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 vital to the infrastructure of every town.” Mr Robert was accompanied by Dr Kobus Steyn, of Western Cape Tourism Board, who explained how data banks were being set up to provide instant, up-to-date information for potential investors. Here again, prompt and efficient input from each Tourism Bureau was essential, he said.


Daar was ‘n goeie opkoms by ‘n onlangse vergadering van eko-toerisme en voetslaan entoesiaste wat deur Professor Leon Hugo in Prins Albert toegespreek is. Hy het gepraat oor die belangrike rol wat voetslaanpaaie in sulke omgewings kan speel en die werkskeppende geleenthede. Met die hulp van plaaslike owerhede het hy onlangs ‘n span mense in die Breederiviervallei opgelei om staproetes te ontwikkel, beplan en te bou. “Met die sertifikaat wat verkry word kan hul hulle dienste bemark,” sê hy. Hy sien ‘n soortgelyke projek as ‘n moontlikheid vir die Karoo.


“Marketing is a must if one wishes to be successful at tourism,” says Paul Bewsher, who assists Professor Leon Hugo of the University of Pretoria in planning ecotourism projects and trails. “But, sadly, too few tourism roleplayers understand how to effectively market their venues.” Beaufort West Publicity Association chairman, Hillary Steven Jennings, has invited him to address a meeting in June. Please call her if you wish to attend.


Two Australians, Midge Carter and Trish Woodman, recently passed through the Karoo in search of information on Australians who were here during the Anglo-Boer War. They gathered details on Walter Oliphant who committed suicide at Merweville and on Britain’s tallest soldier who is buried at Leeu Gamka. The two were also delighted to find that Banjo Patterson, the man who wrote “Waltzing Matilda”, was here during the Anglo-Boer War. Facts like these are to be used in a guide for Australian, Canadian and New Zealand tourists.


Dr Cyril Hromnik, of Indo Africa, says /Xam Quena is the most correct name for indigenous Karoo people of the last 500 to 1000 years. “Until about the time of Christ the Karoo was inhabited by the Kung (Bushmen) alone. Then the Quena (Hottentot) people began appearing. By the time the Portuguese and the Dutch arrived at /Helga’s (the Great Storm Rocks that became the Cape of Good Hope) or Camissa (Cape Town), the Karoo was inhabited by Quena and people of mixed Quena-Kung origin, known as Soaqua. By the time farmers began to settle in the hinterland the true Kung had moved to the lower Garib (Orange River), Gordonia, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. There were no Kung, nor Kung language, in the Karoo. The people of this area were dispossessed Quena, who had adopted a Kung life style. They were called Bosjeman Honetoten by the Dutch. In the 18th century commandos were armed against them and not against the Kung. The /Xam of the Karoo were thus Quena and Soaqua Quena. Khoi, Khoi-Khoi and Khoi San are missionary and academic misnomers for Bushmen and have no historical value, so must be avoided. The Quena abused the Kung by calling them San.” Dr Hromnik continues his explanations of indigenous people in the next issue.


Tydens die Slag van Bloedrivier het Komdt-genl. Andries Pretorius ‘n Beaufort-Wes man, Willem Daniel Venter, as kanonnier van “Ou Grietjie” aangewys. Pretorius het self die koper-kanonnetjie, wat stukkend gekapte skakels van ou remkettings as lading gebruik het, vervaardig. Met die kanon het Venter die vyand afgemaai. Hy het probeer om ‘n boerdery in Natal te begin, maar kon hom nie met die Britse anneksasie van die Provinsie vereenselwig nie. Hy het dus na Fouriesburg in die Vrystaat getrek en homself op die plaas Presentpoort gevestig.


Frog Atlas compiler Atherton de Villiers was delighted with frog reports from Round-Up readers. Almost everyone wanted to know what happened to the frogs when there was no rain, so he explained: “Frogs in arid zones are well adapted to coping with drought – if they weren’t they wouldn’t be there. When it gets dry they simply bury themselves, slow their metabolism and wait for the rain. Some even secrete a cocoon and encase themselves to prevent dessication. Many, particularly bull frogs, can remain buried for years.” Atherton hopes someone will report seeing the pygmy toad. “These were often seen after rain in puddles around Beaufort West, but they haven’t been seen for some time, so when the spring comes please keep your eyes peeled!”


