The Gardens Conservancy

11 October 2020 - Hilson Bridge restoration is complete!


Labour of 6 years culminated in the official reopening of The Gardens Conservancy at Hilson Bridge. The Conservancy will be open to the public on weekends between 8 and 5, and opening times may be extended to week days depending on volunteer response.

22 September 2020 - Hilson Bridge nears completion


Our work at Hilson Bridge is nearly complete. We have recently installed five concrete benches along the river, and will soon be putting up heritage signboards. We expect to open the space on a limited basis from October. To become a volunteer in our efforts to maintain this precious riverine environment, please mail us on

17 August 2020 - Update on Hilson Bridge


Exceptional progress has been made on resolving erosion issues at Hilson Bridge. This work has been funded by the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation (enabled by a grant from the Walmart Foundation), and led by Richard Holden. To date:

  • The river has been "retrained" to align with the bridge mouth.
  • The eroded banks have been refilled, and stabilised with tyres.
  • The banks have been covered with erosion control blankets.
  • Vetiver and Aristida Junciformis have been planted in the erosion control blankets.

These photos give a sense of the progress made:

Next steps include:

  • Conclusion of planting on the banks.
  • Landscaping The Avenue entrance.
  • Heritage signboarding.

We hope to be able to open the area to the public from the end of September on weekends.

21 and 22 March 2020 - Conservancy Clean Up Weekend!


The Orange Grove Stream between The Avenue and African Street is one of our neighbourhood's treasures. Lend your support to keeping it clean, and come and see the progress being made in dealing with erosion at Hilson Bridge.

What you need to know:

Where: along the River next to Norwood Mall. Enter from African Street or The Avenue.

What: Bring yourself - gloves and bags will be supplied! Feel free to come for a walk, or a picnic too!

When: Saturday and Sunday 21 and 22 March, between 9 and 4 each day.

 02 January 2020 - Johannesburg Heritage Foundation to fund work at Hilson Bridge


Five years after NORA initially highlighted the issue of erosion at Hilson Bridge, a solution may soon be in sight. The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation (JHF) has received a grant from Walmart for $10,000. It will allocate part of this money to Hilson Bridge erosion, and part to restoring the Orange Grove Waterfall.


Here is some context to Hilson Bridge's erosion problem:

  • Dangerous erosion and undermining of The Avenue was highlighted by NORA to the JRA and our Councillor for a period of 2 years from 2015 to 2017.
  • In April 2017,  Councillor David Fisher announced that the Hilson Bridge was to receive R7.5m in funding in the 2017/2018 year to restore the Bridge and resolve erosion problems. Here is the article:
  • Sadly, the budget allocation was lost due to delays in appointing contractors to do the work by City of Johannesburg.

NORA continued to do maintenance work in the absence of funding, and significant progress has been made in clearing the bridge of debris, and in keeping the channel clean.


The JHF-funded effort is being led by Richard Holden (an engineer, and already a neighbourhood hero for his help in removing dumped rubbish from our streets) and Thulani Madondo. Work has already started on slowly retraining the river back to the bridge entrance. The next step will be to fill in the eroded portion next to Hilson Bridge. Further stabilisation measures, including gabions, will be considered after this. We will provide regular updates on progress, but the photos below show the journey so far.

04 August 2019 - Conservancy Open Day

Your committee has been hard at work at cleaning The Gardens Conservancy, and removing invasive species along the river. Even though we have severe erosion issues, NORA has decided to open up the Conservancy to the public on Sunday 04 August. Bring the dogs, bring the kids, and come and enjoy this glorious space in Winter sunshine!

What you need to know:

Where: along the River next to Norwood Mall. Enter from African Street or The Avenue.

What: come for a walk, or bring a picnic basket!

When: Sunday 04 August between 09h00 and 15h00.

30 July 2017 - Conservancy Clean Up - Remove the Invaders

Posted - 11 July 2017

On the 30th of July, celebrate the spirit of Nelson Mandela by cleaning the Orange Grove Spruit in The Gardens Conservancy.


We will be removing invasive species and cleaning the river banks from 2pm to 4pm. No equipment or experience necessary, and you do not have to commit to the full 2 hours.


Meet at the entrance to the Conservancy on The Avenue close to the intersection of Nursery Road.

Conservancy Clean Up - Number 2

Posted - 17 July 2016


NORA's ongoing efforts to care for and inspire community action in our public open spaces has seen the Geocachers returnfor second clean up. Their volunteers were  once again joined by several members of the Community, concerned for the care of the Gardens Conservancy.  



Thirty five bags of rubbish were filled by the teams who pitched in, contributing their time and energy to rehabilitating an amazing public open space.

11 June 2016 - Conservancy Clean Up #1


A big thank you to the Geocachers and the two NORA community members who cleaned the Gardens Conservancy. Sixty bags later, the space is starting to look amazing. 



Picture courtesy of
Group photo of Geocachers and NORA members after the clean up