Durban - Lemon trees planted 70 years ago in the grounds of present-day Makakatana Bay Lodge still bear fruit. Jock Morrison, who bought this piece of land from the Crown in those days, possibly nods approvingly to see his descendants continue his legacy.
Jock’s grandson, Hugh Morrison, told us his grandfather named his tract of land after Chief Makakatana, who grazed his cattle here in winter, moving them out in summer. Jock’s first venture was fish farming but, as the trains that delivered produce to market did not have refrigeration, a change of plan was needed. So he caught crabs, which were placed in crab baskets, then delivered to the nearby Nyalazi railway halt for transport to Durban.
Showing us the structure where the crab baskets were once kept, Hugh said: “When this area was declared a park, we were no longer allowed to catch crabs. Now it serves as a wine cellar, and guests can also have a candlelit dinner there.”
Sundowners are served on the lake’s edge, looking across the waters of Lake St Lucia to the sand-forested dunes on its Eastern Shores. From here, too, it is possible to see Brody’s Point and Brody’s Crossing. This is sometimes a popular crossing-point for the elephants, which occasionally move between the Eastern and Western shores – though mostly they favour the latter.
In days gone by, this was where Jock used an old ship’s lifeboat, called “Skepe”, to ferry passengers to and fro. Before this form of transport, the locals used to walk across, beating the water with sticks to chase away any lurking crocodiles.
Back in 1949, a man who became known as Mapos used to walk to the Nyalazi railway halt to meet the 11am train, from which he collected the post, along with a bag containing a dozen loaves of bread, which had been baked at Bozas Bakery in Empangeni.
The customers then soaked their bread in a sugar and water mixture in a bucket hanging from a jacaranda tree (which is still standing) before tucking in to their tasty treat.
A shop which dates back to 1913 also still stands in the grounds, but is no longer in use.
The lodge’s public area has large picture windows looking into the forest. The six suites, tucked away in the sub-tropical undergrowth, are reached via a wooden walkway. Some have views over the grasslands as well as the forest. The emphasis is on privacy. Rather than interrupt guests reclining at the small pool, the Morrisons have installed a bell for them to ring when they require service.
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