An Australian serving with the British army towards the end of the Anglo-Boer War committed suicide on the outskirts of Merweville. So distressed were these Karoo townsfolk when they heard of Lieutenant Walter Oliphant Arnot’s death by his own hand on April 16, 1902, that they promised “to tend his grave forever.” During almost a century they never forgot. So after all this time, locals were devastated when Lt Arnot’s grave was vandalised a while ago and its marble cross destroyed. While discussing repairs, the problem touched the heart of Dominee Kallie le Roux, of Wesselsbron and a son of the town, who was at the time restoring a guest house. He approached Mr Martiens Pienaar, of AVBOB in Odendaalsrus, for assistance and the firm decided to donate a new cross. This was erected on Lt Arnot’s grave on September, l, 1999, the first day of spring. And true to Merweville’s warm-hearted ways, there was a large gathering at the graveside for the recommissioning service, conducted by Ds Kallie.


Prins Albert Toerismeburo beplan om vanjaar ‘n egte outydse Erfenisdag te vier. Daar word gepraat van ‘n geseligheid by Eerste Water in die Swartbergpas waar almal ‘n opelug partytjie onder die sterre in die berge sal kan geniet, net soos in toeka se dae. “Daar sal gekuier, gedans, gesing en gesels word vanaf 16h30 tot laat, presies soos Prins Alberters dit 50 jaar gelede geniet het,” sê Marie du Toit, voorsitter van die ontwikkelingskomitee. “Belangstelling is hoog en ons glo dat ten minste 200 mense die geleentheid gaan bywoon. Die spyskaart bestaan uit tradisionele outydse potjiekos, ‘n verskeidenheid tuisgebakte brood, koeksusters en koffie. Die potjies word deur die VLV, Boerevereniging en Toerismeburo geborg. Volgens ons navorsing het die eerste inwoners heelwat hier ontspan, baljaar, piekniek gehou en hulself geniet. Ons sien ook uit om van die stories wat vertel word neer te skryf en miskien mettertyd te boekstaaf.”


On the south side of the Nuweveld Mountains there exists a little known and fascinating world. The story of the farms and farmers of this area is so rich in romance and history that the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West is trying to lift the veil and record this before the area, part of its recent expansion drive, is returned to nature. An almost forgotten dirt road still links old farmsteads to the site of an ancient mission station and a parson’s hideaway. Remains of old threshing floors and mills can still be seen. Graves date back to 1770 and the 1800s. The most southerly corbel house, now a national monument, lies in this area, peppered by the ruins of ancient, mud-walled and Karoo stone dwellings, shepherd’s huts and ancient stone kraals. The simple cottages of the early farmers fell into ruin when grander homes appeared. There are wells and fountains and even a lime kiln. And a stately tree-lined avenue announces one front gate. There’s also little pine forest. But, sadly, it died for want of water, leaving only neat rows of eerie sentinels to watch over the farm. Now the fierce autumn winds topple these giants one by one. The odd windmill still screeches and wails, but most no longer pump water as this vast place returns to wilderness. Fences, walls and structures will soon disappear. But the story must be preserved. So an appeal has been made to anyone with information on Kookfontein, Rietfontein, De Hoek, Grantham, Paalhuis, Berg-en-dal, Brandywynsgat, Klipplaatsfontein, Doornhoek (once Alwyn’s Gat), Stolshoek, Morceau or Bieswene, to contact Round-Up.


The Government has set new goals for tourism. It aims to develop the industry into a major job creator and earner of foreign exchange in 2000. Several strategies will ensure that the trend continues into the future. This was revealed by Michael Farr, of the Tourism Business Council, and David Frost, of the Ministry of Tourism, at a meeting in George. They said Government was confident that the White Paper on Development and Promotion of Tourism, the Tourism Development Strategies and increased marketing funding would assist in achieving these goals. Tourism’s contribution to the GDP was expected to increase to 8% by 2000 and 10% by 2005. The aim was to build the human resource capacity to handle two-million international visitors and four-million from the rest of Africa by the turn of the century, then to sustain a 15% increase in arrivals over the next 10 years. The Government also hoped a million jobs would be added throughout the industry and foreign exchange earnings would increase to R40-billion a year by 2005.


