THE GREAT KAROO’S A SMALL WORLD
After reading the January Round-up, Murray de Villiers, owner of La De Da farm, placed a copy in his guest cottage. The first visitor to stay there was David Hudson Lamb, who, like Val Strickland in Canada, is related to Beaufort West’s first magistrate, James Goldbury Devenish, and the Lambs of Nelspoort. He is tracing the family history, which is closely linked to Prince Albert and their original De Beer family. The Central Karoo Regional Tourism Office was able to provide a great deal of valuable background information and David was most delighted. Professor C Hofmeyer, who was mentioned in that issue, also has close ties with Prince Albert. His great-grandfather was the magistrate there in 1850. The Professor recently took guests across the Swartberg Pass to visit Prince Albert and was amused when he was asked at Rozie’s Antique Shop whether he was the Professor Hofmeyer, mentioned in Round-up.
BRAAIED “MUISE’ BECOME POPULAR
Hannie Botes’s Braaihuis (“Braai House”) at the Rietfontein Road Stall, south of Leeu Gamka is becoming quite popular. It saves tourists on the north/south route a great deal of time as it ensures that they can have a delicious braai at a reasonable price without having to light a little fire at the roadside and wait for the coals to become “just right”. Also it eliminates having to stand around on a scorching Karoo day, waiting for a meal. Having learned of this venue, many tourists now phone from Beaufort West and order a braai, which then is ready and waiting for them when they arrive. The most popular item on the menu is “muise”, but this is not real mice. It is pieces of liver wrapped in netvet (caulfat) and slowly braaied over the coals. It’s absolutely delicious, a true Karoo taste treat, say all who have tried it. Many order muise and venison pies to go and several buy these to take home with them.
THEY CAME BACK
Cape Direct Film Production Services and the London-based Ridley Scott Associates, the companies that filmed the J & B Whiskey TV commercial at Merweville, came back to the Karoo to shoot yet another international advertisement. This time the product was running shoes and they needed “a weird, rugged, rocky landscape”. They chose the Laingsburg district which has an almost “ moonscape rocks” In this advertisement a man runs across incredible terrain to deliver a pizza.. He is pursued by a newspaper reporter who is intrigued by his superb running shoes.
SATOUR TO VISIT
Pieter Rossouw, regional manager of Satour plans to visit the Central Karoo towards the end of February. A programme is now being compiled to ensure that he will be able to visit as many towns, guest houses, overnight rooms and hotels, as possible.
DOTTING THE ‘I’ WITH SERVICE
Satour plans to dot the tourism “I” in style by establishing a series of recognized Tourist Information Centres (TICs). All Regional Service Council (RSC) tourist information offices are also be become part of this network. The aim of the scheme is to assist tourists with effective, carefree and pleasurable holiday planning. This network will help to ensure standards and assist tourists with reliable information. Offices in the network will be clearly identified by a tourism sign that has the “I” dotted by a Satour logo.
LOST AND FOUND
Private Calver died in 1901. He was buried at Prince Albert Road, but no one knew where. So he became quite famous 92 years after his death through the concerted efforts of Ronnie Joubert, owner of the North and South Hotel, at Prince Albert Road, who had everyone in the district searching for Private Calver’s grave. Well, Ronnie’s efforts were successful and Private Calver was found on Mr T O Slabbert’s farm Goeiemoed. In fact, Private Calber had never truly been lost. The little cemetery, once next to the road, is now is the middle of the veld. There a grave stone reveals Private Calver’s identity. He was W Calver, No 46281 of the 16th Lancers and he died on September 10, 1901. A lonely guild cross marks his grave, which is surrounded by almost 40 others. However, only two have headstones. One commemorates 13-year old Raymond Lewis Calder, who died on April 5, 1916, and the other Anna Campbell, who died on June 10, 1901, aged 15 years and three months.
HABITS OF THE POST COACH ROUTES
A search for the grave of British soldier, Private Calver, has turned up some interesting historic facts. According to Mr T O Slabbert, owner of Goeiemoed this farm once was on the post coach route. It was part of the huge old farms Vlakkraal and Tuinkraal that were granted in 1838. On the little hill just south-west of the present-day farm-house, there once was a popular little hotel which served train passengers wishing to travel further to Prince Albert and on to Oudtshoorn. Mr Slabbert says that the farm Uitkyk, in the Leeu Gamka district was also part of the post coach route. Horses were kept there to provide fresh animals to the coaches. This farm once had huge stables capable of housing and feeding 40 horses. Their ruins are still clearly seen near the old farm-house. And, speaking of post route habits, geologist Johan Loock, from the University of the Free State, says that the habit of placing small stones in a heap to ward off evil and bring good luck, as is done on the post coach route near Juriesfontein, was also an old Hottentot and Bantu habit. These people also placed stones on heaps along their regular routes to ward off evil
BIKERS AND HIKERS ENJOY RIETVLEI
Several hikers recently enjoyed staying in the hut at the foot of the Elandsberg on Tony and Marjorie May Kruger’s Guest farm, Rietvlei, in the Laingsburg district. This has led the Krugers and their neighbours, Christoff Cloete and Sonny Basson to plan two magnificent hiking routes across the mountains and through the valleys near Seweweekspoort. Other visitors, who enjoyed the stopover at Rietvlei were some international motor biking enthusiasts. Johan Patteart from Belgium, Ray Tibbert from Australia and John Biggs, from England. They were touring the Karoo with Paul Kohler, a South African The tour was arranged by Nigel Haddon of Le Cap Tours, who feels that the Karoo is a magnificent place for a biking holiday. He promotes routes through the area and hires out bikes.
