Report by Mr Andrew Faure-Field:
On the morning of 14 August, 51 eager students embarked on the annual Academic Tour to Gauteng. Good time was made as we headed towards our first port of call- the Ditsong National Museum of Military History.
And we were blown away! This museum far exceeded our wildest expectations both in terms of its size and what it had to offer. This museum focuses mainly on the weapons of the Second World Wars. Among the exhibits were aircraft from WW2 (a Spitfire, a Hurricane, a Me 109, a Focke Wulf, a Dakota DC3 – and a Messerschmitt 262 – the only one still remaining in the world), aircraft from the First World War (including the Sopwith Camel), tanks ( including the Russian T-34 and the American Sherman Tank), artillery pieces and a host of “smaller” weapons including mounted machine guns as well as rifles used during both wars. For many of the boys this was the highlight of the tour.
The following morning we picked up our tour guide and headed into SOWETO. For most this was a visit to an area not visited before. A city in its own right, we visited the scene of the 1976 uprising and walked along the road taken by those young students on that fateful morning. We also had the opportunity to enter a resident’s shack- as one of the boys aptly put it: ” A very humbling experience!”
By 10.30 we were on our tour of the Apartheid Museum – a world class facility that captures the recent history of South Africa. Visually stimulating, many of the boys were impressed with the graphic audio visual exhibits on show.
By midday there was an air of excitement in the group – it was time to visit Gold Reef City – and its rides. While some (the staff) enjoyed the pleasures of a sedate lunch, many of the boys took to the thrill of the rides. Their shrieks could be heard from faraway!
Early evening, it was back on the bus as we headed off to our base for the next 3 days: Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind. The facility has been upgraded since our last visit and proved to be a very comfortable visit.
After a leisurely Sunday breakfast we headed off to the De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary. We saw numerous cheetah as well as wild dog which were fed a mere few metres from us.
Thereafter, it was on to Pretoria and a visit to the Union Buildings, which sits impressively above the city. We had a group photograph at the feet of the Mandela statue. After lunch we visited the Voortrekker Monument. Some of us climbed the 207 steps to the very top of the Monument and enjoyed the beautiful view over the city – as well as the ” dizzying glance” to the Cenotaph some 50 metres below!
Monday proved to be a less frantic occasion. A visit to the Maropeng Visitors’ Centre in the morning provided an incite into the evolution of man over the millennia and provided thought on how we can preserve our planet for future generations.
The Sterkfontein Caves is always a favourite as we head underground into this World Heritage site and learn not only about some of the discoveries of this cave (one hominid – Little Foot – has been dated back some 3,3 million years! ) but also how these caves were formed over the years.
On Tuesday we headed home, enriched by our experiences and hopeful with memories that will last a life time!
Below are a few comments from some of the boys on the tour:
Jordan Mitchell (Year 12): Amazing tour with amazing people. It was a great learning experience. I encourage everyone to take this tour at least once in their school career.
Jordan Taschner (Year 11): The tour was outstanding, and very well maintained with immaculate organization and entertainment. Truly an experience that many should attend.
Luke Bainbridge (Year 10): Every bus trip provides an amazing and unforgettable experience!
David Weber (Year 9): Great tour with large variety of interesting attractions… Really enjoyed it!
Ethan Bush (Year 8): I thoroughly enjoyed the Maropeng Visitors’ Centre and the Sterkfontein caves. The fun and interactive learning experiences offered at the center were unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced. The caves showed us how and where our origins of humankind came from. Overall the tour was an incredible experience.
From the staff on the tour:
Paul Lichkus: From an art perspective it was of considerable value for staff and pupils to experience sites with important architectural structures, first hand. Sitting around the blazing fire at night, listening to stories from the boys was a very pleasant way of getting to know each other better.