Painted wagons: the life and times of a leisurely king of the ...

Lifestyle

Painted wagons: the life and times of a leisurely king of the road

A Lawrence Green classic looks back on the time when ox wagons ruled the roads of SA

Madden Cole

Until as recently as the early 20th century, Cape ox wagons travelled about in SA. They could offer a top speed of 3,2km an hour, but this slow pace had its compensations, writes Lawrence Green in his book, When the Journey’s Over.

The leisurely pace of travel gave a person “time to think, and to observe”, and it could be said that “in the cloudless winter, a long wagon journey in the interior of SA was the finest life in the world”, Green writes.

He describes the market square in the towns and villages of Southern Africa as wagon harbours. Transport riders “were in some ways like seamen delivering cargoes, refreshing themselves and their spans and setting out again into a wilderness like a brown ocean”...

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