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.
ROCKS REVEAL THEIR SECRETS Ostriches, elephants, a snake and a boer soldier are among the latest Karoo rock art finds to make archaeologist Davi Morris, of Kimberley’s McGregor Museum, a happy man. He recently visited Nelspoort to insepct a series of rock drawings just discovered at Bleakhouse. While in the area, Mr Morris also discovered four rock gongs at Tierkloof. There was previously thought to be only one. The new Bleakhouse engravings were found by Johan Lund on a koppie which may have been used as alookout during the Anglo-Boer War. One engraving is thought to be of a Boer [...]
Here are some more Great-Karoo-related stories from the RTO newsletter, Rambler VULTURE DOES THE GRAND TOUR After literally crash landing in a Beaufort West garden during the night, Vernon the VIP Vulture, as he affectionally become known was rescued and then lovingly nursed back to health at the Karoo National Park. He then spent weeks travelling the countryside by car. When first found he was carefully watched as it was thought that he would be off at first light. However, as the sun rose, it became clear that the bird could not fly. The park was called, and so began [...]
DONKEY CART RIDE TO WEDDED BLISS Just over a year ago the Prince Albert SPCA rescued a small, underfed, grey donkey. Local resident Howard Derby took pity on the little animal and offered her a home. Named Esmeralda she went into training to eventually accompany Howard and his wife, Lynne, who has a heart complaint, on walks into the mountains. She now carries the hiking and picnic gear. Before long, Esmeralda became a well-known sight in Prince Albert. So, when two Cape Townians recently bought a house in town and decided to get married there, they requested that the bridal [...]
FAMOUS FILM CREW VISITS KAROO A film crew of world famous Jacques Coustou Organisation recently visited the Beaufort West area to film the farming operations on Elandsfontein. There were six in the team, who worked under the guidance of producer and cameraman, John Jackson. Their focus was the fauna and flora of arid zones and life on a typcal Karoo farm. It was a hetic time for Andre, Martie and Gustav Lund. There were obvious communications difficulties – most of the crew were French speaking – but the Lunds ensured that they were shown everything from old Bushman wells to [...]
THE CALL OF THE KAROO A former BBC producer and Methodist lay preacher, who lived and worked in Beaufort West from 1989 and 1990, will visit the Karoo in November. He is Colin Cradock, who together with local camerman, Trevor de Kock, produced a wildlife film called The Great Karoo. “I discovered the magic of the Karoo while working on that project,” he said. “Its fascination grips you and never lets go Over the years I”ve felt it calling me to return.” Colin now plans to introduce the wonders of the Karoo to a wide range of people. He and [...]
Beaufort West again become the last outpost in the Western Cape Province under the new dispensation when 11 provinces were declared. This town, established in 1818 to maintain frontier law and order, was the last stop in the Colony and beyond its borders lay wild unexplored veld. Now Beaufort West is again a boundary town. From there we once again look at some of the stories carried in Rambler, the newsletter of the Regional Tourism Organisation. ---o0o--- MEMORIES FOR A QUEEN Long before there were show farms in the Klein Karoo a princess, destined to become Queen of England, was [...]
OLD DROSDTY BECOMES A TOURIST MECCA Beaufort West’s stately Matoppo House, with its rich, romantic history, will now become an exclusive tourism venue. The stately old mansion, built in 1834, as a drosdty for Magistrate J J Meintjies and now a national monument, will remain almost unchanged and offer elegant private suites – one with its own swimming pool. The adjoining cottage, De Villiers House, will be transformed into five elegant en-suite rooms. Early next year building will start on several other graceful cottages, each with its own fireplace for Karoo winters. The complex will have its own dining room [...]
BLACK RHINO CALF MAKES HISTORY The black rhino is making a fighting comeback in the Great Karoo. After more than two centuries a black rhino has again been born in this area. This historic event has just taken place at almost the exact spot where the last black rhino in the Karoo was shot about 220 years ago. The calf, the first offspring of Ngara and Chipimbere, was born in the upper reaches of the Gamka River in the Karoo National Park, south of Beaufort West. So, it now carries the name of its birthplace – Gamka. The cow and [...]
CHURCHILL AND THE BOER A Sunday Times advertisement has resulted in Taffy Shearing of Beaufort West receiving a phone call from Sarah Hay, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. Ms Hay is researching the history of her famous ancestor and was seeking information on his time in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Some time ago Taffy did considerable research on the war. She came across a story of a cheeky young Churchill trying to bribe a staunch Boer soldier. The Boers had captured Churchill, and Hendrik Spaarwater was ordered to take him to Pretoria. As the train steamed along young [...]
The Garden Route, Central and Klein Karoos have joined hands and created a Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) , under the chairmanship of Central Karoo tourism co-cordinator, Rose Willis, in an effort in an effort to market their areas as a whole to wider local and international markets. The reason this is that this huge area includes every kind of holiday destination from sun-soaked beaches to mountain experiences, from top star hotels, to homely farm-style accommodation; venues soaked in history, those for bikers and hikers and those offering wildlife or birding experiences, among others. To support this, a sister publication [...]
