E.BUSINESS COMES TO TOWN
Western Cape Tourism’s new e.Business system will be introduced to the Karoo this month. This system, designed to capture data, improve efficiency and streamline communications throughout the province, will also be linked to the standardised tourism bureau membership scheme to be phased in from April, this year. WCTB e.Business project manager Bronwyn D’Oliveira will explain the systems, their operation and implementation, to regional tourism organisation (RTO) and local tourism bureau (LTB) executives at a workshop in the Martin Odendaal Hall at the District Municipality on February 21, from 10h00 to 13h00. “Efficient electronic communications is the key to sustainable growth,” said Bronwyn “It will enable us to co-ordinate a variety of data and assist its free flow between specific organisations in the public and private sectors of tourism. The strength of tourism in the Western Cape is based on a wide variety of experiences and services throughout the province. At present, there is no coordinated, easily-accessible database from which such information can be drawn and utilised. We aim to rectify this and develop skills to ensure continued smooth operation of such electronic facilities,” said Bronwyn.
WES-KAAP BEREIK DOELWITTE, SÊ MINISTER
Besoekergetalle in die Wes-Kaap tydens die afgelope feesseisoen het gestyg. Volgens die Wes-Kaap minister van Landbou, Toerisme en Dobellary, Johan Gelderblom, wys dit dat provinsiale doelwitte bereik is. Die besteding van die meer as 1,3 miljoen plaaslike toeriste in die provinsie word geskat op R865 miljoen en dié van omtrent 290 000 buitelandse besoekers op meer as R3,9 biljoen. “Verlede jaar het ons doelwitte gestel om meer besoekers na die streke te lok en dié toeriste te oorreed om langer te vertoef,” sê die Minister. “Alhoewel ons nog wag op amptelike statistieke, is ek tevrede. Vroeë terugvoering van alle toerisme buro’s beklemtoon ‘n suksesvolle seisoen en wys dat ons in ons doelwitte geslaag het.” Besettings-syfers tot in vêr afgeleë plekke soos die Sentrale Karoo was betekenisvol hoër as verlede jaar. Oor die algemeen het die streke ‘n 15% toename in buitelandse besoekers gehad sedert verlede jaar. “Ons uitdaging vanjaar sal wees om kleiner besighede te groei en transformasie van hoofstroom toerisme in die provinsie te bewerkstellig.” Die minister het ook te kenne gegee dat hy sy toerisme planne vir die provinsie bekend sal maak tydens sy begrotingstoespraak in die Provinsiale Parlement op 26 Maart, 2003.
- WESTERN CAPE REACHES ITS OBJECTIVES, SAYS MINISTER
An increased number of tourists visited the Western Cape during the past festive season. Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling, Johan Gelderblom said this proved the province had met its objectives. Estimations indicated that 1,3-million local tourists spent R865-million and about 290 000 international visitors spent R3,9-billion in the province during the past season. “Last year our aim was to attract more visitors to the regions and encourage them to stay longer,” said the Minister. “Now, while official statistics yet have to be analysed, I am satisfied that we achieved this. Early indications from all tourist bureaus underscore our success.” Occupation figures, even from far-flung places such as the Central Karoo, have been satisfactory. In general regions have experienced a 15% increase in international visitors since last year. “Our challenge this year will be to encourage growth in the small business sector and to transform mainstream tourism in the province.” The Minister will reveal tourism plans for the province during his budget speech in the Provincial Parliament on March 26, 2003.
