Theatre lovers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will be given a rare glimpse of the Karoo this month when the Dramaturg City Theatre stages Athol Fugard’s post apartheid play “Sorrows and Rejoicings.” To help set the scene, the theatre’s literary manager, Carlyn Ann Aquiline, appealed to the Central Karoo Regional Tourism Office for pictures to help advertise the play and show locals what the Karoo setting of the play looked like. These and brochures were sent for display on opening night. The play will be produced by Timothy Douglas. “The actors, big names in Pittsburgh, are people who you will not have heard of in South Africa, but we’re sure they’ll be big attractions,” said Carlyn. “One is even coming from New York, much to our delight. Sadly, we lost an actress, cast in the role of Marta, to a film contract and we are currently scrambling to find a replacement. Alison is to be played by Helena Ruoti, Dawid by Conan McCarty and Rebecca by Rebecca Utt. “Sorrows and Rejoicings,” which has just gone into rehearsal and is due to run from January 22 through February 16, is described as exploring the legacy of apartheid on two women, one black and one white. “On the surface they seem to have little in common, except their love for Dawid, an Afrikaans poet, whose death has thrown them together,” said Carlyn. “The drama moves between past and present with lyrical grace.”


Die Taakspan wat deur die Minister van Landbou, Toerisme en Dobbellary, Johan Gelderblom, aangewys is om ‘n bemarkingstrategie vir Kaapstad en die hinterland te ontwerp het hulle taak op datum voltooi. Die span se finale dokument, wat in samewerking met Kaapstad Toerisme en Events taakspan saamgestel is, is deur ministeriële taakspan voorsitter Andy Lamont vroeg in Desember aan die minister oorhandig. Dit was toe aan alle rolspelers vir kommentaar gestuur. “Dit is ‘n omvattende dokument,” sê Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad hoof uitvoerende beampte Dr Mike Fabricius , “en ek doen ‘n beroep op alle belangstellendes om dit noukeurig te lees en kommentaar aan my te stuur teen 31 Januarie, 2003.”


The Task Team appointed by the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling, Johan Gelderblom, to develop a strategy for the combined marketing of Cape Town and the hinterland, completed its task on deadline. The team’s final document, which was drawn up in collaboration with a Cape Town Tourism and Events Task Team, was presented to the Minister by Task Team chairperson, Andy Lamont, early in December. It was then sent to role-players for comment. “This is a comprehensive document,” said Western Cape Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mike Fabricius. “I now call on all interested parties to read the document carefully and to let me have their comments by January 31, 2003.”


A new guest house has opened in Bird Street in the historic core of Beaufort West. Tree Tops Inn is the brainchild of Theo Scheepers who runs the popular Shonalanga Guest House in Vryheid, Natal, with his wife and daughters. The Beaufort West operation will be run by sister Hettie Hiscock and Theo’s son, also Theo. The venue features six luxury air-conditioned double rooms, each with refrigerator, TV, kettle, complementary tea and coffee and a fully stocked bar fridge from which refreshments will be charged to the guest’s account. The venue has three en-suite garden rooms and three in the main building. “To begin with, this will be a bed and breakfast venue, but as we grow to meet market demands we will serve evening meals as well,” says Hettie. “The garden also has lovely private nooks where guests can braai.”


