Rose’s Round-up June 2000 No 79

BOER WAR GRAVES RESTORED The graves of British soldiers buried in Beaufort West in the Great Karoo during the Anglo-Boer War have been restored by the local Rapportryers organisation. The work was undertaken by Goodall and Williams, and cleaning and washing of gravel chips provided short-term employment for the jobless. Goodall and Williams personnel repaired and rebuilt all curbings and recemented all surrounds. Marble crosses and memorials were all thoroughly washed and cleaned, and metal Guild Crosses were repainted. Then markers, with details of the soldier's name, rank and number were fixed to each cross to ensure that the graves [...]

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 March 1999 No 66

FOSSILS VITAL TO ECOTOURISM The role of fossils in ecotourism was the subject of a study done at the Karoo National Park recently. The research team, led by Dr Francois Durand, a Rand Afrikaans University Department of Zoology palaeontologist, included several members of the S A Society of Amateur Palaeontologists. Material was collected for a paper entitled "Problems relating to the identification and management of palaeontological sites in South Africa with special reference to ecotourism" and for a report being prepared for the park. The group also discussed the possibility of setting up a natural heritage display at the museum. [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 1999 No 65

BIG BLUE TRAIN BASH TO SALUTE Y2K The first exotic party to greet the new millennium is now being planned for the Great Karoo. The Blue Train Company intends bringing two train loads of VIPs to the Karoo where they will see 1999 out under the stars and watch the sun rise on the new millennium across the vast, unspoiled plains of the Great Karoo. One of the team members organising this event is Delwin Kriel, of David Barrett and Co. He and his colleagues have spent considerable time reconnoitering possible venues, and are now preparing proposals for each. [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 1999 No 64

NEW HOME FOR RHINO ORPHAN Early last year a lonely black rhino bull calf was spotted roaming at Addo Elephant National Park. Investigation soon revealed that its mother had been killed by an elephant. Game ranger Wayne Erlank and veterinary surgeon Piet Morkel captured the orphan and arranged its transfer to Karen Fedler's Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) in Pretoria.. The calf's sad and pinched face reminded Piet of Badger, a strange little dog once owned by one of his daughters. That's how the little rhino got its name. At ARC Karen managed to bottle feed the huge baby. Within short [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 1998 No 63

SIGN OF A BIG WELCOME The first road sign welcoming tourists to the Western Cape Province was recently unveiled in the Beaufort West area by a man born and bred in the Great Karoo. While standing on the Karoo plains near the curiously shaped koppies at Three Sisters, Mr Piet Meyer, Minister of Transport and Works, reminisced about his carefree childhood days at Noupoort. "The Karoo is a special place and makes an intriguing northern gateway to the Western Cape Province," he said. "This sign on the busy N1 will welcome tourists from neighbouring provinces, as well as our friends [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 1998 No 62

BIGGER RHINO HERD The Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West is preparing to receive some pretty hefty permanent residents. The first Bicornis michaelis, an East African black rhino bull, has arrived and is being acclimatised in a bouma. Staff at the park are busy constructing fences and more boumas to accommodate a herd of 10 animals to be delivered from Addo National Park early next year. The newcomers are slightly smaller than the five Bicornis bicornis black rhino that the Karoo National Park sent to Addo earlier this year. "We are delighted by the swop. The bigger herd will mean [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 1998 No 61

LINKS ACROSS THE WORLD In 2002, Beaufort West in the Great Karoo will host a get-together of a society for towns called "Beaufort." This was revealed by Beaufort West Tourism Bureau marketing committee chairman Rob Pollitt at a recent annual general meeting. He said: "Some time ago, while overseas I attended a meeting of the Societe Beaufort, originally established in France. This exclusive society has only 14 members, all towns called Beaufort. Its members are in countries such as France, Ireland, Wales, North Carolina, in the United States, and Australia. The group meets every second year, each time in [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1998 No 60

RETURN OF THE BIRDMAN Rob Davies, a researcher who spent five years in the Karoo studying the habits of black eagles, is back. This time he intends writing a book on the natural history of the Great Karoo. "At the end of 1989 and in 1990, I studied these magnificent raptors in the Beaufort West area and lived at the old airport. It was a wonderful time during which I was able to complete some beautiful eagle studies. I am now taking a more in- depth look at the Karoo, starting way back in the days when it was [...]