Headstones have been replaced on the graves of nine British soldiers buried at Laingsburg. The original ones were washed away on January 25, 1981, in the devastating flood that hit the town leaving the graveyard buried under a metre of mud. Damage was considerable. Then, during a heavy storm about two years ago, the headstone from Trooper Burton’s grave re-appeared from the river. Although badly broken it was pieced together and relaid on his grave when new stones were placed this month. The new headstones were commissioned by The British War Graves Committee of the National Monuments Council and made by J A Clift, a Paarl company whose founder’s first job was to cut and erect the granite work on the historic Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town. Careful research was conducted to ensure that the headstones, which cost almost R900 each, carried exactly the same inscriptions as the originals. Despite being erected on an icy winter’s day, the Mayor of Laingsburg, Councillor Renier van der Westhuizen, Acting Town Clerk, Stephans Visser and Major John Buist, of Matjiesfontein, were there for the historic occasion.


Daar het onlangs groot opgewondenheid in Beaufort-Wes geheers toe ‘n filmspan 30 “karekters” gesoek het vir ‘n TV-advertensie. Die span het nie net die mooies gesoek nie, maar ook jonges, oues, grootes, kleintjies, vettes, maeres, geplooides, grysaards, pankoppe en die met bollas. En dan nog boonop kinders, musikante, trompoppiss en vir ‘n verandering ook rokers. Almal het voor die kamerae verskyn om te sien of hulle die lyf toneelspeler kon hou. Dit was nou vir jou ‘n lekkerlag tyd. Toni en Mike Mitchell van die adverteneie-maatskappy was verheug met die reaksie van Beaufort-Wes se mense. ‘Dit was heerlik om met so ‘n span te kon saamwerk,’ het hulls gesê. Die advertensie, vir ‘n nog geheime produk, sal later hierdie maand in die Rietbron omgewing verfilm word.


The first six riverine rabbits from the special breeding project at the Karoo National Park have been released into the wild. The release of these highly endangered nocturnal animals was carefully planned and smoothly executed. ‘We ensured that there was as little stress and fuss as possible around the animals when they left the breeding area,’ said the head of the park, Mr Leighton Hare. ‘Their progress will also be strictly monitored to ensure that they are coping well in the wild. Our aim is for them to settle well so that they will breed naturally.’


Aromatherapy is widely promoted as a health cure, but few know that the country’s first natural oils were extracted in the Karoo. In 1804, a Dane, Frederick Nielsen, built a plant near Prince Albert in the valley known as “Die Gang” to extract essential and volatile oils from blossoms and citrus rinds. This valley has long been famous for its fruit and in spring it is filled with the heady fragrances. In his book “Travels in Southern Africa”, Lichtenstein says the Dane “succeeds well and makes these oils an object of great profit.” As an extension of his oil enterprise Nielsen cultivated aniseed, peppermint and fennel for which there were ready markets at apothecaries in Cape Town. Reports say “this was the first venture of its kind in Africa. Formerly all such products were imported.” Nielsen’s life went awry when he married an ill-tempered widow. She had no time for his work with fragrances, so like a tincture of volatile oil, he simply vanished.


Artikels in Round-up en Die Burger oor ou windpompe het Karoo-boere se belangstelling geprikkel en van hulle is nou op soek na historiese “windmasjiene”. John Sinclair, van Taaibosfontein in die Loxton gebied, sê daar le stukke van ‘n ou oopkop windpomp op sy plaas, en hy onthou hoe hy gereeld moes opklouter om “die ding olie to gee.” Dries Swanepoel, van Geelbeksfontein naby Laingsburg, sê die een op sy plaas staan darem nog, maar dit werk nie meer nie. Volgens navorsing deur Dr James Walton, wie ‘n boek saamstel oor Suid-Afrikaanse windpompe, is twee veelsydige uitvinders uit die Karoo afkomstig. Hulle was Izak Daniel Johannes Schoombee, en sy seun, “Soon”, wie op Vriesfontein in die Middelburg distrik geboer het. Izak, nou 98, het een van Suid-Afrika se eerste wind-kragopwekkers uitgevind. Die Schoombees het verskeie ongewone masjiene gebou wat Dr Walton in ‘n onlangse artikel in By Burger beskryf. Onder hulle was ‘n vernuftige wolsak pomp, ‘n “ryp-bestrydingsmasjien” en ‘n “self-regulerende rotor monopomp. ”


