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.
HINTERLAND TOURISM GROWS Tourism in the hinterland has grown between 12 and 18 percent over the past year. "International tourists in particular are beginning to discover and appreciate the peace, charm and tranquility of inland venues such as are found in the Karoo," said Johan Gelderblom, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Gambling and Tourism, on a recent courtesy visit to Laingsburg, Leeu Gamka and Prince Albert. "Not only is the hinterland perceived as a safe place, it is also seen to be a silent and restful. People from the big cities of Europe cannot appreciate the true meaning of [...]
GALA OPENING PLANNED FOR THE HELL Gamkaskloof or The Hell, a secluded valley in the heart of the Swartberg Mountains near Prince Albert, has been restored. Almost all of the tiny cottages, once home to those who could only reach the outside world along footpaths over the mountain, now proudly dot the valley as they did in their heyday. So, a gala opening is now planned to launch facilities and restorations, carried out after the completion of a comprehensive research project, to the tourism market. Cape Nature Conservation have invited two Western Cape Provincial Government ministers, directors from cultural history [...]
JOURNALIST DISCOVERS KAROO’S SEXIER SIDE Former Cape Times editor John Scott recently discovered the Karoo has a sexy side. John, who retired from formal journalism and editing the paper 18 months ago, now writes a daily column for the Cape Times and Independent Newspapers. During lectures given by natural historian and paleontologist Dr John Almond, at a Summer School run by the Cape Iziko Museums, John Scott discovered that those grey-looking Karoo bossies are far from boring. "I learned the Karoo has a hairy nipple bush, as well as a mouse nipple bush,” says John. “Yet, just how early Karoo [...]
E.BUSINESS COMES TO TOWN Western Cape Tourism's new e.Business system will be introduced to the Karoo this month. This system, designed to capture data, improve efficiency and streamline communications throughout the province, will also be linked to the standardised tourism bureau membership scheme to be phased in from April, this year. WCTB e.Business project manager Bronwyn D'Oliveira will explain the systems, their operation and implementation, to regional tourism organisation (RTO) and local tourism bureau (LTB) executives at a workshop in the Martin Odendaal Hall at the District Municipality on February 21, from 10h00 to 13h00. "Efficient electronic communications is the [...]
KAROO ‘REJOICES’ ON STAGE IN U S A Theatre lovers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will be given a rare glimpse of the Karoo this month when the Dramaturg City Theatre stages Athol Fugard's post apartheid play “Sorrows and Rejoicings.” To help set the scene, the theatre's literary manager, Carlyn Ann Aquiline, appealed to the Central Karoo Regional Tourism Office for pictures to help advertise the play and show locals what the Karoo setting of the play looked like. These and brochures were sent for display on opening night. The play will be produced by Timothy Douglas. "The actors, big names [...]
RESEARCHER STUDIES TENT TORTOISES A Canadian researcher has come to the Karoo to study the common but poorly known tent tortoise. Dr Thomas Leuteritz, a post-doctoral associate of Professor Retha Hofmeyr, of the University of the Western Cape, has set up base at Prince Albert to study the behaviour and breeding biology of Psammobates tentorius, better known as the tent tortoise or "knoppiesdop." The project will run for three months east of Prince Albert at the Tierberg Karoo Research Centre, which is managed by Dr Richard Dean, of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of the University of Cape Town. To establish [...]
RARE ROCK ENGRAVING FOUND A rare piece of rock art has been discovered near Prince Albert. Local geologist John Begg, owner of Scholtzkloof, found an uncommon bi-colour, red-brown drawing with white surround on his farm. "I saw this unusual San rock-painting beneath a shallow overhang on a cliff. Only a few similar swallow-like figures have been found among the many thousands of rock paintings known in Southern Africa," says John. "In the past, these were misinterpreted as mermaids or fish-people. More recent research suggests that such images portray an out-of-body experience often induced when San medicine-men or shamans were calling [...]
BY ACCLAIM, A PRINCE OF CHEESES A full-flavoured, well-matured hard cheese made at Prince Albert in the Karoo has walked off with top honours at the South African Farm-Style Cheese Championships run by the National Dairy Institute at Irene. Known as Parma Prince and produced by Gay’s Guernsey Dairy, it won first prize in the Italian-style cheese sector and was also given a special award as an exceptional cheese. The road to success started four years ago when dairy owner Gay van Hasselt visited Italy to promote mohair products of her farm. While there, she visited top parmesan producers to [...]
A WONDERFUL WORLD OF FOSSILS, SAYS EXPERT “Laingsburg is most fortunate that the world's largest and most complex eurypterid trackway was found right on its doorstep,” said Dr Simon Braddy , University of Bristol, UK, and an expert on the palaeobiology of ancient, extinct water scorpions. "This discovery will bring scientists, researchers, students and lay people to the Karoo, one of the best places in the world to study fossils of the Permian Period. Finds such as this must be included in the region's tourism plans and visitors must be taught to behave responsibly at such sites," said Dr [...]
IT'S HIGH NOON FOR THE RIVERINE RABBIT The odds are stacked against the riverine rabbit surviving another 10 years. It recently became South Africa’s most endangered mammal when its conservation status was raised to critical. "Its survival appears even more desperate than we previously believed," says Cape Nature Conservation researcher Chrizette Kleinhans. "These furry-footed little leaf-eaters, among the world's rarest animals, will disappear from the face of the earth within a decade unless drastic steps are immediately taken." The riverine rabbit is indigenous to the Central Karoo and found only in Beaufort West, Loxton, Carnarvon, Calvinia, Sutherland, Victoria West [...]
