Secunda To Barberton
Barberton is a town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, which has its origins in the 1880s gold rush in the region. It is situated in the De Kaap Valley and is fringed by the Mkhonjwa Mountains.
The mountains around Barberton are the oldest in the world, dating back 3,5 billion years. These mountains include some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet (only rocks from the Isua greenstone belt in Western Greenland are older). These volcanic rocks, which scientists call the Barberton Greenstone Belt, have provided direct evidence of conditions of life on the surface of a very early Earth.
In 1881, gold in the Barberton area was discovered by Tom McLachlan, who found alluvial gold at Jamestown. However due to the location (the hot lowveld region was plagued with malaria) no one wanted to go there until Auguste Roberts (French Bob) discovered gold in Concession Creek on 20 June, 1883. This discovery resulted in a gold rush to the area.
The Lewis and Marks Building, the first double storey structure in Transvaal, was built in 1887.
Large amounts of money flowed into Barberton and the first stock exchange to operate in the then Transvaal opened its doors.
So as you can see there is so much rich history to this little town that we will be sure to visit it again very soon. But let's get to the road. After a very long time we were again on the road and I'm reminded why we work. It's to enjoy life.
Friday morning when we got up it was cold, cloudy and rainy in Secunda; things didn't look good for us. At 11a.m the sun started to break through and at 1p.m it was clear skies but still cold. We were packed and ready to go. From Secunda we took the road to Hendrina, Carolina, Badplaas and then Barberton, about 240km to our destination. There are a few things worth mentioning when going that route. From Secunda you take the N17 to Bethal. This stretch of road is still under construction but the road is good with only a few bad patches. From Bethal to Hendrina you will find a lot of coal trucks and the last few kilometres before the town you will find that the road is busy breaking up, but stay in the middle and you will be ok. From Hendrina to Carolina the road is ok, except again just before the town you will get a stop and go. Other than that the roads are in a good condition.
But let me first tell you about a corn kernel at 160km/h. This time of the year the farmers are busy transporting corn. Well at one very nice fast corner we did about 160km/h and on the other side was a corn truck, fully loaded. As we went around the corner the timing was absolutely perfect with us and the truck. It was like slow motion in my mind. I see the truck losing the top part of its load and the corn starts raining down, bouncing on the tar and here we come at 160km/h, driving into what feels like big bees stinging very, very hard. It was sore, very sore, and both of us could not wait to stop just to rub the pain away.
We arrived at the guesthouse safe and sound. After unpacking we were off to the Gold Nugget Sports Bar for a drink and to meet up with a member of www.bikeinjoutaal.co.za. Be sure to pop in there and enjoy a drink. They suggested we eat at a local restaurant called Coco Pan. It's run by two very friendly old ladies and they sure can cook a great steak.
Saturday morning we got up at 7a.m and had a great breakfast. After breakfast we got on the bikes and rode to Nelspruit. We took the R40 and just before Nelspruit you get a short pass with corners from heaven. The road is beautiful and you can put your knee down in almost every corner, it was awesome going up. From Nelspruit we took the N4 to Kaapmuiden and turned right on the R38 to Diggers Retreat Hotel and then back to Barberton. The roads are a bit narrow but not bad at all. Back in Barberton we ate at Pappa's Kitchen. But the day was still young and so we quickly took a few photos at the first stock exchange monument.
That done, we were off to the next pass. Saddleback Pass is spectacularly beautiful. Those on Superbikes please take care as there you will find rocks, gravel and baboons on every corner and a few water springs, so please take it slow and enjoy the view.
Back at Barberton that night we enjoyed the live entertainment at Pappa's Kitchen and great food.
Sunday morning was the same routine. Got up at 7a.m and had breakfast at 8. Packed our stuff and started to head home. We took the R40 again through the twists and turns, only faster this time. In Nelspruit we turned to Kaapsehoop up in the mountains. Here are just a few things about this jewel of a place.
It is situated 1486m (4878ft.) above sea level on the highveld escarpment. Kaapsehoop was originally gained fame as a gold mining town once known as the Duiwels Kantoor - the Devil's Office - towards the end of the 19th century, when gold was discovered in 1882 in a small creek running through the town. This led to a portion of the original township layout being cancelled and opened up for gold prospecting. However, the earlier better-paying discoveries of gold at both Pilgrim's Rest in 1873 and Barberton in 1881, followed by the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 (later to become the town of Johannesburg), coupled with the meagre returns obtained at Kaapsche Hoop led to the town going into decline. But this little town will see us again very soon. The roads are perfect to and from Kaapsehoop.
At Ngodwana you get on the N4 again and then back home. It is very depressing when you turn off the N4 to Bethal to find the coal trucks, bad roads and dust all over the place.
It was sure a great weekend and Christa did very well in all the corners. Well done and I am very proud of you.
See Ya On The Wire...