HOPE FOR THE HELL
A group of ministers and VIPs recently visited Gamkaskloof, popularly known as The Hell, to discuss its preservation, restoration and tourism potential. Among them were Mr Mark Wiley, Minister of Public Safety and Environment Affairs, Mr Kobus Meiring, Minister of Cultural Affairs, Dr Kas Hamman, acting director, Cape Nature Conservation, Mr Carel du Preez, head, Department of Cultural and Environmental Affairs, and Ms Hannetjie du Preez, director, Cultural Affairs. They were accompanied by Ms Eureka Barnard of Cape Museum Services. They all agreed The Hell was an important cultural historic site and could become a major tourist attraction in the Karoo. This, however, could not be achieved without an economically sustainable business plan based on the inclusion of private enterprise. It was decided that urgent attention would be given to the preparation of such a document. “There are 52 cultural historic sites in The Hell, but many have deteriorated into ruins. The aim now is to stabilise structures which can be restored and continue farming wherever possible,” said Ms Barnard. “Cape Nature Conservation has played a valuable role preserving the biodiversity of The Hell, but lack of funds prevented meaningful restoration. We hope this can be rectified.”
AMPTELIKE ERKENNING VAN ABO 100
Die Kabinet het nou amptelike goedkeuring aan die herdenking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog verleen. Dit word as deel van die Erfenisprogram beskou, se Kol Frik Jacobs, voorsitter van die Sentrale Reelingskomitee. Die Kabinet het ook ‘n voorlegging opgestel waarin skakelkanale uiteengesit word. “Die Departement van Kuns, Kultuur Wetenskap en Tegnologie (DKKW&T) is die kern. Hulle sal met die Sentrale Reelingskomitee, ander staatsdepartemente en die buiteland skakel. Die Sentrale Reelingskomitee en sy streekskomitees is die enigste organisasies wat deur the regering erken is. Streekskomitees moet dus skakeling met provinsiale owerhede en toerismeorganisasies bewerkstellig. “Sanlam het ‘n borgskap van R20 000 aan die Sentrale Reelingskomitee gedoen, en daar is heelwat ander borge in die pyplyn,” sê Kol Jacobs. “Opknapping van begraafplase, monumente en besienswaardighede moet nou dringend opgevolg word.”
KAROO PARK IN THE TOP 10
The Karoo National Park, outside Beaufort West, has been voted one of the top 10 resorts in South Africa. It achieved seventh place. Of South Africa’s 23 national parks, the Karoo National Park was the only one to appear in Caravan and Outdoor Life Magazine’s “Top Twenty Elite Resorts” list. The only other national park mentioned was Letaba Camp in the Kruger National Park, listed in the first 100. The magazine will feature these resorts in its September issue, and in October it will publish an article on the reasons why resorts such as the Karoo National Park were selected.
GEWILDE MARATON WEER OP DIE KAARTE
Die gewilde Karoo Marathon word vanjaar op 26 September in Laingsburg gehou. Hierdie wedren, wat vanjaar 28 jaar oud is, is een van die land se gewildste ultra- maratons. Deelnemers spring om 06h00 weg en daar word verwag dat die top atlete die wedren binne 51/2-uur sal voltooi. Soos gewoonlik reël die Laingsburg drawwersklub en publisiteitvereniging ‘n feestige dag met ‘n braai. Verdere inligting en inskrywings vorms is beskikbaar by die Laingsburg stadsklerk se kantoor.
THE KAROO SCRUTINIZED
Delegates to this year’s Arid Zone Ecology Forum will take a penetrating look at the Karoo. The biodiversity of the area its climate and vegetation will be the focus of three main speakers. Dr Sue Dean will present a special paper analysing the attractions of Prince Albert. Dr Karen Esler, Department of Botany, University of Stellenbosch, will present two papers entitled “Can isolated koppies assist in the conservation of Karoo biodiversity?” and “Possible effects of climate change on succulent Karoo flora: an ecophysiological perspective.”. And Ms Wendy Lloyd, of ARC-ISCW, Pretoria, will discuss “Vegetation monitoring as a basis for game management on Karoo nature reserves”. The forum, organised by the Foundation for Research and Development (FRD), will be held at Tshipise from September 14 to 17.