The Central Karoo is not without its own poignant stories about slaves, as Hilary Reynolds discovered when she interviewed tourism co-ordinator Rose Willis on SAfm’s Woman Today programme on the anniversary of the abolition of slavery. Many found the talk informative and contacted Rose for more information. Initially, I thought that early farmers in this area had not been wealthy enough to afford slaves,” said Rose. “Research proved me wrong. Among the writings of early travellers, such as Commisaris de Mist, I discovered there had been several slaves on Abraham de Klerk’s farm Hooyvlakte, on which Beaufort West was established in 1818. These journals tell of slaves tending De Klerk’s huge herds, as well as picking, sorting and laying fruit out on racks to dry in the sun. Some of these travellers said De Klerk’s farm was so huge it reminded them of some principalities they’d known in Europe. Here, said one of the missionaries, was ‘a man who was lord of all he surveyed.’ In 1832, the Reverend Colin Fraser, then minister of the Dutch Reformed Mother Church in Beaufort West, baptised 32 slaves. In a moving ceremony, Fraser entered the name of each slave in his baptismal register. Then there is the heartrending story of Beaufort West’s Anglican rector, the Reverend Guy Gething, who as a young priest in the 1800s came across a famished, terrified and destitute man, obviously with roots in slavery. He had no one to turn to when he fled from a cruel master. Gething, a great humanitarian, decided to see him safely home. Together they walked across Africa to present-day Malawi where his family was found. Once the man, whose name was not recorded, had been settled, Gething undertook the journey back to Beaufort West alone, and again mostly on foot. A plaque in the local Anglican Church gives thanks for the life of Guy Gething, who died in 1906.”


In 1891, het Beaufort-Wes dorpsvaders besluit dat die dorp ‘n treetjie nader aan die moderne wêreld moes beweeg. Die dorp was al 70 jaar oud en toename aan die deurreisende publiek het die gesondheidskomitee laat besluit dat die tyd aangebreek het om “gemakshuisies” in alle geboue aan te bring. ‘n Kennisgewing is in die Courier geplaas en huiseienaars is in kennis gestel dat hulle binne die volgende drie maande elk ” ‘n gemakshuisie of sekreet moes oprig van messelwerk, geriffelde yster of ander boustof wat die goedkeuring van die komitee wegdra.” En net om seker te maak dat die werk binne die spertyd verrig is het die komitte kennis gegee dat “daar geen goedkeuring meer verleen sal word vir die sinking van nagvuil gate nie.”


In 189, Beaufort West’s city fathers decided that the town should take a wee step towards the modern world. The town was then 70 years old and traffic flow through it had increased to such an extent that the Health Committee decided the time had come for each building to be provided with a “convenience.” An official notice was placed in The Courier advising home and other building owners that a “convenience” should be erected within three months. This could be constructed from “bricks and mortar, corrugated iron or any other building material which met with the approval of the committee.” And, just to make sure that the work was done within the specified deadline the committee added a rider stating “that from now on no further permission will be granted for the digging of ‘long drops.'”


The geology of the Karoo, particularly in the Laingsburg/Matjiesfontein area, has always been of great interest to travelers. The Central Karoo Regional Tourism Office constantly receives inquiries about rock formations in this area. A reader recently found that some of these self-same formations were mentioned in an 1879 report written by E J Dunn, an early geologist. He wrote: “On the southern side of the Karoo, near Matjiesfontein, there is a conglomerate of rock and pebbles which weathers into strange jagged points. It is particularly visible on the old Diamond Fields Road through Karoo Poort and to its north. The Boers aptly named this ‘Bushmansklip’ as the tiny indigenous men found excellent cover among these pinnacles.”


Prince Albert se gewilde Olyffees sal vanjaar vanaf 25 tot 28 April gehou word. Organiseerders is al druk besig met beplanning vir ‘n puik geleentheid wat beloof om ‘n toppunt van die Karoo se toeriste jaar te wees. Inligting vir dié wat vroegtydig wil bespreek is beskikbaar by die Toeristeburo.


Prince Albert’s popular Olive Festival will be held from April 25 to 28 this year. Organisers are already hard at work planning this festival which promises as usual to be a highlight of the Central Karoo’s tourist year. Those who wish to book early can obtain full details from the Prince Albert Tourist Bureau.


