As the Guest House closest to the Railway Museum and departure point of the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train, we had many guests who stayed at Fairview Homestead because we are within walking distance to the Railway Museum. Hard to believe, but the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe had been steaming along for almost a century, when it was eventually stopped in its tracks by the devastating floods of 2006 which caused mudslides along the scenic route of Kaaimans Pass and rendered the tracks impassable. The estimated repair costs were so prohibitive that the service had to be stopped. Now there is a good chance that this wonderful experience might be recreated within the next five years.
Recently the Western Cape Government has given the green light for a feasibility study to get the New Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe back on track. The Friends of the Choo-Tjoe are delighted that not only the provincial and national government departments of transport will be involved in its resurrection, but also the public sector and Transnet as the extensive repairs to the railway between George and Knysna will run into millions of rands.
The 67km long route had been an iconic tourist attraction. I fondly remember my time as tourist guide, accompanying numerous tourists from all over the globe and enjoying it anew every time. Of course there were the occasional hilarious moments as well when the tourists were so enthralled by the scenery that they did not heed my warning to beware of the tunnels approaching! Needless to say their soot covered faces were just another reason to take more photos of their “African adventure” on a stream train.