Simply paging through the latest book on Karoo venison is a mouth-watering experience. The love its three authors have for the Karoo and its traditional style of cooking is evident on every page. However, Camdeboo Karoo Venison, written by Lynne Minnaar, Annetjie Reynolds and Albé Neethling, in co-operation with Camdeboo Meat Producers and the Drosdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet, is much more than just a recipe book. It is a treat from beginning to end. This 200-page, soft-bound, full colour, book is magnificently illustrated. It shares tried and trusted old family favourites, developed and refined over years, as well as traditional venison recipes. It also includes a variety of special taste treats and new ways of preparing vegetables. Camdeboo Karoo Venison reveals the secrets of preparing various cuts for casseroles bursting with flavour, to traditional “Karoo-wildswors,” a delicious sausage. And there is still more. The book captures the true “flavour” of the Karoo. Interesting introductions to each chapter contain fascinating facts on the Great Karoo and the Camdeboo. “The book has done well since its launch.” says Annetjie. “It has become a top seller at Exclusive Books. The main reason for this is that venison is an excellent alternative to red meat. Karoo venison and ostrich cuts have become firm favourites among the health conscious, and those who follow fat free diets. Camdeboo Karoo Venison dispels the myths surrounding marinades and difficulties of cooking venison. Recipes are easy to follow. Each is designed to ensure everyone from the housewife in the kitchen to the man behind the braai fire will be able to confidently serve a delicious Karoo venison dish at any time.” Camdeboo Meat Producers are striving to make Karoo venison more widely available throughout South Africa. Camdeboo Karoo Venison costs R200. It is on the shelves Exclusive Books


Prince Albert’s popular Olive Festival is expanding and changing its name. Now known as The Olive Food and Wine Festival it will be held from April 30 to May l. “We are broadening the base of the festival because olive growing in the district has increased and some of the new wine farms in the area are coming into production,” said Charlotte Olivier, Prince Albert tourist information officer. “This year there will be much more in the line of entertainment, traditional food, special treats, and fun competitions, such as olive pip spitting.” Visitors can book guided tours up the Swartberg Pass, round the township and village, to San sites and the observatory. They can also sample tripe, a local delicacy or visit an angora goat farm or dairy where cheese is made. Story-telling sessions, ghost walks, dancing and street parades are also on the programme.


A beginner’s course in astronomy is being offered at the Cape Technikon. Aimed at tour guides and tourist organisations it is a five-week course that includes field trips. “There is a call among tourists, particularly those from the northern hemisphere, to see night skies in places like the Karoo,” says course leader Lia Labuschagne. “To enable busy tourism personnel to fit this course into their schedules we have arranged four, one-hour afternoon or evening lectures, over a five week period, as well as Saturday field outings.”


An American freelance journalist came to South Africa at the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in “search of adventure and history in the making.” He found both. Frederic William Unger travelled widely. He developed a sympathy for the Boers. Despite endless battles with officialdom he had full correspondent’s press passes from both the Boer and British armies. Unger never forgot his first sight of the Karoo. In his book With Bobs and Kruger he mentions travelling north from Cape Town by train. “I was awakened by a guard shouting ‘breakfast!’ The train had stopped at a tiny place called Matjiesfontein. Most passengers went into the station restaurant. I opened a package of food I had provided for myself and ate alone.” Unger then walked along the “long platform, smoking a cigar,” enjoying the tranquillity of the Karoo and the peace of the plains. He watched Tommies on guard, and officers “idling about” until the train moved off again. The sun ascended, the day grew hot. “One by one the passengers in my compartment divested themselves of their coats, waistcoats and shirts. We sat as though in a hot oven, the wind blowing in through the open windows was like a blast from a furnace. The train ran along drearily at about 15 miles an hour. We were in the Great Karoo desert. On each side of the track the country stretched flat, dry and grey, the only vegetation being a few dried-up bushes. Now and then we rattled over a bridge crossing the dry bed of a small river. At each of these there was a little camp with a company of soldiers on guard. The Colony feared a rising and that railway bridges would be blown up. Far away on the horizon the faint outlines of mountains could be seen shining whitely against a grey-blue background. Towards afternoon we passed a few conical kopjes which soon increased in size and number until we passed through a canyon like that of Colorado, also with a small river running alongside. As evening closed in it grew cold and chilly. The next morning, I was told we had arrived at De Aar, which Kipling called “the land of lies.” Here the world was buried ankle deep in a fine powdery, slightly alkaline dust. It penetrated everywhere. It crept into our baggage, and food. It lined our collars, got inside out clothes, intruding into the most inappropriate places. It made men dirty and profane.”


