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 R200.00 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.



Rose’s Round-up June 2023 No 357

WORLD’S TOP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL It’s official – the world’s best extra virgin olive oil comes from De Rustica Estate in De Rust. A blind tasting, by a 26-man international jury, tested 1 000 olive oils at the 2023 International Evooleum Awards in Spain. The De Rustica Estate Collection Coratina was adjudged “best in its class”. This test is completely uninfluenced by countries of origin because the blind samples were coded by a notary. This category won by De Rustica includes best monovarietal/single cultivar; best Coratina; best “mixture green and ripe fruity”; and best from South Africa. The [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2023 No 355

GRAVES REVEAL THEIR SECRETS Unmarked graves in a hinterland cemetery, set Doreen Atkinson off on an intriguing quest. A professor of political science, trustee and vital cog in the wheels of the Karoo Development Foundation (KDF), she was touched by a visit to Kuilsville cemetery near Danielskuil. During her 30 years of working in the Karoo she had seen many unmarked graves, but this time she paused and pondered wondering know who was buried there, what they died of, when and was there anyone left to tell their story? So, in 2019 assisted by a team of people interested in [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2023 No 354

DISCOVER THE KAROO Live The Journey, a company that claims to be fuelled by curiosity, inquisitiveness, wondering and wandering is offering three seven-day exploration tours through the Karoo. These guided, self-drive trips are scheduled to take place on April 20 to 26, October 5 to 11 and October 12 to 18. They will start at Ceres and move through Sutherland, Merweville and into the Beaufort West district to meet actress, singer, author and traditional herbalist, Antoinette Pienaar, on the farm at Theefontein. After a two-day visit, during which Antoinette will share her knowledge of the medicinal value of Karoo plants, [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2022 Special No 351

A DIFFERENT WAR Looking for in an interesting read? Then, The Infamous Malaboch War and More Gripping Stories From The Old Transvaal and Beyond should be just the thing. This book follows David Hilton-Barber’s earlier books on footprints in the old Transvaal on the way to Tzaneen, and Footprints in the Lowveld. Despite the fact that the Malaboch War has been extensively covered in military journals, David’s research revealed several aspects that offer a fresh look at the campaign. The war broke out when Chief Malaboch of the Bahananwa people refused to have his territory demarcated in 1888, have his [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2022 No 350

END OF AN ICONIC RIDE The journey is over, but the memories remain. Some say reminiscences of their ride along 600km of the Forgotten Highway will never fade. This includes the armchair travellers who so much enjoyed seeing Piet Coetzer’s six beautiful Flemish horses, Minister, Kimon, Kristal, Tom, Klara end Karnet, almost every day. They were the “stars of the show.” There were, however, many more who contributed to this historic ride which left Sutherland on October 22 and arrived in Griquatown on November 6.. Among them were Skoene, Sadriek, Papie and Heinrich, who cared for the Flemish beauties [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2022 No 349

EAGER YOUNG MAN’S UNFORGETTABLE TRIP When William Burchell arrived at the Cape in 1811 he was an eager, but inexperienced naturalist with a romantic passion for science. Soon after setting foot on shore he commissioned a custom-built wagon, and set off in it accompanied by Khoekhoe servants, to explore the flora and fauna of the vast southern African interior. He travelled through the Cape across the Roggeveld escarpment, traversing the Great Karoo and onwards to an area east of Kuruman where he ultimately reached the extremities of the northern Cape. By August, 1812, he arrived at Litakun (now Dithakong), [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2022 No 348

BACK ON THE SAME PAGE Booktown, Richmond’s BookBedonnerd book festival, is back on track. It was rescued when the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of the Western Cape, announced that MadibaLand would move to Booktown Richmond and happily become part of that festival forever. And, there is even more great news. John Banville, the Irish Booker Prize winner, has agreed to open the festival. “Who would have thought it possible that such a great writer would open a festival in a small Karoo town? ” asks Darryl David, one of the organisers. The dates have [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2022 No 347

SOME BEAUTIFULLY TOLD TALES Two books of /Xam stories will be launched in Sutherland in October 21 just before Piet Coetzer sets off on the 600km Great Forgotten Highway Expedition to Griquatown. The first book, entitled The Man Who Cursed The Wind And Other Stories From The Karoo (Die Man Wat Die Wind Vervloek Het En Ander Karoo Stories) is a selection of 61 /Xam tales collected in Afrikaans from present day Karoo storytellers, translated into English, and edited by José Manuel de Prada Samper. These tales capture the harsh, but beautiful, landscape of the Karoo and its lively [...]

