28-Dec-2002 -- This Confluence lies a few kilometres off the R63 road between Graaff-Reinet and Murraysburg, not far from the Nieu-Bethesda. On our way down to the coast (see 31S 25E) for the December holiday we stayed two nights in Nieu-Bethesda, planning to visit 32S 24E and 32S 25E.
Nieu-Bethesda is an isolated and peaceful little tourist village now, but started as a centre for a church for the surrounding farming community. It became well-known for its "Owl house" and its "outsider art" created by Miss Helen Martins (have a look at www.owlhouse.co.za). The village is full of artists and other people wanting to escape from the rat race, with a number of guest houses and small coffee shops and restaurants.
Ferdi and I left our families to visit the galleries and other tourist attractions, while we went off to find the Confluence. We took a bee line from Nieu-Bethesda with the aid of a topographic map lent to us by Egbert, owner of one of the restaurants in town. We travelled along farm roads and took the wrong turning a few times, once ending up in a sheep corral. When we finally got to the R63 tar road to Murraysburg, we were stopped by a locked gate. We debated for a while whether to try and break the lock, as we were on a public road and some farmer had clearly decided to illegally lock the gate in an effort to reduce stock theft and generally control the movement of unwanted people through the area. While we have a lot of sympathy with the current plight of farmers in South Africa, we were now faced with the prospect of having to retrace most of our route. We eventually drove about 15 km back to the last farm house we saw, where a friendly young lady apologized and gave us the code to the lock on the gate.
The Confluence seemed to be on the property of a Mr Kingwill, but when we approached him at his beautiful Cape Dutch farm house, he informed us that the Confluence more likely lay on the next farm, Coetzierskraal. We found the turn-off to this farm about two km further west. The sign board incorrectly referred to the area as Coetzeeskraal (Coetzee is a well known surname in South Africa). In fact, as we were later told by the farm manager, the name referred to the fact that there was a toll gate on the old road to Murraysburg on the farm - "coetzier" is the old Dutch for coach driver.
There was nobody at the farm house, but eventually some children and then a farm worker appeared and first referred us to the farm manager who lived on the next door farm. However, we had actually stopped at his place before approaching Mr Kingwill, and there nobody had been home. He then gave us directions to the confluence area. Just as we started off, the farm manager arrived. We explained again, and he became very interested. Eventually he even offered us the use of their horses, but as we estimated that it would only be about a 1 km walk and that up a hill and through terrain that the horses would not be able handle, he declined his offer.
We then followed his instructions past the old toll gate, through a difficult ford where the bakkie almost got stuck and along a jeep track to the closest point. From here it was a bit more than a kilometre up a hill in about 40 degrees. As it turned out, the Confluence was actually on the next farm and we had to climb a fence about 200 m from our destination to reach it.
Continued at 32S 25E.