Rose’s Round-Up Newsletters are fascinating factual tales and stories on South African history by Rose Willis. Rose also better known as “Karoo Rose” publishes a monthly newsletter mainly covering snippets of Karoo history. We provide an online archive of her newsletters.
For almost three decades now Rose’s Round up has delivered a monthly “breath of the Karoo” to its readers. Over the years it has shared the spirit of the dryland with a wide cross section of readers. You can subscribe to Rose’s Round-Up by emailing her here for a small fee of R120.00 for 12 e-mailed copies
Initially, bashed out on an aged manual typewriter its 4 A-4 pages were sized down to an A-5 format and then photocopied double-sided onto one A-4 page to save costs. This was an economic necessity as there was no communications budget and the aim of the newsletter was simply to inform six town clerks of promotional plans being brewed by the then new Central Karoo Regional Tourism Office. The first copy was delivered to the office of the Beaufort West’s town clerk and almost instantly he requested a “couple of extra copies to pass around to council members”.
Only 10 copies of the first issue were initially printed. Then, more councillors asked for copies, a press mailing list was compiled and requests rolled in from former residents and those interested in the Karoo. The publication was designed to be quickly read over a cup of coffee; its mission was to inform and educate and in so doing to encourage market development. Despite its humble image and being strange by the standards of the glossy and glitzy promotional material of the day and it soon proved itself to be a winner. Among the first notes of praise was one calling Round-up the “cutest” news sheet in the country. Readers began to copy Round-up and send it to friends and family across the country and abroad, where for many it was a link with home. Round-up quickly grew into a powerful, respected marketing tool, it encouraged the establishment of guest houses and helped create a farm holiday association and by December, 1993, it had encouraged a professor from a Russian University to visit and spend a few days on a guest farm. In 1994 it assisted the United Nations delegation who came to see that the elections were free and fair. In June 1996 Round-up was elected as the top municipal communications tool in South Africa. An official was presented by the premier of the Northern Cape in Kuruman to the sound of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”.
Old residents loved it. They began to share memories which were published and this led to more and more stories flooding in. Historians and family history researchers began to ask for help. Requests were published and as answers rolled in, the information was published and much original and “lost” information was re-gained. Experts gladly shared their knowledge and all talks and seminars given were covered. Round up was a knowledge pool into which students could dip at will. It even helped a Texas school boy create a winning class project on Professor Chris Barnard.
Within four years, Round-up’s circulation had grown to such an extent that mailing costs threatened to kill it. A nominal postage was requested and despite smirks, the publication went on to build a huge base of paid subscribers as it carried stories about the Karoo to readers by post and email in 24 countries, which included England, the United States, Russia, Scotland, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, India, Australia, North Korea, Japan, Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as many places in South Africa. Readership was (and still is) all but impossible to calculate as many readers pass it on, copy, fax or email it to friends, relations and business associates.
And when the time has come to pop a cork and let the bubbly flow – when Rose’s Round-up has reached its 100th issue – nostalgia overwhelmed many readers and took advantage of wandering off down memory lane to recall unforgettable boating days at Beaufort West’s Springfontein Dam, strolling along Lover’s Lane to steal a kiss, picnics at the Waterfall or in the poplar grove on Molteno Pass. Some remembered playing truant and drinking ginger beer, “or was it sherry” in the bushes on the banks of the Gamka River, others remembered ‘borrowing” cars, while yet others told of dreadful schoolboy pranks dating back to the days of outside loos and bucket toilets.
On its centenary a reader in India, wrote: “This country is so crowded and noisy that I look forward to Round-up. Each issue brings the tranquillity and freshness of the Karoo’s calm open spaces to this busy place.” A UK reader said: “Every issue offers a feast of reading and each seems better than its predecessor. We love the breath of fresh Karoo air each Round-up brings to grey old London!” from Germany came a note saying “each Round-up brings the magnificence of the Great Karoo to Europe.” And in the United States, a former Laingsburg lass said: “I am overjoyed each time Round-up pops up on my computer screen. Each issue is so full of zest and flavour I can taste and smell the Karoo as I read.”
Local readers also added their congratulations A Hanover resident, wrote: Round-up has been a source of joy for many years. I remember receiving it when I worked in the mining district of central Johannesburg. Each issue carried me to a place where I never thought I would ever live. Now I am here. God bless it and you!” “There’s nothing quite like Round-up it’s the best tourism newsletter in the country,” says radio journalist and travel writer. One wag quipped: “Round-up may well be the name of a weedkiller, but this Round-up has promoted nothing but a growth of interest in the Karoo,” Tourism operators were also very complimentary and one said: “The planet would just not be the same without it!” he wrote.
