The day begged disorder with loss and gain of transport but somehow, wonderfully, we made it to Judah Square on time at 8am. Kids were all over the place so it was 45 minutes before we could bunch them together. Even then, there were pickups in Dam-se-Bos and Concordia so by the time the 34 of us were travelling through the beautiful Rheenendal countryside towards Jubilee Creek, we were an hour behind schedule. It proved not to matter too much as we had such a good time that most of us stayed an extra 3 hours.
The first positive of the day is that several of the volunteers from Knysna Central had never been into the Northern suburbs of our pretty town. A goal of Love Knysna Projects is integration, exchange and understanding so it’s always a pleasure to show new volunteers more of our rich culture. Brother Maxie, the community leader of Judah Square (a.k.a. The House of Judah) witnessed our arrival and joined us, sharing his views on conservation and telling us about activities by his brethren.
Thankfully, we never got lost but for those of you wanting to get there, note that there aren’t signs on the road declaring ‘Jubilee Creek’. But 12km from the N2, along the Rheenedal Road, you turn right at the sign that says Bibbieshoek and Millwood and follow the dirt road (which is in good condition). At the gate, we met Victoria from SANParks. There’s a nominal fee for entrance but not for us thanks to the kind sponsorship of SANParks (thank you to Len Du Plessis and Dominique du Toit for supporting our project). From the gate, it was another 6km to our destination. The first sign you encounter doesn’t have an arrow pointing to Jubilee so note that you turn right towards Millwood but, when you get to the next fork, you go down into the valley.
Clean grass and a river engoldened by the sun shining on the tannin-rich water made for an extremely idyllic setting. Nixs, one of our helpers on the days, later took some of us for a 100m walk around a bend where we found an even more stunning picnic spot with shallow, less stony waters so that it was easier for the toddlers to play. That’ll be our secret spot until you find it too:)
There was a lot of food and the kids (and us) gobbled it like animals needing preservation:) The surprise for Nadine, a 10-yr old whose about to go for her 4th operation for her bow-legs (genu varum), was that the party was in honour of her for bravely fighting pain on our past trips (she never complains). It was also a farewell before she heads to hospital in Cape Town in January. She was Love Knysna Project’s Child of the Year, a concept i wish to grow into something much bigger in 2014. Consequently, whilst the other kids each received 2 presents such as colouring books and games, she received 5.
The majority of us then embarked on a 3.6km hike through the forest to a waterfall. Although the trail is fairly good, the up and downs and river crossings made it feel like an extra 2km. The kids, however, were like Jesus walking on water, their excitement all that mattered. The exception was Nadine who needed help getting across the shallow, stone-bed waters and, at stages, needed a piggyback. Andrew and Sista Barbie, her grandmother, were exceptionally helpful (and strong) in getting her to our destination.
The Jubilee Creek hike is wondrous and i recommend it as one of the best things you can do in Knysna! The forest is inviting, from friendly foliage and tall trees to the tinkle of running water. What a simply, primal joy it is to be able to drink straight from the river. We found interesting frogs and i even saw a buck. There are a few mine shafts, left over from the gold rush more than a century ago. We had a trail but those men would have had to cut through dense, indigenous bush before digging for their hoped for futures – our forefathers were tough muthers:)
“Wow” is a fitting description for the terraced waterfall and the icy pool it plunges into. It’s so beautiful that you’d be content just to sit and absorb the moment for as long as you can. But we had almost 2 dozen kids with us so settled for the alternate channel which was filled with screams of laughter:)
Our goal may be to make less fortunate kids experience more of Knysna so that feel that it’s their home but the many of us volunteers had never been to Jubilee Creek so it was as fun for us too:)
Thank you to Joanne, Craig, Dee, Andrew, Billy, Nixs and Helena and Sista Kerri for helping me make this possible. Thanks to Cakes by Nix and Jeannine Orzechowski for the cakes and cupcakes.