An exciting new heritage tourism route, traversing the escarpment and the Lowveld to the border with Mozambique, was opened this year to allow the traveller to follow in the ox-wagon tracks of the old transport riders and specifically in the footsteps of the famous dog, Jock of the Bushveld.
Some waymarkers along the route were erected as far back as 1952. The route was further extended with more of these Jock Trek 1885 plaques in its centenary in 1985. Each of the 36 waymarkers – many of these recent additions, are now documented and indicated complete with a GPS reading, after a combined effort by Mpumalanga Heritage and the publication of a new book on the subject, Forgotten Tracks and Trails of the Escarpment and the Lowveld, researched, written and published by a local history aficionado, Dr Gerrit Haarhoff.
To follow the complete route one has to start in Lydenburg. Some waymarkers are in the original bronze, others are pottery replicas to escape being pilfered. Those in the Kruger National Park are made of a durable plastic.
The latest plaques are made of a rock-hard moulded cement and resin mix, painted to resemble cast bronze.
Over a distance of 300 kilometres, down Robbers Pass, past Pilgrim’s Rest following the Blyde and down Burger’s Pass or directly Pilgrim’s to Graskop to discover the real Paradise Camp, often disputed in the past. Then follow the escarpment past Mac Mac and Sabie and straight down the escarpment at a viewpoint indicated on the R537 on the way to White River, recently marked as Delagoosberg.
Stick to the R537 but set your GPS for the turn left to Klipkoppie at 25° 13’31.22” S/ 30° 59’ 27.34” E to follow the road across the valley past Klipkoppie Dam to cross the R40 pass the farm Peebles of old Bob Sanderson, where one of the most prominent cairns still with its original bronze plaque from 1952, graces the farmyard.
From here, find your way to the R538, turn right at Numbi and discover another right here at the Numbi Gate to the Kruger National Park.
The park houses a whole leg of the journey with many signposts indicating places of significance as mentioned in the adventures of Jock and his master.
After one exits the park at Malalane or Crocodile Bridge gates there are still a few of these to be found. One is on the N4 on the straight line between Nellmapius Drift and Furley’s Drift. At Furley’s Drift one can find the last marker where the old road heads east down Mathallaspoort into the former Portuguese area.
The last leg of the trek is on R38 between Kaapmuiden and Barberton. This section is also described in the book as the “last trek”. See the small waymarker on your left at Pettigrew’s Neck and another near Jo’s Luck at the so called second drift. This can only by found by following your GPS reading. The location is somewhat off the main road passing the magnificent 1898 ZAR railway bridge that is still to be seen here.
The last two waymarkers are the one on the wall at the The Diggers Retreat at Noordkaap close to where the old Jock tree used to be, the other at the route ending (or beginning) at the entrance to the Barberton Museum where the main road used to enter this once booming mining town.
With a copy of Fitzpatrick’s Jock of the Bushveld on hand and by following the GPS information as it leads one from waymarker to waymarker, you will soon find yourself on a fascinating treasure hunt filled with historical information. Note that all of these markers are as visible as some others, and at certain locations ask for a sharp eye to be spotted.
Also note that some small portions of the route is not accessible due to forestry activities and require special permission, though most of these waymarkers are positioned next to public roads at locations where the modern road crosses or follows the old wagon tracks.
Forgotten Tracks and Trails of the Escarpment and the Lowveld
Forgotten Tracks and Trails of the Escarpment and the Lowveld is available at most book stores in this region and is on sale at R450 at the Tourism Information Centre of Kruger Lowveld Tourism at the Crossing Centre in Nelspruit/Mbombela (see page 2 of this publication for information). This well-illustrated coffee-table publication of over 300 pages encompasses thorough field research and the documentation and interpretation of not only the Jock route but all the major wagon routes crossing the south eastern escarpment and Lowveld.
“In most instances Forgotten Tracks and Trails will be the last word said on many disputes and uncertainties concerning the course of these old wagon routes. Much documentation on this matter never previously consulted, has brought new light on not only the old wagons routes, but also on the general history of the region.
What make this publication most important is that every possible fact and location, previously known or newly discovered, was checked by means of rigid field work. There is not a place of significance on any of the routes described which the author had not personally visited and verified,” says Duncan Ballantyne, chairman of Mpumalanga Heritage.
Also see: forgottentracks.co.za.
Issued by: Marius Bakkes 0828527289
Mpumalanga Heritage/Erfenis, Nelspruit/Mbombela