Then Rose’s life partner died and she left the Karoo, but Round-up came with her. She re-located with her family in Bloemfontein where she broadened the base of the publication to cover the whole of the dryland and this once again encouraged the readership to grow. With the philosophy of the Pen is Mightier than the Sword, under the banner of a little knight in a tin suit who brandishes a pen and spurs his cynical horse, Round up too continues ever onward.
You can read all about Rose here and subscribe to her newsletter latest Rose’s Round-Up for a small fee.
IDEAL GIFT FOR ABW ENTHUSIASTS Steve Lunderstedt’s new book The Road to Magersfontein will make an ideal Christmas gift for any Anglo Boer War enthusiasts. This book, which fully explains the battles off Belmont, Graspan, Modder river and Magersgontein is to be launched in the Bridget Oppenheimer Room, Kimberley Club on November 27.Steve a well-known tour guide in the Kimberley area, and an authority on the Boer war and these battles will be on hand to sell and sign copies form 11h00 to 14h00 and again from 16h00 until 18h30 on that day. The book is an enjoyable and easy-read. [...]
MEMORIAL – 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING On October 12, 2019, at the end of a highly successful conference commemorating the 120th anniversary of the Anglo-Boer War, a memorial was unveiled to honour those who fell on March 10, 1900, at the Battle of Driefontein (Abrahamskraal) near Petrusberg, as well as those who died in the field hospital. The battle followed the Battle of Poplar Grove. Boer forces, under the command of General Christiaan de Wet, were holding a 7-mile(11 km) line covering the approach to Bloemfontein when Lord Roberts ordered Lieutenant-General Thomas Kelly Kenny to attack their position from the front, while Lieutenant-General Charles [...]
IT’S BOOK TOWN TIME AGAIN Richmond will welcome booklovers to its annual Boekbedonnerd Book Festival from October 23 to 26. This year’s programme features big names, good reads and a special film on Hutchinson, called Shunted made by Eric Miller and Laurine Platzky. Highlights of the book festival include the multi-award winning novelist Charl Pierre Naude’s Die Ongelooflike Onskuld van Dirki Verwey, China Mouton’s top-selling Tronkhond and James Brant Styan’s Chris Barnard, Heartbreaker, Steinhof, Eskom and The Bosasa Billions. Nigel Amschwand’s 1847 Dispossession and Migration, Ashwin Desai’s Steve Biko, Pat Kramer’s Corbelled Houses of the Karoo, Jens Fris’s Philippolis, and [...]
INVITATION TO VIEW PART OF KAROO HISTORY Few travellers would grant Hutchinson a second look. It appears to be just another abandoned, forlorn, rundown, dilapidated little railway station, but it hides an important peek into Karoo history. Started in 1883, 12 km from Victoria West, the station developed into a thriving little village with a school, hotel, small businesses and a variety of shops. Its name changed from Victoria Road to Hutchinson in 1901 to honour of Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, an Anglo-Irish diplomat and the last British governor of the Colony. (The post disappeared with the formation of Union in [...]
VC MAN TO MOVE AGAIN Joseph Petrus Hendrik Crowe, a hero of the Indian Mutiny and the first South African-born recipient of the Victoria Cross, is to be reinterred in the Heroes Acre Section of Jubilee Park Cemetery in Uitenhage, at 14h00 on August 24, 2019. His remains were initially repatriated from Europe in 1977 and reburied in ground, which was granted special status as a burial ground by the Cape Provincial Administration. This unique decision made this the only burial ground in the country to contain only one person. The MOTHS have now sold the property and Joseph’s remains [...]
RARE RABBIT – EXCITING FIND The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) Drylands Conservation team were most excited to find a new colony of riverine rabbits in Baviaanskloof. These little nocturnal creatures, which are endemic to the Central Karoo and normally found only in the Beaufort West and Victoria West districts, are critically endangered. EWT Nama Karoo co-ordinator, Bonnie Schumann, said: “The first indication that this species had moved into this area came when well-known ornithologist and conservation scientist, Alan Lee, found a dead riverine rabbit on a gravel road in Baviaanskloof in December, 2018. Fortunately he recognised the rabbit, which [...]
