I left Wellington
at 6.00am and filled up in Paarl, zeroed all settings and hit
the long road at 6.15. I was on my way to Port Alfred and I was
taking the long way.
Calitzdorp I saw the steeple of a church that I had seen many
times before but never had the time to stop. This time I took
the turn-off to De Hoop and stopped to admire this massive sandstone
building and take a few photos. I heard someone shouting in the
distance and it took me a second or two to realize that she was
talking to me. It was a girl relaying a message from a house across
the way asking whether I wanted to see inside the church. I called
back saying no thanks and that I only wanted to take a photo.
I was still busy taking photos when an old man and a little dog
appeared out of nowhere. How he got up the hill to the church
so quickly without even being out of breath I don't know. He stuck
out his hand and said: "Van der Berg is die van." I
stuck out mine and said: "Taylor is myne." I suppose
first names are not an issue when you are dealing with something
as big as this church.
corner stone of the church was laid in 1909 by George Murray,
son of Andrew Murray who looks down Wellington's Church Street
everyday. George Murray was also this churches first Minister
and his and every Minister since him has their photos proudly
displayed in the rectory.
van der Berg and Benji the dog showed me through the church and
he asked me to fill in the visitor’s book and he told me
that there was a donation box as well. I noted the bell rope and
he proudly informed me that he had rung the bell for thirty four
years, but not anymore as the church has been closed. The nearby
Oudtshoorn congregation has promised that they will be holding
a prayer meeting once a month at De Hoop in future to keep the
wheels turning. The railway station's name has been changed from
De Hoop to Hoopvol. I wish them luck.
next stop was the very quaint town of De Rust, exactly 400km from
Paarl. I still had quite a bit of petrol, but I filled up here
because I was going somewhat off the beaten track for a while
and I didn't want to get caught short. Not far from there I saw
the sign I had been looking for, "Baviaanskloof".
turned right and hit the gravel road. My spirits were high and
I was looking forward to seeing the famous Baviaanskloof after
having heard so much about it. The road was good with a lot of
drifts. Most of them are sign posted but a few are not. I just
missed a massive snake which was crossing the road shortly before
a T-junction. At the T-junction a sign read "Road not suitable
for caravans and trailers". The scenery got more and more
beautiful as I got deeper into Baviaanskloof. There were lots
more drifts and one particularly bad one just after the police
station. The police station is a small town and I remember thinking
that the people here must be very naughty to justify such a big
guess it was about 70kms from the tar road when a sign read "Not
suitable for sedans vehicles past Geelhoutbos".
for me I was in BMW 120i which is a hatch, so I pressed on. The
drifts which had all been dry up to now were now rivers flowing
across the road. Actually they were very pleasant streams. I waded
through each one before driving through and luckily none of them
were more than half way up my shin. One was particularly wide
and had a bend in it so you couldn't see the end because of the
dense bush, but I made it through that one as well. There were
lots of buck, a few baboons (naturally) and some monkeys down
in the kloof.
Then I saw a sign "Dangerous
Pass 7 kms" and just after that a turn-off to Geelhoutbos
as I started climbing. At this stage I had gone too far to turn
back so I carried on up the mountain. The fact that the 120i is
BMW's baby with a short wheel base and wheels very close to each
corner of the car, together with a fantastic traction control,
turned this little motor car into a very good off-road vehicle.
My wife very cleverly named it the X1 when I told her how good
this little car is. I crawled up the most horrendous road right
to the top, had a beer and admired the amazing view, took a few
photos, found out that the name of the pass is Grasneck Pass (from
a faded old sign) and then crawled all the way down the other
side of the mountain. The road surface was very rough with rock
and gravel but not loose rock or gravel, the rock was mother earth
with a gravel covering and there were never any serious dongas
or protrusions, so I was able to slowly feel my way up and down
the pass. After the pass there were a few more drifts and then
after what felt like a lifetime, normal gravel roads and people
and bakkies again.