September is Toerismemaand en die 27ste Toerismedag. Karoo Toerismeburos beplan ‘n wye bekendstellingsveldtog vir hulle dorpies. Beaufort-Wes Toerismeburo gaan poskaarte verkoop en sodoende ‘n groot kommunikasieveldtog van stapel stuur. Beampte Wendy Antonie moedig elke lid en besoeker aan om die dorp se nuwe poskaarte te koop en met toerismegroete uit die Karoo te pos. Prins Albert reel uitstappies en ‘n groot skoonmaakprogram wat Natuurbewaring en die jongspan van die dorp sal betrek.


The Western Cape Tourism Act is to be tightened up. WCTB strategic planning manager Theuns Vivien reports that this will enable the industry in the province to become more professional, efficient and effective. “The new legislation will make it mandatory for everyone involved in tourism to pay an annual licence fee and adhere to truthful advertising. All relevant levies and taxes will have to be paid, and those who do not qualify to pay will require exemptions. The aim is to strengthen the public-private partnership designed to provide a firm base for tourism in the province. The idea is not to limit entry to the market, but rather to widen and strengthen the base of role players, while assisting them to perform more effectively. A portion of the revenue from licence fees will go to the tourist bureaus to enable them to become more financially independent,” he said.


Die Vereniging van Padinspekteurs van die Wes-Kaap het die Karoo Nasionale Park gekies vir hulle jaarlikse konferensie. Meer as 50 afgevaardiges sal vanaf September 14 tot 17 daar vergader. Mnr Piet Meyer, Wes-Kaap Minister van Vervoer, sal onder die eregaste wees. Hy sal die openingsrede lewer. Die konferensie tema is: “Die voorsiening van onderhoudsdienste vir paaie in die nuwe plaaslike bestuurstelsel.”


The magnificent floral kingdom of the Western Cape Province has now been gathered into one book. Western Cape Tourism Board recently joined forces with Struik New Holland Publishers to produce Flower Watch, a lavishly illustrated guide to the floral wonders of the Cape. The guide, available at a special price of R69,95 until October 29, includes an overview, eight detailed regional chapters and a section on general tourist interest.


Tourism is moving into the classroom. The first volume in a series on tourism and travel as a high school subject has just been published by the Tourism Education Trust (TET) and Collegium Educational Publishers. “The programme will assist in developing a culture of tourism among children and bring the many job opportunities within the industry to their attention,” says Lorraine Bryant, manager of TET. “In this way we hope to empower communities and enable them to develop, implement and manage tourism on a sustainable basis.” The books can also be used by colleges and in-service training institutions.

Read Rose’s Round-up and discover more about the Karoo at: http//www/


Olive Schreiner, author and liberal, free-thinking champion of blacks’ and women’s rights, loved the Karoo, but didn’t like Beaufort West. Her sentiments were revealed during a talk given by Joey Human at a recent Dames-14 club meeting in the town. “Olive stayed here during the Anglo-Boer War towards the end of June, 1900,” said Joey. “She hated the town and its people and didn’t hesitate to say so.” Joey then quoted from a letter that appeared in Karel Schoeman’s book on Olive Schreiner and the Boer War in which she wrote: “It’s so much worse here than in Cape Town, simply because the place is so small. The Dutch don’t want or trust me and the English simply insult one.You don’t know how horrid the jingoes are here.” Then later she wrote: “Beaufort West is dusty and dirty.” But Schoeman says a considerable military presence in the town at the time may have influenced her. He continues: “She looked on Beaufort West as a temporary place of sojourn, while she waited for her husband to return from England. In a letter to Alice Greene, Olive stated: ‘I know Miss Molteno doesn’t like Beaufort, nor do I, but I don’t know where else to go.’” At the time she was staying at the boarding house of Mrs Kriel, a sister of the Boer scout, Danie Theron. “Personal considerations aside,” says Schoeman, “Beaufort West should have been the most suitable place for Olive, not just because of its climate (she was an asthma sufferer), but also because it was the only large settlement in the Karoo linked directly to Cape Town by rail. In 1900, the town’s white population numbered about 1500. Contemporary photographs depict an attractive place with tree-lined streets. The town had many Boer sympathisers, including the local Dutch Reformed Church minister, Ds Petrus van der Merwe. The Review newspaper referred to Beaufort West as filled with ‘incendiary sentiments’ and as ‘a conspicuous lump of indigestible Boer Republicanism.’”