Rose’s Round-Up April 1995 No 25 POET’S SECRET LOVE The memory of beautiful Helena de Vries, said to have been the secret love of South African poet, C J Langenhoven, still lingers at the farm Gideonshoop, near Klaarstroom. She was born in Prince Albert in 1872 and lived at Mirtle Grove, a house now known as Mirtlehof. While studying at Bloemhof Seminary in the late 1890s, she was introduced to “Petite”, as Langenhoven was known because of his small stature. Some believed it was love at first sight. The couple soon became engaged, but this lasted for two years. Her [...]
Rose’s Round-Up March 1995 No 24 NUWEVELD ON THE NORTH SEA A painting of the Nuweveld Mountains at Beaufort West has pride of place in a Scheveningen flat on the north coast of Holland. It shows the sunbaked southern slopes and thorn tree doted Karoo plains. Is owner, Dr B Wollgiehn, calls himself a keen “Karoophile”. The area’s transformation from swamp to arid zone, it’s fossils, geology, fauna, and flora fascinate him. “I agree with scientists who call the Karoo a wonder of the world. To me it is the epitome of timelessness and tranquility. Its air of ancient mystery [...]
Rose’s Round-Up February 1995 No 23 REDISCOVERED ROUTES OF OLD The original route from Beaufort West to the plateau of the Nuweveld Mountains has been rediscovered. Originally built in the mid-1830s by farmers, such as Pieter Jacobs of Slangefontein, it linked isolated farms, like Bokkekraal, to the town. The route, which once was a footpath, and which in time was used by horses and wagons, is in the Karoo National Park. According to manager Dries Engelbrecht, it is ideally situated to become part of a new section of the park’s 4 x 4 route. This route at the park is [...]
LAINGSBURG CAST AS A STAR The picturesque area around Laingsburg formed the backdrop to TV advertisement for the new Audi station wagon. “We chose this location because it’s pure magic”, said Donna van Vierden, co-ordinator for producers Peter Gird Productions in Cape Town and advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather. “The splendid and breath-taking scenery from arid, almost moonscape rocks to soft rolling green hills and the lusher vegetation of the mountains showed the vehicles off to perfection”, she added. About 21 people were involved. This included the film crew directors, as well as agency and client representatives. KAROO CAPTIVATES [...]
NEW CONSERVATION AND TOURISM PLANA new “blueprint” for tourism is on the cards for tourism in the Western Cape. At the op of the agenda is the development of hinterland tourism as well as the inclusion of disadvantages communities. A two-day conference was organised at Somerset West by the Western Cape minister of Tourism and Nature Conservation, Mr Lerumo Kalako, and during this, delegates from across the province attended think tank sessions during which a wide variety of input and suggestions for restructuring were gathered. These will be studied and compiled into a White Paper. Detailed findings will be published [...]
NEW EYE ON TOURISM A tourist information centre and home craft outlet has been opened at the Engen Garage in Laingsburg. Based in a small building adjacent to the caravan park and surrounded by a tiny garden, it provides a welcome travelling break. Almost before its doors opened tourists were already calling in for information and browsing for souvenirs. The man behind the project, Keith van der Schyff, aims to offer a first-class service to tourists by supplying local products and in depth information on the town, which was once almost totally destroyed by a flood, He will also have [...]
MATJIESFONTEIN MUSEUM MAGNIFICENT The fascinating Marie Rawdon Museum at Matjiesfontein, one of the best private museums in South Africa, has been moved to superb premises in the old railway station building. This museum invites unhurried browsing as it rambles through several rooms, then down to the old jail cells in the basement. Its exhibits include cut glass, china, crystal, silver an intriguing array of toilet pans, chamber pots, commodes and washbasins, as well as photographic equipment. There is also a vast old-fashioned kitchen filled with copper pots, pans, serving dishes and even mineral water bottle from James D Logan’s factory. [...]
LORD OF THE DUBLOONS Most people know that Beaufort West owes its name to Lord Charles Somerset, second son of the fifth Duke of Beaufort. He was Governor of the Cape from 1814 to 1824, and when a new northern frontier outpost was s established in 1818 he named it in honour of his father. What is not so widely known is that Lord Charles was one of the highest paid British officials of his day. He earned £10 000 a year at a time when the town secretary for Bathurst, for instance, got £60 annually. The next Governor, [...]
CENTRAL KAROO ON SHOW The Central Karoo will join forces with the Klein Karoo and Garden Route on the Southern Cape stand at Satour’s regional workshop in Durban from June 20 to 23. This is the first time; that the three regions will combine promotional efforts and expertise to present a collective image to the tourism industry. The theme of the exhibit will be The Secret Garden of the Cape. The magic of the area will be highlighted for visitors by regional tourism co-ordinators Frieda Henning (Garden Route); Daneen de Klerk (Klein Karoo); and Rose Willis (Central Karoo). Over [...]
ACCREDITATION DOTS THE “I” IN STYLE The Central Karoo Regional Services Council’s Tourism and Information Office has gained Satour Accreditation. This means that it is now registered and acknowledged as a Regional Tourism Information Centre (TIC) and forms part of the Satour network It will be listed in Satour’s TIC Guide soon to be distributed locally and internationally. The accredited office sign with the Satour logo dotting the tourism “I” will be displayed at the Regional Services Council Offices. “In addition to general tourism information, this office provides a unique information service covering the history, geology, architecture and ecology. [...]