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Latest News! 2nd August, 2018

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An abandoned farmhouse speaks volumes of a lifetime past An abandoned farmhouse speaks volumes of a lifetime past - Photo: Trygve Roberts

Koringberg

From the ghost towns of Mpumalanga we head far south this week to visit a town so small, you might not have even have heard of it. It has a population of 1,600, has three churches, a railway station and a museum. This tiny village, tucked away in the rolling wheatfields north of Moorreesburg, is called Koringberg (and it appears to be a well kept secret by city folk investing in country property).

Close to the village is a fair sized mountain of the same name and a narrow gravel pass that winds its way up and over the Koringberg and down the other side in a dazzling array of switchbacks, to put a smile on the face of even the most jaded offroad driver (but please read our cautionaries on this pass before you rush off to drive it).

Doing the research on this dorpie, we discovered why this bread basket region of South Africa is called Die Swartland. In just a few hundred years the entire vegetation system has been changed from natural Renosterveld to today's endless fields of wheat and canola. [More lower down]

 

We also take a closer look at those tell tale large diameter circles that can be seen on Koringberg, Tygerberg and any isolated mountain or hill that still has Renosterveld and how the Tygerberg got its original Dutch name. The circles are made by termites who forage over a given circular area and carry plant material back to their underground nests. In this process nutrients and seeds ensure the annual revival of the Renosterveld and keeps it in a healthy state.

A short story.

One of our latest innovations is to start publishing short stories from our subscribers. If you enjoy putting pen to paper, why not tell us about your mountain pass experience. Good or bad, dangerous, exciting or simply just beautiful. Send it in and each month we will publish the best submission and the writer will receive a small gift from us. Send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (send your photos too, if you have any)

My Enlightenment Passeth all Understanding … by Peter Sullivan.

We tried to list the three best things we did on our holiday in Plettenberg Bay, but failed. So we tried ten, also not enough. There’s our list of 24 at the end of this, but among the most fascinating were the two Bain passes we took by mistake. 

It was an invitation into a whole new world of the extraordinary father and son team of Andrew and Thomas Bain, of websites and videos, engineers and architects, road enthusiasts, GPS coordinates, pass fanatics and fantastic passes.

I was astounded at my ignorance.

The day before driving down to Plett I had been for the unpleasant experience of a colonoscopy, and the professor who did the procedure went into ecstasy when I told him we were driving down, insisting we should do the “Great Bain Passes” of which he had cycled many.  

Dreading the coming medical humiliation, I grimaced and silently thought the good professor clearly eccentric. Little did I realise he was part of a vast conspiracy of Bain enthusiasts. Nor for one moment did I think I would hear any more of this Bain fellow or pass by his passes. 

Driving around Keurbooms river to the Storms River Mouth and the famous “Big Tree” on the N2, there were signs saying the Bloukrans Pass was CLOSED. So being adventurous we thought we’d see how far we could go on the closed road on our way back to Plett as the road seemed to parallel the N2. 

What an adventure. 

Superb. Splendid. Awesome. Inspiring. Magnificent. A feast of adjectives does not do it justice. 

In truth we were even a little frightened as it was getting dark. We wondered when the road would suddenly stop, or go over an edge. It has all the hallmarks of a horror movie: threatening weather, overhanging cliffs, deep valleys, sheer drops on the sides, enough twists and turns to compete as a plot for a detective novel. 

Who built this thing? Welcome to the wonderful world of the Bain family!

[The other two chapters will be published over the next two weeks. Ed]

 

Young Minds

Lisa Roberts (the eldest of my three daughters) has joined up with the MPSA team as our new creative mind and has taken over a number of elements of the MPSA marketing side of things. The first to be relinquished by YT was our Instagram account and those of you who follow us on Instagram, will no doubt have noticed the fresh approach and there's lots more on the way with some great new ideas which will be appearing via the various social media platforms over the next few months.

And speaking of social media, our FaceBook page is on the brink of ticking over onto 18,000 LIKES. The page continues to attract large viewerships with July logging 108,000 views. The amount of creative effort that goes into the daily FaceBook posting often supercedes the work done on the main website. We intend soon expanding this creative effort to include our followers submitting their own photos and clues. Initially, we will limit this to quiz winners as a way of saying thank-you. Watch this space......

Senior citizens with sound minds and long memories

Even the smallest villages have a silo of memories and history to unpack and in the case of Koringberg, we were kindly handed a multi-page document which was compiled in Afrikaans by one of the village's senior citizens ~ Martha Van Wyk. So many wonderful snippets of information came from that document, which we were able to weave into the story of the pass. Take the link below and enjoy the 6 part video series filmed on a crisp, clear winters day, surrounded by the greenest wheat fields and the odd patch of original Renosterveld and cyber drive with us down some of the tighest bends we have ever come across - this one is not for novice or intermediate drivers.

* * * * *   K O R I N G B E R G    P A S S   * * * * *

 


Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the day: "The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it." ~  Stephen Covey 

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Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
 

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
 

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