Melton Wold, the ever-popular Karoo Guest farm, has been granted a two-star grading by Satour. This well known venue between Loxton and Victoria West, has a warm, friendly and cosy atmosphere, neat rooms and an English Pub. It also has a rich romantic history. In the earliest times, many creatures of pre-history roamed these plains – fossils and footprints attest to this. In later times it was also a game rich area where Bushmen hunted, so Bushmen graves, artifacts and petroglyths can be seen on some of the popular walks. The farm was left ownerless after the Anglo-Boer War because it was so badly plundered, but a wealthy landowner built it up in the 1930s. It now has games rooms and other sports facilities such as bowls and croquet lawns, horse riding paths and a nine-hole golf course.


It is not The Hell, it is absolutely heavenly, said Mrs Martha Olckers, MEC, after her first visit to Gamkaskloof. She overnighted there while she inspected the regional restoration projects. She was accompanied by Mrs Zietsman of the Simon van der Stel Founcation and Mr J P Lombard of Nature Conservation. While in Gamkaskloof they also visited the Nature Conservation farm and the old, intriguing Norwegian mill.


Frans Rothmer died in Beaufort West in 1852. He was 108 years and 6 months old. He must surely be the record holder for the oldest resident ever of this town. “What a testimony to the health-giving Karoo air, says Dr Arthur Davey who discovered this snippet while delving into old records in search of information on soldiers killed in this area during the Anglo-Boer War. Frans Rothmer was buried on June 24, 1852, by the Reverend Jon Maynard.


Some friends of Prince Albert’s Fransie Pienaar Museum as well as several members of its Broad of Trustees recently paid an educational visit to the Kleinplasie Museum in Worcester. The main aim of this visit was to learn more about the concept of an open air and living museums, as well as to research how to present cultural and historic exhibits.


A breeding colony of rare Riverine rabbits, an endangered species, which has almost totally died out, is being established a t the Karoo National Park. The Central Karoo is the only place in the world where these rabbits, endangered by habitat loss, are found. Two-thirds of the natural habitat of the species has been host due to overgrazing and farming. The project is to be supervised by Leon Labuschagne and forms an integral part of the park’s policy to re-establish indigenous species in the area. It has been greeted with great enthusiasm by conservationists. Riverine rabbits are slow breeders and produce only one off spring, called a kitten, each year. When the rabbits arrive they will be kept in captivity until they acclimatise. An appeal has also been made to farmers in the Beaufort West and Victoria west areas, who have Riverine rabbits on their properties to contact the park so that a full survey of the whereabouts and numbers of these creatures can be made.


The Courier, one of the oldest newspapers in the Cape, and one of the first businesses in Beaufort West celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. This newspaper first appeared on October l, 11, 1869, as The Beaufort West Courier And Government Gazette “for the districts of Beaufort West, Victoria West, Prince Albert, Fraserburg, Carnarvon and Willowmore. The publisher was James Bryant, who also started the Worcester Standard. He immigrated to South Africa at the age of 21 in 1854 and for a while worked on the Cape Commercial Advertiser. He opted to move to “the healthier climate of the Karoo” in 1869 and chose Beaufort West where he immediately started his publishing company. He employed a Hollander, Mr Jannis as a translator.


Richmond once again has a “movie house”. The mayor Schalk Conradie recently restored a projector and other ancillary film equipment, which is now considered “the best in the whole Karoo”, by the Richmonders. And now, after 20 years, films can once again be shown regularly in this little village. The venue for the film shows is the town hall. A minimal fee will be charged for each film show and the proceeds will be donated to the Richmond High School


The Prince Albert Friend – a free monthly newspaper – was greeted with great enthusiasm and congratulations to the editorial team. The first newspaper bearing this name appeared in 1912, and the last issue was published towards the end of the 1930s. the newspaper was published by F A Jansen who had premises in Church Street, Now, after about 50 years. a little A4 newspaper, called The Prince Albert Friend, to honour its predecessor, is on the streets again. The first copy was formally handed to Mrs Martha Olckers, MEC, by the town clerk, Willem van Zyl, when she visited Prince Albert recently.


