Two years ago at Rally SA 2016, the Caravan Club of Southern Africa – Regions in Natal Province accepted the challenge to host the next Rally South Africa.
The last time Rally SA was hosted in KwaZulu-Natal was 25 years ago when it was held at Midmar Dam. After much research and a failed bid by a caravan park in the Midlands (due to the sale thereof), Richards Bay Caravan Park was approached as it was the only other venue capable of accommodating an expected turnout of 250 caravans, trailers and tents over the Easter Weekend (29 March to 1 April 2018).
The park management readily accepted the request, and this was the beginning of many planning meetings between the CCSA and the resort. The Rally SA planning committee was overwhelmed by the positive input from Richards Bay Caravan Park management, who went out of their way to ensure the Rally would be a success.
North Coast Region chairman Lourens Lemmer and vice-chairman Willem Arlow, had to literally walk and measure 250 stands situated among seven blocks to ensure that enough space would be given to each Region (according to the number of families to be accommodated). Each Region in the province was given a specific task to take care of, and with the regular meetings being held, the process flow was closely monitored.
The final number of intentions received was 206 of the 1409 total CCSA membership.
Even before the weekend started, Easterns Region arrived with 40 caravans, and South Rand were not far behind with 28 caravans.
The resort management were stunned by the sight of the two large tours arriving in convoy. They had never before experienced so many caravanners arriving at one time. But all went smoothly, as modern technology was used to speed up the entry process: Every family that attended the Rally was issued with a QR Code that was displayed in the tow vehicle’s windscreen, and scanned upon arrival. The members responsible for welcoming and scanning the entrance tickets were able to process the registrations in an average of 32 seconds per caravan!
Each family was handed and an embroidered goodie bag filled with all kinds of surprise items, some handmade and others sponsored.
The majority of the caravanners arrived on Thursday and Friday, with everyone just relaxing for the evening after their long journeys, and being entertained with some good music performed by April Black, a local musician.
The flag-raising ceremony took place on Saturday morning in light rain, but this did not put a damper on the festivities.
The get-together was privileged to have two past Presidents, John Thompson and Colin Chaplin, in attendance and address the members at the opening ceremony.
This culminated with current President Russell Gibbens officially opening Rally SA 2018.
More than 700 campers were entertained over the weekend with food stalls, volleyball, games for the children, a magic show, performances by local musicians, braai demonstrations (by Cobus Louw from Lekker Braai RSA) and a table décor competition by the members for the Saturday night entertainment.
Sunday morning began with a church service and later in the afternoon the closing ceremony, prize giving, and raffle ticket draw were held. During this ceremony, volleyball trophies were presented to the winners: Easterns Scratch Team.
National milestone awards were presented to the following members: Leon & Hettie Jacobs (North Coast) 25th National, Nico Snyman (North Coast) and Shaun & Petro Castle (Midlands) 50th National, Pieter & Debbie Geyser (South Rand) 75th National, Greg & Kim van der Merwe (South Rand) 125th National and Joe & Marie Samons (South Rand) 200th National.
Flags were finally lowered, and the Rally was declared officially closed. Most of the caravanners spent the rest of their time relaxing with their Region.
This Rally certainly renewed old friendships and many new friendships were formed over the weekend.
The overall reaction of everyone who attended the Rally was that this was one of the best Rally SA’s ever held, which made Natal Province very proud to have been the host of such a big event.
The food provided throughout the weekend was of high standard, the park personnel available 24/7 (always with a smile) and the resort in a superb condition. The CCSA thanks Richards Bay Caravan Park for their hospitality and everything they did to make the stay so enjoyable.