Platteland party line telephone systems totally confuse city visitors. They are used to answering the telephone each time it rings. A recent “helpful” guest at Melton Wold Guest Farm, between Victoria West and Loxton, ran to answer the telephone every time she heard it ring. Of course, many calls were not for the guest farm and she was puzzled at why they should get so many wrong numbers in so small a place. Once the mysteries of the platteland manual exchange system had been explained to her, she was quite red-faced. “I simply thought you had a casual attitude to the telephone because you got so many wrong numbers,” she confessed.


Die Laingsburgers is baie ywerig om hulle dorp en sy omgewing te bevorder, veral op toerisme vlak. Die Laingsburg 2000 Ontwikkelingsaksie is dus gestig en een van die eerste groepe wat hulle taak aangepak het was die Reklame en Toerisme kommitee. Dit sal hulle taak wees om die dorp in die kollig te bring, meer toeriste na Laingsburg en sy omgewing te lok en die area en sy besighede te bevorder. Die voorsitter van die groep is Keith van der Schyf en op sy komittee is verteenwordigers van die sakewêreld, hotelbedryf, plaaslike regering en boere.


Laingsburgers are extremely keen to promote their town, especially at tourist level. Die Laingsburg 2000 Development Action Group has thus just been created and one of the first committees – the Advertising and Tourism Group – immediately leapt into action. Their main tasks will be to highlight facilities in the town and its surrounds and to promote local business. The chairman, Keith van der Schyf, and his committee represent business, local government. and farming as well as the accommodation sectors.


The new grading system developed by Satour in consultation with the Hotel and Lodging Industry has been launched. The system was fully explained to members of the accommodation industry at a function held at the Oasis Hotel at the end of March. The system is designed to act as a major catalyst for tourism development in South Africa and to bring the local tourism industry in line with international trends and developments. It is a voluntary system and any accommodation facility wishing to be graded can apply. This includes the formal hotels, informal bed and breakfast establishments, self-catering establishments, guest houses, country lodges, guest farms, private game reserves, time share organisations, national and provincial game parks and caravan parks. Full details from Richard Upton or Mark Goveia at Satour.


Rietjie Vivier, of Boesmanskop, ‘n plaas net buite Beaufort-Wes, en Diane Zechner, van Home Executive Services, in Kaapstad, het ‘n reeks plaasvakansies vir kinders gereel. Die eerste vind in die April vakansies plaas en die anders in Junie, Julie en Oktober. Kinders tussen 9 en 13 sal op die plaas kuier, die natuurskoon geniet, perdry, in die veld wandel en van bossies en grasse leer, fossiele besigtig, op die trekker ry, “help” om koeie te melk en sien hoe skape geskeer word. In die aande sal hulle om groot kampvure braai, sing en stokkiesbrode maak. Die vakansies is nogal druk bespreek, sê Rietjie..


Rietjie Vivier, of Boesmanskop, a farm just outside Beaufort West and Diane Zechner, of Home Executive Services, in Cape Town, have organized a series of farm holidays for city children. The first takes place in the April holidays and the others in June, July and October. Children of between 9 and 13, will visit the farm and be able to enjoy the natural environment, ride horses, wander in the veld to get closer acquainted with bushes and grasses, learn about fossils, ride on a tractor, “help” milk the cows and see how sheep are shorn. In the evenings they will gather around a huge camp fire to braai, sing songs and make “stokbroodjies” (stick bread). These holidays are already reasonably heavily booked, says Rietjie.


A visit to Matjiesfontein is a must for every traveller through the Karoo. This little village, still as popular as it was when it was founded by an entrepreneurial Scot James Logan, has a charm all of its own. It exudes such a superb old world atmosphere that stopping there even for the shortest time is a treat. The Blue Train stops at Matjiesfontein every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 16h:15 for an hour. Passengers are taken on a short sightseeing tour of the village by bus, while tourists who happen to be at Matjiesfontein at that time are welcome to visit the Blue Train. More from Mervin Tunmer at the Lord Milner Hotel.


