It’s back to school for biology and natural science teachers next year. And, to help Garden Route, Klein Karoo and Karoo teachers get to grips with the new curriculum a capacity building workshop is being planned to take place in Beaufort West in February 2004. The proposed kick-off date is February 14, St Valentine’s Day. Co-ordinators Annemarie Gebhardt of WCED and Marianne Tredoux from the University of Cape Town, have arranged a series of lectures by experts in their fields. Marianne, a bio-chemist, will deliver some. Others will be given by Dr John Almond, a palaeontologist, tour guide and expert on the Karoo, who will also be responsible for fieldwork sessions. Kees Rijsdyk, an astronomer formerly attached to the Sutherland Observatory, will also ensure that delegates spend time outdoors, but during his lectures they will be studying the night skies. “We have received excellent support from Norman and Wendy Johnson at the Karoo National Park, where most of the fieldwork will be done,” says Annemarie. “Eugene Bastiaans at St Mathews School has also keenly supported our ideas and has offered lecture venues. While we are in Beaufort West, we would also like to arrange a mini “Science Fair” for local schools and residents interested in science. We hope Beaufort West Tourist Bureau will assist us to organise this.”


Mei 2004 gaan ‘n feestyd vir Citroën-liefhebbers wees. Die Franse-klub reël ‘n jaarlikse “Tracbar” of “rally,” elke keer in ‘n ander land. Die 2004 geleentheid behels ‘n reis na Suid-Afrika en staan bekend as die “Zulu Tracbar.” Tydens hierdie “rally” sal 40 van hierdie spog motors, van verskeie ouderdomme in die Karoo te sien wees. Daar sal ook ten minste 120 mense in die groep wees en onder hulle is daar ‘n filmspan, sowel as heelwat Franse joernaliste. Daar word verwag dat heelwat Suid-Afrikaanse Citroën-eienaars ook in die “Tracbar” sal deelneem. In die Groot Karoo kuier die die groep op Hillandale, buite Beaufort-Wes, waar heelwat van die deelnemers ook gehuisves gaan word.


The roar of motorbikes in winding mountain passes is said to tingle the blood of enthusiasts in much the same way as bagpipes thrill the Scots. A group of Gauteng bikers will test this theory at the end of February 2004. “We are not looking for long, high or even magnificent mountain passes,” says Neels Wilken, one of the organisers. “The twist is the thing. This provides the music for our ears. Fortunately, there are several mountain passes in the Karoo with just the right twists and turns, but with breath-taking scenery as well. Our first stop in the Karoo will be Graaff Reinet, reached by a more pleasant route than the busy N1. From there we ride the winding route through Meiringspoort to De Rust. The group plans to include the Outeniqua, Robertson, Huisrivier and Seweweekspoort passes in their itinerary. They also hope to find B&Bs large enough to accommodate all the riders, so that they can spend the evenings discussing their adventures of the day.


Nelspoort recently yielded some of its many secrets to researchers when the place where the San rock artists lived was discovered. “We literally stumbled onto it,” said Lawrence Rathenham, curator of the rock art site. Prince Albert palaeontologist Dr Judy Maguire was invited to inspect the site. “It is truly an exciting area, sheltered, secluded and rich with artefacts. It covers a time from the Middle through the Late Stone Age to the 19th century,” she said. “Artefacts are strewn along both banks of the Salt River, and there are distinct ‘factory sites’ where weapons and tools were made. At one place ostrich shells were prepared as water carriers and the chips threaded into items of body adornment. Close by ceramic pottery shards date to a later time and a different people. The place is rapidly eroding. Aerial photographs show vast general deterioration. Sadly, in time it will vanish,” said Judy.


