Hawequas Scout Adventure Centre
The History of the Hawequas Scout Adventure Centre (Short Read)
In the Beginning
Hawequas was acquired by the Scout movement in the Spring of 1986. It is situated just outside Wellington, nestled at the foot of the Hawequas Mountains and is in an area renowned for its scenic beauty. The farm has vast areas of fynbos, perennial streams, waterfalls, and is ideal for Scouting activities.
In front of the house, where the level playing field is today, there was a large herb garden. This was cleared, partially levelled and grass planted by Scout work parties.
One of the first big events held at Hawequas, was the Summer Camp of 1988 and this put Hawequas firmly 'on the map' for many Scouters once they had seen the campsite. The Handyman and Pioneer Badge courses were also put to good use in making basic on-site improvements.
The farm has over the years been fully utilised, and is the home for many Adult and Scout courses, PLTU, Competitions and Camping by all branches of the movement and before girls joined Scouting, Guide and Scout camps.
The changing face of Hawequas
There are far too many names to mention of those who have contributed to the farm's development. The following is a summary of people under whose stewardship the progress took place. In the early days due to the lack of funding it was limited to what the numerous volunteers could achieve.
Richard Goldschmidt was the first Chairman and piloted the initial development plan that consisted of major earthworks for the creation of level camping sites (today known as the terraces) and the main playing field. Eskom electricity was laid on and this allowed for the electrification of the buildings. Water was piped to the camp sites in the forest.
Dudley Allen was responsible for most of the initial building alterations that were carried out and this included the house that was upgraded, the flooring being replaced, rooms re-divided and bunk-beds built-in. Dudley also converted the old barn to include a bunk-house, showers, toilets and store rooms.
Charles van der Spuy took over the reins of Chairman from Richard in September 1989, who together with the labourer Adam Lewis continued to make considerable improvements whilst maintaining the rustic and natural appeal.
Stuart Ravenscroft was the Chairman during most the nineties and early two thousand and with sponsorship from Mobil was able to expand on many of the 'nice to haves' like the dam, floodlights and tables & chairs.
Tess Pettiquin moved onto the farm on 1 October 1999 and was the on-site Warden for 14 years.
Andrew Purnell was the next Chairman and in addition to the Scouting needs, created a focus on Environmental Education programmes and ran a series of Junior Land Care youth camps for historically disadvantaged youth. The Strawbale house was one of his projects as a working example of the sustainable use of natural resources for Hawequas.
Andre Foot then took up the reins in 2010 and was able to secure substantial funding (Gordon Carr of South London Scout Centre, the Robert Hall Foundation, the Lombardi Trust Fund and the Abe Bailey Trust) and for the first time there were adequate funds for major improvements. This resulted in considerable infrastructure improvements and new developments.
Kuba Miszewski became the on-site Manger in December 2013 when Tess relocated to Paarl.
With a strong Scouting background, business acumen and with funds available for labour and enhancements, the transformation was remarkable.
In a bold move, the old pine forest, denuded by fires and regular use was converted into levelled campsites.
Today the Western Cape Scouting community can be rightly proud of their Hawequas.
The History of Hawequas Scout Adventure Centre (Long Read)
In the very early days of Scouting in the Cape Western Province outdoor scouting training and camping could take place in many of the suburbs that had not yet been fully developed around Cape Town City. For instance, the road ‘Scouts Place’ in Pinelands was named after that portion of the pine forest where scouts used to camp in the 1920’s to 1940’s. One of the early leaders of Scouting, ‘Serpent’ Carl Rayner purchased land along the river in Diep River, where he built his home. He was a headmaster of a school and took on the task of training adult scout leaders at his large grounds in Diep River from the 1930’s up until 1950.
In May 1950 Cape Western Scouting purchased section one of what was to become Gilcape, an area of 3.42 Hectares in Forest Road, Eerste River, for the sum of 850 pounds. This was developed to include a warden’s house, a quarter store and tuck shop, a round swimming reservoir, a toilet block, a training hall and training team headquarters and a nature reserve. A central playing field was surrounded by thick Port Jackson bush into which campsites were cut.
In December 1977 an adjoining piece of land of 8.13 Hectares became available and was bought for the sum of R13 000. A lake was dug with a central island, and the soil excavated was formed into a small hill, the front of which was a stone wall which was used as a climbing wall. A large barn was built on this property for cub camping as well as training uses.
By 1986 the surrounding housing developments began to encroach on the rural atmosphere of Gilcape and burglaries were becoming more frequent. A proposal was put to Scouting by Erfland Construction to purchase Gilcape for R1 284 000 so they could cut it up for housing. They would divide the land up into three phases and pay the purchase price as they sold the plots in each phase, paying the final sum owing at the end of three years. Scouting could continue to use Gilcape until the commencement of Phase 3, which was to be at least until 1988. This arrangement maximized to money received for Gilcape and gave us time to find a replacement, which was Hawequas.
By 1988 camp sites for annual troop camps were becoming more and more difficult to find, as farmers in the Boland and Elgin Valley were rapidly developing their lands, leaving very little suitable for Scout camping. A team of Richard Goldschmidt, Errol Kotze, Kuba Miszewski and John Mutti set about to find a property for Scouting to purchase. The Saturday morning edition of the Cape Times newspaper carried all the adverts for Farms and Small holdings and it was eagerly investigated by them for many months in 1986/7. Trips were made to farms in Franschhoek, Noordhoek, Red Hill above Scarborough, the Sunbird Nature reserve, Jonkershoek, and as far afield as below the dam wall at the Bulshoek Dam beyond Clanwilliam.
