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  • Inspector Clueless with a Map – by Tilley the Tourist

    Posted by Nikki Tilley February 3, 2014 - 2,550 views - 0 comments - 0 likes - #Blog 4 - Festivals and Furry Friends of the KwaZulu Natal South Coast 

    So this month, I am not only hunting history. I am hunting people. Yes, I am a stalker. Well I am putting this in present tense even though it happened a few weeks back because sometimes it really is great to live in the past when you have happy memories.

     I heard of some beach events so hunted down `the big one’. The beach was rocking. The music vibed. The people were sunburnt. The nose (which I usually use for good wine) told me of suntan lotions being splashed abundantly. Good call people. Climate change can hit us all.

     So my little, very innocent, amble down to Margate beach on the KZN South Coast turned out to be something a bit more outrageous than anticipated. I was jumped on by the organizers of a fantastically vibey Summer Festival sponsored by Maynards informing me that I was to be a judge of the Biggest Splash. Word had spread. Clueless was spotted. So much for my trench coat disguise on the beach in 35 degrees heat. So surrounded by beach babes and people a third of my age who don’t need trench coats, and with Miss South Coast and Mr Hot Bod also judging, we stood by the pool and waited for my old mate Damon Beard to fall backwards off a plank into a shallow pit of water. Strange but true.

     Damon heralds from East Coast Radio Drive Time show and I convinced the ever so young, naïve (naïve = young, had to throw that in, no offence meant), beautiful judges to give him a really bad rating on his splash. But considering we are friends, and have snow skied, watertubed and 4x4 desert duned all in one day together (yes, I am clear of mind and showing off), we changed our scores. We also succumbed due to the pressure from all the media there. So an interview ensued and the beach kept on jiving. What a place to be for the summer – never seen so many happy people doing so many activities and such a well organized event.

     Margate is fascinating – did you know that Margate is only just 20 kilometres southwest of Port Shepstone and that the river which flows into the sea at Margate is called "Nkhongweni" (place of entreaty)? That’s because the original inhabitants were reputed to be so mean that travellers had to beg for hospitality. Wow, times have changed. I experienced none of that. It was in 1908 that an English surveyor Henry Richardson laid out the town and named it Margate after another seaside resort on the northern coast of the county of Kent in the UK.

    With tons of accommodation for visitors who love swimming, snorkelling, and surfing along with cosy shopping streets and lots of restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs, Margate is a spot I will have to revisit (just like about every other place I have been to so far on the South Coast).

    And here’s something awesome - Margate hit the world headlines in 1922 (some say 1924) when an enormous, white, furry creature dubbed `Trunko’ due to it having an elephantine trunk, was washed up on the beach. Unfortunately the "Margate monster" was too decomposed to be identified accurately. But since I am an Inspector without a Clue, this is exactly what I was cut out to do. Ah, life purpose, I will have to find another Trunko, because if you don’t know where to look, you are bound to find it.

     So back to the present. You might recall I had a fellow traveller - Curiosity the Cat – well he left me. Didn’t even leave a note (yes, I am devastated and am going for group therapy). So replacement and rebound it is. I found another lost soul trawling the South Coast and who is now my new found best friend – a dog of enormous proportions. I have decided to rent her out for rides on the beach and in the mountains (she looks like a camel) to help pay for my petrol. Her name is Thugosaurus Rex. She hails from Lesotho and she had heard that there are loads of San Rock Art sites and stories of Dinosaurs in the South Coast hinterland – so she is here to trace her family tree, hence her name handed down from generations. I have included her picture as no doubt you are thinking at this stage that the Inspector has completely lost her mind. So saddle up. Let’s go. We are off to the hinterland. That place where whispers are heard in the mist, floating through the amazing gorge and rock formations. 

     So before we get too sidetracked trying to help Thugosaurus Rex trace her ancestory, we need to prepare ourselves by doing some knowledge hunting via our cyber friend, Wikipedia.

    Oribi Gorge is a canyon (and in my opinion far grander than that one up in the north) and has an eastern and western part to it. The eastern gorge is created by the Mzimkulwana River, which cuts through the Oribi Flats (flat sugarcane farmlands) of KwaZulu-Natal. The western gorge was formed by the Mzimkulu River. The gorge is approximately almost 5km wide and 400m deep. Erosion by these rivers have carved out nearly 30 km of spectacular kloofs and crags, covered with subtropical vegetation.In the gorge, the dense forest on the sandstone slopes is home to various small mammals, while the rather hefty large leguaans excavate their burrows along the riverbanks.

    At the base of the cliffs of both gorges the basement rocks are part of the Kaapvaal Craton, which are over 1000 million years old. The cliffs themselves are formed from sandstone deposited about 365 million years ago.And that’s not all - the road through Oribi Gorge was built by Italian prisoners of war.

    Oribi Gorge derives its name from the oribi, a small antelope that lives in the gorges. What is also hidden away in the hinterland is the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve - a park located along the bottom of the Oribi Gorge at the confluence of the Mzimkulu River and Mximkulwana River, being approximately 27km long, and 1km wide at its widest point. It was proclaimed a protected state forest in 1950. This place is breathtaking. I might just need a nap now as I am feeling so overwhelmed by its magnitude, its essence and its magic.

    So now we know and it’s Thuggies turn to find her family.  We will send smoke signals when we discover more. So until then… what’s your story about this gem of a place?  Get your people to call my people. 0800 FINDME. Erratum: [email protected]