Teen 1848 was lidmate van die NG Kerk wyd versprei noord van die Oranje Rivier. Die mense se begeerte om hulle eie gemeente te stig en ‘n kerk te bou is met ywer deur Majoor Henry Douglas Warden, Resident van Bloemfontein, ondersteun. Deur bemiddeling van sir Harry Smith is ‘n predikant vir die gemeente ook gevind. Die jong Andrew Murray, seun van die wyd bekende predikant van Graaff Reinet, ook Andrew Murray, is aangewys. ‘n Diaken is met perdewa gestuur om hom by sy ouerhuis af te haal, en in Mei, 1849, volgens Karel Schoeman, in Die Ontstaan van ‘n Stad, is hy deur sy vader bevestig as die eerste predikant noord van die Oranje. Die seremonie het plaasgevind net drie dae voor sy 21ste verjaarsdag. Andrew Murray, jnr, was verantwoordelik vir die hele Transoranje, benewens die gebied oorkant die Vaal, wat hy slegs tydens sy vakansies kon bearbei. Teen 1850 is ‘n Anglikaanse kerk gebou met behulp van Robert Grey, Bishop van Kaapstad en volgens planne wat deur sy vrou, Sophie, opgetrek is. Die selfde jaar het Vader Petrus Hoendervangers, ‘n Nederlandse Norbetyn, sy dienste aangebied as Katolieke sendeling. Op pad na Bloemfontein het sy perd in so ‘n bedenklike toestand verkeer dat hy eers die volgende jaar as priester aangestel kon word.


The Karoo is country of mountains without summits, rivers without water, trees without shade and herbage without verdure. This was the opinion of Professor J du Plessis, who in 1919 wrote The Life of Andrew Murray. Yet Professor du Plessis said these plains had exercised a marked influence upon the history of South Africa, and the character of its inhabitants. “We strive in vain to understand the general movement of Cape history, the slow expansion north and eastwards, the spirit of studied independence of pioneers roaming ever further afield in the search of pasture, if we cannot clearly picture these burning plains. They are bounded by distant blue mountains, shimmering in the hot sunshine and covered with deceptive mirages. The Great Karoo was for generations the limit of habitable South Africa. To the colonist the Karoo was a boundary, a horizon and a challenge. It was a region of privation and thirst, of danger and disease, of wild beasts and wilder Bushmen. Beyond it lay a grass-covered country with rich soil and a plentiful supply of water, eminently suitable for agriculture and pastoral pursuits. But, it took a long time for men to cross the dreaded Karoo and look upon this Land of Promise. More than a century elapsed after the first settlement of the Cape before an enterprising expedition travelling the West Coast reached the Great River, eventually known as the Orange. And, yet another 50 years passed before the middle of the Orange was crossed.”


Deesdae kla almal oor die pryse van medisyne. Maar volgens Dr Jan van Heerden van Prins Albert, daar ‘n plantjie wat soos onkruid op sypaadjies en in tuine groei wat ‘n beproefde raat vir ‘n heelwat kwale is en wat niks kos nie. “Dis ysterbos, (-hout. sandolien) sand olive (Dodonaea angustifolia), wat met boegoe en wildeals die eerste geneesplante was wat deur die Khoi aan die Kaapse setlaars bekendgestel is,” skryf Dr Jan in die Prins Albert Vriend. “Die struik of boompie, wat tot 3m of hoër, groei aard in rivierlope, teen hange en die see by Yzerfontein aan die Weskus. Dit het lang, smal, blink vaalgroen blare en dra onopsigtelike, papieragtige, geelgroen blome, gevolg deur gevelulde vruggies. Aftreksels van jong blare en taktoppe, veral op witblits, werk stief met koorsigheid, griep, hoes, slegte spysvertering en is destyds ook vir goorasem en TB gebruik. Ysterbos is byna uitgedelg toe dit as vuurmaakhout deur hoefsmeë gesog was.”