Benchchem, het onlangs ‘n weeklange nasionale bestuurders- dinkskrum gehou by Sunnyside Gasteplaas. En, sê ‘n woordvoerder, dit was uiters suksesvol. “Die Karoo is ‘n perfekte plek vir sulke werksessies. Toe alle beplanning oor was, het die manne wildbesigtingsritte en jagtogte op naburige plase gehad. Dit was ‘n fees om in die Karoo te werk. Ons wil graag terug kom.”


The old shooting range at Matjiesfontein, originally used by soldiers during the Anglo-Boer War, was this year used again for the annual Muzzle Loaders Association competitions. As usual the event was a highly successful. Each year the number of spectators increases and this year new stands were built at the shooting range to accommodate them. “Most antique weapons fanciers would not miss this event for anything,” said Mike Gardner of the Lord Milner Hotel.


Beaufort West resident Joe Davis recently decided to unravel the mysteries surrounding the horse picked out in white paint on the rocks at the Waterfall. He discovered many stories. Some said it dated back to the Anglo-Boer War, others that it was done in memory of a beloved horse. There was a tale of a policeman who rode a white horse, who was killed here, and another of a man named Sinclair, who was bushwacked nearby on the Donkergat road. Joe discovered the horse was linked to a wooden horse in the museum and two carved doves at the old age home. These were carvings by Koot van Aarde, whose daughter, Elsabe, now lives at Hesperos. She donated the metre-high horse her father had carved to the museum, but kept the doves. She says her father painted the horse in 1946 over an existing horse which had a man standing beside it. This was said to have been drawn in 1928 by a Mr Hoogendoorn, but it is thought that this was not the original. Perhaps this is true as shadows of previous outlines can still be seen. Many have had a hand in the upkeep of the white horse. Among them were Giepie de Villiers, Franscois de Witt and Gordon Hanekom, who all cared for the white horse from 1960 to 1992.


“Little Green World” een van Beaufort-Wes se gewilde oornagplekke het nou bande met die wolbedryf van die Karoo. Die gastehuisie was eens die kantoor van William Arthur Kinnear, `n plaaslike prokureur. In 1836 het hy die eerste merino-wolskape die distrik binngebring. Hulle was van J F Reitz se plaas in Swellendam afkomstig. Kinnear was ook een van die eerste persone in Suid-Afrika wat op grootskaal met volstruise geboer het. Hy het die kuikens op sy voorwerf aangehou. Later het dit ‘n prag roostuin geword en nou is dit ‘n lower groen wereld. “Little Green World” was die woonhuis, wat voor 1835 opgerig is, se oorspronklike naam. Dit was eers as pastorie vir die Metodiste Kerk gebruik.


A group of Boer War researchers on May I visited Driefontein farm in the Rouxpos area, near Laingsburg, to plot the action of a skirmish. Three soldiers, of the 104th Imperial Yeomanry, Lieut. John Fox Harper, the 24-year old son of Reverend Richard Harper of High Wicombe, Quartermaster Sergeant Harold Wentworth Vergette, 19-year-old-son of E Vegette, a Petersborough solicitor, and the 25-year-old trooper Joseph Thomas Eley, of Swarkstone, were killed here on September 11, 1901, as well as two soldiers from Marshall’s Horse, Sgt W P Curtis and Pte. H Welsh. A 1901 newspaper report states: “The wounded from the fight at Driefontein were brought to Laingsburg today in the care of Dr Morris. One Boer died on the way. Col. Crabbe’s column received news of the enemy’s whereabouts late at night. The ninth column marched till two in the morning, while Marshall’s Horse under Col Corbett proceeded by a winding road. Crabbe with the rest of his column, including the Prince Albert’s Guard and a squadron of Imperial Yeomanry, deviated to the right, came up behind the enemy, surprised them and drove them into the hands of Marshall’s Horse who held the kloof and completely blocked their egress. The Boers, under Commandant van der Merwe, fought rather feebly. Two guns of the Fifth Battery Artillery shelled them as soon as light permitted. The prisoners in jail include about 10 local rebels.”