Hand-woven, pure mohair curtains, made to measure for any window are now available with a range of other interesting products at Erco Weavery in Beaufort West. This weavery is known for top quality cushions, runners and mats. Big carpets are also made on request. A popular range of jerseys are knitted here from wool that is woven on the premises. Many of these jerseys are specially knitted for the overseas market – and many are made using ethnic designs. Always on the look out for something new for the market, owner Erna Theron, introduced light mohair blankets last year and they were instantly snapped up, particularly for use in the Karoo winters. This year special curtain designs were introduced and they also instantly became winners.


A new nine-hole golf course is being opened at Melton Wold, the beautiful and popular guest farm located almost exactly between Loxton and Victoria West, And, already there is such keenness to be first off the tee, that the farm is almost fully booked for the first weekend. This comfortable and homely guest farm is steeped in history and widely known for its hospitality. It is an ideal place for a farm holiday in the Central Karoo. In addition to its big, inviting rooms – almost all of which have fireplaces for winter – it offers walks, or hikes for the more energetic, horse riding, swimming, tennis, bowls and croquet. And, now, of course, golf. For those who simply prefer to relax and enjoy the crisp, clean Karoo air, there is a lovely shady verandah, beautiful lawns or an “Olde Worlde” English-style pub, called The Deer and Pheasant. Melton Wold also has its own post office, church, school and shop.


Every woman owes herself a break away to indulge body and soul. Therefore in co-operation with the Women’s pages of Die Burger, the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert is arranging a women’ week. Scheduled to take place from April 18 to 23, costs are R750 per person. The hostess for the week is Rhoda Odendaal, a former Miss South Africa and wife of the owner, Albert Odendaal. During the week healthy lifestyles, relaxation and slimming will be concentrated on. The 150-year old hotel is equipped with a gym, sauna and huge swimming pool. Interesting talks and sightseeing tours will also form part of the programme. Cape Town interior designer, Rita Linde, will present a course on home creation and “just being a woman”, while natural health healer, Claudie Belayer, will speak on aroma therapy and health. Woman will be taken on a walking tour through the town where they will see a variety of different architectural styles. They will also be able to visit the museum and to see witblitz being stoked. More from Rita Linda and Joan Morkel.


Richmond’s 150th-anniversary celebrations begin on May 15 with an opera presented by CAPAB. Opera and the operetta pieces written by Frans Kriesler, Emmerich Kalman, Robert Stolz and Frans Lehar will form part of the programme. Christine Crous, assistant director of CAPAB’s opera company says that the fully costumed performance will be held in the Richmond Town Hall. There will be five leading singers, who will be accompanied on the piano. More from town clerk, Johan van Wyk.


During the first weekend in April Beaufort West entertained two well-known entertainers. The first, SABC newsreader Riaan Kruywagen and his family stayed over at their favourite Karoo farm, La De Da. This beautiful farm is just south of the town and its peace and quiet, so close to a main highway, make it his preferred stopping area. It is only 5km from the N1 and a popular venue for many other city tourists passing through the Karoo. The second entertainer, Ollie Viljoen, is a specialist director at Safritel, a man well-known for his roles in the Spies and Plessis team, as well as for presenting the SABC’s Boere Orkes competitions. He, his wife and daughter, stayed at Sarai Rooms and were treated to a braai at the Bowling Club, where he kept those present entertained with an almost non-stop routine of jokes.


Travalia, the popular guest farm across the highway from the Shell Ultra city at Three Sisters is once again being up-graded. Almost every room now has a relaxation area with comfortable chairs and a small table. New Linen has been purchased and a colourful atmosphere has been created in very room. Also, virtually every room now has en-suite facilities. After the holiday season work will begin on facilities in the old farm house. Owners Callie and Marieka Herholdt say that many travelers prefer to stay in the original house, which is about 130-years old because it has such a social atmosphere. They plan to have luxury accommodation available in time for the December tourist season.


For those interest in hand crafts a special holiday is to be presented in the Prince Albert district. Johanna Luttig, of the lovely farm Drieriviere, which nestles neatly at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains and Ronel van der Spuy, who runs the local spinning and weaving operation, have combined forces to offer three-week long holiday courses during which participant will be taught how to weave. These courses will be held during the weeks of July 26, August 16 and September 6. The cost for the week’s course plus full board at the picturesque farm, is R500 per person. All looms and material will also be provided. And, after having a thoroughly enjoyable Karoo farm holiday, the participants will depart with a handwoven article they have made themselves. An interesting programme of sightseeing in the area is also being planned. More from Ronel van der Spuy.


