The heritage weekend

The heritage weekend

Goerapan is a salt lake on the R360 between Upington and Askam in the Northern Cape Province. The Northern Cape is a much-favoured destination for adventurers, the unspoilt terrain makes it a favourite with 4×4 enthusiasts of all levels. Look around and you have the perfect recipe for a fun off-road experience. Over the “Heritage day” long weekend 109 members of the Patrol forum descended on Goerapan to camp and stay at the nearby lodge.

The occasion was the 70th anniversary of the Nissan Patrol, first manufactured in 1951. At that time Toyota also commenced production of the Land Cruiser. Both are legendary vehicles.

 At Goerapan I truly understood the meaning of the word camaraderie. The club members welcomed non-Patrol owners with open arms and allowed them to participate in all the fun. This resulted in the numbers reaching around 130 vehicles which were split into groups and rotated.

The original Nissan Patrol looked similar to a Willys Jeep and was only sold in Japan. In 1960 with a 3956cc engine it moved to the export market, Australia being the first destination. The Patrol is loved around the world, we were lucky to showcase the latest iteration with its 5.6 Litre V8 power plant and all the bells and whistles.

It’s just 800 km to Upington, with the curfew we could only leave Jozi at 04h00 and all met up at the Vryburg Wimpy just after 0900. It is a hard drive but the roads are not bad other than a few sections under construction.

There were various models of the Patrol on display. It was fitting that the event began on “Heritage Day”.Given the 70 years that the Patrol has been around. At the end of the first day, we celebrated with a “braai” at our hotel. The view overlooking the Orange River was magnificent.

I can still feel the heat and see the shimmering waves in the distance. Dust was everywhere, exacerbated by the moving vehicles. It would have been 40 degrees in the shade if there was any shade.

The area is dotted with salt pans, we were able to see the salt factory at the nearby “Eensaamheidpan” when we crested the dunes and went down for the 1/4 mile event. This was an event where one was able to measure one’s top speed over a 1/4 mile strip as well as having the opportunity to drag against a similar vehicle. All speeds were timed and displayed. A good deal of fun was had by all who took part.

Nearby the 5 dune challenge was also very popular, most vehicles were able to do 4 out of the 5 dunes with a select few able to do the horseshoe layout of the first dune. Once again a good deal of fun was had by all.

Closer to the camp a second dune section gave everyone a good time as it presented the opportunity to ride a continuous route and return on the fringe of the pan. The smell of fuel was the testosterone of the 3 days. The talk was all about kW and Nm. A mobile Dyno allowed owners to compare torque figures. Many of the vehicles were not standard being modified and remapped or chipped. Talk over meals was about upgrades and modifications. Standard conversation when enthusiasts gather. The air was filled with the rumble of petrol and diesel engines and the cacophony of revving engines. Fridges, freezers, compressors and suchlike were compared as well as items such as winches and inverters. It was interesting to note the addition of solar panels to many of the vehicles on display. The last day saw competitors slowing down somewhat, dusty and tired but elated. Many participated in the final event, a timed slalom. By lunchtime, the camp was a lot quieter, people began to pack for the return trip. It was great to be part of the event. I met friends who I had not seen for many years and was able to catch up. The club, much like most clubs in South Africa promotes safe and responsible 4×4 experiences. Driver training is arranged when necessary, as is recovery training. Many members volunteer and are involved in off-road rescue activities. It’s a responsible fraternity.No vehicle sustained any damage other than the one whose alternator gave up! And given the camaraderie, a replacement was found and fitted with an hour! 

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