Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A drive in the country. Part 1

On Sunday, Mr Farty and I set out early, (ok it was 10am, but hey, after all it was SUNDAY, so that is early! And I had done 3 posts and some blog visits before we left!)

We decided to go on a dirt road we last travelled 25 years ago, past the Cockscomb Mountains, to the little citrus farming town of Patensie.

It's a good thing we were in Max's bakkie with higher clearance than my car, because the road was really dry and dusty, and in Part 2 I'll show you how hectic it got when we were crossing the mountain top. We were wishing we had a fabulous old Landrover like Tom's, everytime we scraped the bottom on a rock!

We have a few photos from that first time, with Karen and Ian looking tiny and cute in the foreground. (We were quite broke at the time, and film and processing were real luxuries to us then.) The kids are now a mommy and a daddy respectively, and instead of a few photos, this time we went bezerk! Oh I DO love digital!! Here is a map to show you where we travelled, you can also see it in relation to St Francis which we are always rabbitting on about! I have marked our route in green.

We turned off the main freeway to Cape Town at the Van Stadens/St Albans offramp, and headed towards Rocklands, which is near Uitenhage.

On the corner of the old Cape Road, and the Rocklands Road is the huge St Albans prison.

This is a view of the guard tower at the maximum security section, through layers of security fencing.

I must be honest and say that the Rocklands area has never particularly appealed to me. It consists of a series of run down looking smallholdings with ugly houses along the road.

Despite the jumble of old cars, and even a grader of sorts in the overgrown yard, the person who built this place clearly had delusions of grandeur!

We turned onto the Eland's River Road, and at first, I was quite disappointed. There was a heavy sense of gloom and neglect hanging over the area. I literally felt it as a physical knot in my stomach, it was quite oppressive. And the area was uglier than I remembered. The properties were more neglected, the wind was howling and it was unusually dry, and the alien vegetation had taken over in a big way.

To add to this, a devastating fire swept swept through the area about 2 years ago and the regrowth was punctuated with the skeletons of dead trees. Sadly, most of the regrowth consists of the Australian Port Jackson Willows and Black Wattles, which are noxious weeds here. As they have no natural enemies, they are rampant, killing off indigenous vegetation and using up a lot of vater in the little valleys. This continued along the road until approximately the second arrow on the map (below where it says Groendaal Wilderness Nature Reserve.)

All I found that was worth photographing was the odd lonely tree against the skyline.

As we got to the place where the road crosses the river, at the Theo Crou Bridge and pumping station, things fortunately began to improve a little. If you are interested in this and want to find the spot on Google Earth, the co-ordinates are S33 47 45, E25 10 49.

The old stone house has a commanding view over the valley, and is quite quaint looking.

The River was extremely low, and just a little trickle could be heard,

but looking downstream. there was evidence of severe recent floods. The low level drift was washed away, and uprooted trees were still lying in the river bed.

Leaving the valley, we continued climbing towards the Groot Winterhoekberge (Afrikaans for Great Winter-corner Mountains.)

The next thing we came to was a large dam, with a wonderful old peeling barn on the hilside, and an interesting old structure, missing its roof in the valley. (S33 43 36, E 25 05 59)

As you know by now, I am a sucker for a tatty old building, and took shots from many angles, which will no doubt emerge in future paintings! We'll leave it there for now.... more crumbling buildings and stunning views to follow.... watch this space!


Yolanda said...

I love all these photos but the first is my favorite. Thanks for sharing them.

Lilli & Nevada said...

I am so jealous cause you have some very nice weather there.All your photos are great can't wait for part 2

Suzy said...

Sue, I haven't stopped by to see your photos in such a long time! They are wonderful, as always. I am struck by how the countryside is like my state (Wisconsin) and not like my state at all, at the same time! How's your grandson? I still get shivers at the memory of the story you told last year, with the police and the vicious dogs ...

Suzi-k said...

Thanks Yolanda.

Lilly, don't worry, your turn for lovely weather is coming soon!

hey Suzy with a y, nice to see you! Ethan is doing fine, and has totally got over the fear he had of animals for a while after that. In fact I've been avoiding overdoing the 'gratuitous photos of grandchildren' thing for fear of boring everyone into a coma, but I'm sure the time has come for another one, so will post it soon!

leslie said...

Thanks for the tour! Great! I look forward to the rest of my virtual trip. :D

Ali Honey said...

Lovely journey with great photos. I just love the blue hills in the distance. I can certainly see some painting subjects there! My the river/ stream looks very dried up, ours are too.

imac said...

This is a super post and the photos are very stunning.

Quick quiz2 now up.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Cheers for taking us on this trip, I could and would have read a lot more... you really held my interest there.
As for going in my Old Landy... it would have done it with ease.. but without any comfort, in summer it's just a matter of undoing a few bolts and the roof and sides come off, two bolts and the windscreen folds down.. now thats fun but boy would you have looked dusty then... ha!
The building without roof really caught my eye, and the big old barn as well.
I look forward to seeing more.

Cheesy said...

Ratty old EMPTY buildings are my favs too.. I love it when I can go explore them...

Sheila said...

I love your road trips, the scenery is different to what we get, and so it is always interesting. I love old buildings too. One of the things I enjoyed about Cuba was the abundance of old and derelict buildings to photograph.

Firefly said...

It's a pity that we don't stop more often to enjoy sceens like these.