Buffalo Soldiers Club events
With the Sunshine coast to one side and the Wild coast on the other, East London is South Africa’s only river port, and the gateway to some extraordinary places. commonly known as Buffalo City, East London is steeped in culture, history, wildlife and beaches with activities such as whale and dolphin watching, birding, hiking, surfing and fishing to keep you busy. Now, thanks to the Land Rover owners club Border chapter, you can add Land Rovers and off- road adventures to that list.
Where it all began
The Border Land Rover Owners’ Club ( LROC) was established in 1992 by 12 enthusiasts in East London who had one thing in common – their love of the great outdoors and Land Rovers. They started as an independent club but, in September 2010, they officially became the Border Chapter of the Land Rover Owners’ Club of Southern Africa.
The club consists of 30 members and includes the entire range of Land Rover vehicles, from a Series 1 to older Defender 110s, Pumas, Discos ( 1, 2, 3 and 4) and even brand- new Range Rovers. One of the members also has a miniature Defender which runs on battery power. It was built by a dad for his kids, and it’s always a big hit at events. Being a small club, their average turnout per event is about six to eight vehicles with their best turnout so far, being 17 vehicles.
According to club chairman Kevin Gravett, anyone living within the border area is welcome to join.“The types of people who join the club are generally interested in nature and enjoy the outdoor- orientated lifestyle.” They require potential members to attend at least one meeting and two outings with the club prior to member acceptance by the committee. Members have to agree to abide by the club rules, the constitution, conservation codes and the LROC code of conduct. “While this might all sound ominous, it comes down to being considerate, driving responsibly, assisting fellow members and promoting safe use of Land Rovers. Vehicles have to be roadworthy at all times. We are serious about obeying the rules in environmentally sensitive areas, parks, public and private land,” said Kevin. Weekend and shorter day trips are made to the former Transkei and most of the Eastern Cape. Combined outings have also been undertaken with the Durban LROC. During the last six months, the club has arranged 10 events. These include training days, family fun days and weekends away to places like Mountain Zebra National Park, Namibia, Botswana, Richtersveld and the Baviaanskloof.“Our outings range from social get- togethers and easy scenic drives right through to tough and challenging trails not for the faint- hearted. We’re fortunate to have the Wild Coast at our doorstep. The rugged landscape and stunning scenery never disappoints.
Many members have several years of 4x4 driving experience. This year two members competed successfully in the Defender Trophy. This wealth of experience is drawn upon to train new members and there is always a friendly guide to help and encourage drivers through tricky obstacles. The club has utilised the services of Land Rover Experience Western Cape to provide more formal training to members. Some members have already passed the advanced off- road exam. Guest speakers are often invited to monthly meetings to cover topics such as technical talks, overlanding advice and interesting trip reports.
Winching gone wrong
Kevin recalls a particularly hair- raising trip. “A fellow club member and I arrived at a campsite with our off- road camping trailers. The sites were separated by a small garden with a few plants and trees. As the ground was soft and damp we were unable to ‘ manhandle’ my mates trailer into his SWAMBO’s preferred position. After much deliberation, the only option was to use a winch. I manoeuvred my Disco into position, pulled about three metres of cable through the garden and attached it to his trailer on the other side. Using the remote, I pulled the trailer towards the garden. All was progressing splendidly, then all hell broke loose as I tried to stop the winch. The trailer just kept coming. My first instinct was to unplug the remote, but no luck, the winch kept on winching. The trailer was fast approaching the garden and all efforts to mechanically disengage the winch were unsuccessful. Seconds later the first of the plants were annihilated as the trailer ploughed into the garden. All the commotion attracted a few spectators, who stared disapprovingly as they witnessed the first trees being felled. My beloved Disco and my mate’s brand new trailer were on a collision course and there was not a thing I could do about it. The trailer bulldozed its way right through the garden and approached my front bumper. But as the tow hitch made contact with my ARB bumper, the winch laboured for a second and finally all was still. Needless to say, I have since repaired and fitted an isolator switch to my winch. We were lucky as damage to the trailer and Disco was minimal. Unfortunately the garden did need quite a bit of rehabilitation.”