STEENBOKKIE RESERVAAT OPEN
Die Steenbokkie Natuurreservaat, op die Hopewelpad, en op die drumpel van Beaufort-Wes, is nou oop vir toeriste. Daar is heelwat wild te sien. Nuwe stap roetes is onlangs ontwikkel en daar is ook ‘n bergfiets roete. Gaste kan of in die veld kampeer, of in splintemuwe chalets oorbly. Vir diegene wat haastig is en net wil oornag verskaf Steenbokkie Natuurreservaat bed en ontbyt, en die wat langer wil vertoef kan dit op ‘n self-versorgende basis doen, of met die reservaat reëlings tref vir ander maaltye.
MEETING THE KAROO NIGHT SKY
It’s annual general meeting time again. Prince Albert Tourist Bureau will hold its AGM on Tuesday, August 25, in the Dutch Reformed Church Hall. A highlight at the Beaufort West Tourist Bureau AGM on September 2 at the Karoo National Park will be star-gazing. The park will present a programme entitled “An introduction to the night skies of the Karoo.” Rose Willis and Heinrich Spies, from Satour, will be guest speakers at Prince Albert. Rose will also address the Wellington Tourist Bureau AGM on August 18.
REUNIE IN DIE HEL
‘n Ou inwoner van Gamkaskloof en gastehuiseienaar in Die Hel, Annetjie Joubert, beplan ‘n groot reunie in die vallei in Oktober. Sy nooi graag al die Cordiers, Mosterts en Marais, sowel as enige ander ou inwoners of belangstellendes om in Oktober in “Die Kloof’ besoek te kom aflê en vir ‘n rukkie in die vallei te vertoef. “Dit gaan ‘a heerlike aangeleentheid wees, vol vermaak en herinneringe,” sê sy.
OOPS, A RIGHT ROYAL BLUNDER
It appears that a train of the wrong colour steamed into the Nelspoort brochure. In it we mentioned that Edward VII, Prince of Wales, and his friends “dozed happily on the Royal White Train” after the a picnic and glorious day at Nelspoort on the day of the official opening of the sanatorium. But Beaufort West’s railway fundi. Joe Davies, says: “Someone sent you steaming off on the wrong track. In 1925, when the Prince visited the Royal Train was not yet white. The White Train was only built in the 1940s.”
WES-KAAP TOERISME BOU OP SUKSES
Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad se Voedsel- en Wynfees tydens die Klein Karoo Kunstefees was ‘a groot sukses en baie toerismeburos het daardeur gebaat. Om te verseker dat volgende jaar se geleentheid, vanaf Maart 25 tot 31, nog beter is, word daar al klaar begin met beplanning. Voorstelle vir verbeteringe word ingewin en ‘n vergadering sal eersdaags in Oudtshoorn gehou word.
GOOD SAMARITAN AWARD
Western Cape tourism bureaus have been invited to participate in a Good Samaritan project in August. Anyone who really goes that extra mile and so demonstrates excellence in tourist care and service can be nominated for an award. Winners will he announced on September 27, World Tourism Day.
NUWE BROSJURE VIR DIE ‘PRINS VAN DIE KAROO’
I’rins Albert, alom bekend as “Die prinsdorp van die Karoo” het ‘n nou nuwe professionele volkleur brosjure. Die skryf en produksie werk is deur Elaine Hurford, ‘n bekende joemalis en voorsitter van die bemarkings-komitee, gedoen en professionele fotos is geneem. Die puik produk is by die toerismehuro te kry.