Rose’s Round-up August Bonus 2022 No 346

%#%#%#%#%#%#%#%#% There is so much happening in the Karoo that I can’t hold on to the news until I create a September issue in the middle of the month, so here’s a special issue of Round-up. NEED A QUIET PLACE TO WRITE? Most authors seek a quiet, peaceful place in which to write. Cradock has the answer. Litnet, together with Die Tuishuise and Victoria Manor, has just announced the launch of a Resident Authorship Project which offers authors the opportunity to write in a comfortable, undisturbed, tranquil surroundings. To officially kick off the project Litnet and Die Tuishuise invited [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2022 No 345

BOOKTOWN FESTIVAL CANCELLED It is a sad time in the Karoo. Richmond’s annual BoekBedonnerd Booktown, the longest continuously running live literary festival in South Africa, has been cancelled. This announcement was made by organisers Darryl David and Peter Baker in Issue No 55 of the New Richmond Reader. After 15 years the Northern Cape Government has stopped its sponsorship. “Sadly this year we were planning to honour Athol Fugard, one of the Karoo’s most famous sons – a man who is hailed as the world’s greatest living playwright,” said Peter. “We had the support of the Fugard fraternity, the [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2022 No 344

SNEAK PEEK Karoo lovers are in for a special treat. Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit are about to launch a new book which takes yet another look at the dryland. Karoo Roads III is scheduled for blast-off in August/September this year. This, as usual, excellently illustrated book takes readers on a long, winding road trip into what the authors call “the Never-Never Land” as well as to some lesser-known areas. Readers are introduced to a fascinating array of past and present characters who all make-up the Karoo and add to its luster. Those who would like to ramble [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2022 No 343

CELEBRATING A RESIDENT WITH VISION On June 7, 2022, at 18h00, Prince Albert will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fransie Pienaar Museum. This Museum, the cultural hub of the village, doubles as the tourist information centre and houses one of the country’s largest fossil collections. It grew out of the collections of one local resident, Fransie Pienaar, who was born in Prince Albert in 1897. After leaving school she studied music at Sullivan College in Cape Town. She then returned to her home town, married and began to collect any pretty and interesting thing that caught her eye. [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2022 No 342

SHUNTED TAKES ANOTHER BOW Eric Miller’s short film, Shunted, is far from shunted - it has once again been propelled into the limelight. This film captures the history and memories of the community at Hutchinson, a small Karoo railway station named in honour of colonial administrator, Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson. This short documentary, made towards the end of 2020, premiered at the Apollo Theatre in Victoria West and from the outset was a winner. Since then it has received many awards and been featured at several film festivals. Eric submitted the film to the Singapore World Film Carnival. “It was [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2022 No 341 with supplements

Supplement 1: DESIGNED TO KEEP THE PEACE Supplement 2: GREAT HEROES, BUT TRUE LOSERS TRACKING THE TRAIN ATTACKERS Anglo-Boer War researcher Johan van Niekerk has taken a closer look at the train wreckers and captured the fascinating story of the train attackers in a soon to be published book entitled An Unfinished Line To Heaven - Boer War Trainwreckers - 1899-1902. “This is not just a book about the Boer saboteurs and trainwreckers,” says Johan. “It studies the legitimacy of attacking the railways and lines of communication in a time of war.” In this book Johan covers the actions [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2022 No 340

THE DEVIL’S ROUTE INTO THE KAROO The story of Duiwelskop, the first north to south pass over the Outeniqua mountains, has been captured in a full-colour book, just released by Dick Metcalf. He lives in Prince Albert and studies pioneer routes into the interior. Dick is currently engaged in an on-going programme of recording the old wagon passes of the Cape and the tracks that linked them. Duiwelskop was an extremely rugged route and it terrified early travellers. It runs from Louvain farm in the Klein Karoo to Woodville Store on the Seven Passes Road in the Garden Route. [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2022 No 339

PROUD INTER-CULTURAL HERITAGEHistorian Dr Dean Allen has just launched two interesting books. This Day in History, written with Danica Stanová, is an illustrated, day-by-day account of some of the most interesting and important events in world history. It’s ideal for history buffs, as well as those needing to check dates and facts, Then, there’s the beautifully illustrated, full-colour Frontier Land - Exploring South Africa’s Eastern Cape. This volume takes readers into settler country, an area steeped in the traditions of Xhosa, Dutch, German, Scottish and British people. It is the shared heritage of so many cultures that makes the region [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2022 No 338