At last Kuba Miszewski spotted an advert for Hawequas. The advert had a 2.5 x 2.5 cm black and white photograph taken from the top of Du Toits Kloof Pass, making it very difficult to see where exactly Hawequas was! A party of Richard Goldschmidt, Errol Kotze and Kuba Miszewski went out to Wellington to take a look at the farm on Saturday 20th September 1986. It had been originally developed as a very basic farm with small groves of apricot and olive trees, but had been sold to a group of people who used it as a retreat to practice transcendental meditation over weekends. The tractor shed had a large ‘eye’ painted on it, which was meaningful! Where the field is now was a large wooden structure with shade cloth in which vegetables were growing. We could see the potential of the grounds and put together a motivation to purchase. Area Commissioner, Norman Osburn and a party of the Area Executive committee came out on Sunday the 5th of October 1986 and formally made the decision to purchase the farm using the money being received from the sale of Gilcape. The hand over to the Scouts was on that day. The purchase price in September 1986 was R265000. The size of the farm is 234 Hectares and stretches up to the rock band on the Huguenot Koppie. The Spruit River and Dasbos River runs through the farm.
Such was the excitement in the Area of the newly acquired Hawequas that the first badge course ever held there was the Stalker/Tracker badge on the 1st of November 1986, which was run by John Mutti.
Hawequas on Day One
The approach to Hawequas was via a registered servitude through the neighbouring farm, the width of a road. The road was unsurfaced and very badly eroded with major water run-off problems. There was no gate. The road crossed the river on a very old steel reinforced concrete bridge, being supported in the middle by two oil drums filled with concrete, embedded in the rocky river bed. The road then swept up the embankment on the other side to a tight bend, before heading up to the ’gate’ at the start of the Hawequas property. Entering the property on the left hand side was a sloping field with nothing growing on it. As you rounded the bend at the intersection of the road to the labourer’s cottage and the main house, you proceeded through stunted olive trees on the left slope and un-kept Apricot trees on the right next to the river. To the south of the main house was a thick grove of Pine trees and in front was a small vegetable garden. The round rondavel in the Gum trees existed. Behind the house and tractor shed was mountainside. The property extended far up into the mountains, but was basically inaccessible. The river was clogged with fallen trees and alien vegetation and was impassable.
What we were unaware of back then was a long and convoluted narrow strip of land that was part of Hawequas, stretching from above the warden’s house, running past a number of adjacent farms and eventually ending on another main access road to other farms. It is over one kilometre long. When the farm was proclaimed this was to have been an alternative access to the property. However, an outcrop of rocks along the way obviously made it less costly to utilize the servitude that we presently use. Some of the farmers had planted vineyards on our land. Through the Prescription Act it is important to lay claim to this land and travel down this strip every so often, otherwise it could be challenged and will be lost.
In the first year of ownership, we were approached by students Christo Nowers and Jackie Kruger from the University of Stellenbosch, who wished to do an Environmental Study of Hawequas. They produced a thick volume “A management Plan for the Farm Remainder Hawequas” which has guided our development and care of the flora and fauna ever since. Some of their photos of an early Hawequas are included herein.
Additional money for development was not readily available during the first year of ownership due to the payment terms of the Gilcape Sale, so development was limited to purchasing a large industrial lawnmower and keeping the grass cut. Initially there was no warden living on site. A committee was formed consisting of Richard Goldschmidt, Errol Kotze, Dudley Allin, Charles van der Spuy and John Mutti who met out at the farm on Saturday mornings every few months. By August 1987 finance was more readily available and work parties took place.
Errol Kotze organized the use of a large front-end loader and operator from Malan’s transport and Richard Goldschmidt took a day’s holiday to direct operations from Friday 21st of August 1987 until the Sunday. The empty sloping field to the left of the entrance road was terraced to make flat platforms for campsites. The vegetable garden was flattened and then excavated by about a metre. This soil was moved lower down the slope in front of the house to form a flat future field. Further bush was pushed flat and levelling done to make the lower field. Areas behind the house were opened up. Fortunately the weight of the loader was just on the limits of the old bridge over the river.
Over the next two months work parties were held every weekend at Hawequas under the guidance of Dudley Allin, with the object of turning the tractor shed behind the main house into a bunk room, lecture hall, bathrooms and QM stores. Many thousands of bricks were laid by members of the committee. The bricks were kindly donated by Garnet De La Hunt, owner of Clay Tile Brick
In March 1989 Erfland had a problem with the final payment of R600 000 for Gilcape. This was holding up further development at Hawequas during the year of 1988. Charles van der Spuy had finished repairing the old Ford Vaaljapie tractor that had come from Gilcape and had fitted a scraper to upgrade the roads.
In June 1989 a new warden was appointed, Garth Haskins, a scouter from Durbanville, as well as a labourer, Adam Lewis, with his family. Charles van der Spuy took over the Chairmanship of the committee in October 1989. We were getting ready to market Hawequas for camping. Signage was put up along the roads to direct people to Hawequas and a directional map was drawn. Paul Marsh assisted in drawing up a map of the greater Hawequas. A camping application form was created as was a set of camping rules. The Rovers put in an application to develop a Rover Cabin somewhere in the grounds.