Anything to do with water is a serious business in the Central Karoo. Beaufort West’s water bailiff, Mr S Davids, found this out the hard way on January 22, 1883, a hot, dry Karoo summer day. He set off to discuss water cuts with six townsmen he had once considered reasonable people. Barely had discussions opened when an altercation ensued, and the men began stoning him. Davids fled with all speed, according to an item in Wynand Viviers’s book, Hooyvlakte. Having to beat such an undignified and hasty retreat humiliated and angered him. Davids immediately appealed to the Beaufort West Municipal Council to issue him with a gun. His request was turned down.


Shortly before the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War in 1899, President Paul Kruger’s ZAR government decided that Johannesburg should be “cleaned up.” Soon afterwards, two trains, packed with ladies of the night, passed through the Karoo bound for Cape Town. There was quite a stir at every little station along the way. “Up until then, prostitution in Cape Town was confined to streets like Boom Street, just off of Plein Street. It consisted almost entirely of brothels,” wrote journalist and newspaper editor Charles Davidson Don in his memoirs, And having writ … Before the trains arrived “there were only a few European prostitutes in Cape Town. Then the Kruger Government cleaned out Johannesburg and two train loads of foreign women, mostly German and French, arrived.” The commotion was terrifying. “They settled like locusts all over town. Some even moved into the suburbs,” wrote Don. “At one time, the state of affairs amounted to a grave scandal. Women rented houses in the Gardens and neighbours were disturbed throughout the night by the arrival and departure of noisy or tipsy visitors, while women in déshabille – to put it mildly – sat at windows or lolled on the verandahs. Street walkers by the score paraded in Adderley, St George’s and Plein streets at night. St George’s Street was ill lit, and male pedestrians were not only accosted, but forcibly embraced, often by two or more violently quarrelling women. In few other cities could such disorderly scenes be witnessed.” Gradually the Mother City returned to normal. “Then, a worse scandal broke out when it was discovered that some policemen had been accepting bribes from brothel-keepers, prostitutes and street walkers,” wrote Don.


Daar is nou drie nuwe roetes vir 4 x 4 entoesiaste in die Swartberge net buite Prins Albert. Die roetes, almal deel van Ian Uys se nuwe Swartberg-Natuurreservaat, word streng beheer om te verseker dat daar geen besoedeling van hierdie prag gebied is nie. Al drie roetes begin net oorkant die Scholtzkloof afdraaipad en elke roete bied asemrowende uitsigte aan van areas wat tot nou toe nie oop was vir die publiek nie,” sê Charlotte Olivier, Prins Albert Toerismebeampte. “Dagkostes vir die roetes is R100 per voertuig en R50 per scrambler. Permitte is by Nasional Garage, die Toeristeburo of by die ingang van die reserwe verkrygbaar.”


There are now three new routes for 4 x 4 enthusiasts in the Swartberg area just outside Prince Albert. All are part of Ian Uys’s new Swartberg Nature Reserve and are strictly controlled to ensure there is no pollution of this beautiful, pristine area. “All three routes begin across the road from the Scholtzkloof turnoff on the road to the Swartberg Pass, and each has unequalled, breathtaking views of areas until now closed to the public,” said Charlotte Olivier, Prince Albert tourist information officer. “Daily rates for the routes are R100 for vehicles and R50 for scramblers. Permits are obtainable from the National Garage, the Tourist Office or at the entrance to the reserve.”


Among the many captivated by the work of English landscape artist Marianne North, who also once worked in the Karoo, is Round-up reader Lesley Frescura. “Marianne North was one of those amazing and intrepid female travelers of the 19th century. The daughter of a clergyman, she used her private income to travel to far-flung places such as Indonesia, Australia, South Africa, India, Chile, and Sri Lanka among others. Marianne painted with passion and in glorious colour. When she returned to England, she commissioned an architect to design a suitable place in which her many paintings could be displayed. She worked with him, so really, the Marianne North Gallery is her design. Each room is devoted to a different area. Marianne also did the paintings on the ceilings, as well as all other decorations and the paintings are hung exactly as she placed them.” Lesley agrees with David Upton (Round up 107) that it is quite an experience to step inside this gallery and be surrounded by the vibrant colours that Marianne used. “I loved it . I bought several postcards of her work. Unfortunately, there are not many of her South African visit,” said Lesley.


