09-Jan-2004 -- The Confluence at 31S 18E lies almost due west of Bitterfontein, a small town 370 km due north of Cape Town. Planning a route to reach the Confluence was easily done with good quality AA maps, in combination with a number of large scale terrain maps.
To reach this Confluence we set out from Cape Town early in the morning on our chosen transport, dual-purpose motorcycles. Perhaps not as comfortable as touring bikes for the long stretch of good quality tar road from Cape Town to Bitterfontein, but our choice was justified the moment we turned off the tar road at Bitterfontein.
We followed the good quality gravel road past Rietpoort and turned off on to a farm road through a gate with a sign that said Biesiesfontein (the farm, not to be confused with the hamlet of Biesiesfontein down the road, which seems to consist of about two buildings). Everything at the farmhouse was locked with curtains drawn and there were no recent tracks, so we proceeded in the direction of the Confluence using a farm track. The track brought us to within 600 meters of the Confluence where our passage was blocked by a fence. We parked the bikes, scaled the fence and set out on foot. With warm but overcast weather the walk was pleasant, although I am sure it could have been very hot if the clouds were lacking.
Within 300 meters of the Confluence we were surprised to find a washout that formed a mini canyon between ourselves and the Confluence. The extent and depth of the erosion was amazing considering the arid and dry nature of the region, not to mention the fact that the catchment area looked relatively small as can be seen in the view to the north. Might there have been some digging activity here in years gone by? Crossing the mini canyon with little difficulty we located the Confluence and took the required photographs.
About 10 meters southwest of the Confluence (at 30°00.003'S 17°59.997'E) we noted a steel stake driven into the ground, with three packed stone markers about 4 by 1 meters at 120 degrees radiating from the marker point. The point had obviously been surveyed, and marked to be visible from the air. We were left wondering why this Confluence should have been marked so carefully and, if the markings were indeed intended to identify the Confluence, which of the instruments -- our GPS or those of the surveyor(s) -- were the more accurate.