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 January 1997 No 42

MEIRINGSPOORT REPAIRS GET TOP PRIORITY The Central Karoo District Council and the Provincial Roads Department have launched an all-out effort to repair flood damage amounting to millions of rands to roads and passes during the festive season. Meiringspoort alone was flooded three times in a month. Its reconstruction has been given top priority, and complex work costing millions began on January 15. If everything goes according to schedule, this popular tourist route should be able to accommodate traffic by April, according to District Roads Engineer Juan Prodehl. During operations, care will be taken not to disturb the ecology. “By the [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 1996 No 41

DANCE OF DEATH SOLDIER HONOURED Isaac Wauchope Dyobha, the man who called for the 'Dance of Death" to be performed as the troopship SS Mendi as it sank in 1917, has been honoured in Beaufort West, where he once served as a preacher. A plaque detailing his bravery was handed over at a Remembrance Day Service by Mr Mani. Duimpies, of the Cape Corp to the Mayor of Beaufort West, Mr Michael de Villiers. It will be displayed in the museum. The plaque was made from brass of shell case, hammered out, engraved and mounted on a wooden panel made [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 1996 No 40

NEW BROCHURE BRINGS KAROO TO LIFE A new brochure which brings the magic of the Great Karoo to life will soon be available. It reveals the enchantment of this vast area with its kaleidoscope of colour. It is for those who plan to visit and to remind those who know and love the Karoo of its delights. This information brochure details the Karoo's evolution from swamp to semi-desert. It has information on rocks, fossils, fauna and flora through the millenia to the present day, as well as backgrounds on towns, settlements and unusual places, such as Matjiesfontein, the passes and [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 1996 No 39

HISTORIC MOMENTS ON TV An international TV crew recently visited Beaufort West to make a documentary on the life of heart surgeon Professor Chris Barnard for BBC 1. It will be broadcast as part of a Sunday night 'Songs of Praise' series. Each week a world famous personality is interviewed on religious preferences and favourite songs of praise. Among the music chosen by Professor Barnard were River of Dreams, Amazing Grace, Jerusalem, Old Rugged Cross and What a Friend we have in Jesus. During dramatisation of the latter hymn, Jan Wright, of Beaufort West, played the role of Professor Barnard's [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1996 No 38

SOLDIERS REST IN PEACE ... AGAIN Headstones have been replaced on the graves of nine British soldiers buried at Laingsburg. The original ones were washed away on January 25, 1981, in the devastating flood that hit the town leaving the graveyard buried under a metre of mud. Damage was considerable. Then, during a heavy storm about two years ago, the headstone from Trooper Burton's grave re-appeared from the river. Although badly broken it was pieced together and relaid on his grave when new stones were placed this month. The new headstones were commissioned by The British War Graves Committee of [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 1996 No 37

MILITARY ENTHUSIASTS SALUTE MUSEUM Visiting military enthusiasts have heaped praise on the special arms exhibition in the Marie Rawdon Museum at Matjiesfontein. The exhibition, recently opened by Major John Buist, features a display of uniforms, medals, rifles and shotguns. The exhibits are part of his private collection, now on loan to the museum. The display, in the basement section of the museum, includes several items dating back to the Anglo-Boer War and World War I. The opening coincided with the three-day annual International Championships of the Muzzle Loaders Association which was held at Matjiesfontein. SKAARS PLANT IN KAROD GEVIND Tydens [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 1996 No 36

CENTRAL KAROO SCOOPS TOP AWARD The Central Karoo District Council walked off with the top award at the 21st Annual Congress of the Institute of Municipal Public Relations Officers (IMPRO) held recently in Kuruman. The Institute named tourism co-ordinator Rosalie Willis the IMPRO public relations officer of the year in South Africa. The award was presented to her at a banquet by the Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Mr Manne Dipichia. He said: "It is indeed a pleasure to present this award to someone involved in promoting the platteland, and the Karoo in particular, as this is such a [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 1996 No 35

THE PAST REVISITED Frieda Haak, one of Prince Albert's best-known history researchers, has written another book on the town and district. The story starts in 1762, when the De Beer family settled at the foot of the Swartberg, and it moves through the town's rich and colourful past to the present. Aimed at providing information in a cost-effective manner, this 102-page printed booklet is now available in Afrikaans at the Fransie Pienaar Museum Shop at R20 - the English version will soon be available. On the cover is a colour picture of the old Oueekvallei farm. The booklet is one [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 1996 No 34

ONE OF THE BEST The Karoo National Park is one of the finalists in the A A Travel Guide's Resort of the Year Competition. It was the only nature reserve in the Western Cape Province to be nominated and the only venue in the Great Karoo. Winners will be announced at a function in Johannesburg on April 18. The park was also nominated last year in the Game and Nature Reserve category and came second. Western Cape resorts featured well in this year's nominations - 21 were among the 56 venues nominated in 11 categories. The Karoo National park [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 1996 No 33

NEW VIGOUR ON TOURISM TRAIL Renewed vigour has been blown into the Central Karoo on-going tourism campaign. Meetings have been conducted in Beaufort: West, Lainsburg, Prince Albert and Murraysburg along guidelines from Lample Fick, the Western Cape Province Minister of Agriculture, Planning and Tourism. Each town has elected delegates to serve on a Regional Tourism Committee (RTC) and an inaugural meeting of this new body is scheduled for March. The RTC will elect. a member for each of the two provincial standing committees, which in turn will each nominate two members to serve on the four-man ministerial advisory board. Technicalities [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 1996 No 32

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 1995 No 31 Supplement

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up November/December 1995 No 31

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 1995 No 30

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 1995 No 29

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1995 No 28 Supplement

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1995 No 28

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 1995 No 27

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 1995 No 26

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 1995 No 25 Supplement

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 [...]