KIRSTENBOSCH SOON TO REVEAL RESEARCH
A team from the National Botanical Institute at Kirstenbosch has spent time in the Beaufort West area studying conservation farming and researching the biodiversity of the area Their findings will be presented during a seminar at the Beaufort West Showgrounds on March, 5. “Some top speakers, such as Dr John Donaldson, head of the project and Karoo expert, Dr Sue Milton, have been invited to address delegates,” said one of the organisers, researcher Leon-Jacques Theron. Together with Lorene Breebaart he has spent over a year working on this project from a base in Bird Street in Beaufort West
BIG APPLE EMBRACES KAROO OLIVES
The Prince Albert Olive Festival has caught the eye of an international food and travel magazine, Saveur. This New York-based magazine plans to publish a feature on Prince Albert’s 12-year old olive festival and its local olive industry in its April issue. Olive growing in the Prince Albert area dates back to the 1970s, when Jan du Preez planted about 100 olive trees on his farm Sandvlakte. They did well. Then, in the 1980s Jan Bothma started planting Manzanilla and Mission varieties on Swartrivier for processing and Leccino for oil. “All varieties did well. The climate favours olives and I now harvest between 50 and 80 tons annually. We process green, black and half-ripe olives for bottling. On the farm we produce dried black olives, spiced olives, green and black olive paste, cold-pressed extra virgin oil and olive soap.” The success of Swartrivier products has lead to a mushrooming interest in olives. Many Prince Albert residents now home prepare a variety of olive-based products. During the festival, freshly baked olive bread is a speciality. “Olives have oiled the wheels of our tourism industry,” says information officer Charlotte Olivier. “More and more visitors now insist on olives on the menu and include a visit to Swartrivier Olive farm in their itineraries.”
BEAUFORT-WES SE OLYWEPLAAS OOP VIR BESOEKERS
Toerisme fasiliteite by die groot olyfplaas in die Beaufort-Wes omgewing word nou uitgebrei. Olive Grove Gasteplaas, net 22km vanaf Beaufort-Wes op die N12 na Oudtshoorn, het nuwe eienaars wie die opset meer toeriste vriendelik wil maak. Nuwe eienaars Ian en Sonja Taylor is afkomstig van die Bloedrivier area van Natal waar hulle ‘n melkery en algemene boerdery bedryf het. “Ons het verlief geraak op die Karoo en besluit om hiernatoe te trek en Olive Grove, voorheen ‘n self-sorg oornag plek, in ‘n tradisionele gasteplaas te verander. Die sewe chalets is ruim, ten volle uitgerus, koel en luuks. ‘n Mens kan heerlik daar vertoef,” sê Sonja. “Ons het nou ook ‘n restaurant op die plaas geopen. Dit is oop is vir die publieke en ons hoop plaaslike mense sal hierdie kort entjie van die dorp uitry om iets hier te kom eet oor naweke. Ons het ook meer braai- en kuier plekke langs die swembad aangebring vir diegene wat die buitelug wil geniet.” Daar is ook meer as 8 000 olyf bome op Olive Grove. Die eerstes kom vanjaar in produksie en die Taylors gaan ook ‘n reeks verskillende olyf-produkte, insluitende olie, op die plaas produseer. “Toeriste is ook baie welkom om dit te kom besigtig as ons met produksie begin,” sê Sonja.
- BEAUFORT WEST OLIVE FARM OPENS FOR VISITORS
Tourism facilities at the huge olive farm outside Beaufort West have been upgraded and expanded. Now named Olive Grove Guest Farm, this establishment, only 22km from Beaufort West on the N12 to Oudtshoorn, has new owners who aim to make it more tourist friendly. Ian and Sonya Taylor, come from the Blood River area of Natal, where they had a dairy and general farm. “We fell in love with the Karoo and decided to move here,” said Sonya. “We then decided to change Olive Grove from a self-catering stopover to a traditional guest farm. We have seven luxurious, spacious, fully-equipped, cool chalets that afford guests an enjoyable stay and a base from where to explore the Karoo,” said Sonya. “We have also opened a restaurant on the farm and we hope that Beaufort Westers and others in the vicinity will pop in for a meal, particularly over weekends. We have also included more braai areas and nooks around the swimming pool for outdoor enthusiasts.” More than 8 000 olive trees have been planted on this farm. The first come into production this year and the Taylors plan to produce a range of olive products on the farm. “Tourists will be most welcome to pop in and see these operations, once we get started,” said Sonya.
