Driving down the N12 is quite an experience. It’s actually a really boring freeway with not a lot going for it. It’s not like the Karoo stretch of the N1 or the Free State stretch of the N3 which is surrounded by pure nothing – this is just an arbitrary freeway that passes some really random looking farms as you drive further and further into the East which sucks you in with its mist. Moreover, today I drove the route at 120kph whilst only using the white line on the right hand side of the road as navigation. The Eastbound drive is marred by the rising winter sun and you really can’t see anything that is more than 50m in front of your car. Nevertheless, I don’t think my speedometer dropped below 120kph! However, there is one feature that actually awestruck me today.
After travelling 70km or so past the OR Tambo Airport, one approaches a slight incline which peaks out and results in an amazing site. No, it has nothing to do with an endless green landscape or mountains like those pictures taken in the States as you approach the Rocky Mountains. It’s a manmade monstrosity known as Kendal Power Station. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world and holder of countless records. As you reach the peak of the incline, in the distance, the six cooling towers and the two smoke stacks engulf the landscape. You are around 50km away from the station but its grandeur just stares back at you. Maybe it’s because of my career in the Power Utility industry but these stations do amaze me. The sheer scale of it all is mind-boggling and moreover, as we have realised in the last few months, its operation is vital to the well-being of humanity. Without electricity, we are just cave men!
I’ll try getting some pictures of it and posting then but hey, next time you drive the N12, keep this in mind and draw your own conclusion.