‘n Man wie vir jare ‘n sleutel figuur in die ou SDR Paaie-afdeling was, is ook ‘n groot kenner van Die Oog, die “spooklig van die Karoo,” Piet van Zyl, of Piet Voëltjie, soos hy in Prins Albert bekend staan, sê die geheimsinnige lig sorg meer as eenmal ‘n jaar vir ‘n skouspel op die Karoo vlakte net buite die dorp. “Maar in al die jare wat dit gesien word, het niemand rêrig ‘n verklaring vir die eienaardige lig nie. In die veertiger jare het ek en my skoolmaats, Bennie Botes, Piet en Koos van Zyl en Sarel du Toit dikwels saans tussen agt en nege uur op die hoek van De Beer en Meiringstrate gesit en wag om Die Oog te sien. Die het altyd oor die nek tussen Rondekop en Plakkieskop vanaf Vyevlei verskyn. Elke keer het dit as ‘n ronde skerp lig net oor die nek gerol en dan met rol bewegings oor die vlakte saam met die Dorpsrivier oor Waterkop grondlangs in die rigting van Prins Albert-stasie beweeg. Die lig was soms dowwer, dan weer skerp. Ons het groot gepraat om nader te hardloop, maar ons moed het ons begewe. Die ou mense het gesê dit is fosfordampe,” sê Piet. “Maar daar is baie ander stories oor Die Oog, wat mens laat wonder wat dit eintlik is.”


A man who for many years was a key figure in the old Regional Services Council Roads Department and who has a great love for the Karoo, is also an expert of The Eye, the ghost light of the Karoo. Piet van Zyl, or Piet Voëltjie as he is better known in Prince Albert, says this mysterious light ensures a spectacle on the fringes of this Karoo town at least once a year. “Yet, no matter how many times it has been seen no one has yet come up with a satisfactory explanation of what it is,” he says. “In the ’40s, my school pals, Bennie Botes, Piet en Koos van Zyl, Sarel du Toit and I would sneak out at night between eight and nine o’clock to the corner of De Beer and Meiring streets and there wait to see The Eye. It would always make an appearange at the neck between Rondekop and Plakkieskop from the direction of Vyevlei. Each time this round sharp light would roll over the neck and slowly move along the ground in theDorpsriver area and cross Waterkop, moving in the direction of Prince Albert Road station. At times it would become dull and at other times remain sharp. We made brave noises about running across the veld to find out exactly what it was, but when we saw the light out courage deserted us. The old people of the town said it was simply phosphorous vapour, but there have been enough other stories about its appearance to keep one guessing,” said Piet.


A TV cameraman searching for interesting stories in the Karoo last month discovered one of South Africa’s earliest exercise bicycles in the oldest cycle shop of its kind in the country. KykNet cameraman André Calitz also found a special ladies’ bicycle. “And, because M C Ellis Cycles in Beaufort West hasn’t changed much in over a century, these two bikes hardly seemed out of place,” he said. “In fact, just stepping across the threshold into this shop transports you to another time.” While browsing in the shadows at the back of the shop, André saw a strange-looking bicycle under a cover. “What on earth is this?” Owner Tim Ellis replied: “A special exercise bicycle and the only one of its kind. My dad, Mathys Christoffel Ellis, built it in the 1930s for a local resident, Mr Ackerman. Old ‘Oom Ackerman’, was perturbed by his girth. He’d heard cycling was an excellent way to trim down but could not imagine himself sweating round town on a bike, so he asked my dad if he could make an ‘in-door bike.’ My dad, an inventive man, said he’d give it some thought. He built a really sturdy pipe frame, attached it to a strong wooden base, added a traditional saddle and pedals, but attached these to an old diesel flywheel. This provided the ‘power,’ which could be limited by tying a strong leather strap to the front wheel. Operation was simple, the tighter the strap, and the harder you had to pedal. This cycle, I believe, provided a good workout. According to Oom Ackerman’s contemporaries, it did the trick!” André also spotted another interesting, specially-designed bicycle with wooden wheels and a drive shaft. Tim explained it was created with the ladies of the early 1900s in mind. “This cycle has no chain, nor wheel spokes, in which a lady’s long skirts can get caught,” said Tim. “It was light, elegant, safe and slow. But then in those days no lady went anywhere in a hurry.”


