A short history of the retreat
It is only after unexpected traumatic experiences such as sickness, accidents or the death of a loved one that most of us reflect on life and only then make the enriched changes to our lives. The beginning of this retreat is the result of such a life-changing experience.
The idea of “thanking those people who care for others” was born while Rob did some charity work. His involvement with a church charity organisation was unfortunately a frustrating experience and it convinced him to start an independent charity drive.
In his days as CEO at Clover the company started the Mama Afrika Project which supported those who were committed to their communities and who looked after the elderly, the children and the sick. The question that Rob asked was ‘but what about those Mamas that work so hard to help others. Do they ever get a break?’ Why not give charity workers an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in a place like The Waterwheel Country Retreat. And, in this manner, say thanks to them for their unselfish devotion to their cause.
The idea was advanced further and the decision was taken to create facilities for people who do not profit financially from their charity work and who really contribute to people in need.
The 50 hectare farm Onverwacht was acquired in November 2007 specifically for its river-front and the possibility of developing this beautiful piece of God’s creation into a country retreat. After looking around for such a place for quite some time, we stumbled across this magnificent piece of land. But, it was only after slashing away the grass, the shrubs and some trees that we discovered its real unspoiled beauty.
The farm was registered as a charity trust - Galasiers 5: 22-23, Reg.No. IT915/07. It has three trustees to oversee the development and to ensure that the mandate and objectives of the trust are expedited.
So let us recap. The purpose of the country retreat is to spoil those people who contribute unselfishly towards the less fortunate in our communities.
The name of the country retreat is derived from the huge waterwheel you’ll find on the farm. It uses the water from the furrow next to the river which is obtained upstream..
Electricity on the retreat is generated by the waterwheel through an integrated gearbox system and a generator. Because water is used and not consumed it is the most environmentally friendly way of generating electricity. Together with the environmentally friendly sewerage system and the way we handle our garbage, the retreat must be one of the most ecologically friendly places in South Africa and for that matter in the world.
The Retreat consists of 6 rooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a living area. It has all the facilities necessary and visitors will only be required to bring their toiletries, food and drinks. To enjoy the outdoors we provide braai facilities, bomas, camping chairs, tables and other equipment. A lapa is also provided to be able to conduct small brain-storming sessions, braai and cook and to sit around the fire together when it’s rainy or cold. You will have cell phone reception and you can connect your email facilities if you bring along your laptop and the appropriate communication equipment.
Please take care not to damage the environment during your stay. The retreat is a ‘100% green and eco-friendly place’ and will be maintained this way. We use hydro-electricity; offload sewerage in a natural way and dispose of garbage by separating it at source. The many trees grown on the farm are there to enhance the air we breathe. Also, no damage is done to the environment when visitors enjoy the walks, do some fishing or use the retreat’s facilities.
Because visitors to the retreat are there to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings children under the age of 12 are unfortunately not allowed.