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Travel: Battle lessons

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By Tokkie & Maureen van der Westhuizen

Our third destination as retired campers was Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, a place to visit if you love history.

Dundee is a gateway to the battlefields area. There are three caravan parks in the area and we stayed at Battlefields Caravan Park, about 20km from Dundee, close to Blood River Battlefield. From the caravan park, we travelled to visit the battlefields, and started with Talana.

Talana is 2km out of Dundee where, in October, a “Talana Life Battle reenactment” weekend is held every year. I would like to visit Talana again in order to experience this show of history. The museum is informative, and the restaurant has a lovely buffet lunch on Sundays, for which you have to book in advance.

We went to the Blood River Battlefield and Museum (1838), Isandlwana Battlefield and Museum (22 Jan 1879) and Rorke’s Drift Battlefield and museum (22-23 Jan 1879). At Rorke’s Drift, one can find the Swedish Mission station. A church built in 1838 is on the premises and in this church is a baptism font and old pews. I include a picture taken through a broken window. From Dundee, we went to Greytown, the Tugela Ferry, Pomeroy and Nqutu, then on to Vryheid, Glencoe, Wasbank, Dannhauser and Hattingspruit. We passed Ambush rock on our way to Greytown – on the rock is the story of four policemen who were ambushed in 1906. Before going to Utrecht, we visited the Blood River Poort battlefield, where in Sept 1901, 16 British Officers and 273 men died. The battle lasted only 10 minutes.

 

We have made our peace with the weather and accept that each month will be different, just as every area we go to will have new challenges.Dundee in October was very dry; the veld was waiting for rain but there was only wind. One night the wind tore the awning from the back of the caravan and over its roof, so we folded it up − at 3 o’clock in the morning. Afterwards, we found a hole in the roof which luckily did not go right through to the inside. We called our insurance and Campworld for assistance, and realised that we couldn’t cancel our camping trip to have the roof replaced. With the permission of our insurance company, we covered the hole to prevent any more damage. To do this, we used silicon and duct tape, which our insurance accepted, and replaced the roof when we moved to Pretoria in February 2017.

We bought a cargo net to use with our storm straps in the future. We had never realised how efficient a silver sail is in the heat and rain until we bought one.

I would advise everybody to go to the information offices in towns that they visit, and get maps of the area. There are usually also brochures of the area with useful information.

At the end of October, we were preparing to visit the Drakensberg area and then the South coast.

Tokkie & Maureen van der Westhuizen

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