©2011 Edward C. Lunnon
Tuesday 6 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce
Exactly a week ago, last Tuesday evening, a switch was thrown at 23h00 by Dave Tiltmann, the MD of AlgoaFM which increased the broadcast area of our local radio station to include what is known as the Garden Route in the southern Cape of South Africa.
Reception on this, the southernmost coast of the African continent, is now obtainable “From The Garden Route to The Wild Coast” (and all broadcast from The Boardwalk Casino right here in Port Elizabeth.)
Previously, when going westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, AlgoaFM reception was lost somewhere between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Now, you can pick it up all the way to Riversdale and Still Bay on the coast, and inland as far as Oudtshoorn!
This part is arguably one of the most beautiful areas of our country and it is not known as the Garden Route for nothing. The municipal area is purposefully named the Eden Municipality.
No account of my life’s journey would be complete if I did not write about this area. Just as the Camdeboo and the Karoo have been a part of my life, so, too, have the Southern Cape, the Garden Route and the Garden of Eden.
I will describe the area from west to east along the southern coast.
Stilbaai (Still Bay) is at the mouth of the Kafferkuils River. It consists of two pieces, West and East. Just recently we spent time with the Wusts in Stilbaai West on our way to Cape Town (see The Cape of Good Hope).
But it was Stilbaai East that I first came to know as a High School youngster. Our neighbours in The Strand, Ds Bombaai van Rensburg and his wife (known to us as Aunty Dominee) and 5 sons – three of whom were born on the same date a year apart from each other! – had a holiday house there. We were contemporaries and became good friends, and I spent many summer holidays with great memories with them there.
One summer holiday (circa my Std 9 year, I think) was rudely interrupted when I ended up in the Riversdale Hospital to have an emergency appendectomy. They kept me there for a week, as the doctor would not let me go back to the holiday village to recuperate! (Nowadays, I think it’s a one day in and out op!)
My Uncle George Lunnon and Aunty Irmela lived in Riversdal (Uncle George, ironically, worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the SABC, and was responsible for the erection of many of the tall red and white FM broadcasting towers that now dot the South African landscape.) I recall him taking me to see the one outside Riversdale during my convalescence period. It is situated in the foothills of the Langeberg and at the base of the mountain known to all in the area as The Sleeping Beauty. You can see why when you drive past Riversdale why they would have named it that!
Despite having family there, my mom single-handedly drove the then four-hour trip from Cape Town to come and look after me!
Up the road from Riversdale (CCC vehicle registration) is Albertinia (named after one Rev Albertyn). No drive through this town would be complete without having Sunday luncheon at the famous hotel or a purchase of some of the many medicinal products processed here from the sap of the Aloe Ferox plant.
Further westwards, about 15km from Albertinia, is the 65m high Gouritz River Bridge. It was here that the company Kiwi Extreme introduced the concept of bungi jumping in South Africa in 1990.
(The bridge swing and bungy have currently been suspended awaiting the outcome of an investigation to determine if the bridge structure will allow the continuation of such activities. A much higher jump is now available from the Blaauwkrantz River Bridge further eastwards along the N2 on the border between the Western Cape and the Easter Cape)
About 35 kilometers to the east along the N2 National Road is Mossel Bay. Before that you get to see the orange glow of the burning flame of the chimney of the SASOL Oil refinery (now called Petrochem, but originally called Mossgas when gas was discovered in the Indian Ocean south of Mossel Bay and was billed to transform the economy of this area from the depressed state that it was – what happened, I wonder? Big stories and promises like the fracking of the gas fields in the Karoo?
The gas pipeline runs from the ocean bed gas field south of Vleesbaai (where I have visited student friend Piet Immelman) to the refinery right next to the main highway, and a few kilometres from the Mossel Bay 1 Stop Service station and Engen garage and the obligatory stop for a meal at the Wimpy. (I remember as a student hitchhiking from here back to Stellenbosch – a trip that took two days!)
Mossel Bay itself is the start (going eastwards) of one continuous mass of wall-to-wall holiday and permanent homes built along the sweeping coastline where the white of the sea-sand merges with the darker blue of the sea-waters of the Bay, and the lighter azure blue of the sky and the horizon.
When I worked in business, this was the westward extremity of the area for which I was the Regional HR Manager. It was here, too, that I worked my last day in that industry and where it came to an abrupt end way back in March 2002.
What one sees as one urban sprawl is actually made up of numerous different towns/villages. Those that spring to mind are Hartenbos, home of the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging), Klein Brakrivier, Groot Brakrivier (it was here that as a High School student, I attended SCA camps), Tergniet (I often visited the Appels here when I did my military service in Oudtshoorn), Eselsrus (where retired teachers have made their holiday and retirement village), Glentana, Herold’s Bay (the home of golfer Ernie Els) and a guess a few more that I have forgotten.
From Mossel Bay to George the national road is a double four lane highway – only because the Member of Parliament for the constituency of George all the years was one PW Botha, later to become Prime Minister and State President of the Republic and the deliverer of the dreaded Rubicon Speech that projected our country on a downward spiral to chaos in the eighties).
Next to the highway and between it and the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains, is the George National Airport, also a brainchild of the late PW Botha MP.
Then comes the City of George, the sixth oldest town in South Africa named after King George III, and the Capital of the Southern Cape. The town is very centrally situated: halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and centre of the Garden Route.
It is situated on a 10-kilometer plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the South. Pacaltsdorp is found right next to George.
(Part 2 next week)