TINY VILLAGE WORTH A VISIT Tel No 082 777 1519 Fascinating facts are to be found in the hinterland. The tiny Klein Karoo village, De Rust, for instance, once had a large home for children orphaned by the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. Sadly, the building fell into disrepair and had to be demolished. This little village still has many other historic gems to discover. A newly launched historic walking route now showcases its historic buildings and Victorian houses, many of which have been restored and most have interesting tales to tell. The route begins at Voelgesang, the original farmstead, which once [...]
CALLING ALL SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS Richmond’s Boekbedonnerd Book Festival is calling on all self-published authors to enter the annual Self-Publishers’ Awards Competition. This event, the only one of its kind in South Africa, honours authors in more than 25 categories. Entries close on June 30, 2019. More from Darryl David at email@example.com. Winners will be announced at the Boekbedonnerd Book Festival in Richmond on October 26th and 27th. This extremely popular event, filled with good books, good food, and good vibes, is the oldest book festival in the country. The programme always features a line-up of top speakers who discuss the [...]
ATTENTION ALL FOODIES Tel No 0832578601. The ever-popular Karoo Food Festival takes place in Cradock from April 26 to 28. This year’s programme includes delicious taste treats from boerekos with a twist to some exotic fare, say the organisers. Highlights will include a braai, excellent craft beer, two-day food market, tastings, demonstrations and master classes will cover preserving, pickling, salami and carbanossi making, ferments, such as kambucha, kimchi and kefir, soft cheeses, such as feta and halloumi, and homemade farmstyle breads. Spicey food with health benefits will be discussed. Special menus will be on offer at six partner restaurants. This [...]
EXCITING COMMEMORATION PLANNED Tel No 051 447 3447 A special conference to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Anglo Boer War is being planned by The Friends of the War Museum. “In recent years the study and interpretation of this war have created new insights,” says chairman Dr Arnold van Dyk. “We are inviting people who wish to address the conference to let us have abstracts, no longer than 300 words, by April 30. These should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org Presentations of 20-minutes with 10-minutes for interaction, question and discussion may be delivered in English or Afrikaans.” He added [...]
OFF TO A DISAPPOINTING START Scottish ministers and missionaries had a great impact on South African history. They played pivotal roles, set up pioneer missions in remote areas and staffed these with some of greatest preachers in South Africa’s Christian history, but all did not start off well. The Glasgow Missionary Society’s first venture into South Africa was a disaster. When efforts to attract men with classical and theological degrees did not immediately pay off the GMS decided to accept offers of service from two highly religious, but raw and poorly educated men. They were Duncan Campbell, a 40-year old [...]
RARE FABERGÉ JEWEL LINKED TO SOUTH AFRICA A breathtakingly beautiful Fabergé flower was presented to the Queen’s Own Worcesterhire Hussars, an Imperial Yeomanry regiment, when they returned from the Anglo-Boer War in 1903. First raised in 1794, this regiment again served as cavalry in WWI but converted to an anti-tank unit for WWII. In 1899 when volunteers were called for 3,021 men reacted immediately and the regiment was chosen from these - 16 NCOs were killed and 20 wounded in South Africa. The magnificent piece came from Georgina, Countess of Dudley, wife of William Ward, second in command of [...]
A REASON TO CELEBRATE Rose’s Round-up has a reason to celebrate. This little newsletter turns 300 this month and it is 25 years old. The road, since the publication of the first issue in January 1993, has been an exciting one. Round-up’s initial aim was to persuade six town clerks to use history to promote tourism. These men represented Beaufort West, Prince Albert, Richmond, Victoria West, Loxton and Laingsburg, as well as Nelspoort, Merriman, Klaarstroom, Hutchinson, Leeu Gamka, Prince Albert Road Station, Matjiesfontein and Deelfontein*, the site of the Imperial Yeomanry tent hospital during the Anglo-Boer War. This was the [...]
THE BOER WAR COMES TO TOWN Ever wondered what life was like when the Boer War hit the small Karoo villages? A recently launched book, The Forgotten Front, reveals this in an interesting way. It details how the war touched the lives of the ordinary man in the street in and around Colesberg. Townsfolk were suddenly caught up in the extraordinary circumstances of war. People who had lived tranquil lives were suddenly thrown into turmoil and surrounded by soldiers. The story, written by Professor Mike de Jongh and Belinda Gordon, is gathered from historic documents, newspapers, diaries and letters. General [...]
