EXCELLENT SEASON BOOSTS THE TRADE
The past Festive Season, one of the best in the Great Karoo for some years, has set the pace for 1998. The busy time throughout the December/January holiday period, when virtually all accommodation venues were filled to capacity, has left behind a fresh enthusiasm for tourism. Most venues reported reaching capacity earlier and being fuller for longer. This was attributed to the timely launch of the N1 promotional campaign which created a great deal of co-operation between towns along the route. Early distribution of information sheets ensured that each Tourist Bureau, from Colesberg to Matjiesfontein, was fully aware of all facilities along the route and so able to efficiently help tourists find last-minute accommodation. The success of this project has motivated tourism role players in the Central Karoo to begin planning for the Easter and winter seasons well in advance. Several exciting projects are in the pipeline. Plans for special events, such as the Beaufort West Heart Festival, scheduled to be held from November 4 to 7 this year, are already well in hand.
KUIER BY DIE KAROO IN DIE KAAP
Toeriste kan die Karoo nou in die Kaap sien. Plante van die Tanqua, Groot, Ceres en Klein Karoo gebiede word saam met die van ander droë landstreke in ‘n nuwe R9-m besoeksentrum by Kirstenbosch uitgestal in ‘n glashuis wat spesiaal vir Suid-Afrikaanse klimaat-toestande ontwerp is. Terrasse lei na ‘n laagliggende middelpunt met kremetartboom as fokuspunt. Elke plant is in grond van sy eie gebied geplant en omring met rotsformasies en klippe uit sy eie streek.
NEW MINISTER OF TOURISM
The new Western Cape Province Minister of Tourism is Mr Hennie Bester, 35, leader of the Democratic Party in the province. He took over from Mr Lampie Fick on January 19. Mr Bester also holds the portfolios of Trade and Industry. He was born in Paarl and attended Huguenot High School in Wellington. He has a B. Comm (cum laude) and LLB (cum laude) from the University of Stellenbosch and an LLM from Cambridge University. Mr Bester was rapporteur for the Working Group of Codesa in 1992, and an attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
WES-KAAP TOERISME OP INTERNET
Wes-Kaap Toerisme Raad het nou ‘n Internet website met inligting oor elke streek. Die eerste fase. wat in December in werking getree het, kan op die tydelike address: demo.iatiafrica.com/wctourism, gevind word. Om die sukses van hierdie bemarkingsveldtog te verseker, en die website so interessant moontlik te maak, word nog bale kleur-transparente en goeie kwaliteit -fotos, veral van die Karoo benodig. Deur die jaar sal elke streek ‘n beurt gegun word om “streek van die maand” it wees. Huidiglik word geen akkommodasie organisasies gelys nie, maar belangstellendes kan met Wes-Kaap Toerisme Raad of hul plaaslike streekstoerisme organisies en toerisme buros skakel.
A GREAT-GRANDAD OF GREAT DARING
A Pretoria man, named after his great-grandfather, is now on the trail of his namesake. The original Petrus van der Merwe, was born near Upington in an area he called “Grootrivier”. After marrying a Miss Kriel, the couple came to the Karoo where they farmed in the Richmond/De Aar district. She died in childbirth, and their son, Willem Lodewickus, was raised by his father who, during the Anglo- Boer War, joined the Cape Rebels. A man of great daring and fluent in English as he had attended a university abroad, he infiltrated enemy lines dressed as a British soldier. “Great-grandpa was fully aware he would have been shot if caught,” says his great-grandson, “but he loved danger and intrigue.” But great-grandpa’s daring once backfired badly. He was shot at by his own side while dressed as a British soldier. A Boer patrol quite naturally mistook him for a “Tommie” and opened fire. One bullet caused a severe head wound. He was rushed to a nearby farm where emergency treatment saved his life, but one ear became totally deaf. Petrus is now scouring the Karoo in the hopes of finding out more about his great-grandfather.
‘n Revolusionêre toerisme-ontwikkelingsplan, wat oor 300 000 werksgeleenthede kan skep, is deur die Kabinet goedgekeur. Volgens ‘n artikel in Die Burger, vra dit ‘n belegging van minstens R300 miljoen van die Sentrale Regering en meer aggressiewe bemarking op internasionale vlak. Dit beoog om teen die jaar 2000 toerisme uit te brei sodat dit 8% van die bruto binnelandse produk (BBP) sal wees. Huidiglik is dit 4,7%. Die Departement van Omgewingsake en Toerisme se die plan sal jaarliks 17% meer oorsese toeriste na Suid-Afrika bring, afgesien van die 4,8 miljoen besoekers van die kontinent en 19,5 miljoen binnelandse toeriste. In reële terme beteken dit 2,2 miljoen buitelandse besoekers met R23-miljard in hul sakke. Die plan is toegespits op navorsing, opleiding, besoekerhantering, veiligheid, infrastrukture- en diensteverbetering, sowel as die opbouing van ‘n databasis. ‘n Nuwe toergids-bestuurs-, -opleiding en -vakbondskema word in die lewe geroep. ‘n Toergidskommissie, onder leiding van raadslid Shareen Parker, is in Oktober aangewys, en ‘n toerisme-opleidingakademie, sowel as toerisme as skoolvak, word oorweeg.
