Roses-Round-up

Fascinating factual tales and stories on South Africa history by Rose Willis. Read all about her here and subscribe to her newsletter Rose’s Round-Up for a small fee.

Rose’s ROUND-UP – A privately-published monthly newsletter mainly covering snippets of Karoo history * Copyright: Rose Willis * Cellphone: 082-926-0474
email: rosewillis705@gmail.com. P O Box 28636, Danhof, 9310

 

Rose’s Round-Up November-December 2000 No 84

Rose's Round-Up November-December 2000 No 84 THE HELL LOOKS UP Cape Nature Conservation is upgrading, refurbishing and stabilising most of the historic buildings in Gamkaskloof, The Hell. R1,1m has been obtained for this important project. Work has already progressed in some areas, while tenders are awaited in others. The restoration of Oukloof, the oldest raw brick and clay farmhouse, has been completed. This house, home of Zanie and Anita van der Walt, Nature Conservation officers and full-time residents of the valley, revealed many of its secrets during restoration. “The house was stripped back to basics and this gave us [...]

Rose’s Round-Up October 2000 No 83

TEMPLE OF THE DEAD DISCOVERED Quena shrines, a temple of the dead and a sophisticated astronomical observatory have been discovered near Murraysburg. The man behind these archaeological finds is Dr Cyril Hromnik, who recently visited the Karoo to discuss them. “Much needs to be done to reverse the academic neglect of the Great Karoo in recent decades,” says Dr Hromnik. “Hottentots in the history of the Karoo are all too often ignored, simply as if they did not matter. Yet the Otentottu or Quena people were culturally, religiously, economically and technologically more advanced than the Stone Age Kung or [...]

Rose’s Round-Up September 2000 No 82

FOOTPRINTS IN CYBERSPACE An illiterate who uses a sophisticated scientific system as an everyday tool has presented the Great Karoo to Dutch TV viewers. A TV crew from the Netherlands recently visited the Karoo National Park to film the ultra-modern CyberTracker wildlife management system for the popular Jules Unlimited series broadcast by VARA. “Each 25-minute broadcast, designed to keep viewers abreast of the latest scientific developments, has well over a million viewers” , says researcher Julia Greiner. “The programme relies on active hosts and good camera angles to make viewers feel part of what they see”. The man who [...]

Rose’s Round-up Augiust 2000 No 81

FARMERS LINK UP TO SAVE RIVERINE RABBIT Three farmers in the Krom River area near Beaufort West have established a conservancy for the riverine rabbit, one of South Africa’s the most endangered species. “A recent three-day seminar in Stellenbosch, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Zoo and other USA organisations, prompted this action by Monty Truter, David Jack and ourselves,” said Hillary Steven-Jennings, of Hillandale. “Research by Cape Nature Conservation has revealed many potential habitats for these nocturnal creatures on Booyskraal, Bokpoort and Hillandale.” Riverine rabbits are only found in the Beaufort West and Victoria West areas of the Great Karoo. They [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2000 No 80

NEW MINISTER HAS DEEP ROOTS IN TOURISM Mr Leon Markovitz has taken over responsibility for tourism in the Government of the Western Cape Province. He replaces Mr Hennie Bester, who has taken over the portfolio of Community Safety. In a recent cabinet reshuffle, Mr Markovitz was appointed Minister of Finance, Business Promotion and Tourism. He is also Minister in the Office of the Premier, and his responsibilities include the Gambling Act. Mr Markovitz’s is a director and shareholder in hotel, restaurant and tourism related companies and has a keen interest in tourism in both the private and public sectors. He [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2000 No 79

BOER WAR GRAVES RESTORED The graves of British soldiers buried in Beaufort West in the Great Karoo during the Anglo-Boer War have been restored by the local Rapportryers organisation. The work was undertaken by Goodall and Williams, and cleaning and washing of gravel chips provided short-term employment for the jobless. Goodall and Williams personnel repaired and rebuilt all curbings and recemented all surrounds. Marble crosses and memorials were all thoroughly washed and cleaned, and metal Guild Crosses were repainted. Then markers, with details of the soldier's name, rank and number were fixed to each cross to ensure that the graves [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2000 No 78

KAROO DUCHESS GETS A FACELIFT Matiesfontein, that grand old duchess of the Great Karoo, has been given a facelift. Four self-catering cottages, each with accommodation for six, and nine extra rooms, at the Garden Mews, formerly the Boarding House, have been brought into the tourism mix. A station has been added next to the old train at the cricket field, and a motor museum is to be created on this site. To enhance the village’s aura of history and romance, a brandy and cigar room, plus a library, is being created on the second floor of the old station building. [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2000 No 77

AUSTRIA HONOURS BARNARD A son of the Great Karoo, Professor Chris Barnard, is to be honoured by the Austrian Government this month. In an international poll, the world heart-transplant pioneer emerged as the most popular of seven international leaders in their fields. He will receive the first My Way award. "Polling was conducted by Internet to gain as wide an international response base as possible," said Eric Bruckberger, a director of the Tatum Media Group, organisers of the gala function in Vienna at which the award will be presented. The media group, which has negotiated the loan of a large [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2000 No 76

PARKING NOW SAFE AT HISTORIC SITE The historic Monument Cemetery, 10km south of Matjiesfontein, now has a safe parking area. It was recently constructed by the Central Karoo District Council with assistance from Western Cape Tourism Board. “Our aim was to provide visitors to the cemetery with safe parking away from the busy N1 highway,” said district council chief executive John van der Merwe. “Formerly, tourists had to park at the gate, climb over a stile and walk almost 1km to the graves. Most visitors were concerned about leaving their vehicles unattended so far away. Also, there was room only [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2000 No 75

