There is an English saying that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, well this “old dog” learnt one last week.
I was hosting a foreign group who have specifically come to South Africa to look at our old steam locomotives. I was totally unaware that here in Bloemfontein there is the only workshop in South Africa dedicated in repairing and preserving these by gone relics.
I have once read that Bloemfontein had the largest workshop in South Africa for repairing locomotives, but I never really followed up on this. I was flabbergasted in what I saw and I regret in not taking more photos, there are about 10-15 perfectly restored steam locomotives and various other railway paraphernalia in various stages of development. Two of the locomotives are to be shipped out to New Zealand and others are used here in the Free State at Sandstone Estate near Ficksburg.
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the Transport museum in George and seen all the old trains there, then the chances are it was restored here in Bloemfontein. This is a wonderful opportunity for any steam railway enthusiast to view these machines (I think it’s a man’s dream world) and is a wonderful attraction here for those who are interested. One has to book in advance to make the necessary bookings but I can recommend a visit to the workshop and will add value to my city tour.
I know that April will be a bumper month for the tourism industry with the Angus Buchannan conference being held soon. I think that we can compare this month to October when the Macufe festival attracts people from all over South Africa and all the accommodation places are fully booked. I do have some concerns with the logistics for this conference but I hope that everything will run smoothly and professionally and perhaps Bloemfontein can host it again next year.
Please contact me if you have any tour guiding requests or in need of transfers.
Here is a short story about our #travelguru, Tony Horn, who will guide us through Free State every Mid-month. Enjoy !
“Africa, its people, places and stunning wildlife has had me spellbound since I first arrived on these shores back in 1971. My memories of my childhood growing up in Cornwall were of green fields, foxes and seagulls with the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the Cornish cliffs. I loved the outdoors then as a child and that love has never diminished.
This continent is like a beautiful, passionate woman with all her moods and tempers. Once you are under her spell it is hard to resist her charms. Africa is part of us, our origins are from her and thus an inextricable bond exists.
I have had the pleasure of exploring many of the sub Saharan regions but as there is just so much to see, I doubt that I will ever explore it all in this lifetime. I worked for many years at game lodges within the Sabi Sands as well in the Kruger Park creating memories and friendships which will last a lifetime.
It was in 1995 that I met my good friend Roger on the banks of the Zambezi. A few beers later the seed was planted for us to start our own business. Roger was the first to take the plunge and thus he is the original Bush Junkie and is based down in Durban where he conducts his tours. It was only in 2004 that I made the momentous decision to give it all up and to open Bush Junkies safaris in Bloemfontein. I chose this city as firstly I am a Free Stater through and through and wanted to promote this region. Secondly, there were not that many registered tour guides in the province so the competition was small. Well many years later I am still going, still learning and never giving up. I have evolved, doing things I would never have imagined and enjoying the challenge of working for oneself. I take tours throughout the country not only focusing on its wildlife but also on the people, history and culture. I am also very passionate in promoting Bloemfontein and offer full or half day tours of the city. It is often underrated as a tourist destination, but I hope that after telling you some of the many interesting topics, that it might convince you to come and visit.
I am a firm believer that through travel you learn new cultures and experience exciting things which make your life a never ending journey of discovery and reward.”