In April 1989 a fire raged along the mountainside around the camp but fortunately was kept away from the main buildings and camp sites. We arranged for some hundreds of trees of various sorts to be obtained from the City Council and Department of Forestry, and set up a planting schedule, mainly of the bare entrance hill that had been re-contoured. The idea was to have a shade tree for every campsite and then medium height hedges between campsites. Trees were planted also on the side of the main field and around the house. By June 1989, the final payment from Gilcape was available and we applied for Eskom to bring in electricity to the farm. Between Rex Koning and Errol Kotze they electrified the various buildings.
The October meet of the Scout Mountain Club, led by Barry Culligan, took place at Hawequas with the intent to introduce scouts and leaders to the potential of hiking trails within our property. The committee realized that an ablution block was needed down below the field to serve the campsites in the Pine forest and at a later stage the Terraces. A plan was drawn up, tendered for and rapidly built by Nic Pekeur, a scouter from Paarl who had a building company. The finished building cost us R52442 in November 1989. The house by then had upgrading work done to the value of R17000. All the while irrigation systems were being installed to service the newly planted trees and grass on the field, and fed to campsites in the Pine forest.
The 1990’s Decade
In March 1990 an old bakkie that was used by one of the then Field Commissioners was given to Hawequas to use about the farm. It proved troublesome and was sold for R600 after a few months. The electrification of the labourer’s cottage and the new Ablution block was completed. Three sets of camping equipment were assembled for hire to visiting scouts. About that time the neighbouring
Olyvenbosch farm was sold by Mr D V Quail to Mr Otto Schmidtke. Upon taking residence, Schmidtke realized that the weir in the river which fed water to his house was actually on Hawequas property. This led to an unpleasant completion of the sale, which was made dependent on him purchasing a small triangle of land with the weir on it of area 60 square metres. An offer of R3000 was made to the Scouts which was turned down. By May 1991 this offer was increased to R15000 which was also refused. No sale ever went through, so we still own the weir and a land surveyor has pegged out our boundary.
Much of the development work over this time was thanks to annual donations of R5000 from Mobil Oil Company, the employer of Stuart Ravenscroft, due to Stuart’s motivations. These enabled the expansion of irrigation systems and electrification systems. Flag poles were erected in time for the Summer Camp in December 1990. This camp spurred on the requirement for a swimming dam to be built. Stuart obtained a further R5000 Mobil donation as seed money for a dam. Garnet de la Hunt donates 8000 bricks towards the dam. The cottage is being let out at a rate of R100 per month but needs further upgrading. Cubs were using Hawequas a lot.
In November 1991 Charles van der Spuy hands over the chairmanship to Dudley Allin, but remains on the committee to deal with ongoing complaints from Otto Schmidtke and focusing on digging the hole for the dam with the tractor and then casting the concrete foundation. The brickwork and plastering for the sides was done by a contractor from Darling.
In 1992 Reggie Lategaan , the scouter from Wellington, takes on the position of Warden, but stays in the town. He is awarded R75 travelling allowance per month to visit the farm to give Adam Lewis direction. 1993 saw minor upgrading continue at Hawequas, but the notable work done was clearing the river of fallen trees and alien vegetation by Adam, with the assistance of the PLTU course. In August 1994 Reg Lategaan resigned. The cottage had been upgraded and was now available for renting out. The last Mobil grant of R3000, now called Engen, was spent to buy tyres for the tractor.
In 1995 the committee consisted of Stuart Ravenscroft (chairman), Dudley Allin, Buzz Macey, Charles van der Spuy, Carel Loncq, Errol Kotze, John Mutti, Denzil Roberts, Gert Hoppe and Richard Goldschmidt. A new workshop and tool shed had been created by Dudley Allin and Stuart Ravenscroft above the Wardens house in the old labourer’s cottage. This was funded by the Lombardi Trust for R6849. Adam Lewis had been moved into the Warden’s house and in December 1995 had been given R3000 to buy a VW Beetle to take his children to school each day.
The budget for 1997 shows an expenditure of R40000 versus an income of R28000. Income came from donations and camping fees such as the Gordons Shield and PLTU, as well as another R5000 from Engen, but the Lombardi grant was no longer. The tractor had more money spent on it redoing the brakes and the hydraulic lift. Stuart Ravenscroft was in charge, well supported by Dudley Allin. They flattened the hump in front of the house and improved the septic tank taking sewage from the Barn. Hawequas was being well supported and used, the cottage and the house being booked months in advance. For the first time camping took place on the Terraces.
Ongoing troubles started between neighbour Otto Schmidtke and our labourer Adam Lewis which eventually grew into grave threats and dead sheep heads! Adam was given notice but he appealed to the CCMA in August 1999 against unfair dismissal. The outcome was that he was given R8000 compensation and could stay a further two months in the house until he could find other accommodation. He put in an unsuccessful claim of R30000 for losses to his Protea picking business. Shortly after purchasing Hawequas we entered into an agreement for a few years with the neighbouring farmer, Mrs Sheila Bain, that she could pick proteas on our property for onward sale. Adam helped her.
Adam’s departure paved the way for the Warden’s house to be upgraded and the Page family donated seed money of R15000 to start the process. Dudley Allin and Carel Lonqc started the building work and undertook the supervision of the upkeep of Hawequas until a new warden could be put in place.
The New Millennium
In early 2000 a new lady warden was appointed, Tessa Pettiquin, and she moved into an upgraded Warden’s house. She occupied the warden position for 14 years. It was reported that the road was in a bad state, there were problems with the toilets and there was a need for female toilets for girl scouts.
In April 2001 Stuart Ravenscroft took over as chairman once again. A fencing contract of R8000 was awarded, as was a road repair contract of R40000 accepted. The bulk of this contract re-aligned the road from the bridge up to the gate, which was becoming impassable in winter, being mud. Stuart extended the roof of the barn to provide more shelter for training courses and cub camping. The following year he extended the concrete floor under this roof.
In 2002 Andre Foot, DC from Bellville, was brought onto the committee. Andre brought a new enthusiasm to the ongoing development of Hawequas. Otto Schmidtke, next door, was being very difficult about issues around the servitude road as there had been a spate of burglaries in the area and at Hawequas, and security needed to be tightened. Burglar bars had to be installed on the house windows and an alarm installed. Scouting’s chairman, Nigel de la Rosa, had to deal with Schmidtke via letters to and from attorneys.
For 5 years, from 2001 to 2005 Andre and his team carried out numerous mini-projects around Hawequas. All were small items that made a difference, like dealing with water supply, taps, water runoff, improvements to the house, barn and rondawel, painting, road maintenance and repairs to the dam. General tree and bush trimming and new planting were ongoing. About 2005 Andrew Purnell from Somerset West Scouting circles was appointed as Manager at Hawequas with Tess remaining in the Warden position. Andrew was keen on environmental matters and was instrumental in obtaining a grant from German Scouting for a Straw Bale House to be constructed in a remote portion of the farm to the north of the Warden’s house in 2006. A team of German senior scouts (Rovers) came out to construct the house. Another of Andrew’s projects was to build an ablution block to serve campers on the terraces campsites. A building was designed and built in 2007 but not completed due to lack of funds and being stopped by the municipality to build a septic tank. It remains uncompleted in 2020. A lot of this history has been lost.
In April 2007 members of the World Scout Foundation, led by Garnet De La Hunt, held their conference in Cape Town and paid a visit to Hawequas. Amongst them were the King of Sweden and a Colonel Bill Hall from the UK. The project of a Cub camping area, consisting of a Leaders block of a kitchen, toilet, equipment and bunkroom, surrounded by five raised platform ‘tents’, was put to them for funding. Colonel Bill Hall immediately came forward with a donation of 10 000 pounds (R138 654 at the time of exchange) to start the project. As such it was given the name of the ‘Robert Hall Foundation Campsite’. A plaque was unveiled at the site in the pine trees by the King of Sweden.
This started a long and rewarding relationship with the Robert Hall Foundation. Colonel Bill Hall played a large part in the development of the South London Scout Centre within the Dulwich College grounds. He started a foundation which he named after his son, Robert Hall, to benefit Scouting around the world, particularly in Bangladesh and South Africa. After having retired to the island of Jersey, he died in 2012 and the foundation was run by his wife and son Robert. They continued to make donations to Hawequas for projects.
Work on the first raised platform began in earnest towards the end of 2007 by a Dutch volunteer who had been tasked with the erecting of the structure. The uprights were cast in concrete, cross members bolted and floor joists bolted into position with the main structure being completed before the end of 2007. By the end of March 2008, the first raised platform ‘tent’ had been completed with the roof being added and canvas sides fitted. Unfortunately, it was around this time that Andrew Purnell’s contract came to an end due to insufficient funds being available. This left Hawequas limping along and being held together by the onsite Warden and various volunteers trying to keep the basic functioning up and running.
The Hawequas Vision and Awakening
Towards the end of 2010 a desperate call was made to all interested parties in Hawequas to meet, form a committee and create a vision to take the development further. An enthusiastic eight-member committee was formed under the leadership once again of Andre Foot with members such as Stuart Ravenscroft and Buzz Macey serving on it once again. The vision was to have Hawequas running as an International Scout Centre with life on site 24/7 by 2025. The completion of the Robert Hall Foundation campsite was identified as one of the first projects to be started and funding proposals were sent out to various organisations by Andre. Colonel Bill Hall immediately committed 7000 pounds to the project and when a quote came in from a builder in Malmesbury of R135000, he increased his donation to cover the price. The first six months of 2010 had been spent levelling the site and clearing trees that were in the way by a contracted digger loader. The builder finished the main building by November 2010 and the committee completed amendments to the first raised platform ‘tent’ and general landscaping in time for the campsite’s use in April 2011. Provincial Headquarters had contributed R61 000 towards the final cost of R224000, the balance coming from the Robert Hall Foundation. At this time a new Provincial Property commissioner had been appointed, Aussie Raad. Aussie contributed by supplying his company truck to gather all defunct troops’ equipment in Cape Town and bring it out to the store at Hawequas for use at the campsite. He also supplied stainless steel counter tops and a kitchen canopy for the newly built kitchen.
In 2011 the Abe Bailey Trust donated R65000 to Hawequas to provide burglar alarms on all the buildings and to replace all the old gas water heaters with new safe ones.
Ole Schroder House
Andre’s next project was to do a complete make-over of the main house. A complete revamp and makeover of the outdated kitchen, entrance and wash areas, counter tops, lighting, flooring and ceiling was planned. All the windows were to be replaced and the front terrace was to be enclosed and incorporated into the main house. A building estimate of R250000 was arrived at and a proposal for funding sent to Colonel Bill Hall in July 2011. Immediately a response was received as follows:
‘For many years, I had a good friend and business associate who was a Norwegian named Ole Schroder who died two years ago. I introduced him to the World Scout Foundation, and we supported many visits abroad. This leads me to my proposition, if the Main House could be upgraded and named after Ole Schroder, I would consider finding the 23159 pounds (R250000).”
Work started in November 2011 with a builder who had quoted R200000, provided he work between his other ‘well paid’ projects, so progress was slow. All the work was completed by March 2014 for an amount of R230000, which left some R67000 over, a gain from the Rand – Pound exchange rate and the ability to claim back the VAT. Some of this money was spent on hiring a machine to lower and level the existing playing field in front of the house.
In 2011 the idea was mooted by the Regions’ Property committee to build holiday cabins at Hawequas which could be rented out and would thus eventually pay for themselves. It was decided to place them above the cottage and along an old path along the top of an old olive plantation. Thus earthmoving machinery was brought in to make this road. That immediately attracted the attention of Cape Nature, that virgin ground was being disturbed and Scouting could face a heavy fine. Once it was proved that this was not virgin ground, but an olive plantation, that threat fell away. The new road also made an easy access to the farm’s water supply tanks up on the side of the mountain.
Two large wooden cabins were purchased and installed. One cabin is presently being used as a labourers’ cottage, the other for overflow accommodation. Thus far this project has not succeeded in its original intention.
The Back Road
Access to Hawequas had always proved not easy with the servitude over the adjacent farm, a locked gate, a difficult farmer and a very old rickety bridge over the river. However, included as part of the farm was the strip of land 18 metres wide that stretched out over 1km, providing access to Cummings Street, a public road extending from the town of Wellington to the farmlands. In 2011 Colonel Bill Hall had discussions with Andre Foot on the necessity of activating this new access and promised funding towards building a new road.
Over the years the Hawequas committee had attempted to understand and lay claim to this land meant for an access road. It was known that Langkloof Droevrugte had planted a vineyard on part of it. Land surveyor, Biff Lewis surveyed the strip in 2005 and suggested a servitude be registered against Langkloof over their land to pass by the granite outcrop that had always prevented the access road from being built, in exchange for having 0.35Ha of their vineyard on the 18m wide strip. This servitude has been registered by the Surveyor General’s office but it is unknown if Scouts has lodged it against the respective title deeds of the two farms concerned – Hawequas (Farm 295/0 Paarl) and Langkloof Droevrugte (Farm 295/5 Paarl). This was the situation in January 2010. Scouts invited all the landowners with properties adjoining this strip of land to an informal meeting to inform them of our plans to develop an access road on this strip of property. This caused an upset amongst the farmers who appointed lawyers and thus potential delays to any project.
Given the above, and the death of Colonel Bill Hall in 2012, the promised new road funding was changed to providing 6000 pounds (R80000) to replace the 45 year old tractor with a 1977 model Fiat 640 tractor bought for R50000 from Cape Town International Airport where its sole job had been pulling and pushing small planes around. The balance would be used to purchase a sub-base for the road. The only problem was that the trucks that were to deliver the sub-base where too heavy to cross the old bridge. This obviously focused attention on the need for a new bridge, and the back road option has been pushed aside for the present.
The Cottage and Warden’s House
In early 2013 a sum of R40000 was received from the Lombardi Trust Foundation. It was decided to spend a portion of the money on replacing rotten flooring and leaking roof of the old cottage. The cottage was painted and generally smartened up and again offered out for renting. It is now in regular use.
Tess Pettiquin resigned as Warden in 2014 and Kuba Miszewski was appointed as On-Site Manager in her place. This necessitated a complete upgrade of the Warden’s house. The foundations were strengthened, wall cracks filled, new wooden windows fitted, a new bathroom created and an open plan lounge and new kitchen formed. All this work over-shot the budget by some R47000 which was taken up by the Regional Scout Office.
Whilst Tess was still the Warden, she allowed her uncle, Tiger to come and live at Hawequas. Tiger lived in tents, which were shredded in a gale. Tiger’s son purchased two Wendy houses which were erected up above the parking area behind the Ole Schroder house. The houses were given the name ‘Tiger’s Village. Tiger left Hawequas when Tess did, and since then the two houses have been used for overflow accommodation, the one sleeps 6 people whilst the other sleeps only two. There are gaps in the floor boarding and under windy weather Tiger’s village is not very pleasant. It has no ablution facilities but is electrified.
The Abe Bailey Trust
The Abe Bailey Trust provided funds to Hawequas over a number of years starting from around 2011 onwards for a number of smaller projects. The first was the upgrade of the Barn Bunk House in 2012. This had no ceiling, a cement floor, non-standard bunks and poor lighting. All of these items were rectified and added. The adjacent ablutions in the Barn were also given a total revamp in 2012 with new fittings and tiles throughout.
In 2013 the Trust’s funding went towards the new steel footbridge over the river providing access to the Terraces campsites. R24000 covered the costs of the materials used. Another donor provided the costs of the labour, the galvanizing and manufacturing of the bridge.
In 2013/2014 as the Ole Schroder house was being completed, the Trust’s funding went towards furniture and equipment for the house. The small Barn Equipment Store was also enlarged by adding on to the building and kitting it out with shelving.
The Trust’s 2014 funding of R85000 was ear-marked for completion of the Ablution block on the Terraces which had been standing uncompleted since 2007. The Drakenstein Municipality still refused permission for the building of a septic tank in March 2015 and so the money allocated was held over waiting for this project to commence.
All of these building projects led to problems with approval of historical plans for the many building projects at Hawequas. In the early days of development, it was not realized that, being a farm, improvements to the various buildings required building plan approval and thus none was sought. The newer structures were submitted for plan approval. This approval problem with the municipality led to a draughtsman being appointed to draw up plans of all the sixteen buildings at a very low price of R25000. They were submitted to the Wellington Planning offices. The Municipality deemed that we had too many buildings, toilets and beds at Hawequas and it could no longer be zoned as a farm. Municipal officials suggested we rezone Hawequas as an Open Space 3, ‘Private Nature Reserve’, in early 2018. The zoning was approved in August 2018. Plans for all the buildings could then be re-submitted for approval and no penalties would be applied. The Municipality forbade any further development until such time as all approvals were granted. The approval process necessitated a Spatial Development Plan, a Green Calculation for each building and had to be submitted by a registered architect. Two firms quoted, with VDMMA being awarded the job. The documents were all submitted and triggered a Basic Environmental Assessment as well as a Heritage Assessment. These assessments had to be submitted to Western Cape Dept. of Environment. The Basic Environmental Assessment was done by CSIR EIA Dept, run by Paul Lochner, an ex 2nd Pinelands Scout. Unfortunately the CSIR had no more funding to help NGO’s so we had to pay. All of this fell on the shoulders of Manager Kuba Miszewski.
The Main Bridge Over the Spruit River Replacement
The servitude road is a registered 5m wide 1973 Right of Way Servitude entitling us to cross the adjacent farm to get to and from Hawequas. The road is about a third of the distance of ‘the Back Road’ and requires constant attention to satisfy the farmer whose land we cross. The bridge and sharp curve was a hindrance to traffic and heavy machinery and vehicles. In 2014 it was established that the bridge was now becoming really unsafe and would need replacing. An appeal was once again made to the Robert Hall foundation for funding, resulting in an immediate response of a donation of 20000 pounds (R351260). There was money left over from previous road upgrades which meant that there was now R357000 for a bridge budget.
The Spruit Water Deed of 1941 took time to clear through the Municipality, the Department of Water Affairs, the Department of Environment and the Spruitrivier Users Water Board. An Environmental Impact Assessment was required, at a cost of about R500 000. Kuba approached Paul Lochner at CSIR who offered to do the EIA for free, from funding they had to help NGO’s. All of these approvals took three years from April 2014 until 2017. One of the stumbling blocks which added to the time taken to get approval was that Mr Schmidtke at Olyvenbosch had passed away and had not given anyone else power of attorney – the final documents could not be signed till the Estate had been wound up.
Graham Moore, the principal design engineer for Mott MacDonald Consultants, designed two options for the bridge on a pro bona basis. One was solid concrete and the other a mix of concrete on steel joists. The latter was chosen, and in May 2017 construction was started under the leadership of Aussie
Raad, the Regional Property commissioner who owned a manufacturing firm that used lots of steel. The old bridge was closed to traffic and a detour was put in place with the kind permission of the adjacent farmer’s (now) widow, allowing us to cross her farm and use her bridge further downstream. New abutments were built in reinforced concrete on each bank and then 16m long steel girders were laid over them making a 16m unsupported span. Top shuttering, reinforced steel and then a concrete pour completed the job.
The engineer informed us that the old bridge had to be removed. We had not planned on doing this and were looking at a considerable extra cost to get this done. Kuba Miszewski made contact with a friend in Metro Emergency Services, who jumped at the opportunity to demolish the old bridge at no cost to us. The old bridge was removed in under eight hours using their jackhammers and concrete cutting tools, as a practice exercise for a collapsed building. They made a movie showing how they cut through the steel and concrete to rescue victims trapped below the collapsed building!
In the end, material used was 25 tons of steel and 75 tons of concrete to produce a bridge of 16m long and 4.5m wide, which was one meter higher than the original bridge and had a carrying capacity of 40 tons plus. The ribbon cutting and opening ceremony of the bridge happened on the 20th October 2017 with a large gathering of guests present.
The delay on the project meant that additional interest was earned on the funds available. The final cost came to R483000, which was a cost overrun of R69000. The Regional Scout office plus an anonymous donor funded the shortfall. Pictures are of the old and the new bridges.
Development of The Land
In 2017 Andre Foot resigned from doing further work at Hawequas, having done amazing work in generating funds and using them to upgrade all the facilities at Hawequas for many years. With the freeze on building work by the Municipality, new On-Site Manager, Kuba Miszewski concentrated on improvements to the flora and fauna and general land issues.
Kuba started at Hawequas in December 2013, living for the first six months in the Cottage whilst the Warden’s house was undergoing a make-over. In March 2014 the committee decided that a vehicle should be bought for the warden’s use at Hawequas, to enable development to not only continue but to be ramped up. Through the generous offer of ex-scout Area Commissioner, Dale Kushner, a new Mahindra bakkie was purchased at a heavily discounted price, together with an ongoing offer to maintain it at cost price. Various Scouters and ex-scouts made donations to fully cover the cost of the vehicle.