A keen researcher into Karoo history, Frieda Haak, recently came across a reference to early electricity at Matjiesfontein in James Salter-Whiter’s Trip to South Africa, written in 1892. “I cannot help but admire Logan for his pluck and ingenuity in providing such unexpected luxuries for his patrons. Logan’s ‘hotel’ is unique – visitors come by train to a fine railway station, they stay in the bungalows where they are assured of privacy, sitting rooms and all home comforts. They take their meals in a beautiful, commodious dining room at the station. In fact, in the strictest sense this one room is the ‘hotel.’ The village has a general store and wind and steam mill. The place is lighted by electricity, if you please. This is something to talk about! While our municipalities at home are talking of electric lighting, here in the wilderness we find a settlement supplied with this luminant.” Miss Haak recalls staying at Matjiesfontein with her father Nico, who was a friend of Logan’s son, Daddy Jim. “He once arranged a cricket game between parliamentarians and local players. My father came especially from Cape Town to play. He found the game exhilarating,” she says.


Die Klein Karoo Kunstefees gaan volgende jaar vanaf 29 Maart tot 5 April gehou word. Volgens uitvoerende feesdirekteur Pieter Fourie pas hierdie datums in by die skoolvakansies van alle provinsies en die fees sal dus van groot voordeel wees vir die hele Wes-Kaap.


Bird life near Beaufort West’s sewerage works is so rich that the municipality has proclaimed a bird sanctuary in the area. Visiting birders have been delighted, especially by the water birds and gulls.


The expected influx of foreign tourists to South Africa this year not materialising has, among others, been blamed on SAA for putting an indefinite hold on its R3,5-billion order for nine new aircraft. The Sunday Times’s Business Times, Chief Executive Mike Myburgh said: “We have found a growing resistance to South Africa by foreign travellers. We are going to have to market ourselves much harder.” He also blames escalating hotel costs, lack of infrastructure, the falling rand and crime. And, regarding the latter, he is not alone. In the same newspaper an international tourist guide book is quoted as listing “being mugged” as an “adventure” awaiting tourists to South Africa. This is gloomy stuff, and it means that to maintain a viable share of the market we will have to work harder and be more professional, particularly in the Karoo, which is considered an “off the beaten track” place to visit.”


Beaufort-Wes Publisiteit- en Toerisme Vereniging beplan om ‘n reeks spesiale kursusse oor diens in hotelle en restourante aan te bied. Die kursusse sal deur Graham Hughes, a deskundige op die gebied, gelei word. Hulle is gemik op beter diens in die eetkamer en die ontvangs van gaste. Diegene wat belangstel kan vir Marius Berg by Matoppo Huis bel. Hy is sameroeper van die sub-komitee wat die kursusse beplan.


Mossel Bay will host the Western Cape Tourism Board Annual General Meeting on September 23. WCTB specially chose a long weekend as it felt delegates may like to take the opportunity of becoming better acquainted with this part of the Western Cape Province. The main function will be held at Hartenbos, which together with other local accommodation establishments, are offering special rates. A special welcoming social is planned for Sunday night. Full details regarding speakers and the programme are available from WCTB’s Marlotte Crous.


Twee Karoo toerisme verenigings is tans besig met beplanning van hulle jaarvergaderings. Prins Albert gaan hulle jaarvergadering op 28 Augustus hou en hulle het Satoer genooi om ‘n gasspreker vir die aand te stuur. Die uitnodiging sal deur Pieter Rossouw of Theuns Vivian aanvaar word. Verdere inligting oor hierdie vergadering is verkrygbaar van Marinda van Niekerk. Beaufort-Wes gaan sy jaarvergadering by die museum op 5 September hou. ‘n Top gasspreker is ook genooi en daar sal ander vermaaklikhede op die program weer. Inligting oor hierdie aangeleentheid is verkrygbaar van voorsitter Charl van der Merwe.