The number of German tourists visiting Prince Albert has increased. This has led Bodo Toelstede, organiser of the annual Oktoberfest to set up a German language website. Packed with information and photos taken by Bodo’s wife, Gudrun, the site has been highly praised. It enables visitors to plan their trips to the village and book one of the German-speaking guides to show them around.


A recently opened restaurant in Prince Albert has fresh fish on its menu. “In the arid Karoo this is quite a drawcard,” says Johan Senekal, owner of Miller’s Inn. The new restaurant, part of the picturesque and historic Old Mill Complex, specialises in Mediterranean and Karoo cuisine. Fresh fish, which is popular among foreign tourists, is delivered daily from Mossel Bay. “We also offer an interesting variety of salads, steaks and pasta dishes, as well as delectable deserts,” says Johan who has appointed Orcilla Luttig as chef. Orcilla made a name for herself cooking for ministers and foreign dignitaries in Cape Town. Miller’s Inn is not licensed.


When Tessa Moore agreed to become the family genealogist, little did she think all roads would lead to Beaufort West. She soon discovered that her great great grandfather, Thomas Watson, was a partner in one of the town’s early general dealer shops, Watson, Tennant and Company. Thomas married Ann, a daughter of the Reverend Colin M Fraser. “My research reveals that this great preacher “reigned” over Beaufort West from his Dutch Reformed Church pulpit for 60 over years,” says Tessa. “I would love to know more about him. I believe that Fraserburg was named in his honour and that he also had connections with Phillipolis. Was it he or his son who is said to have christened Sir Laurens van der Post there? Colin Fraser’s grandson, Vyvyan, was my grandfather. He married the granddaughter of James Bisset, the architect of Beaufort West’s townhall and Dutch Reformed Church, I understand. The Molteno family is closely related and, I think the Alports. I would love to hear from other researchers working with the histories of these families,” says Tessa.


A young girl born in Cape Town in 1847 married a Scottish doctor and went on to make a great impression on the world. She was Mary, a member of the Solomon family, which came from St Helena and which played an import role in early Cape political and social circles. Mary met and married a Scottish doctor, John Brown, whose life she shared for 60 years. She impressed everyone she met. She had a striking face, fine features, wavy hair and a kindly smile. She matured into a rare personality, who loved nature, literature and her fellow man, no matter what his cast colour or creed. She believed there was a divinity within everyone. She also had the gift of eloquence and used this to inspire large audiences. Yet she could also bring comfort to a single lonely soul. Her marriage to Dr John Brown was a perfect one. They began their married life in Fraserburg where both were loved and respected. Then Mary lost a baby. This affected her so deeply that her husband decided to take her abroad. They went to Scotland so that he could further his studies. Mary, who was said to have the mind of a statesman, yet the touch of the common man, threw herself into social work impressing working class leaders and founders of the co-operative and trades union movements. Many came to her for guidance. Olive Schreiner, a lifelong friend, enlisted Mary’s help when she wanted to publish her Story of An African Farm. Common people trusted Mary. So did many VIPS and statesmen. General and Mrs Botha and Lady Buxton, wife of the then governor general in South Africa, consulted her about South African labour problems. Lady Henry Somerset found her an ardent supporter of the Temperance Movement and General Booth wholeheartedly shared his ideas for social reform with her. Despite intending to return quickly to Fraserburg, Mary and John spent over 20 years abroad. During this time, they adopted the Anglican faith and she worked diligently as a reformer, co-operator and Poor Law Guardian. She was over 60 when they returned to South Africa. Instead of resting she tackled moral, social and racial problems in this country. At the end of her life Mary was severely crippled and blind, yet she never lost her courage, nor her faith. Her great love of her fellow man inspired many to follow in her footsteps.


Bergwater, the first winery in the Great Karoo, will soon introduce its range of wines to the public. This is scheduled to coincide with the Prince Albert Food and Wine festival in April. The wines will include the first Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to be produced in the Great Karoo and connoisseurs are looking forward to tasting these. Bergwater also packages export grapes.


Mary Dean is searching for information on a brave pioneer of the Nuweveld. Tjaart van der Walt, born in the Roggeveld on August 28, 1748, moved into the Great Karoo to farm soon after he reached adulthood. He was a brave man and so was soon appointed a Field Commandant for the Beaufort West area. “In this capacity much of his time was taken up protecting other pioneer farmers and their families from raiding tribes,” she says. “A Khoi-khoi raider named Nortman is said to have shot and killed Van der Walt. Legend has it that after firing the shot Nortman called out to Van der Walt’s companions “See there lies your power. On whom shall you now rely?” Van der Walt was buried where he fell. Mary would like to know if anyone knows more of this early frontier soldier.


