Rose’s Round-up May 2000 No 78

KAROO DUCHESS GETS A FACELIFT Matiesfontein, that grand old duchess of the Great Karoo, has been given a facelift. Four self-catering cottages, each with accommodation for six, and nine extra rooms, at the Garden Mews, formerly the Boarding House, have been brought into the tourism mix. A station has been added next to the old train at the cricket field, and a motor museum is to be created on this site. To enhance the village’s aura of history and romance, a brandy and cigar room, plus a library, is being created on the second floor of the old station building. [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2000 No 77

AUSTRIA HONOURS BARNARD A son of the Great Karoo, Professor Chris Barnard, is to be honoured by the Austrian Government this month. In an international poll, the world heart-transplant pioneer emerged as the most popular of seven international leaders in their fields. He will receive the first My Way award. "Polling was conducted by Internet to gain as wide an international response base as possible," said Eric Bruckberger, a director of the Tatum Media Group, organisers of the gala function in Vienna at which the award will be presented. The media group, which has negotiated the loan of a large [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2000 No 76

PARKING NOW SAFE AT HISTORIC SITE The historic Monument Cemetery, 10km south of Matjiesfontein, now has a safe parking area. It was recently constructed by the Central Karoo District Council with assistance from Western Cape Tourism Board. “Our aim was to provide visitors to the cemetery with safe parking away from the busy N1 highway,” said district council chief executive John van der Merwe. “Formerly, tourists had to park at the gate, climb over a stile and walk almost 1km to the graves. Most visitors were concerned about leaving their vehicles unattended so far away. Also, there was room only [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2000 No 75

KAROO PARK GETS THE KEY The ever-popular Karoo National Park, outside Beaufort West, will be 21 years old in September. Special plans are being made to celebrate the big day. The park, little more than a dream in 1950 when local farmer William Quinton started his campaign for a conservation area in the vicinity of Beaufort West, plays a vital role in the tourism mix of the Central Karoo. Since its official opening on September 7, 1979, it has served the local and international tourism markets, as well as the local community. “Our aim is to encourage visitors to [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2000 No 74

MERWEVILLE HOPS INTO THE FROG ATLAS Besides being welcome in the Karoo to rejuvenate life, good rains during the festive season brought Merweville a strange fame. The steady downpours encouraged herpetologist Atherton de Villiers to visit and search for frogs. His research into reptiles and amphibians has led to him becoming the regional co-ordinator for the South African Frog Atlas project in the Western Cape. He was accompanied by wife Rikki, a chief nature conservator at Jonkershoek, in Stellenbosch. ‘We chose the Koup as no previous records existed for the area,’ said Atherton. “As we drove into the tiny town [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 1999 No 73

STUDENT FINDS RARE FOSSIL A rare and well-preserved fossil of a Gorgonopsian was found on Leeukloof recently when Friends of the South African Museum in Cape Town visited the Beaufort West area. “What made this find exciting,” said Dr Roger Smith, head of the museum’s palaeontology department, “is that it was a good example of this ancient carnivore and included a radius, elna and fingers. Also, it was found by a student, Jennifer Botha.” The 45 enthusiastic fossil hunters spent three days in the area searching for fossils under the guidance of the Museum’s Karoo-Paleo Team which includes Paul October, [...]

Rose’s Round-up September-October 1999 No 72

BOER AND BRIT MEET AT BLOCKHOUSE BRAAI A century after the air was filled with gun smoke, “Boer” and “Brit” horsemen rode as comrades through Beaufort West in the Great Karoo recently to take the salute at the old blockhouse which still guards the railway line. Crowds lined the route to cheer them on their way. The British brigade, under “General” David Pickard-Cambridge, carried Union Jacks and “regimental colours”, while flags of the old Boer Republics marked the passage of the Boer Commando under “General” Piet Ellis. Tantalising smells of braaivleis wafted about and a small crowd waited in the [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1999 No 71

BOER WAR PROMISE HONOURED An Australian serving with the British army towards the end of the Anglo-Boer War committed suicide on the outskirts of Merweville. So distressed were these Karoo townsfolk when they heard of Lieutenant Walter Oliphant Arnot's death by his own hand on April 16, 1902, that they promised "to tend his grave forever." During almost a century they never forgot. So after all this time, locals were devastated when Lt Arnot's grave was vandalised a while ago and its marble cross destroyed. While discussing repairs, the problem touched the heart of Dominee Kallie le Roux, of Wesselsbron [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 1999 No 70

BIG PLANS FOR KAROO NATIONAL PARK The ever-popular Karoo National Park has expanded again. It recently acquired an additional 12 000 ha, extending its total area to over 70 000 ha. The farm Paalhuis has already been transferred to the park. The latest acquisitions include Brandywynsgat, Berg en Dal, part of Boesmanskop and Onderklipplaatsfontein. Discussions are also in progress to spend about R6-m on improvements. These will include a variety of projects such as 10 new chalets and predator-proof fencing. “We plan to upgrade and expand our restaurant and create a ladies bar,” said manager Leighton Hare. “There are also [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 1999 No 69

GRAND DUCHESS OF KAROO GETS TOP WEBSITE Matjiesfontein, the tiny Karoo village which offers visitors a peek of Victorian England, now has one of the country’s top websites. Set up by RMC, consultants who are assisting village-owner David Rawdon with a series of upgrades, the site was hailed a winner within days of its launch. Pages were designed by Catherine Kerr-Petersen and text written by Sarah Powys, winner of this year’s Silver Loerie Award for advertising copy. RMC director Chris Yates-Smith said: “It’s more than a pretty site. It’s designed to deliver useful information to tourists and Matjiesfontein management alike.” [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 1999 No 68

