MILITARY ENTHUSIASTS SALUTE MUSEUM
Visiting military enthusiasts have heaped praise on the special arms exhibition in the Marie Rawdon Museum at Matjiesfontein. The exhibition, recently opened by Major John Buist, features a display of uniforms, medals, rifles and shotguns. The exhibits are part of his private collection, now on loan to the museum. The display, in the basement section of the museum, includes several items dating back to the Anglo-Boer War and World War I. The opening coincided with the three-day annual International Championships of the Muzzle Loaders Association which was held at Matjiesfontein.
SKAARS PLANT IN KAROD GEVIND
Tydens die uitleg van die Blokhuis-staproete op Geelbekfontein buite Laingsburg is ‘n skaars plantjie onlangs gevind. Bekend as “kieriemoer” is dit glo die plantjie wat die Boesmans gebruik het om heuningbier te laat gis. “Plantkenners het gedink dat die plant al uitgevrek het,” sê plaaseienaar Dries Swanepoel. ‘Hulle was verheug om te hoor dat ons een tussen die rotse gevind het. Ons het die area gefynkam en nog ‘n paar gekry. Sover ons weet is hierdie die enigstes in die Karoo.”
A POEM FAR FROM HOME
High on a Karoo koppie on a massive boulder there is engraved a Swedish poem that tells of a great longing for home. At the top of what has become known as Petersen’s Kop on the farm Courlandskloof at Nelspoort, there is also a silhouette of Petersen, the man who climbed this hill every day for two weeks to complete this unusual engraving. According to Beaufort West’s Reverend Paul de Villiers, who once lived on this farm, Petersen came to the Karoo with a chest ailment. “He was given a Job on Courlandskloof as a teacher. He loved the Karoo, but missed his homeland. Petersen knew he was dying, so he decided to ‘leave a little piece of Sweden’ on the rocks of the Karoo. It was a tremendous undertaking for a man so ill, but he completed it and died shortly afterwards.” The silhouette above the verse is superbly executed. Translated into English in 1917 by a friend of Reverend De Villiers’s father, it reads: “When the Moon sheds its rays, / Like a silver cover on the Earth, / I then always ask these rays / To bring greeting home to the North.”
MURRAYSBURG VERWELKOM TOERISTE
In Murraysburg heers daar groot entoesiasme vir toerisme. Die dorp het ‘n hotel en gastehuis en daar is reeds heelwat plase wat vakansie- en jaggeleenthede aanbied. Die dorp lê op ‘n belangrike roete na die Oos-Kaap en om dit te benut word planne beraam vir ‘n staproete, ‘n inheemse tuintjie en opgradeering van die karavaanpark op die dorp.
LITTLE STONE LINKS DEVIL AND POET
In his search for more facts on “donderweerklippies,” eye-catching little stones sometimes seen in the Karoo, David Morris, archaeologist at Kimberley’s McGregor Museum, found that they were also a link between the Devil and German poet Goethe. He contacted Dr Lodi von Bezing, a Kimberley mineralogist, who shed light, or perchance a shadow, on these shiny stone cubes. Commonly known as Devil’s Dice, they are actually local shales, explained Dr von Bezing. “They are known as goethite pseudomorphs after pyrite – this simply means the pyrite has been oxidised and replaced by goethite – a mineral which was first noticed in 1789 and named after the German poet, Johann Wolfgang Goethe. They are neither rare nor valuable as they occur widely throughout the country. They are of interest only as mineral occurrences.”
STORIES KEEP THE LINE HUMMING
Reaction to recent newspaper articles on the Karoo has been overwhelming. The tourism office was swamped with calls after articles by Myrna Robins, of The Argus, and Graham van Zyl and Marlene Joubert, of Die Burger, appeared. The writings of these popular columnists kept the telephones ringing for days. The articles appeared as the Cape Peninsula was being battered by storms that had tourists fleeing northwards, many in search of snowy mountains. Several tour operators have also requested specialist routes through the Karoo. There has also been good reaction to stories in Getaway Magazine and Farmer’s Weekly, particularly to those on ghosts and rock engravings.
KAROO FILM VIR MILANFEES
Op die oomblik is daar ‘n span in die Karoo wat ‘n film maak vir die Milanfilmfees. Regisseur Bennie Roux is oortuig dat die rotse en ruimtes van die Karoo in ‘n wenner omskep kan word. ‘n Oorsese maatskappy is ook op die oomblik in die Karoo besig om ‘n deel van ‘n oorlogsaga om die blokhuise en op die oop vlaktes te verfilm. Die film sal later vanjaar in Europa klaar gemaak word – die tweede deel in Italië, en die laaste gedeelte in Frankryk.