Meeste Boereoorlognavorsers in die Karoo ken die storie van Japie Hauptfleisch. Hierdie jong Boer soldaat, een van Kommandant Gideon Scheepers se manne, is op die plaas Scheurfontein geskiet deur lede van die Beaufort-West District Mounted Troops. Hy en ‘n vriend, Swanepoel, het daarnatoe gery om by twee jong meisies, Kitty en Fanny, te kuier. Aanvanklik wou Scheepers hulle nie toelaat om te gaan nie, maar hulle het so gepleit dat hy uiteindelik ingegee het. “Teen die tyd dat hulle op die plaas aangery gekom het was Engelse soldate reeds besig om daar ‘n ete te geniet,” sê oorlogsnavorser Taffy Shearing. “‘n Kleurlingman het hulle glo gewaarsku dat perde aangery kom. Hauptfleisch is in die pols en bors getref. Die koeël het sy bandolier deurboor. Toe die skietery begin het, het Swanepoel op sy perd gespring, deur ‘n stormbui van koeëls weggejaag en die voorval by die kommandant gerapporteer. Later dié dag het lede van die kommando teruggekeer en die Kleurling geskiet. Sy graf is glo naby dié van Hauptfleisch en behoort ook as deel van die oorlog se geskiedenis op die plaas erken te word,” sê Taffy.


The controversial young Boer commandant, Gideon Scheepers, surrendered to the British because he was too ill to lead his men any further. He was treated by British doctors, hospitalised in Beaufort West and once he’d recovered, was tried in Graaff Reinet, sentenced to death and executed. “Much of the Scheepers story is shrouded in mystery,” says researcher Taffy Shearing, who has just completed a 240-page book on his life. Gideon Scheepers and the Search for his Grave covers his career as a heliographer, his exploits as a Boer scout under General Christiaan de Wet, and his 10 months as a guerilla fighter in the Cape Colony. His trial and his mother’s struggle to find his body are dealt with in detail. “This saga involved some fascinating research,” says Taffy. “Much is still shrouded in mystery. What led to his illness? Is there sufficient evidence to support the theory of his poisoning? Why did the British try an officer of the Orange Free State for murder? Why did the Coldstream Guards go to such lengths to hide his body? It has never been found. Why is he a hero to this day when so many others have been forgotten?” The book has 75 photographs, nine maps and the records of 351 of his men. It will cost of R135.


The exploits of Commandant Gideon Scheepers in the Prince Albert area of the Karoo feature in Helena Marincowitz’s book, Prince Albert and the Boer War. It is currently coming off the presses and is lengthier than the Afrikaans edition. It is available from the Fransie Pienaar Museum at a cost of R40.


Years ago already, plastic bag pollution so concerned Prince Albert Publicity Association members that they made and sold replacement calico shopping bags. This effort to eliminate countless bags clinging to fences, shrubs and particularly thorn trees had only limited success. So, when Mr Mohammed Valli Moosa, Minister of Environment Affairs and Tourism, recently announced he was prepared to ban plastic bags to help halt pollution, Prince Albert was elated and immediately sent off a letter of congratulations. “We are delighted by the stand you are taking on waste management and your proposal to limit the use of plastic,” wrote chairman Andrew Tudhope. “Plastic bags have become an eyesore and a menace in the Karoo. This town suffered a particular loss in 1998 when a beloved donkey, Esmeralda, died as the result of eating a plastic bag. And this happened soon after she completed a historic and much publicised walk over the Swartberg Pass to highlight the plight of abused donkeys.” Prince Albert has a newspaper and can-recycling project. Church groups and children regularly conduct clean-up campaigns. The Garden Club recently ran a “stow it, don’t throw it” competition, offering prizes to children for painting eye-catching designs on litter bins. The Department of Correctional Services has now joined in and is keeping streets, graveyards and public places neat and tidy.


Die Toerismeburo is ‘n waardevolle aanwins vir die dorp. Dit was die mening van lede van die Prins Albert Toerismeburo by hul onlangse jaarvergadering. Hulle was dit eens – die buro doen uitstekende werk vir die dorp. Inkomste groei uiteindelik vinniger as uitgawes en dit vergemaklik vooruitbeplanning en begroting. Voorsitter Andrew Tudhope het gesê: “Syfers bewys dat toerisme hier in die afgelope jaar meer as verdubbel het. Kommissies toon dat bednagte verkoop deur die buro met 150 persent bo verlede jaar se syfers gestyg het. Die Olyffees was ‘n finansiele sukses en sal weer aangepak word. Maar dit is ooglopend dat die fees deur ‘n aparte komitee op ‘n besigheidsbasis bedryf moet word. Nog ‘n suksesverhaal is die dorp se koerantjie, die Prins Albert Vriend. Die buro publiseer dit maandeliks. Ons beoog om subskripsies uit te brei en vir burolede ‘n afslag aan te bied op alle advertensies wat hulle plaas. Ons sien uit om voort te bou op ons suksesse van die afgelope jaar.”


It seems we’ve mixed our rhinos with buffalos. So historic researcher Johan Loock has taken us to task. In the June issue of Round-up, Murraysburg Tourist Bureau invited visitors to “discover enyathi, the land of the rhino”. “It saddens me that the good folk of Murraysburg have been taken for a ride,” writes Johan. “Enyathi (also Nyathi) means buffalo in a number of black languages. I can find no proof of enyathi meaning rhino in any language. I also find no evidence of black tribes living near Murraysburg, so wo ld suggest they choose one of the Khoi-Khoi words for rhino. These include !naba, tnabba, nawap, nabab, gabah (used in about 1655) and !nawa which, according to G S Nienaber and PE Raper’s Toponymica Hottentotica, is an old Cape word for rhino. I would suggest Murraysburg chooses !naba and, if they cannot pronounce it, to leave the click out. Simply write naba and pronounce the word with the accent on the last ‘a’ i.e. naba.”


Vyftien finalejaar studente van Saasveld Landbou Kollege in George het onlangs in die Groot Karoo besoek afgelê. Hulle wou graag nadere kennis maak met die plante, diere en geskiedenis van die Beaufort-Wes en Leeu Gamka gebiede. Die groep is deur plantkundige en Karoo deskundige David Shearing en een van hulle dosente, Boereoorlogdeskundige Peter Greeff, vergesel. Hulle het langs die bossie- en fossielroetes van die Karoo Nasionale Park gestap, besoek afgelê by die stasie en die Anglo-Boereoorlog blokhuis in Beaufort-Wes en gekuier by die Vlagskip-tuinmaakprojek. Toe is dit veld toe met David. Hulle het ook heerlik oornag op Badshoek- en Rooiheuwel-plase waar daar tot laat rondom die braai vure gekuier is.


The highest wind speed ever recorded in South Africa was measured at Beaufort West on May 16, 1984. Just as 186 km an hour was recorded, the measuring apparatus blew away, according to retired meteorologist Steve Watt. But the wind continued to accelerate.