THE SONG TELLS IT AS IT IS
Scientists have found a link between the complexity of birdsong and the suitability of the “singer” as a suitor. According to an item in the newsletter of the Wild Bird Association of Beaufort West, “Die Drawwertjie,” this was recently revealed by Professor Clive Catchpole of London University. In a lecture to the British Zoological Society, he said: “Bird tweets, squawks and whistles have long intrigued scientists, causing them to wonder why such complex sounds were necessary. The secret of birdsong lies in a structure called the syrinx, the equivalent of a human larynx. Exotic sounds are possible because it is divided into two parts. Our first clue was provided by the fact that only males sing. This song claims ownership of territory and acts as a lure for mates. Songs vary to ensure females select a mate from the right species. However, we recently discovered there’s much more to it than that. Females obviously want the best male as a mate and by checking out his singing they can tell a great deal about him. Our studies have revealed that birds infected with parasites have less complicated songs than healthy ones, and old males sing more elaborately than young ones. A simple song thus indicates a young suitor, but the voice of an old male indicates a survivor with good genes.” Professor Catchpole said DNA profiling had been used in these tests. He added that birds had to learn to sing, a feat not performed by any other animals. “Canaries, for instance, learn their song every year. Songs can encourage infidelity in monogamous birds, but some songs are so beautiful who could blame them?”
DIS BLOMTYD IN DIE GROOT KAROO
Die lente is amper hier en veldblommetjies steek ooral hulle koppe uit langs die hoofpad na die goeie reen en sneeu in die Karoo. Baie reisigers vra hoekom dit lyk of die blomme net langs die rante van paaie groei en nie in die veld nie. “Die rede hiervoor is dat baie van die blomplante goeie voedingswaarde het en wild en vee vreet hulle graag,” verduidelik mnr David Shearing ‘n deskundige op Karooplante. Hy is een van die sprekers by ‘n Karoo ekologie seminaar in die Karoo Nasionale Park op September 4, 5 en 6. Hy word bygestaan deur mnr Dawie Blom van Grootfontein Landbou Kollege. Dr Roger Smith van die Suid-Afrikaanse Museum in Kaapstad en sy span praat oor fossiele. Mnr Shearing !ewer ook ‘n praatjie oor medisinale plante. Sy praatjie verlede jaar oor die plante wat die voortrekkers gebruik het was uiters gewild. Vanjaar is sy praatjie oor medisinale plante wat Boersoldate tydens die Anglo-Boere oorlog gebruik het.
THE KAROO REVEALS ANOTHER SECRET
The drawing of a two-wheeled cart recently caught the eye of archaeologist David Morris. It was among newly-discovered rock engravings at Leeurivierspoort. “Most depict horses and ostriches. They seem to have been done in the 19th century and are typical of rock art found in the Karoo. The cart and rectangular designs, which appear to represent wheatfields, add interest to this site. The artists could have been /Xam, Khoisan or even ‘Bastards’ in the period after Cape frontiersmen with horses moved into the Karoo.” The rock art was discovered near interesting ruins with fairly large rubbish middens. “These suggest people still lived here early in this century,” said David. “The original stone house was enlarged by walls of mud bricks. Nearby is a threshing floor and an early stone-lined well. There are more ruins only a few hundred metres away, and in sharp contrast to those at the bigger site, these middens have a paucity of material waste. They appear to have been the dwellings of labourers without many material possessions or access to commodities.” The ruins are near an old, abandoned coal mine but the road leading to it is in poor repair. David was unable to visit and study it. “From photographs taken by researcher Arnold Hutchinson, it appears to be fascinating. There is evidence that people still worked at this site early this century. I’d love to find out more about this place,” he said.
DENNEHOF AT THE HEIGHT OF FASHION
Foschini choose Dennehof and the Olythuis at Prince Albert as venues for its “summer fashion advertising shoot”. The guest houses and their two much-loved dogs, Gloria and Norman, formed the backdrop for the company’s media and TV advertising campaigns. “It was tremendously exciting, and seeing top-class professional models such as 19-year old Clara, from American, and Mary Slater at work was a delight,” says owner Elaine Hurford “For days our world was abuzz with models, make-up artists, hairdressers, lighting technicians, cameramen, Foschini management and agency personnel.”