Plans to create a craft center near Kwa-Mandlenkosi on the south side of Beaufort West are in full swing. Some of the required funding has been obtained, which allows development work to be taken a step further. The long-term aim of the project, the brain child of Kwa-Mandlenkosi Trust, is to have a fully operational arts and craft center alongside the busy north-south N1 route. Tourists will be encouraged to stop and see local artists, bead workers, wood carvers and a variety of other crafters at work. Those who stop will also be able to enjoy a taste of ethnic cooking. Special arrangements are being made to bring skills trainers to Beaufort West to ensure that all items created at this center are of a high standard and appealing to tourists.


The tiny church at Zeekoegat, almost invisible to those travelling from Beaufort West to Oudtshoorn, has a link with Cecil John Rhodes. An organ, once donated by Cecil John Rhodes to a church at Prince Albert, was installed at Zeekoegat along with a beautiful oil lamp. Both were greatly treasured, and the lamp was reluctantly replaced when gas lighting was installed. The little church, built in 1906 by Frederick Simon Oosthuizen, an elder of Prince Albert’s Dutch Reformed community, was declared a national monument in 1984. Oosthuizen had it built at his own expense on his farm Zeekoegat. The church was designed and constructed by Cape Town firm Christiaan Stadler Combrinck, who also built Bona Vista, Oosthuizenis house in Prince Albert, as well as the Dutch Reformed Church Hall. In 1887, when gold was discovered on the nearby farms of Spreeufontein and Klein Waterval, there were plans to establish a town at Zeekoegat, but the gold rush was short-lived. Frederick Oosthuizen, his wife, Martha Maria, and their one-year-old son, Hendrik, are buried next to the little church they so loved.


Vir gastehuie eienaare wat graag met kliente in Duits will kommunikeer is Beaufort-Wee Reklame Vereniging besig om kursusse te reel. Hulle sal op alledaagse gesprekvoering gemik wees. Die vereniging beoog ook om mettertyd Xhosa-klasse aan te bied en wil graag weet wie daarin belangstel. Diegene wat belangstel ken vir Hilary Steven-Jennings bel.


Almost all Beaufort West schools are now hard at work on projects for the Youth Symposium. These are all environmental projects, and most are tourism orientated and concerned with making the town and its environs more attractive to visitors, or teaching tourists something about the ecology of the Karoo. Each school has nominated a team to develop an environmental project and competition is fierce. Judging will take place in September, and winners will be able to attend the Youth Symposium at Golden Gate towards the end of the year. The competition is being co-ordinated by Zuilega Rossouw, socio-ecologist at the Karoo National Park.


Belangstelling in die Anglo Boere-oorlog is hoog in baie oorseese lande. Op die oomblik in daar Franse span in die Groot Karoo wat besig is on episodes te verfilm. Hulle doen ook navorsing oor die ervarings van Robert Keurssason, ‘n Franse Marquis wat vir die Boere geveg het.


Throughout the Anglo-Boer War the Beaufort West Courier published stories covering events that affected locals. When a doctor’s son was captured at Sannaapos an item appeared stating that it was hoped that Lance Corporal H W Drew was not wounded and would soon rejoin his regiment. Another story tells of a local resident’s daughter nursing the wounded at the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein. Yet another story relates that the Provost Marshal has informed Beaufort West that the Boys’ Public School is to be used as a Military Prison.’ Some of the boys cheered until they realised that alternative classrooms were being prepared. The Courier also had many items of social interest on visiting British officers. And, under the heading Good Music, the newspaper stated: “The men of the Worcester Regiment took tea here yesterday and the band played national airs. They were greatly cheered by the large crowd which gathered. Regiments do not usually carry their bands to the front, but it is hoped that more will pass to give us another taste of good music.”