The tourism group that was established in Beaufort West last month completed its first educational visit recently. It was to the Karoo National Park. They had only a short time at their disposal the park’s, nevertheless the park’s information officer Henriette Engelbrecht, showed them around the facilities and explained all tourist and sightseeing attractions to them. The group included personnel from the museum, library, municipality and other Beaufort West businesses that deal with tourism on a daily basis. The group aims to carry out regular visits like this to other places of interest in the town and surrounds. Any tourist facility that is keen on inviting them to visit should contact Mrs Amanda Visser at the town clerk’s offices.


An Art Association has been s\established in Prince Albert. Its aim is to stimulate an interest in all arts and crafts right from school throughout the community level, to assist with bulk purchasing of materials to promote local talent as well as to arrange regular art classes, shows and recitals. The Association will regularly invite well known musicians, artists and crafters to visit Prince Albert, to exhibit their work and conduct short courses if possible.


The Swartberg Hotel has met all the needs of the tourism industry for well over a century now. It was started as the National Hotel, in 1850 by H P Kluyver. Then, in 1866 John Dyason bought the hotel from Kluyver’s estate and ran it successfully for many years. By the time the Swartberg Pass was opened in 1888, the entrepreneurial, Jan Haak, was the owner of this establishment. He set up a coach route which crossed the pass and took people to and from the station at Prince Albert road to Prince Albert and further on to Oudtshoorn. His granddaughter, Frieda Haak, is now planning to write a book on the hotel’s colourful history. Her research covers the discovery of gold at Klein Waterval in 1892. The hotel, she says , was even more profitable than the Lord Milner at Matjiesfntein. In the 1930s it was under the personal care of Mrs B Klein the current owners, Albert and Rhoda Odendaakl have restored it to its Victorian glory and in 1989 it was declared a National Monument.


Hillandale farm is situated in a particularly rugged part of the Nuweveld Mountains. In fact it was the hills and dales on this farm that prompted the Stephen Jennings family to change the farm’s name from its original Esterhoutville, later shortened to Esterville Now three new 4 x 4 trails have been established and these pass through spectacular mountain scenery. They are reviewed as the cover story of the March issue of S As 4 x 4 magazine. The trails include the dramatic 34 km Krom River Trail which follows the river and crosses it 14 times; the 53 km Sprtzkop and 64 km Sneeukop trails which pass through magnificent Karoo mountain country. “None of these trails is designed to be a vehicle breaker, but they do offer a reasonable challenges for man and machine,” reports Derek Lawley, who tested the trails for the magazine.


While in the Great Karoo 4 x 4 enthusiasts can enjoy the 80 km 4 x 4 route in the Karoo National Park. This popular route, which was laid out is 1992, followed the wagon route, old roads and game paths in the mountains and in its making disturbed nature as little as possible. Three different versions of travelling this route are on offer at the Park. There . A fully guided guided version where everything is supplied and where people can overnight in the Afsaal mountain hut, or enthusiasts may choose to use their own vehicle and have the park supply all their catering needs, and finally there is a fully-guided daily version during which a guide in a park vehicle drives visitors along the route and for which all meals and snacks are provided.


A new, clean and comfortably furnished guest house has just opened in Prince Albert. Known as The Doctor’s House, or Die Dokter se Huisie, it is next to the well known Huis Helmuth at 20 Church Street. This beautifully restored little house has superb reed ceilings and a loft. It has been furnished in a cosy cottagey style with plenty of candlewick and patchwork pieces made by owner Ems de Kock.. This self-catering venue, with its own entrance, was once the surgery dispensary and wagon house of Dr P Luttig, a respected and beloved medical man in the village during the late 1800s In his latter life he lost his eyesight and moved to a smaller cottage designed to aid his mobility.


The old Dutch Reformed Church in Laingsburg, one of the buildings that survived the flood, has recently been declared a National Monument. This declaration includes the total erf, church hall (as this was the first church that was taken into service in 1881), the iron railings and gates. The current dressed stone church, that was designed by Mr W H Ford, an architect from Kallenbach and Reynolds in Johannesburg in 1905, was taken into service on April 29. 1905. Ford was the designer of churches in Jamestown, Burgersdorp and Barkly East. It was the Barkly East building that won him the Laingsburg contract. The commemorative plaque for this church will shortly be handed over to the congregation by the National Monuments Council.


