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.
DELICIOUS WEEKEND ON THE CARDS Prince Albert has plans for a delicious, fun-filled weekend in May. “Our olives are world famous and health conscious people love our olive oil, so we have scheduled an Olive, Food and Wine Festival for May 6 and 7, 2005,” says tourism officer Charlotte Olivier. “Visitors will be able to tour to the olive farms, taste olives and enjoy olive cooking demonstrations. Restaurants and guest houses will serve olive-based cuisine. There will also be visits to fruit and fig farms, outings to Gamkaskloof, The Hell, The Swartberg Pass, the old gold mines and San rock [...]
GOOD YEAR FORECAST FOR TOURISM Experts forecast a good year for tourism. SA Tourism chief executive Moeketsi Mosola, has called for excellence and sustainability at all levels in an interview in Tourism Update. “Role players should concentrate on transformation, service, quality assurance, training and information sharing,” he said. Tourism Update features items on growing market sectors. Among these are the sectors serving disabled tourists and wine tourism, which is growing rapidly internationally. For instance, it contributes R25bn annually to the Australian economy. In South Africa the contribution is R4,2bn according to an article in South African Wine. Experts feel [...]
A DELICIOUS LOOK AT TRAVEL From time immemorial food has set the social scene. It’s been a comforter, a treat and a way of sharing traditions and cultures. Now, the idiosyncrasies of cooks and cooking in some of South Africa’s most remote places has been captured in Delicious Travel, a magnificently illustrated book written by South-African born Gwynne Conlyn, who is passionate about the country, its people, and cuisine. Much more than just another cookbook, Delicious Travel offers food fundis a new perspective on South Africa and a delightful peek into South African Society. In Delicious Travel Gywnne, a well-known [...]
FLORAL HERITAGE HONOURED The Swartberg Nature Reserve is now part of S A’s ‘Big Six.’ It is part of the Cape Floristic Region, CFR, which was recently declared a World Heritage Site. This brings the total number of sites in the country to six, and the number of natural sites in the world to 154. South African sites include Robben Island, The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Sterkfontein: Cradle of Humankind, the ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe and the CFR. “The CFR’s listing is the result of three years of hard work,” says Cape Nature publicity officer, Erika Swanepoel. “The CFR is [...]
LONG WALK INTO THE RECORD BOOKS A few mishaps hit the Sak River Expedition as it got underway. Ten men, each carrying a backpack of between 20 and 25 kg, were due to set off from the source of the Sak River in the Nuweveld Mountains, outside Beaufort West, on October 26, and walk the entire 450km length of this river to its end at a giant pan in Bushmanland, by November 6. The group included a Norwegan, New Zealand biologists, interested in riverine rabbits, the director of the African Conservation Trust and “adventurers,” like Beaufort West’s Arnold Hutchinson, who [...]
A VIEW OF THE KAROO FROM SIXTEEN FARMS Graaff Reinet-born Pinkey Watermeyer’s literary talents only came to the fore after he retired. At almost 80 years of age he not only sat down and penned a delightful tale of his life on 16 Karoo farms but following in his grandfather’s footsteps, he also took to painting. “Both new ventures turned out to be highly successful,” says his nephew John Finnemore. Sixteen Farms (or the Impossible Dream) is much more than a biography. It offers an entertaining look at Karoo life, first of all through the eyes of a young [...]
TWO NEW ‘KAROO BOOKS’ FOR CHRISTMAS Struik Publishers will launch two special books on the Karoo in time for Christmas. The first, due out in October, is a magnificent 168-page, full colour coffee-table book, Karoo Moons - A Photographic Journey. It includes a series of inspirational photographs, by Yorkshsire-born photographer, Richard Dobson, who attended school in South Africa from 1975 to 1983. Richard’s passion for photography began in London in 1984. It shines through every page. His first taste of the Karoo came in 2002 when he “trundled across its plains and along the back roads” preparing a photo-essay for [...]
WALK THIS WAY IN A GOOD CAUSE A mammoth 450 km walk, the first of its kind across the Karoo, is planned for October. The route follows the course of the Sak River, the Karoo’s longest watercourse, from its source in the Nuweveld Mountains, outside Beaufort West, to its end at ‘Blok se Kolk’ on Grootvloer, a giant pan at Onderstedorings in Bushmanland. It passes through an isolated part of the Karoo and places that few South Africans have seen. The aim is to raise funds for riverine rabbit research. This little creature, one of the world’s most highly endangered [...]
QUENA TEMPLES SET THE MOOD Karoo enthusiasts joined archaeological historian Dr Cyril Hromnik to watch the last sunrise and sunset of winter from an ancient Quena stone temple in the Moordenaars Karoo. This took place on June 18 and 19. Dr Hromnik organises four of these fascinating field trips each year for those who wish to experience the equinoxes and solstices at astronomical temple-observatories. Normally between 200 and 250 people interested in history, cosmology, ecology, religion and culture join him on these trips. “These temples were built as places of worship by the ancient Quena or Otentottu (Hottentot) people, whose [...]
ANNIVERSARY OF A LIGHTENING, RECORD BREAKING RUN The South African Land Speed Record was broken, not once, but twice at Beaufort West exactly 52 years ago. Vic Procter broke his own record (138,20 mph – 224,07 kph) on the tar road near the airport on May 23, 1952. He set a new record of 144,0 mph (233,48 kph) on a Vincent Black Lightening motorbike The following day, May 24, he smashed this record again setting a new time of 149,99 mph (243,19 kph) on the same bike. This was the fifth time that Procter had broken the South African [...]
