Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wanki Game Reserve & Victoria Falls

After hitching rides across the Drakensberg, the highest mountain range in South Africa I received a lift with a bloke who was the vet at Wanki Game Reserve, where I stayed with him for three days. This allowed me to take the photos of the some of the game and Victoria Falls. From there we drove into Salisbury - the then capital of Rhodesia, which at that time was being governed by Ian Smith's Government.

Being broke it was necessary for me to find a job pronto and cheap accommodation so booked into the Salvation Army Old Men's Home, in Highlands, a suburb in Salisbury.Then took myself down to the Salisbury Sports Club where I had been told they had a rugby side.

The Salisbury Sports Club was very colonial in appearance, a long low slung building with wide veranda's overlooking hockey and football fields,that housed the clubrooms for cricket, hockey and rugby. I asked in one of the club rooms where the rugby club was and was directed to the end of of a long colonnaded walkway to the end rooms, and went inside where there were some blokes having a beer at a bar in a dark wood panelled room , who told me to turn up that afternoon as there was rugby training. 

A herd of male & female elephants with their young

A lone giraffe

Male & female Warthogs

Luck was on my side - as after training I was invited for a beer in the club rooms and  one of the blokes offered me a lift home. His name was Ian Davidson who was a Springbok hockey player and when he found out I was staying  at the Salvos, moved me that night into his parents house, who were away. I stayed there until I found a job which he was instrumental in me obtaining and  a game in the first fifteen after being outfitted with a total kit as I was training in bare feet.
The job was in a auto spare parts cum mechanical services business which was not my chosen career path, but beggars can not be choosy and there was money coming in which allowed me to move in with two blokes I met through rugby -  an  Englishman John Hardman and an Australian  guy called Graham Shields.

The mist in the distance is from Victoria Falls which rises to a height of 1000 feet, hence the name Mosi-oa-Tunya (Smoke that Thunders) 

Victoria Falls Bridge built to span the Zambezi River in 1905. One of the consulting engineers, Ralf Freeman who designed it also designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Victoria Falls one mile wide and 350 feet high

At this time I received a letter from Lyn, who had been staying with my parents in Lane Cove, Sydney, that she was returning to San Francisco as she was missing her parents and though she had been welcomed into my home she had decided it was time to go back to San Francisco. Needless to say I was devastated, as this was a driving force in determining how long I was to stay.

I enjoyed Rhodesia more than South Africa, however neither country impressed me sufficiently to stay longer than achieving enough funds for my boat trip back to Australia, which was the cheapest way to return. So after a few more games of rugby, one playing against Northern Transvaal  where we were massacred. I hitched from Salisbury back to Cape Town and paid for a berth on the Fair Star back to Sydney. returning home after five years of travelling and working around the world.

I remember when hitching through the Ciskei outside Port Elizabeth I must have fainted whilst sitting on my suitcase waiting for a lift. I was woken up by a young guy my age who ended up driving me to Cape town to stay with his parents. His father was a doctor who was a specialist in infectious diseases  and  diagnosed me as having Bilharzia which is a micro worm that gets into the bloodstream from swimming in the rivers, any way he treated me with prescribed drugs which fixed me up so I could catch the boat home.

A wedding reception on the banks of the Zambezi River

I was sorry to leave Africa, I had not seen enough. I had always wanted to visit Kenya and Tanzania, one of my favourite books was "Something of Value" by Robert Ruark  which was about white hunters and the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.The time was not right especially the way I wanted to travel which was overland. I had been into Lusaka in Zambia, only for the day but it appeared unsafe and unhealthy - in fact scary. The aftermath of the war in the Congo was still on and attracting all the low life mercenaries, from South Africa, Rhodesia and the French Foreign Legion having being led by Mad Mike Hoare an Irish mecenary. Travelling overland through that country was something for another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment