Foot-slogging, Grahamstown – Alicedale … along the railway track. Day 2 diary.

An early start after remarkably good sleep. Soporific, this walking business. We breakfasted on delicious baked-beans and “worsies” before heading off on an unparalleled railway-walking safari tour. The pleasure of simplicity. The delight in the extraordinary.

We made a good start and kilometres clicked by but water supplies dangerously depleted. In the valley below a likely source cut off by big-game fence. In any event the track now our home, the teeming game our joy. We marched on in scorching heat. Were it not for a good-hearted – and rather startled – farmworker, we would’ve perished on those rails. DAJ and I found in a hundred years as scattered bones on a withered track. Well, unlikely, but a tailored reminder of our dependence on water regardless of our time in space and technological advances.

It’s odd. In places – save for rust – the track lies seemingly waiting for the daily train. Had that Grand Dame come huffing up the hill I’d have casually stepped aside and waved excitedly to driver and passengers. In other stretches it’s almost unrecognisably reclaimed by indigenous and, regrettably, exotic bush. Explorers of the future will profit from a razored machete as they beat back a path on history.

Lost in these musings – and having drifted off the pace – I was suddenly confronted by a bare-chested, dancing DAJ in the distance. I gathered from his gesticulations and garbles that hydration was at hand. I hurried forth on blistered feet and, sure enough, verdant pastures and the shimmer of a lake beheld my gaze.

After brief respite and draining our remaining drops in celebration we shuffled on in buoyant mood. The track lowered and gathered close to the wall of the New Years Dam. After a scratch with a parched demise there is little to compare a refreshing swim.

Our final stretch into Alicedale was considerably eased by our bathing and replenishment of water-bottles. We burrowed through a final majestic tunnel, rounded the Gary Player-designed golf course, and made our way expectantly up the final straight to the station.



An Old Geezer whistled and stuttered and clanked to a halt. Young people smartly dressed disembarked and chatted gaily as we approached. The strained conductor barked and wheezed and drew a handkerchief across his brow. A drinks-waiter dispatched from the station-bar brought forth a silver tray stacked with tall cokes and g&t’s overflowing with ice and sliced lemon. A support crew ferried buckets of perspiring brown bottles.

Actually, there was barely a soul in sight. A deserted station much as the entire universe back to Grahamstown had been. Lost in time. A bygone era. Disappeared off a cliff-edge. We recorded the moment of our arrival by digital camera, a feature of a cellular telephone – a popular personal accessory in the year of our lord 2018.

At that we lifted our packs for the last time and walked back down the line in search of the golf club bar and that squad of drinks-bearers. 

Thank you DAJ Murray for a momentous two days. Looking forward to the the next extraordinary adventure. And thank you Bloss for collecting us in Alicedale!


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.