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January to August 2004
Wow!! At last you’ll say! I know, I know, I owe you a social report BIT TIME. Let’s turn back the clock to January where about 35 went to Hartebeeshoek Radio Astronomy Observatory.
If the Astronomy educators thought that the JHC is just a bunch of guys that take off on hiking trails, they were proven to wrong. With all due respect, when it comes to knowledge of the night sky, I am a total novice. Believe me, the moment I thought I had grasped some of the information given by our tour leader; more scientifically complicated questions would be posed by our own hiking members which absolutely boggled my brain. I made some notes as we went along and I had to read up to prepare my report on this most interesting educational outing.
The Hartebeeshoek Radio Astronomy Observatory was originally built I 1961 by NASA of the USA as a tracking station for the probes that were being sent to explore space beyond the earth’s orbit. The antenna was built with aluminium mesh surface during 1960 which was replaced with perforated aluminium panels and the operating frequency changed to 2300MHz or a wavelength of 13cm.
Plaques at Hartebeeshoek commemorated some of the spacecraft that were tracked. This is all I am going to share on the technical side and if any of you, like Tom Kenny or Ken Middleton would like to elaborate more on the scientific/technical side, please feel free to write something on this subject for the next Footnotes. However, I cannot resist mentioning that if I had to live on the moon I would only weight 10kg. Talking about the moon – the moon is the only satellite of the earth. (Sure you all knew this?). A few more ‘did you know?’
VENUS is the goddess of love and beauty.
MARS is known as the god of war or agriculture and is referred to as the Red Planet.
SATURN is the bringer of old age.
URANUS is the magician
JUPITER is the bringer of jollity.
MERCURY is the winged messenger.
To avoid the annual routine of celebrating 14 February with a party, it was decided that Valentine’s Day would be celebrated at the Radium Beer Hall, which is one of the oldest beer halls left in JHB, apparently dating to the early 1930s.
Most of us arrived in the midst of a horrific storm and due to various cloudbursts in different areas, quite a number of people did not make it. The interior remains of the original décor. One has to have an eye for the old ‘stuff’ to appreciate it and to feel part of that era. I could not keep my eyes off framed original newspaper clippings from the time. One heading read: ‘Lesbians – appeal did not stand up in court’. Whilst enjoying dinner we listened to the Trio Jazz Band with John Rautenbach as the musician behind the strings of the double bass. Yes, indeed Valentine this year was different from the usual; the difference was that of ‘wine, women and song’.
Show time at the Civic on 5 March – a tribute to the RAT PACK. Direct from Las Vegas, three of America’s most acclaimed star impersonators in the Ultimate Tribute Show.
Denzil Weale – Moonlight Serenade Orchestra’s velvet sounds took you back to an era rich and famous as a time when the public rubbed shoulders with politicians and partied hard. It starred Gary Anthony as Frank Sinatra, Bill Whitton as Dean Martin and Allen Gregory as Sammy Davis Jr.
They performed familiar songs such as: The Lady is a Tramp, Fly me to the Moon, You make me feel so young, Kick in the Head, I’ve got you under my skin’ What kind of fool am I, My way and so many more that you wished the evening would never have come to an end.
No additional social outing was planned for April as the Easter camp at Chapman’s Peak included socializing from Friday to Monday and was written up in the previous Footnotes.
Towards the end of May, a group of us paid a visit to the oldest Gold Mine in Gauteng, known as the Blaauwbank Historic Gold Mine. The mine was originally discovered and pegged by Henry Lewis, an Australian digger during 1875. President Burgers officially recorded the discovery on behalf of the two Jennings brothers. The Jennings family played a major role in the establishment of the mining industry in SA. Ready for our tour, we were equipped with hard hats and lamps. At least we were not expected to have a pick and shovel as well. Off we set to experience how the early miners worked the gold bearing ore. Hard to believe that the mine was originally dug out by hand. Equipment such as coco pans, pit props, rope winches was only introduced much later. They also made use of donkeys to pull the coco pans of ore. Needless to say, my heart went out to these poor animals that were so ill treated. The mine operated to the end of World War 2 and produced 19,137,200 pounds of gold from 10,012 tons of ore. The discovery of the Blaauwbank mine lead to the largest gold deposit in the world, Witwatersrand Reefs.
After the tour we went on a 2 hour circular hike and returned for some refreshments before returning home. If you have not visited the mine in your private capacity, it is well worth a visit.
No other social activity was booked for June as the mid-winter camp at Foothold is a social event in the true sense of the word. The scrumptious dinner starting off with: Ernest’s gluwein, Jean’s delicious butternut soup and the main course of stir-fry ending with traditional SA ‘brood poeding’. What better can one wish for than to feel the crisp winter air and socialize around the fire with hiking buddies? Regrettably nobody from the Jhb Mountain Club responded to the mid winter camp invitation. We shall have to put our minds together as to what to do to attract this species of mankind?
As you know, our club is visitor friendly and the more visitors, the more opportunity to grow in membership. A non-hiker visitor that just loves the hiking club and attends the socials regularly willingly offered to give us a write up on the DUO 2000 event on2 July 2004. Thank you Alida for your participation.
Members requested a visit to the Chinese Buddhist Temple last year, which did not materialize. This year, I saw the opportunity and in collaboration with Joseph Liu, a JHC member, I organized the outing. 32 people spent an interesting day wandering around the fascinating buildings and admiring the artwork on the visitors centre and the Temple, which is still under construction. There were many questions put to members at the temple, all were answered intelligently and courteously although some of them must have appeared a little stupid to a Buddhist. The vegetarian lunch served at a minimal cost to all who visited the temple, was delicious. Thank you Joseph for leading us, it was much appreciated and a very interesting outing.
Please make sure that you notify me if you cannot make an outing for which you have booked, especially if there is catering involved.
Thank you to Audrey Ransome for her contribution to this report.