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Wet paint & wisdom at Wilderness National Park

Wilderness National Park celebrated SANParks Week with wet paint and words of wisdom from the elders when the park welcomed senior citizens and learners from surrounding communities and schools into the park to enjoy sessions of oral history and to paint a mural to commemorate SANParks Week. For many individuals from both groups it was a first time visit.

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In the oral history sessions, senior members of the community shared interesting stories of the days when they lived in what is now known as Wilderness National Park, before enjoying tea on the banks of the Touw River, under vivid blue skies. Says People and Conservation Officer Joclyn Warnick, "this was a highlight, and listening to stories about the days before this area was declared a park was fascinating". The learners that were invited to the park hung on the words of the elders, also intrigued by stories dating back to the 40’s and 50’s and even as far back as the era when ox wagons were common, as were long walks from the park to the nearest town. The story tellers and the listeners seemed to share a timeless appreciation for the beauty of the park and an appreciation for what SANParks has done to conserve it.

Another highlight of the week was when learners, armed with paint and brushes had a lot of fun transforming the walls of an ablution block into a dazzling seascape, the smell of wet paint and sea air mingling in the sunshine. This beach front ablution block was however more than just an exercise for SANParks week, it also carries with it an important message about the environment and the importance of keeping the area’s beaches clean.

The park also hosted the Community Reflections Theatre group who put on a play entitled the “Urban Bushman”. This coincided with Heritage Day celebrations, and explored the changes that came to the lives of the areas indigenous people with colonialism. The parks guests also enjoyed talks on conservation given by the Honorary