TILLY SMITH DIX reports on this April’s fun Eastern Free State festival of steam, oxen, and history that thrills all ages
The annual Stars of Sandstone Steam and Heritage Festival from April 4 to 14, is a drawcard for anyone enthralled by the magic of steam, heritage transportation and authentic farming.
Visitors participate in scenic steam train rides on the 30km narrow-gauge rail track on the farming estate, share in the wonder of vintage agricultural equipment utilised on the Heritage Collection estate, and enjoy the spectacular military cavalcade…
Nowhere else in the world can you witness 36 Afrikaner trek oxen working in unison, inspiring respect for farmers of yesteryear.
A further attraction to Stars of Sandstone is the vintage aircraft. As per the scenic steam train journeys at the festival, visitors can indulge in a Harvard flight, offering spectacular panoramic vistas of this sublime region.
Located in the scenic Eastern Free-State bordering the towering Maluti mountains of Lesotho, it would not be easy to find a more fertile setting. The harvesting of cosmos, soya, wheat, maize, and sunflowers continues throughout the year.
Arrive on the fabulous Blue Train
A further indulgence at Stars of Sandstone 2019 will be the charter journey on the world-renowned Blue Train. Board the iconic Blue Train in Pretoria on April 3, and experience the festival from April 4 to 6 in the lap of luxury.
The Blue Train will be stationed at Vailima at Sandstone next to the narrow-gauge line for easy access. Guests will be transported by complimentary shuttle to the festival.
For more than 70 years, discerning passengers from around the world have been pampered on this 5-star train.
- Reserve a passage for The Blue Train Stars of Sandstone 2019 journey by emailing or Dave Richardson on firstname.lastname@example.org – (mobile +27 (0) 82447 9167 or +27 (0) 11 805 4692)
Train excursions for the 2019 Stars of Sandstone:
- The Mountain Wanderer offers scenic journeys at Sandstone. It traverses the full 30 km of track around the estate. Utilising up to 14 passenger coaches and two Garratt locomotives, former South African Railways steam locomotives, this train starts and ends at Hoekfontein Station, dating back to the 1890s. The journey takes between 90 minutes and two hours.
- The Lesotho Meander is a 30-minute trip to Grootdraai, on a hill above the Lesotho border.
- The Stargazer is an evening journey departing from Grootdraai at 20h00 on selected evenings, in which passengers observe the dazzling night sky while an astronomer provides an informative talk.
- Seb’s Railway for children, which offers 2,48 km of fun for youngsters, steams along with a O&K locomotive built in Germany in 1930, which was refurbished after serving the Fazenda Tentativa Sugar Estate in Caxito, Angola many years ago.
- More information on the Stars of Sandstone 2019 Steam and Heritage Festival, from www.starsofsandstone.com
- Some footage of what visitors will see and participate in during the 2019 festival:
- Reservations for the Stars of Sandstone 2019 Festival: South Africans and International Guests
The nearby towns of Ficksburg, Fouriesburg and Clarens offer many choices of hospitality and Sandstone Estates offer open day steam events throughout the year – see more at www.sandstone-estates.com