Southern Africa - Part 1
Aspects of Southern Africa in 1988.
We begin in Zimbabwe at a tobacco farm near Mvurwi, in the north of the country.
Where we are shown tobacco.
Then drive down almost empty roads to Harare.
Where we see Harare Cathedral.
With bells from the Whitechapel Foundry, imported through Beira, Mozambique.
We then travel southwards to Bulawayo, electric traction to Gweru, then diesel haulage to Bulawayo.
Despite modern traction passenger coaches are pleasingly dated with origins in a Rhodesian Railways steam hauled past.
But in Bulawayo, steam haulage is NOT in the past.....................far from it.
This is the West Nicholson Branch and the third wagon back is an armed guard.
And another West Nicholson branch scene with the soldiers here right behind the loco.
And this is the hub of the Bulawayo steam, Bulowayo shed with Manchester built Garrett locomotive of four different classes.
Astonishing, amazing and atmospheric.
This is 386, a 4-6-4 + 4-6-4 Garrett of the 15A Class.
And Bulawayo's massive coaling stage with one of the giant 4-8-2 + 4-8-2 20A Class at the front of the line.
And Bulawayo also has ZECO, a specialist engineering company with real expertise in steam.
Fantastic to see a busy workshop like this. The red Garrett behind is part of a contract from Mozambique.
Every Tuesday an International Train runs from Bulawayo to Johannesburg and this scene is in Botswana.
Dining car meals being announced in style.
We reach Johannesburg and immediately move on south to the arid Karoo and a distinctive hotel..................
................The Witput Hotel and rooms with a view!
And great too to find a farmer to show us round as,
with the help of his sons, we are shown a termite mound.
Thousands and thousands of tiny white ants and their complex ventilation system.
This is also tortoise country!
It is also train country extraodinaire!
This is the double track, often steam hauled, national main line between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Judy pulls into Witput with a long train including a dead engine behind the loco.
And Judy departing in spectacular fashion with her heavy train.
Orange River now, an important watering stop on the arid Karoo
with impressive steam action from double headed Class 25's.
And also at Orange River is the unique Class 26 Red Devil,
an experimental high performance engine but here relegated to a pick-up goods.
The Red Devil is obviously not, at the moment, the "Pride of the Fleet"!
We return to Johannesburg with three shunting locos lined up in Germiston yard and a diesel passing by.
And the view the following morning aboard the Trans-Natal as the overnight Johannesburg Durban train
winds its way through the hills near Pietermaritzburg.
After a brief stop in Durban we headed down the coast to Port Shepstone.
To visit the recently reopened Banana Express, one of South Africa's 2ft gauge lines.
Here our renovated narrow gauge Garratt takes water at Izotsha, the present terminus of a line that once extended to Harding.
There are many more narrow gauge Garratts laid up at Port Shepstone,
some with bunkers still piled with coal.
Some Natal roads are amazing too.
Sometimes with interesting contrasts!
And more road travel now as we travel the Garden Route of the Cape Province.
Of which the Kaaimans River Bridge is a famous landmark.
And the bridge is even more amazing from the beach with the Indian Ocean lapping against the piers
and a mixed Knysna - George train rumbling across.
Not far away, climbing the coastal escarpment, the countryside becomes desert like and the local farming speciality is Ostrich.
Ostriches are bred for their feathers which are regularly clipped.
The intrepid can also go for a ride!
The hills, valleys and mountains towards Cape Town are absolutely stunning
as we head for Cape Town and Part 2 of this story.
End of Part 1
Southern Africa Part 2
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