Between here and there lies the road that we have to walk.
This we have to do with commitment, to where the sun sets and mother earth wraps us up forever.
But before then, I would like to go on more bike trips, feel the wind in my face, experience, see and smell and feel the freedom of riding a bike on mountain roads.
Last week I had to finalise matters with our Inland Revenue Services. I’ve already had a need for the funds they owe me, but refuse to refund before I updated what they call my RICA.
We arrived at Nelspruit Revenue branch at 08H00 with the Brunette on the old 1150RT’s pillion seat. The queues looked like those of the first democratic elections in 1994. I just kept on riding south. A while back we discussed visiting the Barberton museum. And today may just become that day.
Barberton is situated in the De Kaap valley of Mpumalanga province. It has its origins in 1880 due to a gold rush in the area. It is surrounded by the Makhonjwa mountains which are some of the oldest and date back 3,5 billion years. Some of the oldest exposed volcanic rocks are to be found here. It is called the Barberton Greenstone Belt and gives up direct evidence of conditions of life on the surface of the very early earth.
A ‘Geotrail’ was recently developed in the area with well constructed and illustrated viewing points. I was employed as forester in these mountains in the 1970’s and together with the Brunette spent a lot of time driving and hiking these mountains.
However, the visit described in this ride report was made before the Geotrail was established.
On arrival at the museum, they were busy washing the floors, so we had a cuppa at the Local Wimpy Bar. Having corrected our caffeine levels, the cleaners were still busy, so we went on the ‘Heritage Walk’.
The route starts in town, passing an old blockhouse to the Bellhaven house, built in 1904. The main entrance…
And side view…
We then walked further on up into Rimer’s creek. I wanted to see the turbine higher up in the creek. The info on the museum brochure states that the turbine was used to treat the water in the creek. I was under the impression that a turbine is a water/steam driven unit that can be used to generate power and/or drive machinery?
However, before reaching the turbine, we arrived at the Fernlea house which was also built in the 1890’s.
Some old equipment was at Fernlea.
On to the turbine (on foot of course).
The turbine was installed in 1932, later removed and in 1986 was again donated to the museum.
Civil contractors were busy replacing the old pipe used to supply the town with water with new PVC piping.
The undergrowth is dense and the temperature was getting into the lower 30 degrees C. We had second thoughts about doing the walk with all our gear, but… we were almost there. See how the roots of the trees covered the initial road works over the past 100 years.
And where they dug up replaced the water supply line.
Strange rock formations along the way.
The turbine was a huge disappointment. The room was very dirty and locked. Windows were broken and it seems the generating unit was stripped of its copper wire.
Then we started the 1 Km walk back to town.
We passed this tree. Locally, it’s called “Perdepram”, which roughly translates to “Horse Teat tree”.
Back in town we passed the Lewis and Marks building. This was the first double storey building in the old Transvaal province. Later the cast iron balconies were removed and a third storey was added and the exterior plastered.
We again visited the Wimpy bar for cold drink and ice cream. It was only 11H00. The Brunette stated that she had had enough of the town and suggested we ride up Saddleback pass to visit the site of the old forestry house we moved into as youngsters 43 years ago. I was aware of the fact that the house was demolished, but there was lovely scenery, so we mounted the old 1150RT.
At the bottom of Saddleback Pass…
The De Kaap valley as seen from halfway up the pass.
Almost at the top…
Havelock mine was established in 1918 by a syndicate of 32 businessmen in Swaziland as a gold mine. Havelock is approximately 45 Kilometres by road from Barberton. The promising gold reef never realised and the mine went bankrupt. However, Chrystolite asbestos was found. But the market for this only developed in the 1930’s. The mine was reopened and a cable aerialway (21,4 Km) was built to transport the asbestos to Barberton. Construction was completed in 1939 and it operated for 62 years until 2001. The pylons now stand neglected and rusted.
I rode past the site of the house to first view some of the mountain views to the east and south and to have a few deep satisfying breaths of fresh air.
The peak is called ‘Skokohla’.
Devils bridge in the distance.
We then parked the bike and the Brunette and myself walked up to the site of the house. This is all that’s left. However, we were able to identify the foundations and were able to recall some very good memories.
This photograph of the view from the rear veranda was taken in 1972.
Skokohla peak as seen from the front lawn in 1972…
View of Maid of the Mists from the old cattle kraal.
In 1972 I dug up this Cussonia tree from a pine compartment that was to be clearfelled and replanted it in the garden. Then it was barely as high as the Brunette. Look at it now. The wood is very soft and was used as friction material for the brakes on the old ox drawn wagons.
We sat down, enjoyed the silence and a Coke before we walked back down. I still wanted to photograph Highlands dam with majestic Masenjane peak in the background.
Highlands dam on the right.
Then, the view I wanted to photograph. Oh, to rise to this view every morning…
This ride was not planned, but we really enjoyed it. Tomorrow we were going to ride north into the Bushveld on Limpopo province.
Day 2. Just a few pics. Rode to the north, Blyde River canyon into Limpopo province. And a few signs along the way. One beef farmer selling manure and another where the Brunette refused to remove her helmet to pose. Apologies, quality of pics poor, got sun on the lens early morning etc.
And even saw some dungbeetles on the way!