‘n Uiters interessante werkswinkel oor wetgewing wat betrekking het op toerisme is in Desember in Knysna gehou. Die hoof sprekers, almal dosente by Port Elizabeth Universiteit en venote van LexIcon, was Prof Peter Vranken, skrywer van Tourism and the Law, Michael White, ‘n deskundige op die gebied van e.besigheidwetgewing, en Deon Erasmus, ‘n arbeidswetdeskundige. Verskillende wette wat van toepassing is op hotelle, gastehuise en ander akkommodasie instansies is bespreek, asook die aanspreeklikheid van eienaars van sulke instansies teenoor gaste en werknemers. Besigheidstransaksies, e.pos, elektroniese besprekings, betalings, nuusbriewe en inligtingstukke was almal onder die soeklig geplaas. Daar was ook ‘n lesing oor assuransie, en werkswinkel organiseerder Martin Hatchuel het afgevaardigdes ingelig oor mediaskakeling, advertensies en kopiereg. Afgevaardigdes was dit eens dat die program uitstekende was.


An extremely interesting workshop on Tourism and the Law was held in Knysna in December. Main speakers, all lecturers at the University of Port Elizabeth and Partners of LexIcon, were Professor Peter Branken, author of Tourism and the Law, Michael White, an expert on the e.business legislation and Deon Erasmus, an expert on labour law. They discussed laws pertaining to hotels, guest houses and other accommodation institutions and the responsibilities of owners in respect of guests and employees. Business transactions, e.mail, electronic bookings, payments, newsletter and information were all placed under the spotlight. There was also an interesting talk on insurance and workshop organiser Martin Hatchuel informed delgates on media liaison, advertisements and copyright.


Three rare fossils have been uncovered on De Vlei, the Murraysburg farm of Jos and Ida Cloete. A palaeontological team from the Department of Zoology at the University of Stellenbosch discovered the five-meter long, almost complete fossil of a pariasaurus, a large herbivore that lived in the Karoo swamp about 250-million years ago. They also found a 40cm section of a labyrinthidont and a small dicynodont fossil. These were found by palaeontologist Dr Jurie van den Heever, biochemist Edward Foster and Karoo enthusiast George van Heerden, who is also an enthusiastic dam and aviation researcher. “We were particularly delighted to find a pariasaurus fossil,” said Jurie “These creatures were different from the mammal-like reptiles found in the pre-historic swamps. They were primitive, anapsid creatures. This means that they had no holes at the back of their skulls, the temporal lobe being a solid bone. The pariasaurus also had ‘bony’ body armour. Its skin consisted of reinforced bony scales called dermal scutes. Another unique feature of the pariasaurus was its peculiar teeth in the lower jaw. These had flat grooves that looked almost like tiny hands protruding from the gums, which led to early researchers and old farmers in the area tom refer to them as ‘handjiestand’ creatures.” The teeth of the labrynthidont are also interesting. “These creatures had labyrinth-like twists on the enamel of their teeth, which led to their name,” said Jurie. “The dicynodonts got their name from their two long, dog-like upper canine teeth. These little pig-like herbivorous therapsids were quite common creatures in the ancient Karoo,” said Jurie. In December the fossils were partially excavated and covered. The team hopes to return early this year to complete excavations, so that the specimens can be easily removed and prepared for display in the University’s Palaeontological Collection