THE LANGENHOVENS GO HOME
Afrikaans poet and writer C J Langenhoven and his wife ‘Vroutjie’ settled into Arbeidsgenot, in Oudtshoorn in 1903. Now, a century later, they are going back home. When Langenhoven died in July 1932, he was buried in Oudtshoorn cemetery. His wife was laid to rest at his side in 1950. They remained undisturbed for half a century. Then, in December last year, it was decided to exhume the couple and rebury them in a garden of remembrance in the grounds of the home they so loved. Oudtshoorn undertakers shied away from the job. They feared breaking the magnificent Italian Carrara-marble tombstone on the Langenhoven grave. Gert Scanlen of AVBOB in Beaufort West was approached. He was sure he could do the job. With the help of his 16-year son, Freddie, and some handpicked labourers he successfully managed to move the monolith and the mortal remains of Langenhoven and his wife. Langenhoven and ‘Vroutjie’ are to be reinterred at Arbeidsgenot during the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. A special service takes place on March, 30.
NOG ‘N STÊR VIR GASTEHUIS
Die onlangse opgradering van kamers en fasiliteite by Beaufort Manor Gastehuis in Beaufort Wes het daartoe gelei dat dié nou met vier-sterre bekroon is. Dit is ook die enigste vier-ster gastehuis van sy soort in die Sentrale Karoo. Beaufort Manor bied aan luukse kamers met lugreëling, so wel as self-sorg eenhede.
- GUESTHOUSE WINS ANOTHER STAR
Recent upgrading of rooms and facilities at Beaufort West’s popular Beaufort Manor Guesthouse has earned the venue another star. It is now the only four-star guesthouse in the Central Karoo. Beaufort Manor offers luxury, airconditioned rooms with meals, as well fully equipped chalets for those who wish to do their own catering.
TEXAS JACK WHIPS UP EXCITEMENT IN THE KAROO
In 1908, a cowboy took the Karoo by storm. By May, that year, Beaufort Westers were vying for tickets to see his immensely popular one-man Wild West Show. According to The Courier of May 28, Texas Jack was on his way from Uitenhage where he had kept audiences enthralled by his breathtaking feats with rifle, revolver and lasso. “Everyone who had seen Texas Jack is delighted by his deering-do. His performances are sufficiently thrilling to suit even the most satiated appetite and he coins money wherever he goes!”
TOWN BRINGS BACK MOTHER’S HAPPY MEMORIES
A recent visit to Beaufort West brought back the happy memories of his mother to Brian Gibbs of Cape Town. “My mother Eileen Gladys Kelly was born in Beaufort West in 1906 and spent a happy childhood in the village. She told many amusing stories of early Beaufort West. Her father was an engine driver and the family lived in Hillside, where she said there was an unassailable ‘class distinction.’ Engine drivers, firemen and artisans lived in one section of the suburb, while office and clerical staff lived in another. As was customary those days, most young boys ran around barefoot after school and during school holidays. Mom’s younger and only brother, Norman, was no exception. However, he was always told to put his shoes on if he went into or near the ‘clerical neighbourhood.’ My mother clearly recalled all the nervous tension surrounding the writing of her Junior Certificate exams in the Dutch Reformed Church Hall in 1922. I often try to picture her as a young, girl, conscientiously trying to answer all the exam questions each time I see the hall,” said Brian. “My mom said she remembered Eric Louw working in his father’s shop when he came home to Beaufort West during university holidays. ‘He always wore a long white apron, which came right down to his ankles, to keep his trousers clean. Families were more disciplined in those days. Not even university students could escape family duties,’ she’d tell us with a smile, ” said Brian.
KAROO SALUTES A GREAT MAN
After an imposing funeral service in Cape Town, the body of Cecil John Rhodes travelled through the Karoo with great ceremony. Among the party of people who accompanied Rhodes’s body on its final journey to the then Rhodesia for burial in the Matopos, was Olive Schreiner’s brother, Theo. The funeral train stopped at each little station on its northbound route. Even though it arrived at Matjiesfontein at 3 o-clock in the morning, Mrs Logan walked across to the station, and with reverence placed a wreath on the coffin. At Beaufort West, a military guard of honour with reversed arms awaited the train. After it had puffed into the station with great dignity, the accompanying party detrained and attended a memorial service at Christchurch Anglican Church in Donkin Street. At De Aar, the station buildings were draped in black and a long procession of towns people filed past the train as it stood alongside the platform. In a letter to J S Moffat in England, Theo Schreiner wrote: The thing is being quite overdone. Many people seem to have serious doubt whether the Almighty will be able to run South Africa now that Cecil John has gone.