Perhaps it was the heat. He never knew. But in Reminiscences and Family Records Arnold Wilhelm Spilhaus says: “It was a hot Karoo summer day in 1876 in Beaufort West when I decided there was no future for me travelling for in the firm of William Lippert.” His life changed that day. As luck would have it the managing partners of P J Alport and Company, Percy Alport and Sir James Charles Molteno, were giving a dinner for Herbert Wilman, a partner who had decided “to strike out on his own.” A quirk of fate saw Spilhaus invited and seated next to Wilman. “He told me he was going to Cape Town to enter into business on his own account, so I asked him to go for a quiet walk with me after dinner.” During this stroll Spilhaus “put it to him” that they might join forces. Wilman, a perfect businessman, had accumulated a fair capital in Beaufort West and was on the lookout for an assistant. “There only remained the question of Mr Lippert’s consent,” writes Spilhaus. “I telegraphed Cape Town saying I was sending my cart to Mossel Bay, where I was due to go, and coming to Cape Town to discuss an urgent matter.” Spilhaus rushed from Beaufort West to Wellington, then the terminus of the railways by post cart. “It was a 36-hour non-stop journey. A friend called it ‘splendid because you covered the ground quickly and had free board and lodging on the cart.’ You got nothing to eat, but no one grumbled.” Lippert released Spilhaus from his contract. The firm of Wilman, Spilhaus and Co was founded in a small store on the corner of St George’s Street on December l, 1876. “Many friends from Beaufort West dropped in for a chat. Among them was old Mr Alport, who kept a modest racing stable in the fashion of the time, but who never gambled. We also often saw Mr Caldwell, a real ‘old English gentleman, once Beaufort West’s postmaster, Mr D H Blyth a retired law agent, and Mr Elliott, a farmer and Mr MacConachie, a former schoolmaster, who’d joined Education Board. At the first election for Parliament Wilman stood for Beaufort West and was elected He did not stand again because he heard his constituents did not want a “pen-driver” to represent them.”


Toeriste glimlag oor die feit dat albei dele van Leeu Gamka se naam “leeu” beteken. Meestal omdat hulle vas glo nie dat daar nooit leeus hier was nie. Maar heelwat vroeë reisigers skryf van noue ontkominge met leeus in die gebied. In 1776 het Swellengrebel by die rivier op die lyk van ‘n San vrou afgekom wat deur leeus verskeur was. Heinrich Lichtenstein het drie verskillende spesies van leeu in hierdie omgewing geskien. Onder hulle was ‘n Kaapse leeu wat hy as “magnifiek” beskryf het. Hierdie uitgestorwe species was kleiner as die Afrika leeus en dit het ook dikker en donkerder maanhare gehad. Die laaste Kaapse leeu is in 1842 naby Leeu Gamka geskiet. In 1823 het George Thompson langs dié river uitgespan op pad na Beaufort-Wes. Hy skryf dat hy deur die nag ‘n groot vuur aan die gang moes hou om die leeus weg te hou. Quaker predikant James Backhouse het geskryf van leeus wat hy in 1839 in dié omgewing gekry het. Jare later het Andrew Geddes Bain en sy seun Thomas die plek Bitter Water gedoop omdat die water by die uitspanplek brak was. Die naam het in gebruik gebly tot 1879 toe dit met die koms van die spoorlyn Dit het toe Fraserburgweg geword. Die finale verandering na Leeu Gamka is op February 26, 1958 geproklameer en in die Kaapse koerante gepubliseer, volgens toergids Edel Carlos, wie onlangs navorsing gedoen oor die nedersetting gedoen het.


Ever wondered how the South African tourist accommodation industry got started? Well, it all dates back to the time of Jan Van Riebeeck and it started in private homes. Annetje, the wife of the company’s chief gardener, was granted leave to open a tavern “to provide men from passing ships with lodging and refreshments.” The following year a concession was granted to Jan Harwarden. He died, his widow married Hendrik Hendrikssen and he was “allowed the privilege of running an inn” from their home. In the 17th century it was difficult to obtain meals away from the Castle. Casual callers found it almost impossible to find ready-made food (the take-away industry lay well in the future). In good times visitors could buy fish, milk, butter, eggs and vegetables and cater for themselves. In bad times, however, it was virtually impossible to find food and even hospital patients got no “spoon-food.” In times of dire distress, the Company ruled that innkeepers could “take in neither table guests nor lodgers. They were also prohibited from selling bread or foodstuffs to anyone until further orders.” The first ‘koffiehuis was opened on March 5, 1717, by Ernst Frederik de Swart who gained permission to open his home to visiting mariners and to serve them coffee. He wasn’t allowed to serve anything else


