Wow! That was one crazy roadtrip week!
6 of our Rovers, together with others from the 1st Pinelands and 2nd Kenridge Crews, were lucky enough to have the opportunity to take part in a week-long roadtrip to Johannesburg. The primary reason for this roadtrip was for us to take part in ‘Pop Bolton’ – Gautengs Regional Rover Competition (similar to our own Hawkeye Trophy here in the Western Cape). Along the way we had a few stops planned, some educational and some service-based.
We departed from Cape Town midday on Wednesday, for many of us this would be a first ever drive to Johannesburg. After a quick stop at some family in Beaufort West for some supper (thanks!), we were back on the road. We arrived at Richmond-NC a bit later than planned, but were happy to be able to stretch our legs and have a rest at our overnight stop. Many of the Rovers had never met each other prior to the trip – so it was a fun evening, and a chance for everyone to bond a bit. Thursday morning we were up bright and early again, on the road to Roodepoort, with minimal stops – except some Wimpy for lunch. Late afternoon we finally arrived at Gilwell Florida Lake – our home for the next few days. After a much needed braai, we got into our lovely warm beds (gosh Gauteng can get cold)!
The next morning we slept in a bit. Today was going to be a big day! The group headed down to Maropeng first, to visit the Cradle of Humankind. This was an incredible experience, where we could look at the bones and artifacts of our ancestors, and some of humanities distant cousins. The tour is really informative, taking you through a timeline of human evolution. Another theme of the Cradle is the impact that humans are having on the environments, and many displays pay tribute to the animals humanity has left extinct in its wake, from the Mammoth to the Dodo. Following this tour, we headed to the Sterkfontein Caves, where quite recently one of the ‘missing links’ in human evolution has been found – Homo naledi. This was really interesting, as huge limestone caverns with deep dark pools of water and underground lakes are simply not something seen in the Western Cape. We had an amazing guide who really brought the place and its history to light. Something we never realized until taking this tour is just how threatened this part of SA’s heritage is by intolerant vandals, often with extremist beliefs, and we are glad that Gauteng are looking after these treasures. After experiencing this part of our heritage, we spent some time checking out the sights in Joburg itselfs – and were lucky enough to meet up with one of our long lost Rovers who’d moved there last year!
Saturday was upon us, and it was time to hit the road and take part in Pop Bolton! We headed to the Kloofendal Nature Reserve, there we met Quintin, the competition organiser, and received our instructions. Here our 2 Western Cape Teams, one made of Table Bay Rovers and one a mixed team from all 3 Crews, met up with the 17 other teams from Crews in Gauteng. The first activity was a scavenger hunt/orienteering exercise where we had to visit multiple locations in the Reserve, collect items and take photos. After completing this step, we had to excavate a plastic dinosaur from a stone to reveal our team numbers – and were then given a second set of instructions, and a pack of STA’s.
This second batch of instructions scattered the teams, sending us all to various Scout Halls across the West Rand. These activities included the awesome games of Shoe Golf, building a raft and paddling out into Florida Lake, deactivating radioactive waste remotely, shooting targets with DIY blowdarts, taking part in a quiz that could get one of us dunked and an obstacle course. For our benefit, we were all given a ‘roadtrip mix CD’ of songs from the Evolution Movie – with some really banging tunes! Upon completion of these activities, we were directed to our campsites a a place called Teak Place, where the competition hosts had kindly prepared supper for us. There was a massive campfire, and awesome social times were had with Rovers from all over. Despite the biting cold to our bones, much fun was had!
Bright and early on Sunday we shook the frost off out tents and got packed up to go. After a lovely warm breakfast, Quintin gathered all the Crews to announce the final scores. Catching us completely off guards – both Western Cape Teams came in the top 5. Our all-TBR team took 2nd place, and the mixed team took 4th. Out mixed team also won the Pop Bolton Spirit Trophy – well done guys!
We spent the remainder of the Sunday morning and early afternoon visiting family in Joburg, and seeing some more of the local sights like Gold Reef City and some of the top lunch spots. Back at Gilwell Florida, we began our plans to do some Service to Scouting, but building some new brickwork supports for their outdoor water basin. We were able to finish this on Monday morning before leaving. By Monday afternoon we were back on the road – this time headed to Kimberley, where we would be overnighting at the Northern Cape Scout Centre. Here we had a great little indoor campfire, a perfect final night for some new friends before the long haul back to Cape Town.
Tuesday morning, were headed to the Big Hole and Museum, to learn about this important part of SA’s history – and also to see a really big hole! Finally we were back on the road to Cape Town!
We’d like to thank everyone who made this trip a resounding success: Yvonne and Nolan, thanks so much for helping us out with accommodation. Wezz and Cam thanks a bunch for not killing us with your crazy driving. And finally, thanks for having us Gauteng – we’ll be back in 2017!