A little grey donkey will lead an historic 75km pilgrimage over the Swartberg Pass in April. The aim is to create an awareness of the plight of donkeys and to raise funds for an educational programme on their care. The walk, from Prince Albert to Oudtshoorn, will be undertaken by Esmeralda, a badly abused donkey rescued by Howard Derby in 1994. They will be accompanied on this epic journey by Rev Chris Briers, of Prince Albert, local artist, Lenore Snyman and a group of children. In an effort to ease the lot of beasts of burden, Lenore will record the trip in a series of sketches which will be offered for sale at the Klein Karoo Arts Festival, together with a collection of local artworks with the donkey as central theme. Some of the funds raised by this project will be used to train a farrier and harness-maker for the Prince Albert community. “We have learned such a great deal from Esmeralda,” Howard said. “It took a considerable time for her to trust humans again after being so badly treated, but she responded very well to love and kindness. She is intelligent and eager to please. She convinced me donkeys deserve respect. There is a great need to educate people on the care of donkeys. Many suffer greatly due to inadequate shoes, poor harnesses and overloading.”


`n Afrikaner in Australia is op die spoor van die Trekboere deur die Karoo. Andre van Rensburg, wie nou in Canberra woonagtig is, soek inligting oor sy voorouers, Willem van Rensburg en sy vrou Maria Sophia Sussana Spammer. In die 1850s het hulle van die Koue Bokkeveld na die Karoo getrek en het op Klipbankfontein, Phesantfontein (later Loxton), Vlokswerwen, Kalkfontein, Klipbank en Middelfontein (deel van Eselsfontein) gewoon. Hy soek inligting oor die plase en enigiets oor sy familie.


An Argentinean military researcher recently appealed to Beaufort West Museum for help. He was interested in reconstructing the badge of the St Helena Regiment of the East India Company and discovering more about the expedition of a British regiment under William Carr Beresford to Buenos Aires in 1806. All efforts to find information on the badge proved fruitless until he found a small item in a book written by G G K Kitching. It said that of Ensign Charles Pritchard had bequeathed the gunmetal badge he was seeking to Beaufort West Municipality. So, he wrote to “The honourable Lord Mayor of Beaufort West”, asking whether the badge was still in existence. The letter was passed to Museum Curator Sandra Smit, who found the badge among the Pritchard donation of St Helena items. She sent him a copy.


The Southern Cape Botanical Society plans a closer look at the Great Karoo. Experts will introduce the fossils and flora to enthusiasts at a weekend workshop at the Karoo National Park on September 5 and 6. To book call Nicholas Cole in George. David Shearing will handle a general educational introduction to plants of the Karoo, while Francine Ruben will discuss the flora from an ecological point of view. An overview of the palaeontology will be given by Dr Roger Smith of the South African Museum. And, on Saturday evening, there will be a talk on medicinal herbs by David Shearing. Sunday will be devoted to extensive veld explorations..


Wes-Kaap Toerisme Raad reel vanjaar ‘n groot Voedsel- en Wynfees tydens die Klein Karoo Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn. Produkte en toerisme geleenthede van elke streek in die provinsie sal op hierdie gesellige wyse aan besoekers bekend gestel word. ‘n Wye reeks tradisionele disse, insluitende wildsvleis, Karoo-lam, afval, snoek, springbok en volstruis biltong, kaas, olywe, droe-vye en -vrugte, sowel as port, wyn en witblits sal geproe kan word by stalletjies in ‘n spesiale lokaal agter die C P Nel Museum.


Two entrepreneurial farmers wives in Prince Albert have developed a tractor trail for tourists. They are Johanna Luttig, of Drie Rivieren, and Annelien Bothma, of the well-known olive farm Swartrivier. Tours start with either breakfast or lunch at the recently restored Skuur at Drie Rivieren. From there, a scenic route is followed through the foothills of the Swartherg, rich in birdlife. The route then follows an old river bed and crosses to the olive farm. Here visitors can see the various stages of olive production and preservation. They will also taste olives, as well as locally made cheeses and witblits. Arrangements can be made to start at the olive farm and end at the Skuur for supper, or a braai in the veld.


