We leave for
Rorke's Drift at the unholy hour
of 8am. This, it turns out, is a good idea as the journey takes
over four hours. We travel down through Nigel, Standerton, Newcastle
and Dundee to finally reach the road to Rorke's
Drift. Now, we were under the impression that this would be
a tarred road. It was far from. The boulders that we were driving
over were threatening to seriously dent the car, and our pockets
via the excess payments!
from the road to Rorke's Drift
for around 8km, we come across a T-Junction, where we turn left and
promptly had to stop due to herd of cattle being herded by a young
woman with her chest out. Now, to western men, this was a little odd.
It's one thing meeting some cattle, but women in the west simply don't
walk around with their breasts out. We were certainly now in Zululand.
I was struck by the confidence that she walked around with, and well
she should, as there is not actually anything wrong with the practice,
simply our perceptions.
We move on,
getting closer to Rorke's Drift,
and can now see Oskarsberg in the distance. The anticipation is
quite unnerving. Suddenly we are upon the sign, "Rorke's Drift".
We are here! 6,500 miles to come to a dusty group of buildings in
a remote part of South Africa. People would consider us a little
detached (I suppose that's nothing when compared to 800 miles to
take one photo of Dalton's grave!).
We briefly stop, and then continue on towards Fugitive's Drift,
a further 8km away, as we plan to come back later that day.
As we move further
into the area around Rorke's Drift
and Fugitive's Drift, the landscape gets more beautiful and the
people are remarkably friendly, typically waving before we get the
chance to. The road dips gently down into a valley, then up towards
a gate. As we approach, a man walks out to open it for us, we are
now entering the Fugitive's
Drift Game Reserve.
We go along
the track, admiring the views that are presented to us and eventually
pull up at Fugitive's
Drift Lodge. We are greeted by Sheila, who warmly welcomes us
to the Lodge, and shows us to our rooms. An fact unknown to me was
that H.R.H Prince Charles stayed here in 1997 on a tour of the area.
Drift, the views were spectacular.
a brief rest, we lunch and then are told we are to visit Rorke's
Drift to have a tour that afternoon. Our guide will be David Charles.
We climb into a Land-Rover and are driven by David to Rorke's
Drift, all the while listening to the excellent "Day of the Dead
Moon" series of cassettes by David Rattray, owner of the Fugitive's
Drift Game Reserve.
who gave us the tour at Rorke's Drift
takes on the feeling of a religious experience. Finally, I am going
to see Rorke's Drift with my
own eyes, and sit where those brave men fought and died. It fulfils
the brief. The talk given by David was riveting and graphic. The
bravery of the Zulu's was well recalled and the opportunity to experience
the actual distances and place was unsurpassed.
the run that Hook took when ferrying the injured from the hospital
wore me out the first time I did it, and he did it many times, under
There were also
stone markings in the ground to show where the original buildings
After two hours,
we are tired but happy, and have experienced Rorke's
Drift for ourselves. We plan to come back again and take photos
and walk around the site on our own.
We return to
the Lodge, looking forward to a hearty meal and are surprised to
meet Martin Everett, curator of the South
Wales Borderers Museum, someone who has been very helpful with
the website. After discovering who we all were, we enjoyed an evening
of long discussion, even though the electricity only lasts for four
The group listened
intently to the story, with the hospital in the background