorted stash would be dumped in a mess-tin and heated till it boiled.
Mazoe orange, Bengal juice or perhaps some Hubbly-Bubbly would wash the whole lot down, then it was down to some serious fishing, at least for a while! Soon however, some of us would leave the banks to climb the rocks. And oh, what rocks they were! This was Kilimanjaro or the Alps, with thin cracks to wriggle through, leaps between big round boulders,and always the hardest route a compulsory choice. Treasure was rumoured to be hidden in some secret caves, and bushmen remains were sure to be around someplace. A check to make sure that our secret "spot" was still secure, out carved initials in the rocks undisturbed, then back down to the waters edge.
More re-re-heated gunk for lunch, then a doze in the sun, watching the white clouds float past, imagining dragons and warships in the sky.
Soon, too soon, it would be time to go home. Our packs, now minus food, but sometimes with the added weight of a few bream or the odd bass wheighing heavily on our shoulders. The ride back would always be hard, seemingly all up-hill, and with tired legs aching, we would part with a wave and a plan to go again the following week.
I used to live next door to Hillside Dams. If the weather had thrown enough water, listening from the house a roar could be heard. I would rush to the dams as soon as possible.
Between the upper and lower dams, paths that were muddy dust days before would be raging torrents.
The normal crossing points were smooth sheets of water that hinted of the power they had hidden in them, these then poured into the cataracts of paths.
Victoria Falls were nothing, they were too big for me to comprehend.
The dams were my backyard, I could follow the cascading cataracts on paths I had walked and played on, held to their shape by immobile kopjes.
As time slowed the water I used to try and cross without being knocked over, always secure in the knowledge that I could stand up before the danger point.
As the dams returned to normal, the paths would reappear, new boulders would bulge out of them for me to climb over. The water had found them and carved them from the ground, dust would be gone to be replaced by smooth rock, yet the sides of the kopjes would be the unchanged.
I would have my backyard back.