Disaster and Recovery


Story and image by Ronald Hairbottle

Washed Away

Part 1: The Flood

The weather was beautiful when we left Polokwane at 06:30 on Saturday. Entering the river at the normal place just after the bridge wasn’t possible, as it was completely overgrown, so we entered further upstream. The river was flowing just enough and it looked like the trip would be easy. Johnny’s Hilux Truggy was working well, and the trip was proving uneventful, until we entered the gullies. Here the Hilux got a nasty sidewall slash on a front tyre from a small protrusion on a big rock. Luckily the tyre didn’t debead, thanks to the beadlocker we had installed. (With these beadlockers, the Truggy runs 0.15 bar in front and 0.10 bar at the rear.)

After traversing Dead Dog Gorge, a normally soft and treacherous ascent, and crossing a couple more obstacles, we arrived at the beach around midday. We lazed around for the rest of the afternoon, swimming and snoozing. At around 16:30, it started raining, and Johnny’s tent was rendered useless by a gust of wind. Suddenly the water level began to rise and our camping spot on the beach became flooded. We packed up in record time and parked our 4x4s on the higher ground at the other side of the river. To our surprise, the water level began to subside, and we thought it might soon stop raining. Unfortunately, our relief didn’t last long.

The next moment, and without any warning, Johnny shouted:‘O f… Hier kom dit!’ In a split second, I’d leapt up and was racing, with Johnny, past the wall of water to our left. Johnny Jnr and Gert were clever enough just to run up the side of the mountain past our gazebo. By the time I got to my 4Runner, I was waist-deep in the water. I waded past it, went up the rock, fell down and started taking a video. This was all of 10 seconds after Johnny’s warning shout.

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