• Allyson Koekhoven

Location, location, location




Choosing a location for Under Construction was probably the simplest thing in the book-writing process. I have lived in the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa for over 17 years, so basing the book on the province’s East Coast was a no-brainer for me.

KwaZulu-Natal (the Garden Province) was created in 1994 when the Zulu homeland of KwaZulu (‘Place of the Zulu in isiZulu) and the Natal Province were merged. The province boasts a wonderfully balmy climate in winter, spring and autumn, together with three months of often-uncomfortable heat and humidity in summer.

The province is blessed with 600 km of pristine Indian Ocean Coastline; amazing game reserves with Big 5 game drives; numerous historic battlefields; some of South Africa’s highest mountains (the Drakensberg); many hectares of sugar cane, banana and macadamia nut plantations; together with an abundance of stunning marine life.

Port Sugarston and Hibberpark, where most of the action in Under Construction takes place, are imaginary towns, but based on the towns of Port Shepstone and Hibberdene.

Port Shepstone is situated on the banks of the Umzimkulu River (Umzimanzi River in the book). It was founded in 1867 when marble was discovered near the Mzimkhulu River mouth and is named after Sir Theophilus Shepstone of the Natal government of the 1880s.

A harbour was built in May 1880 but after the opening of the railway to Durban in 1901, the harbour fell into disuse and eventually the river silted up again, making it impossible to use. The 27 000-candela lighthouse still stands at the mouth of the Umzimkulu River.

Hibberdene is a popular holiday resort town 27 km north of Port Shepstone. At one stage, there were plans to build a small craft harbour, together with a hotel and conference centre, and retail space, but to date building work has not started.


Coming next....Part 6: Who are they?

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