IN -FLIGHT MAGAZINE HELPS SAVE FOSSIL TREASURE A story in Rose’s Round-up has been instrumental in raising funds to help preserve a fossil treasure of the Great Karoo, the recent find of an invertebrate trackway that could be the most spectacular example of its kind yet found in the world. The news item, covering Laingsburg’s fossil trackway, was noticed and also published by SAA's in-flight magazine, Sawabona, which is how it came to the attention of Professor Peter Spargo and his wife. After reading the story on a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg they generously offered R1 000 [...]
A WINTER LOOK AT THE ANCIENT KAROO Highlight of the Winter School at the S A Museum in Cape Town this year will be a series of lectures entitled Life and Death in the Karoo. Lectures in the T H Barry Hall from July 1 to 4 offer a new look at the Karoo's fossil history. Field sedimentologist and head of palaeontology at the museum, Dr Roger Smith, opens by discussing a relatively new sub-discipline, Taphonomy: A New Look at Old Stone Bones. "This takes a look at what happened to the skeletons of ancient creatures between their death [...]
FIRST FIVE-STAR VENUE IN KAROO When Ca' Serenissima opened its doors in Prince Albert a while ago, the Karoo welcomed a mega star. Now the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa has awarded the venue five stars. “The council makes this award only to venues of exceptional quality which offer luxurious accommodation that matches the best international standards with high quality furnishing, flawless service and meticulous guest care," says assessor Mark Goveia Ca' Serenissima, which means serene place, is the brain child of Bernd Borschel and Daniella Graziane. Bernd spent 17 years with the Sheraton Hotel Group before opting for [...]
LAINGSBURG LAMB HAS THE EDGE When it comes to Karoo meat, master chef Chris van Wyk says there's nothing quite like Laingsburg lamb. Chris is so delighted with the Laingsburg product that he is taking a supply to Luxembourg later this year when he captains a team of 12 South African chefs taking part in the International Chefs Olympiad. "It has a uniquely delicious flavour. To my mind it is a cut above all other Karoo meat." Chris, who has had 12 years' experience as a hotel chef, now owns Amaqueta Foods in George. Here he prepares ready-made delicacies for [...]
NEW APPROACH TO MARKETING Role-players in the Central Karoo were recently briefed on new strategies to streamline the tourism industry in the Western Cape Province. Sheryl Ozinsky, manager, Cape Town Tourism, Roger Carter, of the UK-based organisation TEAM (Tourism Education and Management), and Anneline Kriel, of Western Cape Tourism, discussed proposals for E-business information management systems and progress on the JMI (Joint Marketing Initiative), which is an attempt to create a common vision for five key economic development sectors: tourism, major events, film, investment and trade. "These strategies will result in closer links between the Mega City and the hinterland, [...]
MAJOR FOSSIL FIND AT LAINGSBURG Ancient marine sediments of the Ecca Group rock layer near Laingsburg recently yielded an exciting surprise for geologists and palaeontologists working in the area. British palaeontologist Dr John Almond, of Nature Viva cc, discovered the fossil trackway of a gigantic water scorpion (eurypterid) in these 260-million-year-old rocks "This spectacular trace fossil consists of two parallel series of complex footprints. It is about one meter wide and seven meters in length, extending across the surface of a single bed. As such it is the largest trackway of an invertebrate (animal without backbone or other bony internal [...]
NEW MINISTER NO STRANGER TO KAROO A man with strong hinterland ties has taken over the tourism helm in the Western Cape Province. Johan Gelderblom, former chairman of the Klein Karoo District Council and MP for the region, was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling on December 5, 2001. He replaced Mr Leon Marcowitz. Mr Gelderblom grew up in the Klein Karoo, matriculated at Ladismith and then acquired BA and BA Honours degrees in Public Administration at Stellenbosch University. After graduating, he moved to the then Transvaal to gain practical experience. There he also served on the Public Service [...]
Rose’s Round-Up November-December 2001 No 95 CLOSER LOOK AT TOWNSHIP TOURISM Four members of the Mandlenkosi Township Route Forum of Beaufort West recently had an enriching tourism experience in Cape Town. A two-day educational trip, arranged by Western Cape Tourism Board, allowed Sylvia Dyum, Sylvia McKam, Keith Kedama and Clarence Metsing to take a closer look at tourism and meet people involved in township tourism promotion in the province. “Networking with organisations similar to our own has shown us that our problems are neither unique nor insurmountable”, says Sylvia Dyum. “We have gained a much wider perspective of tourism, a [...]
KAROO PLANS SECOND TOWNSHIP ROUTE Residents of Prince Albert’s North End township have begun planning a tourist route. This follows the successful launch of the Kwa-Mandlenkosi Township Tourist Route in Beaufort West. “We have long wanted to share our history and culture with visitors to the town”, says Ds Cyril Afrika, chairman of the town’s development committee. “We plan to incorporate this route into existing tourist routes and trails in and around the town. We would like to introduce visitors to our talented crafters, invite them to spend a night or two in a North End B&B and to [...]
BOER COMMANDANT HONOURED A century to the day after his capture near Prince Albert local Boer War enthusiasts honoured legendary Boer Commandant Gideon Scheepers. A memorial commemorating the 100th anniversary of Scheepers’s capture on Koppieskraal October 10, 1901, was unveilled by Rienus Koorts, grandson of the man who sheltered Scheepers. “This dynamic and controversial young Boer leader led British forces a merry chase across the plains of the Karoo”, said Lydia Barella, one of the organisers of the function. “Towards the end he became increasingly ill. This eventually led to his capture in a tiny room in one of the [...]