Prince Albert het die prys gewen vir die beste kos stalletjie by die Klein Karoo Kunstefees. Die Publisiteitsvereniging is verheug met die wins wat op plaaslike produkte gemaak is.


Regular groups of senior citizens these days wander along the peaceful Blockhouse Route on Geelbeksbrug, the Laingsburg farm of Dries and Girlie Swanepoel. It was from this blockhouse that Lt. Austin of C Company , Fifth Warwicks Field Force, on January 13, 1902, wrote: “… I am in charge of a blockhouse with 20 men to guard a bridge about 200 miles from Cape Town. Our HQ is at Worcester, a long way off, so I am my own master here. I have no troubles, except that it is awfully lonely. I live in a tent and make myself as comfortable as I can. My only visitors are my Captain, who is eight miles away at Laingsburg, and the occasional Dutch farmer who comes to have his pass inspected. The whole regiment is split up in this way from Durban Road to beyond Beaufort West where they have had some fighting. The Boers sometimes try to cross this river, so we have had to keep a sharp lookout. The country is very barren here, with immense kopjes all round. The weather is sunny and hot and the wind blows (it often nearly brings the tent down). I am in splendid health. I have a pony, but only got a stable yesterday. I cannot go far as I cannot leave this post. I had the men on bayonet practise for an hour – it is the only exercise they get. I held a church parade in the blockhouse on Sunday, you would have laughed to see me playing parson. I did not preach a sermon, we sang “God Save the King”. The men are ready to blaze away at anything at night so I sing out “Friend” when doing my rounds. We had a man killed at Laingsburg on Thursday – they mistook him for the enemy. Raw militia are beauties, but these men are improving, thanks to me, of course.”


Gedurende die Anglo-Boere oorlog het Beaufort-Wes sy eie `militere orkes’ gehad. Lt-kol Spence het aangebeid om die militere blaasorkes tot die beskiking van inwoners te stel waneer dit vry was. Die Dorpsraad het die aanbod op 2 Januarie, 1900, met graagte aanvaar en daarna het die orkes dikwels in die ope lug en vir danspartytjies in die stadsaal opgetree tot die groot vermaak van inwoners. Nog ‘n bron van vermaak was die militere parades wat gewoonlik op Sondae op die bult in Birdstraat, naby waar die swembad vandag staan, plaasgevind het. Daar is ‘n reeks fotos van die Coldstream Guards op parades in Beaufort-Wes. Die fotos is in Edinburgkasteel in Skotland. ‘n Foto van die dorp, wat van Damkoppie geneem is, hang ook in die kasteel.


Winter signals hunting season in the Karoo. Already most farms are heavily booked as adherents of this sport prepare to shoot a variety of game for venison and biltong. Hunting is a vital part of game conservation in the Karoo. Without it game farms could not exist. Those who spend hours tracking buck they want often disbelieve stories of the vast herd of “trekbokken” that once stormed across these plains. Cronwright Schreiner describes these in his book, “Episodes of My Life.” He wrote: “One day a travelling pedlar came to Beaufort and brought the tidings that thousands of trekbokken were moving southwards devouring everything before them. About a week later we were awakened by a sound as of a strong wind before a thunderstorm, followed by the trampling of thousands of hooves. All sorts of game – wildebeest, blesboks, springboks, quaggas, elands, antelopes of every kind filled the streets and gardens. As far as one could see they covered the whole country, grazing everything eatable, drinking the water from furrows, fountains and dams. The poor creatures were in an impoverished condition and people killed them in great numbers.” It took three days for the buck to pass. “They left our country looking as if a fire had passed over it. Yet the buck were a wonderful sight.” Such a trek never occured again.