Weltevrede, een van Prins Albert se oudtste historiese plase, betree nou die toerisme mark. Eienaar Suzette Koorts het die huis, wat in 1820 gebou is, gerestoureer as ‘n wegbreek plek vir diegene op soek na rus en vrede. Die plaas lê in ‘n pragtige gebied langs die hange van die Swartherge. Dit is ‘n voëlparadys en daar is interessante rotstekeninge in ‘n afgeslote gebied. Wanneer die Adamsvye ryp word kan gaste sien hoe dit gedroog en verpak word.


Beaufort West’s Masonic Hotel, which for a while traded as the Karoo Lodge, is back in the tourist market under its original name. Now managed by Frik Myburgh, formerly of the Swartherg Hotel in Prince Albert, it specialises in typical Karoo fare. “Visitors love our specialities of venison and Karoo mutton,” said Frik. “We prepare dishes from traditional recipes and include old-fashioned delights such as milk tart and green figs.”


Die Sentrale Karoo Distrikraad beplan om die blokhuise in die streek te herstel en hulle deel by te dra tot ‘n toeriste roete. Ondersoek word tans ingestel om dakke, vloere en deure aan te bring in hierdie geboue wat in 1901 deur die Britse magte altydens die Boere-oorlog gebou is om spoorwegbrue in die gebied te bewaak.


In 1926, a heart-broken 11-year-old lad took a last look at Beaufort West before stepping aboard a train headed for Cape Town docks. His world was shattered, but he vowed to return. His father had just died and he was now returning to Falkirk in Scotland with his mother, sister and brother. Sadly, William Frederick Clarke, now 83, was never able to fulfill his dream of coming back to the Karoo town he loved so much. But his niece Linda Dalgleish and her husband, John, recently visited to rediscover the family history. Linda’s grandfather, also William Frederick Clarke, a dentist, came to Beaufort West, apparently at the invitation of the town’s Scottish doctor, James Christie. He opened a practiice which thrived and bought a house in Meintjies Street, opposite Vine Lodge and near a smithy run by the Simpson brothers, also from Scotland. Within a few years of his arrival William, s health failed and he was often bed-ridden. Then, in 1926, after a long illness, William died. He is buried in the Methodist cemetery. Oddly, his practice was sold only a day before he died. Linda and John arrived in Beaufort West armed with old family photographs and a remarkably accurate map drawn by her uncle, W F Clarke II, who followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a dentist. “The town seems little changed. It is still virtually as my uncle describes it,” says Linda. “Our arrival here brought our family history to life. We felt we knew the town. The jail, churches and old town hall were precisely as my uncle described them. He so loved Beaufort West, where he spent happy childhood years, that his memory of the town is extremely lucid. Over the years, we have heard so many stories about the place that coming here was like stepping through a magic looking glass. We have taken masses of photographs. He will treasure these along with his wonderful memories of the Karoo.”


Die getal buitelandse besoekers in die Karoo het in die laaste pan maande geweldig toegeneem. Volgens toerisme buro’s deur die streek, die Karoo Nasionale Park en gaste huise, was daar in die afgelope maande veel meer oorsese besoekers in die gebied. “Dit is ongelooflik dat hulle nie deur die ontsettende warm weer afgesit is nie,” sê Marius Bergh van Matoppo Huis in Beaufort-Wes. “Baie besoekers het gevoel dis iets eienaardig en om oor to praat as hulle weer tuis kom in die ysige weer en sneeu van Europa en die geweldige storms van Amerika.”


Round-Up certainly gets around. Jean van Zyl of Johannesburg, a former Beaufort Wester and a new subscriber, has written to say the publication used to be sent to her by a friend, who in turn got it from yet another friend. Jean confesses to being a confirmed “Karoophile”, and says she devours all the news. Jean was in her late teens when she left, but still often visits the Karoo. Her mother was a Kielblock and her aunt, Johanna, “a remarkable, loveable and extraordinary school principal”. Years ago this aunt bought a Donkin Street cottage in which to enjoy her retirement. “She created a superb, secluded garden, a sanctuary in the dry Karoo, and named it Little Green World. I’m enchanted to discover it’s now a venue for tourists.”