LIKE HOME FROM HOME
Sixteen Shetland Islanders were among a group of 55 pupils and adults from Harold Cressy School, Cape Town, who recently attended a veld school in the Karoo National Park. They arrived to find the Mountain View camp site on the Nuweveld mountains covered in snow. “It looked so much like Scotland, it felt like home from home,” said one of the islanders. So tents were pitched in the lower-lying caravan park, and from there the group explored the palaeontology of the park, Karoo vegetation and substrates of the plains and mountains. So much of the fauna interested them that the Shetland Islanders intend returning with a group scheduled to visit the park next year. Those from Harold Cressy enjoyed their icy adventures, and six teachers have already booked to walk the Springbok Hiking Trail in the spring.
OPGELEI DEUR SPESIALISTE
Drie liefhebbers van die natuur wat hard werk om ‘n inheemse kwekery by die Karoo Nasionale Park te loods het onlangs opleiding ontvang by die Kirstenbos Botaniese Tuine. Hulle is Kevin Koen, ‘n student by die park, Happy Diamond, van Kwa-Mandlenkosi, en Eugene Bastians, voorsitter van die Karoo Bewaringsvereniging en onderwyser by St Mathews skool in Beaufort-Wes. Gedurende ‘n drie-dae kursus het hulle persoonlike onderrig ontvang van deskundiges, Ernst van Jaarsveld en Fiona Powry. Die Compton Herbarium van die Nasionale Botaniese Instituut het ook aangebied om die Karoo Nasionale Park te help om ‘n herbarium tot stand te bring. Toeriste sal eersdaags Karoo plante by die kwekery kan koop-
BEAUFORT REACHES OUT ACROSS THE WORLD
Beaufort West has reached out to its namesakes across the globe. In an effort to create greater awareness on world tourism markets,. The town’s Publicity Association has mailed its new brochure, “Discover the Great Karoo, the Beaufort West Way,” to every other town in the world with Beaufort as part of its name. Each copy was accompanied by a letter of introduction and a request for closer links in the field of tourism. A short background on Beaufort West and the Great Karoo was included with an invitation to visit and explore. “We’ve asked them to send us their brochures, details and history,” said Charl van der Merwe, chairman of Beaufort West Publicity Association. “We’re looking forward to becoming better acquainted with world out there.”
TWEELING IN DIE NOORDE
Beaufort Wes het ‘n “tweeling” in die Noordwes Provinsie en is tans besig om nouer bande met die “familielid” te smee. Die “tweeling” is Klerksdorp wat na Jacob le Clercq, pionier boer van Beaufort-Wes vernoem is. Jacob en Abraham Le Clercq het in 1760 na die Nuweveldberge gekom en ‘n pragplaas, Hooyvlakte, op die oewers van die Gamka- en die Kuilsriviere geskep. Omdat bure nie hulle Franse van kon uitspreek nie, het hulle De Klerk geword. In 1818 het die Britse regering besluit om ‘n dorp to stig op Hooyvlakte en dit was die begin van Beaufort-Wes. Jacob het nie kans gesien vir die dorpslewe nie en hy het noorde toe getrek wear hy een van die eerste boere langs die Schoonspruitrivier was. Uiteindelik het 12 Voortrekkerfamilies hulself daar gevestig en mettertyd is ‘n dorp ook daar gestig en ter ere na Jacob benoem. Tydens Klerksdorp se 150-jaar feesvieringe is Jacob en sy vrou op die dorp herbegrawe.
THE WOODEN LEG THAT NO ONE WANTED
Merweville is a tiny Karoo town which survives in glorious isolation “far from the madding crowd”. It’s not on a traditional tourist route, but regular visitors are hikers, Boer War researchers and those who enjoy the by-ways. To cultivate their interest, the town decided to start a museum. A wide variety of memorabillia came trickling In, among which was a wooden leg. Everything was stored, ready for display. But then in the night everything vanished, everything, that is, but the wooden leg and an old paraffin stove. Undaunted, the people of Merweville are now searching for more items of cultural and historic significance for their museum. Anyone interested in donating should call Mrs Gina Mans. She also reports that Merweville’s soldier’s grave has been vandalised. He was an Australian soldier, Walter Arnot, who committed suicide at the end of the Anglo-Boer War, and is buried where his body was found. The town’s people were distressed to find one morning that the cross on his lonely grave had been smashed.
