To the Town of Hap­pi­ness

! !"# $%!" ¿ so happy when he ar­rives in the Drak­ens­berg ham­let of Geluks­burg that he al­most buys a plot

South African Country Life - - In This Issue -

Where the Berg ham­let of Geluks­burg is all smiles

Any­one who lives in Joburg’s Park­town sub­urb and has two old ox wag­ons, a mam­poer dis­tillery and a nine-me­tre-high Vet­sak wind­mill in his gar­den is ec­cen­tric, to say the least.

This man is my friend Jo­han, a col­lec­tor of Afrikana and South African knowl­edge, and a vintage-car en­thu­si­ast. His knowl­edge on the Great Trek and An­glo-Boer War is so ex­ten­sive I some­times get the ghostly feel­ing he ac­tu­ally took part in them.

When he is not be­ing a world-fa­mous gy­nae­col­o­gist, he is con­tin­u­ously telling me about small coun­try places that I haven’t been to. Swartwit­pens­bok­fontein­berg? Dronkvlei? Crook’s Cor­ner? We carry on like this, quot­ing weird lit­tle place names till we get to Geluks­burg and then stop. I tell him that I’ve been there, done that, but know­ing very well that I haven’t.

So the next day I shake off my lie, the

¿ cam­eras, in­trigue and my wife Lynn, and go. Sim­ple. In fact, the near­est sound­ing place name to Geluks­burg is On­geluk­snek, which I wrote about pre­vi­ously in this mag­a­zine’s Part­ing Shot.

The ham­let of Geluks­burg lies be­neath the high Tintwa Ridge and other strange time­warped Drak­ens­berg mountains, just across the Free State bor­der in KwaZulu-Natal. Com­ing in from Bergville, the gravel road takes a long bow-shaped dip down over a across the Njon­gola River, and then swings up a hill past

¿ vil­lage, an aban­doned zinc-roofed butch­ery.

Next to this rather lovely build­ing, a sign reads ‘Bergville 27, Lady­smith 47, Mid­dledale Pass 20’. So dear­est trav­ellers, now you know al­most ex­actly where we are. Sorry, for the su­per-duper-Coun­try-lif­ers you are now stand­ing at 28° 31’10. 60’’ south and

29° 21’07. 09” east, at an el­e­va­tion of

1 199 me­tres.

I am al­ways en­thralled by place and

¿ and sit­u­a­tion is to do a vis­ual sur­round of my where­abouts – a kind of full-throt­tle 180-de­gree pic­to­rial scan. But full throt­tle

¿ the one horse and be out of town in a can­ter.

The vil­lage seems to dwell in peace­ful

still­ness, al­most, it seems, liv­ing in slow mo­tion. The place has a cou­ple of streets

(most un­tarred and fairly raggedy) that in­ter­sect with an­other cou­ple of streets.

The ear­li­est of Geluks­burg plans are dated circa 1914 when the farm Schoonspruit was di­vided into 300 res­i­den­tial stands, a mar­ket place and school site. There were no build­ing reg­u­la­tions and no rates un­til the town­ship was adopted by the Okhahlamba (Bergville) Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2007.

About 45 to 50 of the plots now have dwellings with a per­ma­nent res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion of about 150. All the plots are enor­mous when com­pared to mod­ern ur­ban land­scapes and

I was in­deed very thank­ful for that.

The vil­lage is ad­min­is­tered from Bergville, so there is no town coun­cil, mayor or po­lice sta­tion. On the one cor­ner, be­hind two de­funct petrol pumps and over­grown with ra­zor wire is a build­ing that acts as a small shop and a kindof-bar-type-she­been.

Across from this, and a lit­tle ways down, stands the church. I like that. Die kerk en die bar is langs mekaar (the church and the bar are next to each other). The only tarred road through the vil­lage, called School Street, heads north­west past the ceme­tery to the Mid­dledale Pass that snakes up over the es­carp­ment.

We stay in Mar­malade Cot­tage, owned by Phil and Anne Rooke. The place is not a cot­tage, but a won­der­fully large house. They em­i­grated from Eng­land in 1978, Phil work­ing as a met­al­lur­gist on the plat­inum mines of Rusten­burg.

& ¿ par­adise in Geluks­burg, with views over val­leys and mountains. I pho­to­graph them on

À on the towns­peo­ple, its sup­port sys­tem and peace­ful at­mos­phere. Not­ing their English

'* ¿ your very Last Out­post,” and Phil adds, “With some mus­ke­teer, Zulu and Afrikaner blood – one for all and all for one.”

# ¿ of a poem he had writ­ten about Luck Town.

For twelve sea­sons I have gazed upon this land­scape, for twelve sea­sons I have mar­velled at the work of the farm­ers who have shaped the mod­est val­ley, and of Na­ture that has shaped the mighty Berg.

When they leave and walk the dis­tance to their house next door, I lean on my Canon and my Man­frotto tri­pod and say, “What a lovely cou­ple.”

Over the next three days, in­fused with friend­li­ness and com­pas­sion, I visit as many of the good and lucky peo­ple who re­side in Geluks­burg. Our neigh­bour, 80-year-old Kay Thorne, runs a small cof­fee shop called K’s. I ask her if she’s ever let rip at the she­been not far from her? “No,” she replies with a smiled

'+ / ¿ : let live.”

Then, out of cour­tesy, I visit the other two ac­com­mo­da­tion venues. Per­haps the big­gest and most well-known is The Home­stead, just a tod­dle along the shaded road from our

The last cor­ner into the small vil­lage of Geluks­burg in the KwaZulu-Natal Drak­en­burg. Geluk also means luck in Afrikaans.

ABOVE: Phil and Anne Rooke pose in their Mar­malade Cot­tage. ABOVE RIGHT: Eighty-year-old Kay Thorne runs a cof­fee shop in Geluks­burg.

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