Cape Town – Known for its larger-than-life landscape, mountains and star-studded skies, the last thing you imagine to see when driving on the endless R355 is a UFO that crashed into the Tankwa Karoo, just north of Ceres.
The huge shiny UFO missed the iconic Tankwa Padstal by a few meters – only because the aim is to have you stop, look and ask questions.
The art installation is the most recent community initiative launched by Tankwa Padstal owner Hein Lange. He wanted to make the area more appealing to tourists, as a way of earning money.
The farming industry has been hit hard by the lack of rain in the region. Some farmers have turned their homes into B&Bs in order to generate an income.
“We have experienced severe drought since 2014,” Lange said. “The rainfall is only now starting to bring a little relief. Even with this year being a good rain year so far, it will take years for the veld to recover to its full potential. The farming community relies more and more on tourism for their survival.”
He the UFO crash sight was his wife, Susan’s, idea.
“It made her think of Area 51 where a UFO crashed.
“We asked engineer Eddie Kershoff, who works in Ceres, to build this UFO. The UFO is 10m wide and 7m high… A vast number of farming members of the community got involved in the design and erection/planting of the ship.
“To be quite honest, what started as a dream ended up being a community project that got the community together and it was an advertisement for this area, hence we are very grateful for the progress,” said Lange.
Weighing about 1.6 tons, the installation took about 21 days with a team of four men to finish the whole project.
Kershoff said: “When Hein came to us with the idea and told us what he had in mind, I was just as excited as he was. After a huge amount of hard work and intense moments, the UFO stands 7m tall and 10m wide, and at more or less a 45 degree angle.
“It was a challenge to build a structure that needed to be as light as possible but also strong enough to withstand the strong Karoo winds. Almost 1km of steel was used for the frame and anchoring point alone. Sixty-four galvanised sheets were used to cover it all, as well as more than 3 000 screws and over 500 pop rivets.
“With that being said, I think that the UFO will definitely play a part in drawing people in because if there is something you want to see, someday you will go there. And wherever you go, you will want to spend money and be part of it. I think the UFO will definitely aid in generating income for the residents of the Karoo.
“Going forward, I think the future for the Karoo is really great because it’s such a beautiful place yet tough for the people that live there. But with innovation and tourism combining forces, the future seems brighter.”
Lange said that he would like another structure to be built next year, in order to take things to the next level.
The idea is to build a 10m-high spider made from old bicycle frames.
If anyone has an old bicycle frame or rims they would like to donate, they can drop it off at Tankwa Padstal on the R355 or visit Tankwa Padstal on Facebook for more information.
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Source: Murphy Nganga
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