REGIONAL TOURISM BODY ESTABLISHED
A regional tourism body which will promote the Garden Route, Klein Karoo and Central Karoo has been established. It will be funded by Rl,6 m that has been donated by the government for the development of tourism in isolated areas.. The committee represent the private and public sectors of the three regions on a 50/50 basis. There are marketing and development committees each with 13 members, as well as a regional co-ordinating committee with 17 members. To make their task easier a marketing and development strategy has been developed by Dr J S Steyn of the Cape Technicon.
NEW HOLIDAY VENUE
Dawn’s Place has opened in Prince Albert and it is the ideal spot for a small family to use as a base while exploring the Swartberg Mountain area. This little cottage is fully equipped “with everything from mosquito nets to wine glasses,” says owner Dawn Owens. It is well furnished and can comfortably accommodate two adults and two children. It has its own private entrance and garden. Costs are R40 per person per night with a light breakfast provided each morning.
GAME FESTIVAL SET TO BE A WINNER.
Greeff Heydenrych and his committee are extremely busy planning the Victoria West Game festival and Hunting Weekend (Wildsfees en jag naweek) which is scheduled to be held from June 24 to 25. It is set to be an excellent event featuring talks on hunting, rifles, venison and biltong.
BAMBI BECOMES AN AMBASSADOR
A photograph of Bambi, the beautiful, tame Springbok at Juriesfontein guest farm, was used as part of an international promotional campaign for the Central Karoo. The Springbok was chosen so as not to create a precedent among the towns. Folders for the towns were personally sponsored by Gert Roux, branch manager of Sanlam in Beaufort West, and the printing of the cover was donated by the Beaufort West newspaper, The Courier. Folders, which included general tourist information, details on accommodation venues and brochures were prepared for delegates responsible for promoting South Africa as a Tourist attraction in North and South America, the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Japan, Australasia Canada, Israel, Taiwan and several African states.
GHOST ON DAY DUTY
The ghost at the Fransie Pienaar Museum in Prince Albert recently made an appearance during the day. While a meeting was on the go in the museum, the kettle’s cord was suddenly “pulled” out of the wall plug and thrown down on to the floor. Those who had never heard of the museum ghost were frightened half to death, but those familiar with this apparition took it in their stride. Those who know the building, was once an old dwelling house, say this .phantom is a young woman who comes “home” periodically to search for her wedding dress and when she does not find it, flings something on the floor in a fit of temper
SEPTEMBER’S NOW THE ARID ZONE
The dates of the Arid Zone Ecology Forum, to be held in Beaufort West this year, have been changed to September 6,7,and 8.
COME AND HUNT WHERE THE JACKALS DANCE.
When Klaas van der Westhuizen built his beautiful home on the farm Jakkalsdans, over a century ago he could hardly have considered that one day it would turn into a magnificent Karoo guest house. However, that is exactly what happened. The old gable house has now been furnished with some superb antiques and on stepping across the threshold at the front door visitors feel as if they have stepped back into the 1890s. The rooms are huge, spacious, comfortable and cool. Guests can do their own thing and simply visit there to rest, relax and swim, or visit at the large manor house as guests of Nicola and Bettie van der Westhuizen. Visiting Jakkalsdans is a true Karoo holiday experience. This farm is a popular hunting and holiday venue, and is the ideal spot for nature lovers or bird watchers as bird life is abundant.
MAN WITH A HEART.
The re-construction work on Donkin Street, the main road through Beaufort West, is again underway and the local authorities thank those using this route for their forbearance and patience. These were both attributes which made Sir Rufane Donkin, after who the street was named, famous. He was sent to the Cape to recover after his young wife, Elizabeth died and he acted as governor when Lord Charles Somerset made a routine visit to England in 1820. Sir Rufane was emotionally devastated by the death of his wife, and while he buried her in India, he kept her heart in an urn throughout his life. It shares his grave in England.
