West Coast

Coun­try roads

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

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.

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