A NEW-LOOK SATOUR
Plans for a revamped Satour have been accepted by its board of directors, subject to Government approval of its budget and restructuring. Included is the streamlining of present functions and the creation of five international hub offices in high-yield areas – America, Europe, Asia, Britain and Africa. Satour aims to become a dynamic, post-modem information technology organisation, providing up-to-date data and statistics, holding regular briefings with provinces, industries and communities and embarking on targeted marketing campaigns. It will also be more commercialised, characterised by joint venture partnerships, and have an increased capacity for income generation. Currently plans for Indaba, to be held in Durban from May 4 to 7, are in full swing. Satour states that while South Africa is attracting more foreign visitors, they are younger and more frugal. Tourists are spending significantly less time and money in the country. Nevertheless steady growth is envisaged and it is claimed that by the year 2 000 South Africa will need over 30 000 beds a day.
ARTIKEL BRING MEER LESERS
In Desember was daar ‘n artikel in die Buite Burger oor die Sentrale Karoo en daarin het Braham van Zyl sy lesers ingelig oor al die lekker leesstof in Rose’s Round-up. Hy het gemeld dat die nuusbriefte teen R30 In jaar gekry kon word en dit het daartoe gelei dat heelwat belangstellendes in die Karoo ingeskryf het.
The Klein Karoo Arts Festival will be held in Oudtshoorn from April 1 to 8 this year and already planning is in full swing. One of the most exciting exhibits will be a Food and Wine Expo representative of all regions in the Western Cape Province. The two Karoos have plans to combine their efforts to great effect here.
ON THE TRAIL OF HISTORY
Escom enthusiasts led by Arnold Hutchinson intend walking the old wagon trail to search for traces of a tollhouse. Should they find its the remains, Escom has undertaken to restore this valuable piece of Karoo history. “The tollhouse appears on an old calico map drawn by Thomas Bain when lie plotted a route across the Nuweveld Mountains to the Diamond Fields. The route, which snaked up from Beaufort West, emerged on the plateau at Mountain View, once the Rose family farm,” says Arnold. The original Rose Berg Pass is still shown on some modern maps, but a new pass was later built and this was named in honour of Sir John Charles Molten, known as the Lion of Beaufort West and the Cape Colony’s first premier. Today, much of this forgotten “wapad”, once the only route to the upper plateau, lies inside the Karoo National Park which intends to incorporate it into a hiking route. Arnold has already walked this old trail using the Bain map as a guide. “Despite the fact that the road has not been used for over 100 years, it is still clearly visible. It’s overgrown, but easy to follow,” says Arnold. ” The route was well-planned and at one particularly difficult spot allowance was even made for one-way traffic, so that wagons driving in opposite directions could pass each other safely and easily. Where the terrain levelled out the roads again merged. Every care will be taken not to disturb the environment during the restoration.”
BELANGSTELLING OORTREF VERWAGT1NGE
Daar is groot belangstelling in die Herdenking van die Anglo Boere-oorlog in die buiteland en verwagtinge is dat die geleentheid ‘n reuse sukses sal wees. Dit is die mening van Johan Hattingh wat die Herdenkingsgeleentheid by World Travel Market in London namens die Oorlogsinuseum in Bloemfontein bemark het. “Belangstelling in alles wat beplan word was oorweldigend en het alle verwagtinge oortree. Ons het daarin geslaag om alle streke te verteenwoordig en planne aan meer as 80 media mense en toeroperateurs voor te lê tydens een geselligheid. Hieruit het ons baie positiewe terugvoering ontvang. Ons beplan om teen einde April 1998 ‘n brosjure te druk waarop alle herdenkingsgeleenthede aangedui sal word. Dit is dus belangrik dat ons op hoogte gehou is met die beplanning in alle streke. Die brosjure sal oorsee gestuur word aan Satoer se kantore, toeroperateurs, regimente en ander belangstellendes. Satoer het besluit om die Herdenking van die Anglo Boere-oorlog een van hulle projekte te maak.
DISPLAY HONOURS BOER SOLDIER
A young Victoria West man had just distinguished himself at universities in England and Holland and qualified as a lawyer when the Anglo-Boer War broke out. Hendrik Johannes (Henry) Hugo returned home immediately and joined the Boer forces. He spent time on commando, attacking and destroying British supply depots and military bases in the Karoo and Northern Cape. He was appointed secretary to the Military Council and highly praised for the manner in which he handled this task. Then, on February 18, 1902, he was fatally wounded in a skirmish on the farm Oorlogsfontein, near Three Sisters. He was buried on nearby Stampfontein where General Wynand Malan later led a ceremony dedicating a memorial to Hugo. His body was later exhumed and reinterred on the family farm, Lusthof. Henry Hugo is now honoured in a Boer War display at Victoria West Museum This includes photographs of Hugo, his grave, British soldiers in Victoria West, Commandant P E Scholtz and officers of the Victoria West Town Guard, as well as guns, rifles, shell and bullet moulds. Items made by Boer prisoners on St Helena, saddle bags, binoculars, and metal spikes, scattered on the ground to cripple horses, are included in the display.