Alien vegetation was posing a threat to parts of Hawequas and there was a particularly bad area of hakea to the north of the warden’s house. The Department of Environment offered to assist and a programme was set up to introduce a wasp that would eat the seed pods. This was followed by the introduction of a fungus that would attack the roots of the plants. This has proved successful.
In January 2017 a major fire swept along the western slopes of the Du Toits Kloof Mountains and entered Hawequas, burning out the entire mountainside. The Spruit River vegetation was burnt out, which proved beneficial as it provided access to areas not reached before and improved the quality of water in the river. The fire was stopped before reaching any of our buildings and camping areas. A year later, the fire germinated seeds of Black Wattle and Stinkbean in the area to the side and above the warden’s house. Ross Howatt, of Ross Air Agricultural Spraying was employed at a very minimum cost to come and spray the area with herbicide from his helicopter. The Department of Environment once again supplied the biodegradable herbicide. There have been two sprays during 2019 and a third still needs to happen (July 2020).
Many of the Pine trees had been felled to clear more areas for campsites in the Pine Forest by Tess prior to 2014. Kuba continued this process by cutting two access roads into the forest and levelling 21 campsites using a front-end loader. Various trees were donated by the Municipality and they were planted at the campsites with the intention that they take over from the Pines one day.
The 2017 fire destroyed our fresh water system, 1800m of piping had to be replaced – we took the opportunity to improve the whole system, also adding a sediment trap, which was made out of S/Steel in Aussie Raad’s factory, this has improved the quality of our water immensely.
Finance for all of these projects was very kindly donated by Mr Gordon Carr, who from about 2017 until the present (2020) sent various sums in pounds monthly, averaging R5000pm. Mr Carr looks after the South London Scout Centre near Dulwich College and for a number of years has had South African Scouts employed there for short periods. He comes to stay at Hawequas for a week every year in summer and is a strong supporter of the aims of Hawequas, having been introduced to the farm by Colonel Bill Hall, his friend.
Trails and the Mountainside
Hawequas always had some minor trails up into the mountains. In 2015 the route planner for the Cape Epic cycle races approached Hawequas for permission to cut a trail through the lower levels of Hawequas land in preparation for the 2016 race. This was granted as it would bring in an income of R15000 per Epic race. In 2018 a further cycling path was cut for another Epic. Other cycling races also started using Hawequas cycling tracks, paying R6000 per race. Hawequas has used this money to employ the same professional team that cuts paths for the Epic to cut further hiking trails. Our Scouts are now able to do circular hikes high up in mountain above and around the property, and now in 2020, to the recently completed Adirondack shelter. The path cutting team charges R3000 per day and will do Approximately 200metres of path in a day.
The story of the Adirondack shelter starts in 2016 when Kuba was hiking down the Fish River Canyon and kept on meeting up with a party of hikers from the United Kingdom. As Kuba reports- “On the third day, one of the UK party started chatting to me, and asked if I was Kuba? His name was Brian Susskind. It turned out that he had been a Scout in the 10th Green and Sea Point troop and his Troop scouter had been the larger-than-life Michael Cohen, with whom I had been great friends, and who was very involved with the Scout Mountain Club. Michael was tragically drowned whilst sailing up the East Coast, off Cape St Francis. Brian had been a young Scout at the time. At the end of the hike Brian came up to me to ask about Scouting, and about Hawequas etc. At the end of the conversation Brian asked me to send him a list of what we needed for Hawequas. I emailed him a whole list, ending off with an Adirondack Shelter at a price of R25000. Brian chose the shelter and sent the money to cover its costs! Brian now lives in the UK where he runs a very successful online sports betting business.
The Adirondack Shelter was designed by Boy Scouts of America and placed in the Adirondack Mountains, at Philmont Scout Ranch, in the Appalachians, on the East Coast of USA. There are now nearly 1500 Adirondack Shelters all over the USA. One of our ex Chief Scouts, Colin Inglis, was always wanting to have one somewhere in SA – what better place than Hawequas! The hill behind the Adirondack shelter has now been named ‘Mount Inglis’.
The logistics of building a shelter high up on a saddle in Hawequas were quite daunting. We decided to build the Shelter in a knock down format, first building it on the stoep of the Strawbale House. Once built, we took all the components, the walls, floor base, roof trusses etc apart and packed it all on the floor base into a flat pack to be taken up the mountain. We now had to clear the site in the saddle and dig holes for the supporting poles to be set in the ground. We weren’t allowed to use any concrete; the whole concept was a “Lightly Touch” the earth idea. Finally the day arrived and the flat pack was flown by helicopter up to the site by very kind benefactors.
We finally finished construction during the Covid 19 lock down in June 2020. We had a team of Malawians led by Peter Pittendrigh who did the work for us, with many trips up and down the mountain by all. During the process we also had a new path built linking the Shelter to the Mountain Bike route, giving us a very nice hike route, the North Circular Hike. A new route has also now been built from Brooklyn Bridge around the back of Mount Inglis, to the shelter – this will be the South Circular Hike.