FOSSIL ROUTE SUITABLE FR HE BLIND
The Fossil Route at the Karoo National Park has been upgraded and is now suitable for the blind. At each display there are now explanation boards with Braille captions. This route is one of the most popular tourist attractions at the Park particularly because this area is so fossil rich says information officer Henriette Engelbrecht. The route was recently upgraded with the help of Worcester School for the Blind and designed so that blind and partially sighted visitors could totally enjoy it.. Recorders with sound cassettes explaining what is on display at each spot make it possible for those blind visitors who are not fluent in Braille and partially sighted people to stroll along unaided and still enjoy the route to the full
BAKENSRUG – THE REMOTE GETAWAY
Bakensrug, the beautiful Nelspoort farm belonging to Ronald and Wendy Jackson, sports a homely hunting lodge which is an ideal holiday getaway. Among their regular clients during hunting season are some who love to bring their families along to experience the sights, sounds and silences of the Karoo. The lodge, which is 12 km from the main gate, has four comfortably furnished bedrooms, a lounge, dining room and kitchen
OLIVE BRANCHES WAVES AGAIN
The Prince Albert Olive Festival takes place again on May 27 and 28 this year. . The organising committee is extremely busy planning and meeting the demand for stalls at the festival venue. These cost from R70 per spot and people may tender for prime spots they say. Many people still ask how this festival got its name. Is there not only one olive farmer in the Karoo, they ask. Absolutely not, say the farmers. Jan Bothma of Swartbult in the Prince Albert district has the largest farm, but there are several others, especially south towards Laingsburg. Among these are Dries Swanepoel of Geelbeksfontein, who has over 400 trees, Danie van der Vyver, of Geelbek, who has over 1 000 trees.Christo van Zyl of Klein Geelbek also has 1 000 trees, Chris Groenewald of Becksvlakte, has about 1 200 and Frans Botes, of Bloufonteri in the Koup area, near Leeu Gamka has about 360 olive trees.
MUSEUM COMES TO LIFE
The Fransie Pienaar Museum in Prince Albert is always seeking ways to continue and encourage visitors. It has become a living museum with spinning and weaving now taking place on its stoeps and in the backyard. This has created a great deal of new interest. The revamp is taking place under the guidance of Prince Albert’s newly appointed information officer, Ronel van der Spuy, who is also acting as curator of the museum and manager of its enterprising new shop. While tidying up she found seven Gawie Beukes prints of Karoo scenes in a store-room. He was a well-known Prince Albert artist and his works became widely known and fiercely sought after in earlier years. These prints, made in Germany in 1937, are now to be sold by tender for funds.
TOP CLASS SERVICE
When the third family turned up from the same street in a Durban suburb, Amanda Rossouw of Noordhoek Guest Farm in Leeu Gamka began to wonder how they had all heard of her facilities. So, she asked outright and got a wonderful answer “One of our neighbors, Jan Geldenhuys once stayed here en route to the Cape and got such wonderful and friendly service, hat he took a pamphlet, made some copies and put it in our post boxes with a note saying that if we were ever passing through the Karoo and wanted to overnight, we would find no better place than Noordhoek. The service, he said was excellent.”
GREAT OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE
Visitors to caravan and camping sites at Nuweplaas, near Seekoegat, say it is an unforgettable experience. It is the ideal place from where to enjoy the Swartberg and experience the wonders of this region. There is a huge camping terrain, as well as four caravan parking sites, and even a caravan for hire . Facilities include a juksskei pitch, horse riding, a scrambler track, fresh water fishing, a shooting range and, best of all, a waterfall and plunge pool.- which is excellent for swimming. There are taps, showers and flushing toilets at each site and a lapa where huge camp fires can be made for braais. Two regular German visitors so loved this farm that they have built a secluded twig hut so far away from the main camp that it can only be reached on foot. They intend to use it again on their next visit, they said.
GUESTS ENJOY THE KAROO.
International visitors in the Richmond area speak with great praise of AnRa Guest House Rara Bezuidenhout goes out of her way to ensure that her guests enjoy the Karoo, they say. Among the most recent guests were Dr Ton Steenskland, a chemical engineer from Oslo in Norway, who came to the Karoo to investigate some business opportunities; American golfer, Gary Schroeder, Ester and Roman Achrmann from Switzerland, and Christoff Stenschke, a goldsmith from Germany. Local Member of Parliament, Dave Stuart and Johnny Foonck, director of the Cabinet, as well as Fanie Pretorius from the Stat President’s office, also praised this venue and so did Rheinhardt Mostert, South African Ambassador in Morocco and Willie Steenkamp, Ambassador in Zaire.
THE POWER OF THE PEN
Remote as it may be in its arid plains and towering mountains, the Central Karoo has arrived on the world stage through the power of the pen. After only 12 issued,, little Round-up’s readership stretches throughout South Africa and to Canada, Russia, Holland, Scotland, England and Brazil. Like the local bank advertisement says: “makes you think …”