ROUND-UP GETS A LOOK-ALIKE
Round-Up has a “cousin”. A new quarterly newsletter called, “Steve’s War Stories” and filled with Anglo-Boer War snippets, is being published by Steve Lunderstedt, an authority on the War and a tour guide Steve is also the man who has organised the popular and highly-acclaimed Boer War Expos in Kimberley. He has based his publication, which has an A-4 format, on the successful Rose’s Round-up concept.
TOWN REALLY HAD ONLY ONE HORSE
The Karoo delights some and amuses others, while many are amazed at its vastness and tiny towns. In his book. “The ‘Transvaal in War and Peace”, Neville Edwards, who carne to South Africa with the British Forces during the Anglo-Boer War, writes: “Although the Karoo is an abomination of desolation, some of the towns are sweet oases, set in places with plentiful water. Once, travelling to Matjiesfontein, one Johnny-come-lately, whose lack of brains only equalled his assumption of innocence, woke and asked where we would get breakfast. I replied that the train stopped at Matjiesfontein. And, knowing how exceedingly small these places look to everyone from Europe, with their 10 to 50 houses stuck down in what appears to be a desert, I said: ‘It’s not a very large place as you can see from the map.’ His answer was so startling it set me laughing. ‘Oh, no, I quite understand it wouldn’t be large, no more than 25 000 people I dare say.’ Smothered sniggers from fellow officers puzzled him, but no one offered any further information. In fact the whole carriage lapsed into silence until the train rounded a bend and there in full glory was Matjiesfontein. One horse. 16 shanties, two dogs, and a coloured woman burst into view. The trooper’s face was a study. He simply could not believe such a tiny place was a recognised rail stop, leave alone that breakfast would he served there!” Yet, oddly enough in 1898, when splitting the Cape Colony was seriously discussed, consideration was given to making Matjiesfontein the capital of the northern sector.
HERINNERINCE LANGS DIE TREINSPOOR
‘n Beaufort-Wes inwoner en ou Spoorwegman met ‘n groot liefde vir die geskiedenis van die Karoo, mnr J A Bradley, het inligting oor die Kettingstasie en blokhuis in die nuusbrief Platform ontdek. Hier vertel mnr F J G Retief dat hy in 1941 stasie voorman by Ketting was en dat die populasie net twee mans en hul vrouens was. “Ons het 12-uur skofte gewerk en in sinkhuisies gewoon. My oudste seun is in ons huisie gebore. Vandag is daar geen teken van enige geboue of stasie nie. In 1941 was die blokhuis nog in ‘n goeie toestand en die sinkplaat van die dak, wat uit Engeland ingevoer was, het nie eers verroes nie. Dit was bros en het maklik gebreek. Rondom die blokhuis was baie geroesde blikkies van die kos wat die soldate geëet het. Plaaslike boere sê ‘n Engelse regiment was daar gestassioneer en het vir my die kaal kol gewys waar hulle gekampeer het. Die soldate het die regiment se naam in klippe uitgepak maar oor die jare het troppe vee dit vertrap en het dit verdwyn. Ons kon dit nie meer uitmaak nie. Die rivier was net ‘n bree sandbedding en ek het altyd gevoel dit was voorwaar ‘n verlate waterlose plek om ‘n Engelsman in to los. Hierdie rivier was seker skrikwekkend in vloed, maar in my 15 jaar daar het dit nooit gereen nie. Die nagte in die deel van die Karoo was donker en stil en ‘n mens het klein en eensaam gevoel met net ‘n olielampie vir lig. Die geraas en gedonder van die groot stoomlokomotiewe was soos musiek in ons ore toe hulle reg voor ons deure, dwars deur die dag en nag, verby gevlieg het. ”
WHEN THE RIVER LIONS ROAR
The controversy surrounding the name of the Dwyka River so intrigued Lydia Barella, curator of Prince Albert’s Fransie Pienaar Museum, that she decided to do some digging in the archives. There she discovered the diary of the town’s once beloved medical practitioner, Dr P C Luttig. In later life, when he lost his eyesight, he dictated his memoirs to his wife, Agnes (nee de Wet), who neatly typed these stories of the old Karoo. Dr Luttig visited patients in Gamkaskloof, The Hell, and was once fortunate enough to see the Gamka and the Dwyka rivers simultaneously in flood. He wrote: “It does not often happen that the Gamka (Bushman name for lion) and Dwyka (lioness) are in flood at the same time, but it has happened. The two mighty, swiftly flowing streams meet at a narrow bottle-neck gorge in the Swartherg range. Not many have seen this wonderful natural phenomenon. The two rivers have different colours so one can see which river is the stronger and takes the right of way through the gorge, pushing the other back and damming it in its course. When the pressure becomes too much the right of way is yielded and the dammed river breaks through. A tremendous roar then reverberates down the gorge in irregular echoes simulating the sound of thunder, cannon fire, or the roar of lions. The whole process of these different coloured streams tumbling over each other resembles the play of lion and lioness for top-dog position. It’s a tremendously exciting sight.”