GASTEHUIS WORD BEPLAN
‘n Paar dames in Merweville is besig om een van die oorspronklike ou woonhuise op die dorp te omskep in ‘n gastehuls. “Ons dorpie is in so ‘n mooi gedeelte van die Karoo, dat ons dit graag met ander wil deel,” se Gina Mans. “Toeriste kan ook op ‘n plaas omtrent 20km van die dorpie op die Koup-pad bly,” së sy. “Dit is Rietbult. Die oorspronklike woonhuis is onlangs deur eienaars Chris en Elsabe Opperman herbou. Terwyl sy aan die huis gewerk het, het Elsabe heelwat navorsing oor die gesin se geskiedenis gedoen en ‘n boek or die Oppermans geskryf. Dis ‘n skatkis van Karoo stories,” së Gina.
KAROO RECIPE BOOK READY
The English version of a Karoo recipe book, prepared as a fund-raising effort by Caroline Redeker of the Beaufort West Museum, will be ready for distribution by the end of July.
THE WOODEN GIANT OF MATJIESFONTEIN
The historic little village of Matjiesfontein already had electric lights when the rest of the Great Karoo still used oil lamps and candles. Power came from a strange, huge wooden windmill which James D Logan, founder of the village, imported from America in the late 1880s to mill wheat and generate electricity. Journalist Martiens van Bart recently featured a picture of this giant windmill in Die Burger. Major John Buist, Logan’s grandson and who now lives at Tweedside Lodge, next to where the windmill originally stood, says that when there was no wind the generator was driven by a steam engine. The mill was removed in 1922 when it was considered unsafe. It was dismantled and sold to “Rooi Willem” Esterhuysen, who farmed at Middelplaas, near Laingsburg. He erected it on the banks of the Buffels River where it worked for many years. Both the mill and mill house were washed away in the 1981 flood that devastated the Laingsburg area: This windmill is of interest to Dr James Walton, who at 84 is researching old wind pumps used in South Africa for a book he plans to write later this year. He would appreciate information on other old windmills of the Karoo. The wind-operated pump was invented in the United States in 1854 by Daniel Halladay. In 1883 Stuart Perry perfected the metal tower and the settings of the radial and tail vanes. The windmill then opened up vast arid zones to agriculture. In the Great Karoo thousands of them still provide precious water while emitting their special sounds.
GRAND HOTEL WORD OPGEGRADEER
Jan en Helena Coetzee, eienaars van die Grand Hotel in Laingsburg, het weer die bestuur van die hotel oorgeneem en is tans amper klaar met opgradeering. “Die Hotel, wat weg is van die besige NI roete deur die dorp, bied heerlike stil akkomodasie aan teen baie billike pryse,” sê Jan. “Ons vra R80 vir enkel kamers en R100 vir dubbel. ‘n Groot Karoo ontbyt is R20 en voile aandete van heerlike Boerekos is R40 per kop.’
RAPTORS AND WATER BIRDS ON NEW WALK
A new bird-watching walk that features eagles and water birds has been developed by Christo van Zyl of the farm Waaikraal in the Laingsburg area. The route follows the verges of the Floriskraal Dam and then meanders into the Witteberg Mountains. “It offers superb opportunities for observing water birds, an extensive variety of Karoo birds and, of course, eagles and other raptors in the mountains,’ he said. Known as the Kraankop Route, it can be tackled in short stages or serve as the basis for a weekend outing. Rustic huts provide self-catering overnight accommodation.
Sydney Witbooi van die Karoo Nasionale Park se inligtingsdiens en Yolande Stevens, 15, van Bastiaanse skool op Beaufort-Wes het onlangs ‘n taksidermie kursus by die Suid-Afrikaanse Museum in Kaapstad voltooi. Dit vorm deel van ‘n reeks opleidingskursusse wat af en toe deur Zuilega Rossouw, die Park se sosio-ekoloog, gereël gaan word om helpers met nuwe projekte op hoogte te bring met professionele tegnieke. Sy hoop om mettertyd soortgelyke geleenthede aan alle skole in die dorp aan te bied.
WHEN A CHEQUE BECOMES AN ARTIFACT
A small boy waiting for his friend on the steps of the museum a while ago in Beaufort West idly stuck his hand into the ancient, disused post box there. Thrilled to feel something at the bottom, he fished about and pulled out an envelope. Inside was a cheque from Transkei Blue Line Bus Service, dated October 11, 1985. It was made out to the town treasurer in payment for water and electricity. The old post box was thought to have been sealed years before. The bus company was amused. Not so the town treasurer, he prefers cheques he can bank.