21 September 2017

Fun on the Power Van!

Power Van - Outeniqua Mountains, George

Looking for something fun to do in George (Western Cape, South Africa)?
Look no further than than a trip on the "Power Van" into the Outeniqua mountains high above George. You will be "squashed" into 2 small carriages while chugging along from the starting point in the George Railway Museum.

The six cylinder diesel engine carries everybody with ease and the views are incredible.

The spot where water was taken on by the steam locomotives 

Think back to 1908 when the grueling work of building this railway was begun by 700 convicts.
Work started from the George side and the aim was to connect George to Oudtshoorn by rail. Before the completion of the railway, a farmer would take approx.5 days by ox-wagon to take his produce to market in Oudtshoorn and then back with fruit, fertilizer and whatever else was available.

The line is very close to rockface in many places so huge amounts of dynamite would have been required to blast a passage or a tunnel.

Outeniqua Mountains
This must have been incredibly difficult work with pick axes and shovels plus the dust and noise of  continual blasting.

The Oudtshoorn side was started in 1911 and over 2500 people worked on this railway prior to its completion.

The trip goes up and up, passing through forest, fynbos and waterfalls plus the darkness of 6 tunnels!

The line runs parallel at times to the old Montague Pass, which in itself, is another engineering feat.

All 3 passes, the old dirt road, the railway pass plus the "new" road can be seen at various times from the Power Van.
The valleys and mountains are so very,very awe-inspiring.

It is suggested that one takes a picnic for the 30 minute stop where the old water tanks used to be (for the steam trains) The building is now abandoned.

The driver swops seats on the way down and everybody turns around - its rather fun as one faces back downhill again. There are 2 sets of controls! Commentary is provided and we stopped twice while waiting to hear about another train on the line. The line is still used, albeit not that frequently anymore.

The Outenique Transport Museum is well worth viewing either before or after your trip. The Model Railway exhibition is incredible but only open on certain days as this is run by volunteers who are totally passionate about all things "railway"

The Railway exhibits are fascinating - certainly now a bygone era. Vintage cars, in mint condition,  are also on display.

A highly recommended outing!

During high season, pre-booking is recommended

The Railway Museum, 2 Mission Street, George.

© Judelle Drake

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