AFTER having had new tyres fitted to my offroad vehicle in preparation for a Christmas trip into the Northern Cape bush, it was time to run them in.
I asked my wife if she had ever been to Eenzaamheid, Zonquasdrift, Gouda, Saron, Moravia, Kapteins Kloof and Redelinghuys, all on gravel roads.
I know she had heard the names, especially since I had covered the Berg River canoe marathon many years ago and had returned home to rattle them off.
Her answer was, “No, let’s go and do it”, and she got more than she bargained for.
We set off on a Sunday and I promised that we would travel mainly on dirt roads, see little traffic and soak in the harvest season, especially because most farmers are gathering their wheat.
Twenty-four kilometres from home we branched off the N1 onto the R304 headed for Malmesbury and 500m on, the road turned right onto the gravel road to Hoopenburg.
The road winds among farms running parallel to the N1 and at the Eenzaamheid sign we turned left to traverse the farms until again we turned right onto the Durbanville Agter Wellington tar road.
A short distance on the tar was followed by a left turn again onto gravel past several farms reaching the Agter Perdeberg tar road and down to the four-way stop on the Paarl, Malmesbury R45.
We turned left to Malmesbury and, a short distance down the road another right, onto the lady Loch Road.
The short stretch of tar eventually runs back onto gravel and now we were t r aversing f arms between Wellington and Riebeeck Kasteel. In the distance, the hazy blue heat hung over the mountains.
For anybody wanting to capture the Boland’s scenery on camera, these are the roads to traverse.
The opportunities to snap photographs that would make any visitor to the Western Cape envious are too numerous to count.
The run is excellent on good gravel, with no other vehicles in sight and the only pedestrian we saw was thin, yellow and tall, and on our approach slithered off into the wheat fields. It was our first sighting of a magnificent Cape cobra. On reaching the Riebeeck Kasteel-Hermon intersection, we turned left up to Riebeeck Kasteel and, 500m up the road, another right turn back onto gravel.
This fine gravel road again winds among farms and passes through Sonquasdrift, which is about 62km from Paarl via the Breede River and it is where the first leg of the Berg River canoe marathon ends.
Here history has it that the Sonqua people led the Dutch to the area on the Berg River where hippo wallowed in the giant pools.
Way back in 1673, the Dutch hunted the hippo in large quantities, which naturally upset the local tribes, and the conflict escalated, resulting in a force sent under ensign Hieronymus Croese, to sort out the problem.
The war dragged on without any real advantage and the tribes went into decline.
Eventually the smallpox epidemic decimated the KhoiKhoi.
Today the farmhouse at Sonquasdrift still stands and is recorded as one of the oldest grants and first occupied by a French Hugenot, Guillaume du Toit in 1704 and a formal grant to Dirk Coetzee in 1718.