Photoblog: road trip through the Great Karoo

Posted by Paul Maughan-Brown on 4 September 2015

I take a certain amount of pride in how much of South Africa I’ve seen. There’s something attractive to me about the idea of having laid eyes on as much of the country as possible; as if it gives me some added legitimacy when I’m hurling abuse at the ref of a Springbok game. Until recently there was a gaping gap in my ground-cover, slap-bang in the middle of the Northern Cape. Determined to fill it, I struck out into the vast nothing of the Great Karoo with a good friend, a tent and some pesto we bought in Ceres.

 

Ralipolo beside the road. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown.

Ralipolo beside the road.


Our route took us steadily northeast, with a couple of exploratory zigzags along the way, ending up in Douglas on the banks of the Vaal, before returning again through the northerly stretches of nowhere. We passed through dorpies galore – Sutherland, Fraserburg, Williston, Carnarvon, Prieska, Douglas, Van Wyksvlei, Brandvlei, Calvinia – some charming, some which felt like strolling into a Stephen King novel.

 

Sunrises galore. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

Sunrises galore.


The R355 has had a much needed makeover. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The R355 has had a much needed makeover.


The farmstead at Celeryfontein, between Sutherland and Fraserburg. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The farmstead at Celeryfontein, between Sutherland and Fraserburg.


The church in Sutherland. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The church in Sutherland.


Windsock in the middle of nothing. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

Windsock in the middle of nothing.


Kilometre after kilometre of dirt disappeared beneath our rented polo vivo – affectionately dubbed Ralipolo – only to be spewed out in rising trails behind us. We laughed at the idea of young British men baking under the sun, fearing for their lives. “You want me to go where? And fight hardened sharp-shooting farmers? Are you having a laugh?”

 

Dry. Flat. Pan. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

Dry. Flat. Pan.


The lambing camp set up in the campsite at Middlewater, between Carnarvon and Loxton. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The lambing camp set up in the campsite at Middlewater, between Carnarvon and Loxton.


The winkeltjie in the back yard of Die Ark Guesthouse in Williston. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The winkeltjie in the back yard of Die Ark Guesthouse in Williston.


The telescope covers at Sterland Caravan park in Sutherland. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The telescope covers at Sterland Caravan park in Sutherland.


We photographed sheep. We photographed stars. We photographed trees. We got up for sunrises and drank beers next to campfires. We drove through mayhem hail, just able to hear each other whooping nervously above its clatter. We passed Alkantpan where explosive clouds rose from the horizon – apparently our army was destroying excess or expired munitions for the Singaporean government.

 

Dusk. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

Dusk.


Sunsets galore. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

Sunsets galore.


The long road home. Photo by Paul Maughan-Brown

The long road home.


We met Johannes Van Rooyen, riding his bike between nowhere and nêrens.

When we asked him how far he still had to go his response was “so ‘n entjie”. How long did his journey take? “So ‘n tydjie.” These are the only appropriate responses in a land immeasurable in its immensity.
 






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