This weekend we had our close friends and their two kiddies come and stay with us in camp. On Saturday afternoon we took a drive up the side of the escarpment and stopped at a point known as ‘The Foundations’. Whilst undoubtedly boasting the best view in the valley, we are sitting inside an empty, gigantic rock swimming pool, which has been built into the side of the mountain. Next to this pool are the foundations from what was the main house — tiny in comparison to the swimming pool. An incredible place to enjoy a drink whilst watching the sun go down. The story and the mystery that surrounds these rock foundations is intriguing and I think is rather amusing too. There is no doubt in my mind that parts of this story are completely true, however I do believe that along the way this story has also taken on a life of its own. What ever the case may be, this was an outrageous con and the story is worth sharing….
In the 80’s there was a Gentleman (who I won’t name) who managed to acquired about 10,000 hectares of land. He apparently convinced the powers that be that if they gave him the land he would be able to convert grass into diesel and it would be a very lucrative business for all involved. Now we all know this is NOT possible, but bearing in mind that fuel was so very short during this time and the country was on it’s knees, turning grass into diesel would have been a way for the country to redeem itself. Once funding was secured (and it is believed that he received an immense amount of money), he built a house and a swimming pool. He also had a very ‘high-tech’ piece of machinery built on site. So how did this impressive machine work…. Well, grass was fed into one end of the machine, converted somehow within the machine and then diesel would come out the other end.
Several years passed and the powers that be came to inspect how their money was being spent. They were blown away by this ingenious invention. They watched as grass was loaded into one end of the machine and diesel dripped out the other end. This diesel was then taken and put into a tractor and the tractor not only turned on but actually driven around right in front of their eyes! As a result of this incredible invention and agreeing with the Gentleman that more research should definitely be done, the powers that be sent more funding his way.
Now the story goes that during the night, this Gentleman would secretly send one of his workers to go and buy diesel from the fuel station. Still in the dead of night whilst everyone else was fast asleep, this diesel was poured into a compartment of the machine so that when the tap was opened, the diesel would drip out of the machine. It took almost 5 years before anyone realised what was really going on and before they could arrest the Gentleman for his fraudulent activities, he had disappeared.
During his years in the Valley, there were reports of a helicopter arriving on his land and flying up into the escarpment. There were rumours that he was illegally mining in the mountains, however there is no actual proof that any of this actually happened. What ever the case may be, he was loved by the local people. He provided the surrounding villages, for free of charge, with the vegetables that he grew on his land and he would provide transport to anyone who required assistance getting to and from the hospital and clinic. Kind to his farm workers and generous to the community, this con man got a way with millions but he will never be forgotten so long as his Foundations stand.