MATJIESFONTEIN MUSEUM MAGNIFICENT

The fascinating Marie Rawdon Museum at Matjiesfontein, one of the best private museums in South Africa, has been moved to superb premises in the old railway station building. This museum invites unhurried browsing as it rambles through several rooms, then down to the old jail cells in the basement. Its exhibits include cut glass, china, crystal, silver an intriguing array of toilet pans, chamber pots, commodes and wash basins, photographic equipment, a vast old-fashioned kitchen filled with copper pots, pans, serving dishes and even mineral water bottle from James D Logan’s factory. The Logan Sausage Manufactory’s cart is parked near a penny farthing cycle and an interesting display of marine lamps and life buoys. Included is the original Matjiesfontein telephone system, a whip belonging to William James Larkin, who was Lord Alfred Milner’s coachman in 1898, intriguing Victorian games, an old chemist’s dispensary complete with bottles, several uniforms, photographs and even pepit point pictures of Lord Roberts and Queen Victoria. A must for the museum buff.

HONORARY RANGERS COMPLETE COURSE

Seventeen honorary rangers from Beaufort West recently completed Phase Two, the last section of their training course at the Karoo National Park. This course begins with orientation and after that there is an ecological interpretation and familiarisation section.In the second phase, which includes information from across the entire region, they learn more about various aspects of veld-interpretation, fauna and flora, the ecology in general and about the insect and bird life of the region.

NEW CONFERENCE CENTRE

A new conference centre in a Victorian setting is being opened on the railway station at Matjiesfontein. This project, masterminded by Spoornet, features totally modern facilities behind old SAR frosted glass doors. The venue is ideal for small business meeting or a medium-sized seminar. All catering can be done by the Lord Milner Hotel.

ATTENTION ATHLETES

The ever-popular Karoo Marathon will take place on October 1 this year at Laingsburg. The committee is currently busy planning the route and ensuring that facilities in the town will cope with the hoped influx of runners.

SWARTBERG FLOWERS OVER THE WORLD

In 1710, well over a century before Lord Charles Somerset was to name the town of Beaufort in his family’s honour, his grandmother, the Duchess of Beaufort, was growing geraniums from the Swartberg in her garden. The plants origination from material gathered in these mountains in 1689 by Dutch botanist Hendrik Oldenland. He took cuttings from these beautiful fragrant plants to Europe, where he successfully propagated them. From these stock plants crossed the Channel to England. In time the plants were successfully hybridized and became the core of the world’s massive geranium trade.

BRAILLE TRAIL BECOMES A REALITY

Fleet fingers flashed across braille boards as visually handicapped visitors gathered information at the opening of the world’s first Fossil Trail for the Blink at the Karoo National Park this month. And, walking along the trail was a delightful experience for both sighted and the visually handicapped visitors. All relevant information is in English and Afrikaans and Braille. Material referred to is located under the boards.Dr William Rowland, executive director of the S Q National Council for the Blind and Dr G A Robertson, chief executive director of the national Parks Board, officiated a the ceremony.