Every Autumn, on a functioning 6,000ha farm spread across bluffs above the Caledon River in the eastern Free State, a heritage steam event takes place that has become the envy of the world. "Stars of Sandstone" spans 10 days, attracts 3,000 guests and is alive with the hiss of steam and the whiff of fired coal. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the country. "We reach parts of the [country] that SA Tourism hasn’t even heard of," says Wilfred Mole, the dynamic force behind Sandstone, with a combative growl. As in previous years, the 2017 festival — held early this month on the Sandstone Estates farm — featured restored and salvaged steam locomotives from across Southern Africa, as well as demonstrations of old farm equipment, military hardware and a fleet of old buses, pickups and tractors. The estimable and rare gathering of steam was rounded off by the careful antics of six or seven vintage aircraft parked at the cheekily named Sandstone International Airport on the ed...

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