Richmond Lodge is now ready for tourists. This lovely old house on the corner of Loop Street has recently been converted into overnight rooms by Sias and Sophia van Rooyen. Die Lodge consists of six double overnight rooms and the cost is R40 per person per night. In the cool garden, with plenty of trees and lawns that reach right down to the river, also has braai facilities. The Van Rooyens are new residents in Richmond, but not new to the tourism industry. They worked for Rondalia for many years.


There is a new craft shop at Clyde House in Beaufort West. Last year an Art Gallery and Coffee Shop opened in this historic old building, which started as a home for the region’s only doctor in 1839. The owners of the new Clyde House Craft Shop Esther Smith and Ronel Scholtz, believe there is a food market for well-made, quality handcraft, which invokes a warm, nostalgic feeling for the look of yesteryear. They are convinced that the average housewife prefers individualistically handcrafted items to mass-produced ones and so have travelled far and wide to select items for this shop. Clyde House, which is an eye-catching building and quite a tourist attraction, will also be presenting craft curses regularly.


There is no SPCA in Prince Albert and Pat Werdmuller is doing something about it. She cares for strays and finds them homes and looks after people’s pets when they go on holiday. She has a street market stall on the last Saturday of each month to raise funds.


Two delightful walking routes and a veld cam have recently been opened on the farm Besemfontein, in the Laingsburg area. They are suitable for small or larger groups and have been created with an eye on environmental education. Up to 30 students scholars can be accommodated in the camp. The Klipkraal walking route is a 24km circle route that leads up to the peak of the mountain and affords breathtaking views across the Karoo and into Gamkaskloof. The second route is shorter. It covers a distance of 8km and incorporates waterfalls and swimming holes in the virtually unknown Verlorenhoekskloof area, keys for the overnight hut can be obtained at Rietvlei, the neighbouring farm, which itself also has very pleasant farm accommodation.


Some time ago Helene Theron of the farm Volstruisfontein in the Laingsburg district thought she would try her hand at painting on silk. So, she bought a kit complete with paints and four scarves. She enjoyed this project so immensely, but was stunned when the first three friends who saw her handwork each bought a scarf and the fourth was literally bought from around her neck, when she went in to town. She then decided to take up painting on silk as a hobby and it didn’t take long for this hobby to turn into a viable way of earning some pin money for those little extras. In addition to beautiful scarves in both brilliant and pastel shades, she paints a variety of pictures on silk. She supplies these items to craft shops throughout the country. Helene who undertakes commissions and special orders.


The recent television programme about Richmond set an old resident remembering his childhood days in the town and surrounds. Dr McGill, who was born in this town in 1900, but now lives in Ficksburg, immediately wrote a long letter to the town clerk filled with historic memories of the town and with some suggestions of how to make the town more attractive to tourists, hoe to set up walking routes, like those state by his father. Many of his suggestions are going to be implemented


The excitement in Prince Albert is mounting as plans for the Olive festival, from May 14 to 15, reach fruition. Steady bookings are being received for street market tables and some are coming from as far afield as Cape Town. There will also be tanning, spinning and weaving demonstrations, a parade of floats and even a gold rush to remind inhabitants and visitors that Prince Albert once even had gold fields. Lucas Quality Thatchers, a widely renowned company will demonstrate thatching techniques on structures that it will donate to the museum. One of the highlights is to be a damjol – quite literally a dance n a dam. Because of the drought the dam behind the museum is bone dry and has been so for so long that the locals now find it a superb and sheltered venue for dances and parties, which are called “damjolle”.


Way back in 1843 when Victoria West was just being planned as a town, a blacksmith came along this route. He lost a wheel of his wagon just north of the town. By the time he had unloaded everything needed to repair it, he decided to set up his “tin shanty” home and stay. His little wood and iron house was on the commonage and it was there for so long that it became a landmark. In time the town grew out to meet it and after a while some one bought it and lived there for years. Then for quite some time it was empty and forlorn. Now it is an interesting little craft shop filled with beautiful handwork and it has become a prime attraction.


Preliminary working papers on eco-tourism, farm holidays and retirement potential of the region have been completed by the Western Cape Hinterland development Project. Copies have been mailed to each town clerk’s office. However, if you need further compiles or additional information, please call the regional services council tourism office.