LONG AGO, WHEN THE RIVERS FLOWED NORTH Once a swamp and now a semi-desert, the Great Karoo fascinates most who explore it. Many wish H G Wells’s time machine existed to take them back to explore the once vast Gondwana continent. One man who brings this ancient world to life is S A Museum palaeontologist Dr Roger Smith. He recently explained the transition from swamp to dryland to visitors at the Karoo National Park. Way back when the earth was young all the land was on the western side of the globe and the sea on the east. Gondwana was [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 1999 No 67

RENAISSANCE MAN ROBERT GORDON HONOURED Over two centuries ago Robert Jacob Gordon stood on a Karoo koppie near the Swartberg mountains and painted the tranquil scene of Qweekvallei farm in the valley below. Almost a century later a town sprang up on the farm. And now, 150 years later, that town, Prince Albert, has honoured this famous artist, naturalist, soldier and explorer by naming the koppie in his honour. A small granite slab, placed at the site where he stood, near the now popular Koppie Trail, was recently unveiled by author Patrick Cullinan, whose book, Robert Jacob Gordon, the [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 1996 No 32

ROCKS REVEAL THEIR SECRETS Ostriches, elephants, a snake and a boer soldier are among the latest Karoo rock art finds to make archaeologist Davi Morris, of Kimberley’s McGregor Museum, a happy man. He recently visited Nelspoort to insepct a series of rock drawings just discovered at Bleakhouse. While in the area, Mr Morris also discovered four rock gongs at Tierkloof. There was previously thought to be only one. The new Bleakhouse engravings were found by Johan Lund on a koppie which may have been used as alookout during the Anglo-Boer War. One engraving is thought to be of a Boer [...]

Rose’s Round-up November/December 1995 No 31

DONKEY CART RIDE TO WEDDED BLISS Just over a year ago the Prince Albert SPCA rescued a small, underfed, grey donkey. Local resident Howard Derby took pity on the little animal and offered her a home. Named Esmeralda she went into training to eventually accompany Howard and his wife, Lynne, who has a heart complaint, on walks into the mountains. She now carries the hiking and picnic gear. Before long, Esmeralda became a well-known sight in Prince Albert. So, when two Cape Townians recently bought a house in town and decided to get married there, they requested that the bridal [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 1995 No 30

FAMOUS FILM CREW VISITS KAROO A film crew of world famous Jacques Coustou Organisation recently visited the Beaufort West area to film the farming operations on Elandsfontein. There were six in the team, who worked under the guidance of producer and cameraman, John Jackson. Their focus was the fauna and flora of arid zones and life on a typcal Karoo farm. It was a hetic time for Andre, Martie and Gustav Lund. There were obvious communications difficulties – most of the crew were French speaking – but the Lunds ensured that they were shown everything from old Bushman wells to [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 1995 No 29

THE CALL OF THE KAROO A former BBC producer and Methodist lay preacher, who lived and worked in Beaufort West from 1989 and 1990, will visit the Karoo in November. He is Colin Cradock, who together with local camerman, Trevor de Kock, produced a wildlife film called The Great Karoo. “I discovered the magic of the Karoo while working on that project,” he said. “Its fascination grips you and never lets go Over the years I”ve felt it calling me to return.” Colin now plans to introduce the wonders of the Karoo to a wide range of people. He and [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1995 No 28

OLD DROSDTY BECOMES A TOURIST MECCA Beaufort West’s stately Matoppo House, with its rich, romantic history, will now become an exclusive tourism venue. The stately old mansion, built in 1834, as a drosdty for Magistrate J J Meintjies and now a national monument, will remain almost unchanged and offer elegant private suites – one with its own swimming pool. The adjoining cottage, De Villiers House, will be transformed into five elegant en-suite rooms. Early next year building will start on several other graceful cottages, each with its own fireplace for Karoo winters. The complex will have its own dining room [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 1995 No 27

BLACK RHINO CALF MAKES HISTORY The black rhino is making a fighting comeback in the Great Karoo. After more than two centuries a black rhino has again been born in this area. This historic event has just taken place at almost the exact spot where the last black rhino in the Karoo was shot about 220 years ago. The calf, the first offspring of Ngara and Chipimbere, was born in the upper reaches of the Gamka River in the Karoo National Park, south of Beaufort West. So, it now carries the name of its birthplace – Gamka. The cow and [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 1995 No 26

CHURCHILL AND THE BOER A Sunday Times advertisement has resulted in Taffy Shearing of Beaufort West receiving a phone call from Sarah Hay, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. Ms Hay is researching the history of her famous ancestor and was seeking information on his time in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Some time ago Taffy did considerable research on the war. She came across a story of a cheeky young Churchill trying to bribe a staunch Boer soldier. The Boers had captured Churchill, and Hendrik Spaarwater was ordered to take him to Pretoria. As the train steamed along young [...]

Rose’s Round-Up April 1995 No 25

Rose’s Round-Up April 1995 No 25 POET’S SECRET LOVE The memory of beautiful Helena de Vries, said to have been the secret love of South African poet, C J Langenhoven, still lingers at the farm Gideonshoop, near Klaarstroom. She was born in Prince Albert in 1872 and lived at Mirtle Grove, a house now known as Mirtlehof. While studying at Bloemhof Seminary in the late 1890s, she was introduced to “Petite”, as Langenhoven was known because of his small stature. Some believed it was love at first sight. The couple soon became engaged, but this lasted for two years. Her [...]