PICK A PLACE AND JUST GO THERE Freelance photojournalists, Chris Marais and Juliette du Toit, travel widely across the thirstland and are often asked which is their favourite town. Like loving parents, they find something special in almost every one, however, they decided to find out what appealed to others. On their Karoospace and Facebook pages they listed 38 towns and asked which one their followers preferred. Some nominated five or six places, but for the purposes of the poll only the top one was counted. Top favourites - in order of preference - were: Prince Albert, Willowmore, Graaff-Reinet and [...]
REMEMBERING THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER A new book, covering details of the Anglo-Boer War in the Karoo and Colesberg area, in particular, is now available. Entitled The Forgotten Front, Untold Stories of the Anglo-Boer War in the Karoo, it is written by Michael de Jongh, Professor Emreritus in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at UNISA, and widely known for his books on the “karretjie people” as well as Belinda Gordon, who formerly worked at Colesberg’s Kemper Museum. The book is based on research which Belinda started in 1990. It highlights the significance of the confrontations along the southern or [...]
HONOURING THE 60 WHO NEVER CAME HOME Professor Anthony Stimson and Jenny Humphries, in Australia, are co-authoring a book on the South African War Memorial in Adelaide. Said to be the finest equestrian statue in Australia, it was erected by public subscription in honour of the 60 men who served in South Australian contingents during the Anglo-Boer War but did not return. The memorial was unveiled on June 6, 1904. “Its story has been told, but not the stories of the 60 men named on it. We are filling in that gap and the book will tell each man’s story. [...]
ATTENTION ALL INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS It is once again time for the annual Independent Publishers Awards Competition. This highly contested event is the only competition of its kind in South Africa and it culminates in a gala awards banquet at the end of the Richmond Book Town Festival in the Karoo at the end of October, each year. The competition, which has various categories, honours all self-published authors and brings their works to the attention of a wider audience. Any self-published author wishing to enter should contact Darrel David, Book Town organiser and coordinator of the panel of judges. FAREWELL, DEAR [...]
A GUIDE TO BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES The beautiful bridges of the Eastern Cape intrigue many tourists and photographers. Their creation is closely linked to the life of British civil engineer, Joseph Newey, who was responsible for the erection of nine stone arch bridges and about 70 iron lattice, girder and timber bridges in the last quarter of the 19th century. The full story behind the construction of these magnificent bridges is told in Bridging the Eastern Cape – The Life and Work of Joseph Newey, a beautifully illustrated, 134-page coffee table-type book, was written by King Williams Town-born Dennis Walters, [...]
FOR ENERGETIC OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS … Energetic Karoo outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the Meiringspoort Trail Run and Mountain Bike Challenge which takes place in De Rust, on May 26 this year. The runs first covers 9,5km and 19,5km and the mountain bike courses, 27,5 km and 60,5 km. Both events start at 07:00. Mountain bike enthusiasts will also enjoy the Lazy Hippo Stage Race in the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve on New Holme Guest Farm in Hanover. The routes pass through some beautiful scenery and include interesting challenges. This family friendly event will be held from July 6 to 8. [...]
By Rose Willis A scenic route leads military history enthusiasts through the Western Cape past graves and memorials and along the north-south railway line with its military fortifications of 100 years ago - the Anglo-Boer War blockhouses. These range from ruins to National Monuments. At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War there were 6 860 km of railway line in South Africa. During hostilities 600 km were added. In the early days of the conflict the British used armoured trains for armed reconnaissance. But the Boers soon discouraged this approach. Then came the blockhouse system. By the end of [...]
The Xhosa dimension to tourism in the Central Karoo The Xhosa have been woven into the fabric of the Great Karoo since the late 1700s. Research has revealed that small groups settled at various times in the Nuweveld region from 1795. "We are collecting as much historic and background information as possible for the Kwa-Mandlenkosi Township Tourist Route to give visitors an insight into a little known part of the Karoo's history," says Siphiwe Piti, chairman of the Central Karoo District Municipality's Tourism Committee and a founder member of the Route Forum. "Little seems to have been written [...]
The search for the grave of British soldier, Private Calver, turned up some interesting historic facts. According to Mr T O Slabbert, owner of Goeiemoed, a farm across the road from Prince Albert Road Station, this farm was once on the post coach route. It was part of the huge old farms Vlakkraal and Tuinkraal that were proclaimed in 1838. On the little hill just south west of the present-day farm house, there once was a popular little hotel which served train passengers wishing to travel to Prince Albert and on to Oudtshoorn. Slabbert said that the farm Uitkyk, [...]