MAAK KENNIS MET KLAARSTROOM EN SY MENSE
Die interessante storie van Klaarstroom, ‘n klein Groot Karoo nedersetting, wat sy naam gekry het van skoon of ‘klare’ bergstrome, is nou geboekstaaf. Die plekkie wat lyk of dit rustig sluimer langs die pad deur Meiringspoort is nogal volop stories en hulle is onlangs geboekstaaf deur Helena Marinkowitz, wie vir 50 jaar in die gebied woonagtig was. Die 20-blad boekie, wat net R35 kos by Prins Albert Toerismeburo of die Fransie Pienaar Museum, vertel van die ryk geskiedenis van die plek wat onstaan het toe die roete na Mosselbaai deur Meiringspoort geopen is. Dit het die wolroete korter geknip en ‘n hele nuwe sosiale lewe het ontstaan in Klaarstroom, tuiste van die eerste wolwassery en die laaste transportryer. Die boekie is volop heerlike leestof.
- DISCOVER KLAARSTROOM AND ITS PEOPLE
The interesting story of Klaarstroom, a tiny Great Karoo settlement, named in honour of clear mountain streams, is now available in book form. This tiny village, which appears to slumber restfully at the entrance to Meiringspoort, has a rich history. Klaarstroom sprang to life when a road was carved through the Swartberg to shorten the route to the coast for the Karoo woolclip. A rich social live mushroomed in the village, home of the first wool washing plant and the last transport rider. The stories of the area have been collected and written up by Helena Marincowitz, who has lived there for over 50 years. They are now part of a 20-page booklet, costing R35 and available from the Prince Albert Tourist Bureau or the Fransie Pienaar Museum.
CLASSIC MORGANS MEET IN PRINCE ALBERT
Prince Albert will host a gathering of classic cars in March. Among the 12 Morgan owners and their families who have shipped cars to South Africa for this five-week tour are 22 British visitors who have never visited the Republic. The tour starts in Cape Town on February 21, and includes The Strand and Winelands, before it reaches Prince Albert where, after crossing the Swartberg Pass, participants will stay at the Swartberg Hotel and dine at the Karoo Kombuis. Local residents are eagerly awaiting the group, which will include some South African Morgan owners, so that they can introduce them to the splendours of the Great Karoo and some traditional dishes. From the Karoo the tour proceeds through the Garden Route and Eastern Cape to the Anglo-Boer War Battlefields and coastal areas of Natal. Then it is on to the Kruger Park and Mpumalanga before returning home. “All the British drivers are eagerly looking forward to this trip,” says organiser Sarah Dowding of Classic Travelling. “Several are particularly keen to experience the clear dry desert air of the Great Karoo and to cross the internationally renowned Swartberg Pass.
THOSE MEN AND THEIR FLYING MACHINES ARE BACK
The drone of aircraft again flying over Beaufort West is a welcome sound. The old airport, 12km north of the town and once a stopover for so many of those aviation record attempts early in the last century, is under new management. It was purchased last year by Lionel Pereira, a qualified pilot and brother-in-law of Phillipa Wilson, who owns the adjacent Flight Deck Guesthouse. “Our plan is to offer service to those who opt to arrive in the Central Karoo by air,” said Phillipa. “In addition to the airstrip, we offer, accommodation, breakfasts, lunches and snacks or drinks at our guesthouse and a shuttle service, at a nominal fee, to town or to surrounding farms for pilots and their passengers. In time, we also hope to open more runways.”
