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 R200.00 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 March 1998 No 55

PICKLED OSTRICH EGGS - A WORLD FIRST The enormous ostrich egg, which makes an adequate omelette for about 12 people, has landed in a pickle for the first time since it appeared on menus. Much to the delight of the culinary world two Prince Albert entrepreneurs, Jason Lucas and Johan Serfontein, are now pickling and canning whole ostrich eggs. This unique product, which recently received a small business award, has also excited the international market and several orders have been received from abroad. Among these is a large order from Japan. Pickled ostrich eggs are now available at duty-free shops [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 1998 No 54

LONG WALK FOR DONKEY RIGHTS A little grey donkey will lead an historic 75km pilgrimage over the Swartberg Pass in April. The aim is to create an awareness of the plight of donkeys and to raise funds for an educational programme on their care. The walk, from Prince Albert to Oudtshoorn, will be undertaken by Esmeralda, a badly abused donkey rescued by Howard Derby in 1994. They will be accompanied on this epic journey by Rev Chris Briers, of Prince Albert, local artist, Lenore Snyman and a group of children. In an effort to ease the lot of beasts of [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 1998 No 53

EXCELLENT SEASON BOOSTS THE TRADE The past Festive Season, one of the best in the Great Karoo for some years, has set the pace for 1998. The busy time throughout the December/January holiday period, when virtually all accommodation venues were filled to capacity, has left behind a fresh enthusiasm for tourism. Most venues reported reaching capacity earlier and being fuller for longer. This was attributed to the timely launch of the N1 promotional campaign which created a great deal of co-operation between towns along the route. Early distribution of information sheets ensured that each Tourist Bureau, from Colesberg to [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 1997 No 52

OUTA LAPPIES STUNS ART WORLD Johannesburg has never seen anything like it. And at the centre of all the fuss was the Great Karoo's Outa Lappies with his unique art forms and philosophies. The crowds loved him. His colourful patchwork outfits, embroidered mottos, wicker lamps and "karretjies" were highlights at the opening night of the Africa Exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The exhibition runs until March. The work of this proud, dignified man with his razor-sharp mind, twinkling eyes and keen sense of humour, caught the eye of gallery director, Dr Elsa Miles, when she travelled through the Karoo. [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 1997 No 51

CELEBRATIONS STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART Professor Chris Barnard came home to celebrate his 75th birthday in Beaufort West. To mark the occasion, the local Tourism Bureau organised a Heart Festival. A birthday banquet honoured the heart transplant pioneer's big day. It all began at 06h00 at the gates of the Karoo National Park, when Professor Barnard officially started a marathon, through the park. Only the second of its kind, the other is run through the Kruger Park. Then Lara, the latest addition to the Barnard clan, was christened in the lovely little Mission Church where her grandfather, the beloved Reverend [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 1997 No 50

TOURISM UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Fragmentation, lack of funds and inadequate support are threatening the growth of tourism. These problems were recently discussed at a Provincial Development Council Tourism Specialist Committee Meeting in Paarl. An urgent call was made for a meeting to be arranged with all other organisations with allied interests to eliminate duplication, implement sustainable growth and advance efficient, effective and streamlined communications. Cape Town International Airport Manager, Rennie Taljaard, says: "The Western Cape Province still holds the top tourism slot in South Africa. Airport arrivals reveal steady growth in both domestic and international market sectors, and this has [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1997 No 49

NEW INFO STOP ON KAROO N1 A new tourist information "I" sign will soon appear on the Karoo N1. It will take its place in the modem world of travelling just south of Leeu Gamka at Rietfontein Farm Stall. And it just goes to show that the tiniest of villages can become partners in tourism. This newest Tourist Bureau in the Great Karoo represents a co-operative effort between the communities of the villages of Leeu Gamka, Merweville and. Prince Albert Road. The idea mushroomed as a result of the current special promotion of the Karoo N1 route. Hannes Botes's farm [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 1997 No 48

THE STORK VISITS AGAIN Another new baby has arrived at the Karoo National Park, but no one yet knows whether it's a boy or a girl. Ngara, the older of the two black rhino cows, has produced her second offspring. She chose the same place for confinement where she gave birth to Gamka in 1995. "It is a secluded, dense, bushy area and here she will stay with her calf until its feet have hardened sufficiently and it is strong enough to walk about on Karoo veld. We have not yet been able to determine the sex as Ngara is [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 1997 No 47

NEW TOURISM PARTNERSHIP Karoo towns along the N1 have joined forces and formed a new partnership in tourism. They have established the Karoo N1 Marketing Association and its aim is to promote all facilities along this busy route and ensure that information about where to stay and what to see or do, is easily accessible to tourists. Meetings will be held regularly to share information and discuss promotions. The Association's slogan is "Getting there is half the fun". It aims to encourage tourists to stop more frequently as regular rests have proved to play a major role in road safety. [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 1997 No 46

TOURISM - CALL FOR A RETHINK "The way in which we market South Africa desperately needs to be changed." The new chairman of Satour, Liz Wesby-Nunn, said at a recent National Tourism Conference in Stellenbosch that tourism was a holistic product and needed to be marketed more efficiently and effectively throughout the country. "We all have to be part of tourism and we have a social responsibility to change. Our economy depends on it. Satour aims to change the dynamics of tourism in South Africa. We have moved from eco-tourism and are concentrating on culture for the next three years. [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 1997 No 45

PROFESSIONALISM THE KEY The new Tourism Act for the Western Cape Province now has all roleplayers fired with enthusiasm. Constitutions are being checked, the fine print of the Act and its procedures studied and business plans are being created. If these are not tabled funding will not be forthcoming. "But, there's nothing intimidating in the new legislation," John Robert, a consultant in the Ministry of Tourism has said "Professionalism is the key. Tourism must rid itself of its begging-bowl image. We must not wring our hands and wait for handouts. The economy of this country needs tourism, it is [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 1997 No 44

RARE FIND ON LEEUFONTEIN Walking down an old, dry river bed one morning, Jaco Conradie saw a strange white object protruding from the embankment. It was the back of a skull. Closer investigation revealed it belonged to a small skeleton this had been buried in a sitting position, facing east. Quite sure that he had discovered the grave of a /Xam San hunter-gatherer of the early Karoo. Jaco rushed home to share his excitement with his father Flippie. Recent heavy rains must have washed away the bank and exposed the grave," said Flippie "By the time we got back the [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 1997 No 43

REGIONAL TOURISM FORUM MEETS The Consultative Forum on Regional Tourism, established in East London late last year, has just held a follow-up meeting in Rustenburg. The aim was to streamline communications. ensure a cohesive approach to promotion and marketing of tourism throughout South Africa, develop effective co-operation strategies for all committees and assist regional tourism organisations gain a higher visibility coupled to a better image. Financing and functions of regional offices, critical issues and plans for future development of tourism throughout South Africa were also discussed. The meeting was attended by delegates from almost all district councils throughout the Republic [...]

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 [...]