Melton Wold guest farm between Loxton and Victoria West has a rich romantic history. Woven into the story is a Lady Chatterley-like tale which played itself out in 1910. This history of this farm dates back over 250-million years as a Bradysaurus fossil, preserved in situ, proves. In time a strong fountain attracted game, the San and Widow Nortje. She was given the title-deed to this farm by the Magistrate of Beaufort West in 1838. Little is known of this widow and how she ended up all alone on this forsaken farm which she named Boschduiwefontein. Nevertheless, she managed [...]
Visitors to remote little graveyard on Robben Island are often amazed to see the grave of Reverend Louis Hugo. Many wonder why this minister was buried there and why his body was not taken back to the mainland. Louis Hugo, who was born in Stellenbosch on November, 22, 1846, could trace his roots back to Daniel Hugo, a Huguenot who played a significant role in South Africa’s ecclesiastical and social arenas Daniel was a tiny man. He stood only 133 cm (4ft 6in) tall, but he was an excellent craftsman and gifted winemaker. After leaving school Louis studied [...]
The Murraysburg branch of the Standard Bank was said to be the one most often robbed by commandos during the Anglo-Boer War. It was first hit on January, 1901, and because the Boers got away with so much money, the bank had to close for a few days, said Boer War researcher Taffy Shearing. On March 2, the bank manager, F C Lilford, was captured by the Boers while he was posting some official letters at the Biesiespoort post office. He was held for eight hours. Later that month he wrote a diary entry stating that the little town [...]
In 1778 Captain Robert Jacob Gordon stood on a Karoo koppie near the Swartberg mountains and painted the tranquil scene of Zacharias de Beer’s farm Qweekvallei in the valley below. In time this painting found its way to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Almost a century later a town, named in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband, sprang up on Queekvallei and later still a copy of the painting found its way to the town’s Fransie Pienaar Museum. Then, in May, 1999, the town, honoured Gordon, by naming the koppie in his honour. A small granite slab was placed at the [...]
During the Anglo-Boer War, the news of Queen Victoria’s death on January 22, 1901, was greeted with deep emotions in the Karoo. British gun salutes echoed across the veld and rumours of battles spread. Journalist Edgar Wallace received the news at Matjiesfontein and wrote this poignant piece: “Queen Victoria had ever been a sacred subject among the rank and file of the army. They are very broad-minded the men who serve and love her; Papist or Buddhist or Jew are one with their Protestant selves. They are governed in their thoughts towards her by a love which cannot be [...]
A journey through the Karoo in 1856 so affected a Dutch traveller that he lapsed into philosophical meditations. Hendrik Antonie Lodewijk Hamelberg wrote: “I compare this road to the life of man. The potholes are the troubles he often feels cannot be overcome. Stoney places symbolise life’s disasters, while individual stones remind one that in the cup of the greatest earthly happiness there’s a drop of bitter wormwood.” Hamelberg travelled from Cape Town through Paarl, Bain’s Kloof, Mitchell’s Pass, Ceres, Karoopoort, and “the endless Karoo” via Beaufort West and Colesberg to Bloemfontein. He stayed at lonely farms and observed many [...]
Golf was first played at St Andrews in Scotland over 600 years ago, so it is little wonder that this venue is steeped in wonderful stories. According to Sporting Life’s Golf News some of the sand traps have very individualistic names relating to ginger beer, spectacles and the best spot to catch a lassie. One large bunker and two nearby smaller ones at the 10th hole have a historic link to South Africa and the Anglo-Boer War. The large one is the Kruger bunker, nearby is Mrs Kruger and Kruger’s mistress. The story goes that when war broke out [...]
Arthur Charles Jackson converted to Christianity in Karoo sheep pasture. In his teens he had high hopes of becoming a farmer and went to help out on a Kuilspoort, a farm belonging to his father’s cousin, Julius Jackson. While out in the veld one day Charles had an epiphany and gave himself to God “behind a Karoo bush.” In Manna In The Desert, A de Jager Jackson, writes: “In 1894 a young cousin, Charles, was so impressed with the shepherds’ forlorn state, the lonely deaths, the rude and summary burials and absence of aid in the hour of trouble [...]