I mentioned this cairn/monument thing at Cape Agulhas just the other day. Not only is it die mees suidelike punt van die vasteland van Afrika, it’s also the official meeting point of the two oceans.
But which two oceans?
If only… if only there was some sort of clue in the picture.
I’m going to try some experimental stuff on the photography front this weekend – weather permitting. And that will result in experimental photographs. However, I obviously haven’t taken them just yet, so here’s a photograph of an experiment – or at least a photograph of a description of an hypothesis. Tenuous.
These days, one can simply glance at one’s smartphone to obtain an accurate reading of one’s latitude and longitude. And thanks to the position of the sun and the stars, sailors have long been able to gauge their latitude fairly accurately. Longitude was an entirely different kettle of fish though – the biggest limiting factor being that in order to calculate one’s longitude, one needs to know the time accurately. When a hefty prize was announced for anyone who could solve this problem, it attracted a lot of interest – not all of it entirely helpful. The Powder of Sympathy was one of the less successful ideas. I love the final sentence: as if we really needed telling.
Interesting fact about Cape Agulhas – it lies right on the 20° Meridian. And I mean pretty much exactly, right down to 6 decimal points. Given that we generally divide the world up into segments of 15°, this isn’t hugely important, but I have noted that if you poke the beagle at noon while standing on right on that imaginary line (I use my phone’s GPS to get it just right), it will let out a small bark, before glaring at you.
Now superseded by modern technology, back in the days of Diaz and van Riebeeck, every ship passing the Southern Tip would have had a beagle on board to poke as they rounded Cape Agulhas. This act wouldn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, but it’s always good to poke a beagle whenever possible. Keeps them on their toes, see?
News from Cape Agulhas is that the new … the new… “thing” at the Southernmost Tip of Africa is nearly completed. I use the word “thing” simply because I’m not sure what other word I can use to better describe it. It’s a sculpture, yes, but it’s surely more than that as well.
The people building it are calling it The Agulhas Icon, which is all very well, but also suggests that they’re a bit unsure of what – other than iconic – it is.
For years, the Southernmost point in Africa – and the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans – has been marked by a small cairn unveiled by one P.W. Botha (who he?) on 23rd August 1986, and which people have climbed onto, been photographed next to, or blogged from several metres behind ever since. And that’s not going to change. It’s what is just next to the cairn which is being revamped.
The design is by Strijdom van der Merwe – and that’s great because I really like his stuff. It’s a circular area, sensibly based around a combination of a compass and the African continent.
The artistic representation of the African continent taking shape. It is important that this iconic form is visible on Google Earth as this will be the iconic destination point marker online.
Well-known geological features such as Cape Point, Table Mountain, Namib dunes, Victoria Falls,
Rift Valley, Sahara Dunes and the Nile River will be visible.
Low walls will encourage visitors to sit and stay for a while, soaking up the atmosphere, sheets of steel will dramatically emerge from the four points of the compass – with the Southerly point obviously given the greatest prominence – while lines created from the local stone will dissect and trisect and… well you get the idea… the space. A few teaser progress images were released this week, and I think it looks fantastic.
It’s very bold, very strong, very… Iconic.
A really cool and important addition to the area.
After taking/seeing this image of my daughter amidst the flowers on the coastline at L’Agulhas, I have had The Beta Band’s Squares as an earworm.
And yes, you do know the song – you just don’t know that you know it.
As for the flowers. LOADS of them. Spectacular.
Regular readers know I love Cape Agulhas. It’s my happy place. I walk, I take photos, I fly my drone, I eat, I drink, I braai, I sit, I watch, I enjoy; I love it there. It even has its own category on here. And in my mind, it doesn’t need selling as a tourist destination. But of course, if does need selling as a tourist destination, because there are loads of other amazing places in South Africa, all vying for your visit by being sold as tourist destinations.
Generally, I have to say that the agency responsible for encouraging you to go down south – “Discover Cape Agulhas” – does a pretty good job. And while the drive through the rolling hills of the Southern Cape is usually very enjoyable, I’m really not sure what they were thinking by posting this quote over (arguably) their biggest draw card this morning:
Let me set the record straight (if you haven’t worked it out from my first paragraph already):
Yes, the journey is great, especially if you travel well. But arriving is actually what it’s all about – we’ve been through this before. Don’t be put off by the thought of a decent journey being ruined by eventually getting to Cape Agulhas. Because when you get there, it really is very good – I promise.
Despite whatever the tourist agency are hinting at here.