A Bit of recent Hella Hella History

My potted history of the two farms on opposite banks of the Umkomaas below the Hella Hella:

About fifty years ago when The Beatles were still The Quarrymen, a Pom family Wimbury hopped on to the mail ship (or “a ship”) in Pomerania to boldly go forth and do work in the colonies for the Great White Queen.

On board that ship was an 18yr old nubile South African on her way back from a gap year – before they were called gap years – in Europe (especially Italy where she learned some Italian, some Italian cooking, and did you know Lynne had a magnificent opera singing voice?). The Pom family and the Seffrican lass hit it off on board and soon the Wimbury family of England met the Payn family of Hella Hella on the banks of the mighty Mkomazi.

Hella Hella 2016 (5).jpg
The Payn homestead at Hella Hella

Meantime elsewhere a Joburg architect called Porter was making quite a lot of tom$ and buying farms (one of them became the Harold Porter Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay). He sent his son Barry off to PMB varsity to get a BSc agric and then bought him a farm on the right bank of the Mkomazi opposite the Payns. His farm had the imposing Hella Hella mountain on it. They called it Game Valley Estates and stocked it with nyala, impala, zebra, wildebeest and blesbok to add to the bushbuck, duiker, warthog, reedbuck and oribi that were there. That was the only time they ever stocked it.

Well, Barry had a Landrover cabriolet and long socks and Lynne wore dresses so it was inevitable. They spotted each other across the mighty Mkomazi (they were both easy to spot), their eyes locked and the two families were united in a river dynasty, solving the problem of parts of Barry’s farm being cut off from him and him having to traverse the Payn land to get to Ottos.

Hella Hella 2016 (15)
Otto’s homestead nowadays

Except not really, as Barry and the Payn parents had quite a prickly relationship, kinda like porcupines meeting and sniffing but not embracing. So the farms were never united, Barry would grumble about how they didn’t appreciate the value of game fencing and when Mrs Payn put the farm up for sale and Barry could have negotiated they never got round to discussing a price and Trevor English bought it for a good price and Barry STILL had the prickly feeling of having to traverse someone else’s land to get to the other half of his farm! And English didn’t appreciate the value of game fencing.

Barry stayed at Otto’s at first (so his and Lynne’s eyes actually probly locked while he drove his Landie across their lawn, not trans-river). Once they got wedlocked they moved up to Highover.

Barry & Lyn's old Highover homestead from 1974 (Warren was a 1yr old!)
Barry & Lynne’s old Highover homestead from 1974 (Warren was a 1yr old!)

where they had a little porcupine (rescued when a Ford F150 did a caesarian section on its Mom at 65mph) which used to scurry around in the walls of their house between the corrugated iron and the rhino board inner walls. They also had Warren there and we bumped into him by chance a couple years ago and checked out the ruins of the house where he was born 40yrs prior.

Meantime Barry and Lynne built a new house at the foot of the Hella Hella, and the little Wimbury baby girl was growing shapelier and shapelier and she went nursing at Addington where the Weermag had sentenced a newly-knighted luitenant in the Medical Corps to hard labour: “You arre herreby sentenced to live in Doctorrs’ Quarrterrs and test eyeballs, including those of the 600 nurses ensconced in the Addington Nurses Res”. What could I do? I obeyed. One of them was called Richenda Wimbury and she said you must come with me to a farm called Hella Hella. I took a peek at her legs and said OK. And so I met Lynne and Barry.

Me, Barry, McDuff, Richenda, Warren and Lynne at Hella Hella
Me, Barry, McDuff, Richenda, Warren and Lynne at Hella Hella

Later Richenda moved to Wentworth hospital where she met a cardiovascular perfusionist that she introduced to me and Bernie the Jet. That was Aitch and the rest of that part of this tale was history.

Porters Hella Hella (1)

In 1988 Aitch and I got married at Hella Hella. We had been frequent guests and would continue to visit often for years to come. The farm meantime had been declared a National Natural Heritage site. It was going to be the first marriage on the farm, but a Pee Aitch (professional hunter) and his chick got excited one night around the braai fire and suddenly got married (would that be called a shotgun marriage, technically?).

KCC’s Andre Hawarden made our wedding invites, complete with named rapids on the Dusi, Umgeni and Umko in case any guest wanted a paddle on the way to our wedding!

Invite by Andre Hawarden (see how he has Duzi, Umngeni & Umko rapids named)

Hella Hella. Game Valley Estates. Lyn & Barry Porter our hosts
The Hella Hella behind us

We started raising kids around 1997 and that led to less visits. Later Barry & Lynne sold the farm to a consortium led by (I think) a local estate agent who – finally – united the two Hella Hella farms into one logical unit, doing what I thought Barry should have done decades earlier (but it’s always easy with someone else’s money! Oscar Wilde said “Advice is wonderful stuff – in the giving”).

They bought a lovely unit in a complex in Umzumbe and Barry hit the trail, travelling far and wide on birding trips. Their son Warren was selling big trucks nearby; Barry’s brother’s Litchi Farm was close – outside Port Shepstone; McDuff, the younger son did heavy duty diving (oil rigs n stuff) all over the world; Lynne got busily involved in local orchid (‘The Akward Society’ I always called it) and other affairs.

After Aitch’s first chemo in 2007 we went to Hella Hella for the first time since those days, staying in the lovely new cottages next to The Approaches. We woke up one morning and there was a big furry creature on Aitch’s pillow. It was her hair!!

Then in 2011 Lynne died of breast cancer, Barry got a leg infection and died, and Aitch died – also breast cancer. February, April and July.

Recently a vulture hide in Oribi Gorge was unveiled: The Barry Porter Vulture Hide.

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