The lonely cork tree of the Swartberg is apparently not the only cork tree in the Karoo as was stated in Round-up No 14 John Sinclair, of the farm Taaiboschfontein in the Loxton district, also has a cork tree on his farm. At one time he was interested in exotic trees and he planted this tree which is still growing well. The cork tree at the entrance to The Hell is the last survivor of three that were planted there.


The beautiful old Karoo farm, Skietkuil, in the Richmond/Murraysburg area, is ready for the hunting season this year. This farm, home of the black springbok, has become popular among international hunters in the last few seasons. It is centrally situated alongside the N1 route, and it has a landing strip for those who have prefer to arrive by private air craft. The farm offers large, spacious. comfortable, overnight and holiday facilities for hunters and other clients who would like to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Great Karoo.


Two staff members from Getaway Magazine recently toured through the Great Karoo investigating its holiday potential for a possible article to be published later in the year. They were journalist, David Rogers, and Cathy Lanz, assistant editor, and they arrived in the region soon after it had had good soaking rains and was looking lush. While in the area they were able to become better acquainted with some of their advertisers and to meet some of the new accommodation vendors. Getaway is a top tour and travel magazine and widely read throughout the country.


Dr Kobus Steyn and his team, from the Cape Technikon, have met the deadline and completed the combined tourism marketing report which covers all facilities of the Garden Route, Klein Karoo and Central Karoo areas. It has been sent to Satour and the Minister of Tourism with an application for R600 000 for the marketing and promotion of tourism in these areas. Several projects have been tabled for consideration by the Minister and his committees.


A special accreditation system for the guest house and country lodge side of the industry is to be implemented in May. Extensive discussions between members of the industry and Satour has revealed sufficient support for a specific grading system, which would aid tourists wishing to use this type of accommodation. Accredited establishments will be classified according to service levels. The lowest levels will be “approved” followed by “recommended”, “highly recommended” and “prestige” categories. This sector of the industry is delighted to be gaining official recognition which will distinguish it from the formal hotel sector.


The new dispensation of nine provinces in South Africa has caused some places to cross borders. One of these towns is Murraysburg, which was formerly in the Camdeboo region. It has now been included in the Western Cape and forms part of the Central Karoo region. This little town is situated alongside the tar road between Victoria West and Graaff-Reinet. It was established in 1855 and still has some very interesting old houses and other architectural features.. There is also a lovely old hotel which is quite popular among hunters. It has 11 rooms and offers special tariffs during the hunting season. The owners, Gerda and Danie Olivier, have a hunters kitchen just off the lounge area. This includes a braai fire area, a bread oven and its own bar. It is decorated with springbok and other antelope horns and trophies from surrounding hunting farms.


During the Anglo-Boer War, in February, 1901, Johannes Klue decided to take leave of his commando and visit his parents at Aberdeen. He never arrived. He took a shortcut through Wolvekloof, and across the farm Remhoogte. As he was walking through the little pass he surprised a wounded British soldier, who in fright fired at him. Johannes was shot in the chest. The farmer, Roelof du Plessis, heard the shot came to investigate. He found only the heavily wounded Johannes lying on the ground and took him, as carefully as he could, to his home, which fortunately was not too far away. Sadly Johannes was too badly wounded and once in the house, died from his wounds. The Du Plessis family buried him on the veld near to where he was wounded, but they had to leave the grave unmarked simply because they had no idea of his identity (they only learned this later). After the little funeral they found the British soldier, who by then had also died of his wounds, so they buried him near to Johannes. This officer was Lance Corporal J Boyd, of the Imperial Yeamanry. 
After the war Boyd’s wife requested that he be re-interred in the nearest Anglican graveyard. This was at Klaarstroon and he is thus one of the two soldiers buried behind the Church of the Good Shepherd in this little village. The other is Trooper T R Hirschford of the Brabants Horse, who was killed 12 days later.


A special walking route has been laid out in Prince Albers in time for the Olive Festival. The route passes through a beautiful area where some rare plants were recently discovered by Pat Marincowitz. During the festival people wishing to use this route during the festival may book a guided tour and walk it with Dr Sue Dean, a local plant expert. This will ensure that they get maximum information and enjoyment from their walk.