Brooklyn Bridge is the name given to the bridge built by the Wellington MTB cyclists that crosses the Spruit River high up in the Kloof. Brian has a requested a Plaque to be put up in the Shelter, in memory of Mike Cohen’s contribution to Scouting and to his own personal development. Thank You to Brian Susskind to have the vision, and to all involved.” The shelter was ready for use in June 2020.
Another project of Kuba’s was to obtain a Capture camera from the Cape Leopard Trust in 2017, through his long-term contacts with the people who run the Trust. The camera is moved around the various trails from time to time and has captured some amazing photos of our fauna.
The Hawequas Buchu Project
Buchu grows naturally in the Western Cape mountains, and for many years has been harvested by Buchu pickers who lived in the mountains. Buchu is now cultivated, on virgin soil, on South facing slopes. The crushed leaves provide very rich oil, which has now become a valuable commodity internationally in the pharmaceutical industry. Why a Buchu Project at Hawequas you may ask? Hawequas needs a steady income that will grow each year to help us keep developing. We cannot just rely on income from users. We had a sum of R100000 from the sale of the Athlone Scout Centre available for this project.
One of our neighbours has done very well with Buchu. We decided to start off with a piece of little used land we identified below the Holiday cottages of size 0.8 hectares. We got Agrico, an irrigation company to design the required system. Next we cleared the area and put in the irrigation system. We needed 10000 litres in header tanks just above the MTB route, a supply line from the existing tank feeding to the new tank. From the new tank we have put in a main supply line coming to a manifold which houses a filter and splits to 3 sub-mains, allowing us to irrigate 3 separate blocks that we have planted. Drip lines are plumbed into the sub-mains and stretched across the field. On average we will only need to irrigate for about four months of the year.
Buchu Moon, a supplier, provided and planted the seedlings for us. A plant has a life span of about 50 years. To harvest, ¾ of the plant is “Pruned” and the leaves and twigs get pressed to extract the oils. This all gets done by the supplier, who markets the oil and pays us. The price for oil has gone up by 300% in the last 5 years.
Scouts will be able to get involved with the project, helping with tending the plants, controlling Termites which are about the only pests that affect the plants. The first crop should be ready after 18 to 24 months. Planting happened in June 2020, so by December 2021 onwards we would reap the rewards. For the first year one sees very little growth, as the plant is putting roots down. We have the possibility to quadruple the area, which we may do once we see how the project works for us!
Inviting others to Use Hawequas
In 2017 an anonymous donor left a bequest of R300 000 to Hawequas to be used as seen fit by Hawequas management team – This money has funded 6 x full camping kits and 10 x 6 person Dome tents.
For Hawequas to be sustainable in the future, Scouting needs to invite other fee paying organisations to use the facilities as often as possible, without affecting its availability to Scouting. In the recent past school groups and under-privileged groups have enjoyed the use of Hawequas. As have adults for team building courses. With the help of donations (part of the R300000) a new extensive Rope course has been set up in the blue gums below the camp fire circle and has proved very popular with our Scouts and visitors.
Hawequas Local Community Outreach
Hawequas is not an entity on its own but part of a local community – one of the aims to get us seen and recognised in the local community was have some events for the local community.
Hawequas Soccer Bowl: The first event of this nature was an inter farm workers and children’s Soccer Tournament – competing for the Hawequas Soccer Bowl and the Golden Boot Award for the top goal scorer. The event took place on a week day evening, with the children matches being played first. The local farmers provided hotdogs, smor, cooldrinks and goody bags with sweets for the children. The event took place on our field, with spectators all around the field. It proved to be a big hit.
NSRI Waterwise Course: More people drown inland than on the coast. Being involved with the NSRI, Kuba thought it would be a good idea to run a water-wise Course for children from the local farms – we were oversubscribed and had to run a few courses. The course teaches children to let someone know they are going swimming, to choose a safe spot to swim, to know how to self-rescue and how to help a friend get out of deep water without falling in and how to do CPR. They also get taught who and how to call for help.
Hawequas Fives Rugby Bowl: Due to the success of the soccer event, we had many more teams entered, with more farms getting involved and more junior teams. Two of the Springbok Sevens players, Zane Davids and Selwyn Davids were invited to attend the evening and present the winners with their trophy. Once again this was a big success.
NSRI Survival Swimmers Course: The NSRI decided that they should invest in teaching children to swim, rather than just investing in saving people. Together with the NSRI we developed and pioneered a course where the children are taught to put their face in the water and blow out air, how to kick and turn themselves over onto their back and float and propel themselves towards the shore. This course is now used around the whole country. Once again we put the word out and were overwhelmed by the numbers and had to run a few groups – this is now an ongoing programme during summer. We lower the dam level to 1,2m deep for the course. We also now have an NSRI Pink Rescue Torpedo Buoy at the dam, thanks to NSRI.
Future plans are being developed to build a new building to replace the Barn, which will have sleeping accommodation, dining and communal areas, to make Hawequas more attractive to our Scouting visitors as well as general public visitors. Donations have been made towards the employment of professionals to draw up plans and specifications for this project in 2020. Another desire is to create a more substantial chapel.
This history of Hawequas has been assembled by Richard Goldschmidt, assisted by Kuba Miszewski in December 2020, hopefully to be read by future users of Hawequas, so they appreciate the work done by those who have gone before them.
Source: Various documents from the Western Cape Scout Heritage