The Midlands Meander is a rural area in KwaZuluNatal with rolling green hills, small villages, green forests, birdlife, beautiful farms, old stone buildings, and friendly people.
You can visit around 150 destinations You will find crafts studios and art galleries, adventure sports, historic landmarks and wildlife conservation. There is plenty of accommodation, conference and wedding facilities, food delis, coffee shops and restaurants.
It's an easy one-hour drive from Durban and four and a half hours on the N3 highway from Johannesburg, the area is quiet, relaxed, and lovely with scenes of green throughout. For atmosphere, stay on a guest farm where, as we did, you can take the guesthouse dogs for an evening walk.
It’s a good idea to visit the Meander Tourism office at Lingalapa where you will hear about local events. Look out for secretary birds in the fields as you drive around. Visit the Piggly Wiggly centre for retail therapy and have a cool refresher under the oaks at Rawdons Hotel.
The Meander has expanded into the Wedding Business with a vengeance! There are more than 30 upmarket wedding venues and over a hundred guesthouses and farms with accommodation for guests. The upmarket venues provide hotel and spa facilities in beautiful gardens and grounds.
The Midlands Meander began many years ago when a group of potters, weavers and artists living in the area, decided to form a co-operative and invite the public to visit their studios around the countryside. Today the Meander has 5 well signposted routes and is one of South Africa's most attractive tourist venues.
On Route 2 from Howick to Curry’s Post, you can detour visit the memorial to the Karkloof Airman, John Goodman Household, South Africa’s father of aviation. We decided to find the monument during our visit.
Those of us whose memories stretch back far enough, may recall that the first ever powered aircraft flight took place in December 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA, when the Wright brothers flew for a distance of thirty-seven metres.
And the first South African flight? There is a story – or is it a legend - that a KZN farmer built, launched and flew a primitive glider around 1870, when the Wright brothers were still at school, and lived to tell the tale.
John Goodman Household lived on a farm in the Karkloof area near Howick in the KwaZulu Natal midlands. He was said to be a brilliant tinkerer and inventor who began researching manned flight by shooting large birds, weighing them, measuring their wings and calculating the area of wingspan needed to carry his weight.
John’s first experimental glider was not a success. But in 1871Household’s second aircraft flight soared for a while before a rapid descent in which it clipped a tree and crashed, resulting in Household breaking his leg in the process. The actual distance flown and altitude achieved is asserted by witnesses at the time to be longer, than the flight made by the Wright brothers.
After hearing about her son's escapades, Household's mother, a religious woman, insisted that her son abandon his project out of fear that it would incur the wrath of God. On her insistence all records and designs were destroyed by burning everything. There is thus no written record or proof that John Goodman Household and his brother designed, built and flew the world's first heavier than air glider.
Household died in Pietermaritzburg in 1906, two years after the first Wright Brothers’ flight. In 1995 the Lions River Heritage Society and the South African Air Force Association erected the Goodman Household Monument to commemorate his achievement. The monument can be found on the district road between Karkloof and Curry’s Post, 23 kms from Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. There is no reference to John Goodman Household in either Encyclopaedia Britannica or Wikipedia.