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.

 

 

Rose’s Round-up November 2020 No 323

NEW BOOK TELLS OF MORE THAN WAR A new book which investigates the link between Croatia and South Africa towards the end of the 1800s has just been published. It is the result of four years of in-depth research by Zvonimir Navala, who was born in Croatia in 1946, completed his schooling and university studies there and came to South Africa with his family in the 1990s to complete his research. The book, Croats in the Anglo-Boer War, South Africa 1899 – 1902, covers much more than the war. It discusses the interconnections between the two countries and it the [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2020 No 322

END OF THE ROAD - A NEW BEGINNING? For the first time in 13 years, Richmond’s immensely popular, annual BookBedonnerd Book Festival will perhaps not take place at the end of October. It has had to be cancelled, not being because of COVID, but because the Northern Cape Provincial Government has refused to fund the project. Organisers, Darryl David and Peter Baker, say that they fear that this might be the end of the road for the only Booktown in South Africa. They have, however, not totally given up hope. “Perhaps with a bit of financial support we will [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2020 No 321

JUST PERFECT FOR CHRISTMAS There is no place quite like the Karoo. It’s hailed as the world’s friendliest arid zone, filled with characters, creative folk, stories, history and ghosts. Now, just as people begin to think of Christmas presents, hinterland photo-journalists Chris Marais and Julie du Toit, are launching a new book, Karoo Roads. In it they share their experiences of travelling the highways and byways of this vast area, taking readers to fascinating places, spaces and breath-taking scenery. Their “roads” pass Marcella de Boom’s uncommissioned statues at Loxton, the lonely, isolated graves near the site of the old [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2020 No 320

NEW BOOK CAPTURES THE DRAMA Anglo-Boer War enthusiasts may be interested in a new book covering accounts of lawyers caught up in the tumult of the Jameson Raid. Lawyers in Turmoil - The Johannesburg Conspiracy of 1895, written by Judge Owen Rogers, has been hailed as “dense, engrossing and a vivid historical account,” by Justice Edwin Cameron. Rogers has drawn on a wealth of published and archival material to present a lively, occasionally provocative, account of what took place in the dock, at the bar, on the bench and behind the scenes. He poses some interesting questions, such as: [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2020 No 319

A SALUTE TO THE SETTLERS The Eastern Cape branch of the SA Genealogical Society has just launched a new book to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the 1820 settlers. Entitled 1820 Settlers and Other Early British Settlers to the Cape Colony, this well-illustrated 500-page book, edited by branch vice-chairman, John Wilmot, pays tribute to the role that these settlers played in building South Africa. “In their stark ignorance these intrepid people made pitiful blunders and mostly learned the hard way through tenacious toil and tears. They stood their ground, with indomitable spirit and by grim determination, steadfast [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2020 No 318

THEY ARE NOW ALL THERE At last a full set of Rose’s Round up is now available on the Ancestors website. The gaps are gone and the 30 missing issues have been uploaded thanks to Manny Pereira, of A-One Computer Solutions in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. The early copies that were poorly printed on an old dot-matrix machine and consequently copied very badly. I started trying to retype them, but then Manny offered to convert them into Word. He steadily worked his way through a higgledy-piggledy array of scans, returned the pages for proofing and slowly the gap was closed. The [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2020 No 317

PLANS FOR A NEW KAROO FESTIVAL   Looking positively to the future Richmonders are planning a  new festival linked to oral traditions, storytelling and the wool industry.  It will be named “Spinning a Yarn”.  Organisers, Peter Baker and Darryl David, (the men who created the Bookbedonnerd Book Festival in 2007 and put Richmond on the map by making it South Africa’s only Book Town) have approached some organisations such as the Mohair Spinners Industry and the local government for sponsorship. They are also planning to get talented crafts people in the area to pass on their skills to others [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2020 No 316

TOP SA CONSERVATIONISTS TO SPEAK IN LONDON Rhino conservation comes under the spotlight at the Royal Geographical Society Spring Talk in Kensington, London, on April 2. Three top South African experts, with roots in the Eastern Cape, will address the delegates and detail some of the horrors of rhino poaching. Their theme will be Creating a Rhino Stronghold. The key speaker is Dr William Fowlds, the wildlife veterinary surgeon educated in Grahamstown and Onderstepoort, who set up the ARCC (African Rhino Conservation Collaboration). Its main aim is to co-ordinate effective action against poaching. Will’s passion for conservation stems from his [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2020 No 315

NEW BOOK FOR BOER WAR BUFFS Boer War researcher Allen Duff has just launched a book which is bound to intrigue followers of the history of the South African War. Entitled Boer War Narratives of the Cape Colony it tells of unusual happenings and adventures experienced by Boer Commandos and British Colonial Forces during skirmishes and engagements in the Cape Colony. “Some of these reveal quite bizarre confrontations with the ‘fickle finger of fate’”, says Allen. Among the tales are stories of the train attack at Ganna Station, north of Beaufort West, the experiences of the Australian contingents during the [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2020 No 314

A CRAFTY IDEA Tel No 081 391 8689 The “festival man” of the Karoo, the dynamic Darryl David, who with Dr Peter Baker put Richmond on the map by turning it into a Booktown, is at it again. He has moved from literary and food festivals to an idea of creating a craft village in the little Klein Karoo town of De Rust. In making this announcement he quipped that travel journalist Chris Marais once said: “If you see an Indian family walking around your village with four dogs, be sure they are planning a festival!” And this was [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2020 No 313

IF FESTIVALS ARE YOUR THING The Karoo has some interesting festivals in the pipeline for 2020 and, if festivals are your thing, perhaps you could factor some into your travel plans. If you love food, hospitable people and the Karoo, Cradock is the place to be from April 24 to 27 next year. The 8th annual Karoo Food Festival is already being planned and as ever the programme promises to be interesting and truly tasty. For more - email karoofoodfestival@gmail.com. The Klein Karoo National Arts Festival takes place in Oudtshoorn from March 23 to 29, Afrikaburg in the Tankwa Karoo [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2019 No 312

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. [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2019 No 311

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2019 No 310

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2019 No 309

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2019 No 308

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2019 No 307

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2019 No 306

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2019 No 305

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 davidd@ukzn.ac.za. 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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2019 No 304

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 [...]

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 [...]