Ontwikkeling van Toerisme in die Sentrale Karoo was in die kollig by ‘n onlangse IDT (Independent Development Trust) vergadering in Prins Albert. Die vergadering is toegespreek deur Rose Willis, toerisme beampte van die Distrikraad. Die belangrike rol van toerisme as werkgewer en bydraer tot die ekonomie, asook opleidingsprojekte by Leeu Gamka en plaasvakansie-bemarkingsplanne in Murraysburg is bespreek.


Brave, charming and good-looking Cape rebel, Johannes Lotter, was considered a burr under the British saddle during the Anglo-Boer War.Hle was executed for treason in October, 1901. Lotter, 35, led 154 men through Pearston, Cradock, Middelburg and Graaff Reinet, hotly pursued by the gallant and daring Lt-Col Harry Scobell, of the Scots Greys. A rattling good man in the eyes of his troopers, Scobell had a good grasp of the terrain and had refined his counter-commando tactics. He based these on strategies used by the Boers. This, coupled to the worst winter the Karoo had had in years, led to the capture of Lotter’s commando. During a raging storm, when horses and men were exhausted. the commando sought shelter in an old stone kraal. It was too cold to station guards outside, which enabled Scobell to surround them. At dawn, a British officer is said to have shouted: “Hands up, Khaki is not late this morning.” A merciless attack followed. The Boers fought desperately. Within 10 minutes, 40 men had been killed or wounded and 35 minutes later the commando surrendered. The British lost seven men and 21 were wounded, 13 rebels were killed and 30 wounded, Lotter among them. Boer war expert Taffy Shearing, and husband, David, have just completed a 16 000-word book with 30 pictures and maps, entitled Commandant Lotter and His Rebel Band. The first in a series on the Cape Commandos, it will soon be available in English and Afrikaans.


Nic Badenhorst, ko-ordineerder van beplanning van aangeleenthede oor die herdenking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog in die Wes-Kaap provinsie is besig met insameling van inligting oor toerisme moontlikhede en roetes. Hy doen ‘n beroep op toerisme buro’s om hom by die Departetnent van Omgewing en Kultuursake te kontak met inligting oor hulle dorpe en streke.


The National Anglo-Boer War Expo in Kimberley promises to be bigger and better this year. Scheduled from October 5 to 11, the programme includes new attractions. A range of interesting speakers, all experts, will present papers. There will be tours to Belmont, Graspan, Modder River, Magersfontein and Paardeberg battlefields, as well as half-day outings to Sunnyside and Fabersput. Information on the siege and relief of Kimberley will be available, and military parades are scheduled. Those interested in the weaponry of this war will be able to fire live rounds from Mauser, Lee-Enfield or Martini-Henry rifles.


Don’t be fooled by those ancient-looking weapons of the Boer War. They’re meaner than you’d believe, and pack a powerful punch. Johan Loock, chairman of Burgher Graves on the National Monuments Council War Graves Committee, recently treated colleagues to a tour of Sannaspos Battlefield. He rounded off the day by inviting them to fire a “weapon of the war” at a Boer or British target. This sounded like fun, and his demo made ii appear easy. But these old “beauties” soon separate experts from the ham-fisted. I’ve not handled a firearm before,and found the Mauser and Lee-Enfield much heavier than they appeared. The bolt action requires a strong arm. Being among the more timid I opted to try the Martini-Henry, with “sissy pad”. Even then its recoil is to be respected. Also, there’s so much to concentrate on. “Hold steady, aim, pull the trigger, don’t let the gun slip and don’t end up on your rear end,” shouted Johan. It’s truly tricky. God knows where my bullet went. Thankfully I wasn’t sitting on a horse. I now have great respect for those who fired these rifles for hours at a time during the Anglo-Boer War, partictularly those who write of grappling with borrowed guns while under fire at night. – Rose Willis