Our third History Day on 26 July had our upper conference room filled to capacity with informative and entertaining exchanges under the thatched roof.
Concentrating on original material, contributions on the nature of warfare, Zulu names of local landmarks, motivation by chemistry or psychology, and hearing Frank Bourne’s account read by his grandson completed our morning. After lunch we fired the 1860 Enfield Musket, released from the Bar – but only with blanks on this occasion.
Our accommodation was stretched with a 35-strong school group from The Oratory Prep School from Reading, UK on their cricket tour of SA, and of course had to come to Rorke’s Drift.
Our guide had them taking cover in the long grass and shouting the Zulu war-cries that were then duplicated during the dancing before supper. And that was an event, with a queue for seconds! Our nominal capacity of 20 beds met their needs with the introduction of bunk beds to our generous double rooms.
With some of the Bunk Beds left as permanent features, we now offer family rooms at a reduced rate and these have proved popular with children enjoying parental security when away from home. Youngsters have enjoyed rushing down to the river for as swim, as well as the inviting pool with other activities around it.
A special programme has been developed for battlefield visits for the under 12’s who are challenged by their parents’ depth of interest.
We hosted our first wedding at the start of the month, with decorative colours of the Bride’s choosing adorning the Hotel and a four course banquet that lasted all afternoon. Cutting of the wedding cake, music and dancing with a buffet supper continued into the night, making a memorable day for the happy couple and their guests.
Those that are brave enough to venture off the tar find our destination fulfilling for corporate getaways. Our rural tranquillity is refreshing and visits to the historic sites are both moving and poignant, creating a bond for all participants. Insights to the decisions that directed history have mirrors in corporate affairs and generate active discussion. Recent groups from Unilever and Nissan described their stays as ‘awesome’.
Readers will see from our header that our guests continue to be generous in their comments with the result of a further Award for Excellence that is generated by positive guest comments. With over 118 reviews we are approaching the market leader – which is quite flattering for us new kids on the block.
The Wedding marked the coming of age of our dining room with the addition of a further unique triangular table, raising our dining capacity to a nominal 60 guests. With our increasingly frequent lunch parties arriving by 54-seater coach along our new roadway, the fixture list for the new table is already filling up.
Staying with us at the end of last year were the UKZN team carrying out digital mapping of the Battlefields. Their impressive IT yielded a marvellous map that now adorns our main wall showing the scope of movements of the Zulu and British forces on the fateful 22 January 1879.
Extending from Helmekaar to Mangeni Falls and from Fugitive’s Drift to the Ngobene Valley, guests can follow the extent of the action, orientating their visit on the ground.