KAROO CAPTIVATES FRENCH JOURNALIST
The scenic beauty of the Great Karoo recently captivated French freelance photojournalist Frank Fouquet. He was commissioned by S A Tourism and the South African Embassy in France to compile a book designed to encourage French tourists to visit the Republic. It is the first book of its kind to be published in French and will include four to six pages of each of South Africa’s top 20 National Parks. Frank shot over 260 photographs at The Karoo National Park. “The weather was magnificent, and I was able to concentrate on the scenic splendour of the Great Karoo,” said Frank who has also compiled three top-selling publications on Kenya, one on Tanganyika and another on Mauritania. Former president Nelson Mandela has been asked to write the foreword to this 250-page book on South Africa, which will be launched early next year.
PEAR TREES AND MOONLIGHT WEAVE A SPELL
The delicate fragrance of pear blossoms and moonlight in September 1918, enchanted a visitor to Beaufort West. In a letter to The Courier he says: “Donkin Street was the prettiest sight. The pear trees were in bloom and their scent was quite delicious. I was told that when all the trees bloom at once, the scent is overpowering. Blossoms this year are rather uneven and the scent fragrantly aromatic, especially in the moonlight. The nights here are beautiful and so clear. Ah, truly this is an enchanted land.”
NUWE BOEK OOR DIE BOERE-OORLOG
Die geskiedenis van die kampe wat tydens die Anglo-Boere-oorlog langs die Oranjerivier naby Hopetown gebou is, is nou saamgevat in ‘n boek. Die gebied op Doornbult, tuiste van Rina en Lemmer Wiid, word beskou as een van die mees ongeskonde terreine uit die Anglo Boere-oorlog. Oor die jare het Rina heelwat navorsing oor die kampe gedoen. Sy het dit alles onlangs geboekstaaf saam met ‘n vriendin Winnie West en dit is nou beskikbaar onder die titel Die Oranjerivierkampe. Hierdie A4 landskapformaat boek, wat 160-fotos insluit, kos van R150, plus R30 vir posgeld. ‘n Engelse vertaling is op pad, sê Rina, wie ook oorsese befondsing bekom het vir die verdere ontwikkeling van die terrein vir toerisme.
- NEW BOOK ON THE BOER WAR
The history of the camps built on the banks of the Orange River during the Anglo-Boer War has now been documented in book form. These campsites, on the farm Doornbuilt, home of Rina and Lemmer Wiid, are considered to be among the most unspoiled Anglo-Boer War sites in South Africa. Rina spent years researching their history and that of many of the people held captive there. Now, together with a friend, Winnie West, she has written a book entitled “Oranjerivierkampe” (The Camps of the Orange River). This A4 landscape format book, which includes 160 photographs and costs R150, plus R30 for postage, has just been released. An English translation of the book is on the way. Rina has also managed to acquire international funding to develop the site for tourism.
THE BRAVE BOER BOY TOUCHES MANY HEARTS
The launch of the The Brave Boer Boy and Other Stories, the fourth book in Taffy and David Shearing’s Cape Commando Series, has been a great success. The book contains 35 stories about special people and horses of the Anglo-Boer War. “Our idea for the title came from a story of an 11-year-old Boer boy who walked alone from the Free State to Cape Town to find his father, who was a prisoner of war at the Green Point Camp. The boy was found asleep under a palm tree on the Grand Parade, near the Castle. We felt such love and courage could not go unheralded,” she said. Each story begins with a short introduction of the person who told it. These include The Cleverest Scout, Doing a Bunk from Elsenburg, A Baboon on Sentry Duty, and the tale of 500 donkeys that end up in a skirmish. The book, which costs R130, plus R15 for postage, includes many photographs not published before.
A CALL TO ANGLO-BOER WAR EXPERTS
Freelance journalist Martin Hatchuel has a question for experts on the Anglo-Boer War. “Has any one ever heard of a concentration camp near Port Alfred to which women and children from the Karoo were sent during the South African War?” he asks. “I am particularly interested to find out about Graaff Reinet families and to which concentration camps they would have been sent. Any information would be appreciated.”