The N3 Book

The concept of The N3 Book came to newspaper journalist Peter Delmar one Sunday afternoon while driving between the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and his home in Johannesburg.

The N3 Book

"I realised, at one point just north of Warden, how very bored I was by the whole experience," recalls Delmar. "Sure, the N3 takes you through some wonderful scenery but it does get a bit tedious after you've driven it a few times. And even if you're driving it for the first time, you don't feel connected with the scenery you're driving through."

It took Delmar the better part of two years to research The N3 Book; days and weeks spent in a dozen libraries and museums and many more days spent on the road, asking people and experts to share their stories.

The challenge was to produce a book whose stories were relevant to landmarks or even, as Delmar puts it, "non-landmarks" visible from the N3 itself.

The result was a book which contains some 200 anecdotes; some running to two pages, some to only two paragraphs.

Stories include:
  • History: including the Iron-Age settlements that surround the N3, epic battles fought on either side of the road, the anti-apartheid struggle, fabulous and eccentric characters;
  • Geology and geography: how millions of buck transformed the landscape, the rocks formed by sand blown from South America, Gondwanaland and the Great Escarpment;
  • Personalities: how Nelson Mandela, Churchill and Gandhi are all connected with the N3, the Hollywood superstar who owed his big break to a farm adjoining the highway;
  • Meteorology: freak weather, including the tornadoes, floods and even blizzards that have plagued this route;
  • Flora and fauna: dinosaurs and the amazingly clever butterfly that only lives on one koppie slope next to the road, why certain trees grow (and don't grow) where they do;
  • Travel history: how and why it used to take three days to get from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, ox wagons and stage coaches, the importance – and cost – of modern highways, the first man to run from Johannesburg to Durban.

The N3 Book is proudly sponsored by the N3 Toll Concession

Unfortunately, The N3 Book's second impression is now out of print but we hope to update, refresh and issue a second edition in 2013.