BREATH OF THE KAROO FOR CANNES Olive Schreiner’s Story of An African Farm, filmed in Laingsburg last year, will make its debut at the International Film Festival in Cannes from May 12 to 22. The film, produced by Bonnie Rodini, and starring Richard E Grant and Armin Mueller Stahl, will premier in South Africa in August and September. Bonnie Rodini read this story while at school and became quite passionate about it being filmed. She knew that one day she would film it. However, the road from idea to reality was a rocky one. Bonnie spent over a decade [...]
MINISTER HONOURS ROSE AND ROUND-UP Rose Willis was one of 12 women recently honoured by Western Cape Minister of Tourism and Gambling, Joyce Witbooi, at a special ceremony in Cape Town. The award was for “the creation of Rose’s Round-up to showcase the Karoo as an off-the-beaten-track attraction in the mix of Western Cape venues.” The minister paid tribute to these women, who had not received public recognition for their commitment to tourism, at a ceremony held at Marco’s African Place in the Bo-Kaap. “The event is not about winners,” she said. “It is about unsung stars. When making [...]
NEW BOOK A KAROO TASTE ADVENTURE Simply paging through the latest book on Karoo venison is a mouth-watering experience. The love its three authors have for the Karoo and its traditional style of cooking is evident on every page. However, Camdeboo Karoo Venison, written by Lynne Minnaar, Annetjie Reynolds and Albé Neethling, in co-operation with Camdeboo Meat Producers and the Drosdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet, is much more than just a recipe book. It is a treat from beginning to end. This 200-page, soft-bound, full colour, book is magnificently illustrated. It shares tried and trusted old family favourites, developed [...]
SA FROGS LEAP INTO AN ATLAS The first comprehensive survey of South African frogs will soon be available. A frog atlas, covering all frog species in South African, Swaziland and Lesotho is expected to be on sale within three months. This extensive conservation assessment represents eight years of research by skilled professionals and laymen working together under the auspices of the Avian Unit at the University of Cape Town. Funding came from The Smithsonian Institute in the United States. For this vast study the country was divided into blocks of 25 to 30 kilometres. Researchers and helpers spent many [...]
KAROO BECOMES A SCHOOLROOM FOR TEACHERS It’s back to school for biology and natural science teachers next year. And, to help Garden Route, Klein Karoo and Karoo teachers get to grips with the new curriculum a capacity building workshop is being planned to take place in Beaufort West in February 2004. The proposed kick-off date is February 14, St Valentine’s Day. Co-ordinators Annemarie Gebhardt of WCED and Marianne Tredoux from the University of Cape Town, have arranged a series of lectures by experts in their fields. Marianne, a bio-chemist, will deliver some. Others will be given by Dr John [...]
OFF TO AN EARLY START One of the youngest towns in the Great Karoo celebrates its centenary next year. Merweville, established in 1904 on Vanderbijlskraal, home of the then local Justice of the Peace, is already planning celebrations. “We aim to ensure visitors leave with happy memories as well as souvenirs,” said Alida Victor, one of the organisers. Farmers in this sector of the Karoo, known as the Koup, approached the Beaufort West Church Council and Dominee Pieter van der Merwe in July 1887, for permission to establish their own parish. The faithful faced a 200-mile round trip in slow [...]
NEW HORIZONS FOR ROUND-UP Rose’s Round-up has moved to Bloemfontein, but its coverage of the Karoo will continue. Readers welcomed this news and letters of encouragement poured in containing pleas to “keep writing the stories we all so love.” It was gratifying to discover that so many enjoy the glimpses of history, pre-history, conservation and ecology that they find in Rose’s Round-up. In its new format Round-up will no longer concentrate solely on promoting the tourism-based happenings of the Central Karoo as the District Municipality has not retained its exclusive right to the newsletter. Round-up’s base will be broadened to [...]
BEAUFORT WEST SEEKS FUNDS FOR KAROO GARDEN Beaufort West Tourist Bureau wants to establish a Karoo Botanic garden right in the heart of the region. Newly-appointed BWTB marketing chairman, Koos van Dyk, says: “We constantly tell tourists that the Karoo has the richest desert flora in the world, that Beaufort West alone has more plant species than the whole of Great Britain, yet we cannot show them much of this indigenous flora. The nearest place to see it is at the Karoo Garden at Worcester.” This garden originated at Matjiesfontein, where “Daddy Jim,” son of charismatic James D Logan, Laird [...]
HOLLYWOOD COMES TO PRINCE ALBERT Excitement reigns in Prince Albert as villagers look forward to seeing top stars, such as Patrick Swayze, in town. A film crew is due to move in from August 3 to 18 to shoot scenes for a remake of King Solomon’s Mines. The film, being made by Argus for Hallmark, will bring more than 160 actors to town. The all-South African crew looks forward to working with producer Russ Markowitz, director Steven Boyam and Patrick Swayze, who is playing the lead. The name of the leading lady is still under wraps. The crew will [...]
KAROO DEBUT ON ‘THE WEB’ The Central Karoo launched two websites on June 8. Their creation, made possible by the Central Karoo District Municipality, has already gained a wider visibility for Beaufort West and the region. Both sites, hosted by Imaginet, have been submitted to Ananzi, Aardvark and S A Web, locally and to Alta Vista, Google and Lycos international search engines. Web addresses for these two new sites are www.centralkaroo.co.za and www.beaufortwestsa.co.za. They are uncomplicated, easy to use and quick loading. The pages offer visitors a wealth of historic detail on Beaufort West, as well as on other towns, [...]