A diligent Beaufort West policeman leapt into action when he heard of a coffee scam being run by a local general dealer. Not wishing to be recognised Officer Robey went “shopping in disguise.” According to The Courier of 1898 the undercover policeman entered the Rice Street premises of general dealer, William Primmer and asked to buy his “best coffee.” The general dealer scooped beans into a bag, passed it across the counter and asked a “rather high price for the product.” Tendering the required amount, the disguised police constable enquired whether the coffee was pure. “Of course,” replied Primmer. Robey then asked for three bags so that he could divide the coffee in front of Primmer, seal it and send it for testing. Primmer lost his temper and snatched the bag back. It tore. Beans spilled across the floor. At that moment Police Sergeant Hoy was passing. Robey hailed him and explained the situation. The Sergeant then asked to buy three small bags of the same coffee as Robey had purchased. Primmer refused to sell him any coffee at all as “he was short of bags.” The Sergeant offered to “run down to the police station for some.” Primmer pushed their money back across the counter and asked them to leave his shop. He turned his back and began to sweep up the spilled beans. Sergeant Hoy cautioned him he was liable to a fine not exceeding £10 for refusing to sell a product on display in his shop. Primmer pointedly ignored both men. They left the shop and laid a charge against Primmer. The general dealer was arraigned before the regional magistrate for bad business practices. He pleaded not guilty. Robey and Hoy testified. Primmer took the stand and called both policemen liars. He said he would never again allow either into his store. “Who, but a crook would come into a shop in disguise a small place like Beaufort West?” he asked. He claimed the men had scared him because they kept exchanging furtive glances. His thought they intended to rob him. The magistrate was not taken in. He found Primmer guilty and fined him 50/-.


Meer as ‘n eeu na die Anglo-Boereoorlog het die Oorlogsmuseum in Bloemfontein sy eerste foto’s van swartes in ‘n kloktent konsentrasiekamp gekry. Die foto’s, in ‘n verweerde album, is aan die museum geskenk deur mnr Colin Hornshaw, ‘n afgetrede onderwyser met private museum, in Pennant Hills, Nieu-Suid-Wallis, Australië. Die foto’s het deel uitgemaak van ‘n versameling van Muriel Young (gebore Pickburn) wie tydens die oorlog in Suid-Afrika as verpleegster opgetree het. “Onder hulle is heelwat rare foto’s,” sê Kol Frik Jacobs, direkteur van die Oorlogsmuseum.


Their backgrounds were similar. She was a sensitive, humanitarian and fighter for woman’s rights. He was an imaginative man, a praise singer to his people stirring and angering them by turns. She admired Paul Kruger and considered herself fortunate to have met him shortly before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War. Kruger deeply impressed her. He did not share her opinion and once in jest proposed a toast to “Kruger, The Empire Builder.” But it was Olive Schreiner’s Story of An African Farm that had caught the imagination of the Victorian world that induced Rudyard Kipling, a young man, named after the lake where his parents fell in love, to journey into the hinterland to meet her. Her dynamic reputation as a person, and author, enticed him to travel 200-miles from Cape Town to Matjiesfontein, the tiny Karoo settlement where she lived and worked all alone. Kipling acknowledged her genius and when she married three years later, he sent her a set of his writings. There was an ironic sequel, says V C Malherbe, in Eminent Victorians. “Olive Schreiner became what Kipling most hated, an English pro-Boer. His wedding gift to her was destroyed, burnt with her other possessions by British soldiers during the war.”


Mrs Maysie Dean, a Round-up reader, who loves Festive Season cooking sent in this “Christmas Recipe with a Difference,” to amuse those who from now on will spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. “Take one litre of love, four cups of thanks, a cup of kind deeds, two table spoons of loyalty, two cups of good thoughts, two spoons of tenderness, five spoons of hope and 500 ml of compassion. Mix thoroughly with tears of joy, sorrow and empathy. Flavour with little gifts of friendship, love and service. Fold in four cups of faith to lighten the other ingredients and raise them to a texture equal to great heights of good living. Bake well at a high degree of human kindness. Then, with a warm smile, serve generous helpings.

“Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers” – Hans Christian Andersen