The discovery of diamonds at Kimberley led to a flood of fortune hunters pouring through the Karoo. Some of these adventurers walked, others had only sufficient funds to send their equipment on the wagons, while they found some other means of getting to the diggings. Some managed to acquire a horse and rode along on horseback, while yet others booked a seat on one of the post coaches or other unusual vehicles plying the route from the Cape to the Diamond Fields and back. On March 19, 1871, an advertisement appeared in the Cape Argus proudly proclaiming that the wagons of the Inland Transport Company were the best. “Our wagons are able to complete the journey from Cape Town to the Diamond Fields in eight days. Nothing approaches the regularity and comfort of our service. We are the most reliable on the route. Such luxury as our wagons offer has not yet been attained in South Africa,” it proudly stated.


He fought not as a soldier, but as a man of God. Throughout the Anglo-Boer War John Daniel Kestell, beloved minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, never touched a gun, yet he served in the frontline. And, when the noise of combat died down, Kestell tended wounded Boer and British soldiers. The story of this amazing Boer hero, who for three years he rode unarmed on commando his Bible in one pocket and bandages in the other, was told by historian Johan Loock at a Friends of the War Museum function in Bloemfontein recently. Wreaths were laid on the Reverend Kestell’s grave at the Vrouemonument and on the grave of his wife at Memorial Cemetery. Then Johan delivered an illustrated talk in the auditorium at the museum. He paid tribute to the great work done by Kestell throughout his life. On the eve of the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging, Kestell preached his last sermon as a pastor to the Boer Commandos. “Never despair,” he said. “The future belongs to us.” At the outbreak of World War One Kestell was Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church. The fact that a serious split in the church was avoided when the 1914 Rebellion flared up, was attributed to Kestell’s cool-headedness and tact.” Kestell died on February 9, 1941, at the age of 86. Four days later he was buried at the Vrouemonument. Thus, in death the great triumverate of the Free State – the statesman, the warrior and the Man of God – were reunited,” said Johan


South African frogs have a fan in London. It all happened when eight-year-old Liam, who lives with his grandfather, Round-up subscriber, Alan Avis, read a copy of the January issue. He was enchanted to see an effort had been made to record his favourite creatures. “Liam loves frogs,” says Alan. “In fact he is quite mad about them. He constantly monitors the frog and toad population in our garden pond. He also has an indoor tank in which he keeps his prized possessions, Central American, red-eyed tree frogs. He would have loved nothing more than to help the researchers who did such wonderful work in South Africa.”


It started as a short journey. It ended as a nightmare. In 1877 Dr Henry Taylor planned to take a 12-hour journey to a post in Basotuland after disembarking from “the post-cart, stiff, battered, bruised all over, dog-tired and not in a very amiable temper.” In Doctor to Basuto, Boer and Briton he tells of trying to acquire transport to take him to his final destination, 60 miles away. “I can’t say much for the only cart available and less for the horses, but they were all that could be obtained. I set off full of hope, with the son of a local farmer as my charioteer.” They had only travelled for about two hours when their “steeds became seriously unwell.” They outspanned because they feared the horses would die. “I had a small bottle of laudanum in my bag and poured the whole lot down the wretched animals’ throats,” writes Dr Taylor. “A passing Boer further doctored our horses by tying a lump of tobacco on their bits. He assured us this was an unfailing remedy. So we set off again with revived hopes.” But, alas, their hopes were soon dashed. They had been underway for half an hour when the horses became worse than ever. Again, they outspanned. This time for about an hour. “But it was quite clear that the wretched creatures were incapable of carrying us to our destination. So, we set off on foot the now useless carthorses pacing alongside us at a slow walk. Even this was too much for them. By nightfall we had to call a halt. It was bitterly cold. Our food was finished. We sat shivering on the bank of a stream, until eventually we slept on the grass under the cart.” At 21h00 Dr Taylor and his companion were so numbed by the cold that they decided to try another start. “With great misgivings we again harnessed the horses and walked alongside them until we reached a little river. By the time we had crossed, men, cart and horses, were all considerably the worse for wear “A nearby farm offered accommodation. The travellers were shown to a room with a mud floor. “Four or five people were already sleeping there, tightly rolled into their blankets. I fell into an empty space. The fatigue of 20 hours on the road overcame me and I was soon lost in a sound sleep,” says Dr Taylor who, when he first saw the farm, had had visions of a comfortable bed, soft pillows and clean white sheets.

“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order”

Said by mathematician and philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, who gained wide recognition when he collaborated with former pupil Bertrand Russell on Principia Mathematca.