KAROO PARK GETS THE KEY The ever-popular Karoo National Park, outside Beaufort West, will be 21 years old in September. Special plans are being made to celebrate the big day. The park, little more than a dream in 1950 when local farmer William Quinton started his campaign for a conservation area in the vicinity of Beaufort West, plays a vital role in the tourism mix of the Central Karoo. Since its official opening on September 7, 1979, it has served the local and international tourism markets, as well as the local community. “Our aim is to encourage visitors to [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2000 No 74

MERWEVILLE HOPS INTO THE FROG ATLAS Besides being welcome in the Karoo to rejuvenate life, good rains during the festive season brought Merweville a strange fame. The steady downpours encouraged herpetologist Atherton de Villiers to visit and search for frogs. His research into reptiles and amphibians has led to him becoming the regional co-ordinator for the South African Frog Atlas project in the Western Cape. He was accompanied by wife Rikki, a chief nature conservator at Jonkershoek, in Stellenbosch. ‘We chose the Koup as no previous records existed for the area,’ said Atherton. “As we drove into the tiny town [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 1999 No 73

STUDENT FINDS RARE FOSSIL A rare and well-preserved fossil of a Gorgonopsian was found on Leeukloof recently when Friends of the South African Museum in Cape Town visited the Beaufort West area. “What made this find exciting,” said Dr Roger Smith, head of the museum’s palaeontology department, “is that it was a good example of this ancient carnivore and included a radius, elna and fingers. Also, it was found by a student, Jennifer Botha.” The 45 enthusiastic fossil hunters spent three days in the area searching for fossils under the guidance of the Museum’s Karoo-Paleo Team which includes Paul October, [...]

Rose’s Round-up September-October 1999 No 72

BOER AND BRIT MEET AT BLOCKHOUSE BRAAI A century after the air was filled with gun smoke, “Boer” and “Brit” horsemen rode as comrades through Beaufort West in the Great Karoo recently to take the salute at the old blockhouse which still guards the railway line. Crowds lined the route to cheer them on their way. The British brigade, under “General” David Pickard-Cambridge, carried Union Jacks and “regimental colours”, while flags of the old Boer Republics marked the passage of the Boer Commando under “General” Piet Ellis. Tantalising smells of braaivleis wafted about and a small crowd waited in the [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 1999 No 71

BOER WAR PROMISE HONOURED An Australian serving with the British army towards the end of the Anglo-Boer War committed suicide on the outskirts of Merweville. So distressed were these Karoo townsfolk when they heard of Lieutenant Walter Oliphant Arnot's death by his own hand on April 16, 1902, that they promised "to tend his grave forever." During almost a century they never forgot. So after all this time, locals were devastated when Lt Arnot's grave was vandalised a while ago and its marble cross destroyed. While discussing repairs, the problem touched the heart of Dominee Kallie le Roux, of Wesselsbron [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 1999 No 70

BIG PLANS FOR KAROO NATIONAL PARK The ever-popular Karoo National Park has expanded again. It recently acquired an additional 12 000 ha, extending its total area to over 70 000 ha. The farm Paalhuis has already been transferred to the park. The latest acquisitions include Brandywynsgat, Berg en Dal, part of Boesmanskop and Onderklipplaatsfontein. Discussions are also in progress to spend about R6-m on improvements. These will include a variety of projects such as 10 new chalets and predator-proof fencing. “We plan to upgrade and expand our restaurant and create a ladies bar,” said manager Leighton Hare. “There are also [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 1999 No 69

GRAND DUCHESS OF KAROO GETS TOP WEBSITE Matjiesfontein, the tiny Karoo village which offers visitors a peek of Victorian England, now has one of the country’s top websites. Set up by RMC, consultants who are assisting village-owner David Rawdon with a series of upgrades, the site was hailed a winner within days of its launch. Pages were designed by Catherine Kerr-Petersen and text written by Sarah Powys, winner of this year’s Silver Loerie Award for advertising copy. RMC director Chris Yates-Smith said: “It’s more than a pretty site. It’s designed to deliver useful information to tourists and Matjiesfontein management alike.” [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 1999 No 68

LONG AGO, WHEN THE RIVERS FLOWED NORTH Once a swamp and now a semi-desert, the Great Karoo fascinates most who explore it. Many wish H G Wells’s time machine existed to take them back to explore the once vast Gondwana continent. One man who brings this ancient world to life is S A Museum palaeontologist Dr Roger Smith. He recently explained the transition from swamp to dryland to visitors at the Karoo National Park. Way back when the earth was young all the land was on the western side of the globe and the sea on the east. Gondwana was [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 1999 No 67

RENAISSANCE MAN ROBERT GORDON HONOURED Over two centuries ago Robert Jacob Gordon stood on a Karoo koppie near the Swartberg mountains and painted the tranquil scene of Qweekvallei farm in the valley below. Almost a century later a town sprang up on the farm. And now, 150 years later, that town, Prince Albert, has honoured this famous artist, naturalist, soldier and explorer by naming the koppie in his honour. A small granite slab, placed at the site where he stood, near the now popular Koppie Trail, was recently unveiled by author Patrick Cullinan, whose book, Robert Jacob Gordon, the [...]

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 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 [...]