TOP AWARD FOR ‘MR LITERATURE’ The founder of SA’s only Book Town has just been awarded the prestigious English Academy of Southern Africa Gold Medal Award. He is widely-known academic Darryl Earl David and he is passionate about literature. His literary efforts have put the tiny Karoo town of Richmond on the map and brought it to the attention of writers and publishers. While Richmond’s BoekBedonnerd was the first book festival he organised in South Africa, it certainly wasn’t the last. He is also the founder of the Breyten Breytenbach Boekfees in Montagu, the Athol Fugard Festival in Richmond. [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2021 No 337 – Bonus Issue

SEASONS GREETINGS / BEST WISHES FOR 2022 MAY IT BE YOUR BEST YEAR YET GOOD READ ARRIVES IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS New on the bookshelves, and just in time for Christmas, is The Accidental Entrepreneur - John Garlick: His Life and Legacy - Merchant, Politician, Philanthropist and Family Man 1852 – 1931. Written by Sherry Garlick Stanton, herself a very interesting woman, this is the story of her search for information about her great-grandfather, John Garlick, the founder of the well-known South African department store. He was also the benefactor of Nelspoort TB Sanatorium just north of Beaufort West in [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2021 No 336

EDUCATION WAS THE KEY The story of Thomas Muir, the man who reformed the early education system in the Cape Colony and was knighted for his efforts, is told in a recently published biography by his great grandson, Peter Elliott. This delightfully written, well-researched, comprehensive book, entitled Thomas Muir: ‘Lad O’ Pairts’, is the result of a chance visit, in 2018, to Oudtshoorn’s C P Nel Museum, once the Boys’ High School. It was opened by Thomas in 1907. Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on August 25, 1844, he was the son of George, a humble agricultural labourer, and his second [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2021 No 335

A DREAM TO EMPOWER WOMEN Margaret Ellen Flanagan’s dream was the empowerment of women. She thus, in 1982, bequeathed funds to Rhodes University for the creation of the Patrick and Margaret Flanagan Trust for scholarships to be awarded to women for fulltime international masters or doctoral studies. In her will she stipulated that these scholarships should have sufficient funding to cover travel, tuition, accommodation and sustenance, as well as a book and clothing allowance. She wrote: “My underlying intention in making provision for the award of the scholarships is my belief that any country is, to an important extent, dependent [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2023 No 353

ANOTHER HORSE SPEAKS Dr Juliette Whelpton’s latest book in the Heroes with Hooves Series tells the story of Maharajah, an Arab stallion which belonged to Captain Jack Seeley. Jack first saw Maharajah on the Egyptian plains and was captivated by him. He came to South Africa with Jack to serve during the Ango-Boer War, and this is their story told by Maharajah himself. During his lifetime he met Queen Victoria, Lord Kitchener and many other important British officers. He also met some top Boer leaders, like General Christiaan de Wet and the teenage hero Japie Greyling. Maharajah had many friends [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2023 No 352

FIRST DEEP SPACE GROUND STATION IN AFRICA Matjiesfontein has been chosen as the site for the first deep space ground station in Africa. This announcement was made towards the end of 2022 by NASA and the Department of Science and Innovation. “Dry air and clear skies make this area ideal for a ground station,” said Raoul Hodges, managing director of space operations at SANSA. “The aim is to establish a sustainable station on the moon, land the first woman and first person of colour there by 2025 and prepare for missions to Mars and beyond.” Construction is scheduled to start [...]

Britain’s last castles still guard the rails

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 [...]

Mandlenkosi Township Tourist Route

  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 [...]

  • prince Alfred town South Africa

Curious habit of the Post Coach Routes

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, [...]

Love walked in and took her for a spin

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 [...]

Beaufort West man of God buried on Robben Island

  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 [...]

Bank Manager captured by Boers

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 [...]

Renaissance Man Honoured

 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 [...]

Queen’s Death Stuns The Great Karoo

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 [...]

The Land where the citrus blooms

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 [...]

  • Frederick Guthrie Tait

Par For The Course?

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 [...]

Karoo Farming Experience Saves A Baby

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 [...]