HEY MAN, DID YOU GOT A LICENCE?
A framed permit in the study of Dr Jan van Zyl at Mynfontein, near Deelfontein, exercised the full authority of the British Empire of old – it allowed his grandfather to pedal his bicycle. Signed on August 30, 1901, by Col Arthur J Slogget, commanding officer at Deelfontein Military Hospital, it grants Mr C P Viljoen, Dr van Zyl’s grandfather, permission “to own and ride a bicycle for the purposes of visiting Deelfontein.” Today people find it incomprehensible that such a document was necessary in so isolated a place. But during the Anglo-Boer War, when the whole Cape Colony was under martial law, no one dared cycle down a road without one. “My grandfather had to go to Deelfontein for provisions and post,” says Dr Van Zyl. “The British had commandeered all horses, so his only alternative would have been to walk.” A similar handwritten permit issued to Miss Sophy Auret of Graaff Reinet on June 11, 1901, was recently discovered in an album of Boer War memorabilia by Pierre du Plessis, of Jongensfontein. He is now trying to trace Miss Auret’s descendants. The permit stated: “This bicycle is not to be taken out of town nor lent to anyone. On passing a guard or sentry the pace must not be more than six miles per hour. The rider must be ready to dismount if ordered to do so.” In the album is a newspaper photograph showing over 500 bicycles handed in to military authorities at Graaff Reinet in terms of martial law. Prince Albert’s town clerk, Willem van Zyl, well remembers his grandfather telling similar stories of the war. “As a Van Rhynsdorp farmer he had to ride to Calvinia to hand over his guns, rifles and ammunition when martial law was proclaimed. On arriving there they found all horses had also been commandeered. They had to walk back home. My grandfather’s horse was a beauty and he sadly missed it.”
‘LOGAN’S WAY’ WEER OP PAD
‘n Tweede druk van die boek oor die lewe van James D Logan, stigter van Matjiesfontein, sal eersdaags beskikbaar wees se die uitgewers, Mallard. Die eerste weergawe van “Logan’s Way, The Life and Times of J D Logan,” deur Bob Toms, was baie gewild en is heeltemal uitverkoop. ‘n Tweede weergawe, wat beskik oor meer inligting oor Logan se hofsake en sy doen en late tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog, sal vroeg in September op die rakke wees.
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN FLASH MIRRORS FOREVER
The pristine air of South Africa, and particularly the Karoo, made things unusually easy for heliographers during the Anglo-Boer War. During fighting in the mountain ranges of the old Cape Colony, flashing heliograph signals over vast distances were vital to communications. Heliography was a method of communicating between distant points by flashing reflected rays of sunlight from movable mirrors. The apparatus was light, portable and easy to set up. The Boers used glass mirrors, about the size of a shaving mirror, mounted on a tripod that stood about waist high. Messages could be sent over distances of up to 150km depending on conditions. Signals were created by causing the reflected beam to rapidly appear and disappear. This produced a combination of long and short Morse code-type signals. Considerable skill was needed to manipulate the angle of reflection to produce the rapid flashes of light. The same applied to reading message and estimating distances over which signals were sent. All Boer commandos made use of helio-apparatus. Commandant Gideon Scheepers was acknowledged as one of the best Boer heliographers. He acquired this skill while training with the Vrystaatse Artillerie. In T P E Schwemmer’s MA thesis on the history of this regiment are details of the almost foolproof method of signalling used by the Boers, the various code names of signallers and the codes used for the days of the week. “Gespe” meant Sunday, “Helm”, Monday, “Lepel”, Tuesday, “Boer”, Wednesday, “Staal”, Thursday, “Steun”, Friday and “Snag”, Saturday.
PADTEKENS ONDER DIE SOEKLIG
Toerismebeamptes en padingeneurs het onlangs by die Karoo Nationale Park bymekaar gekom om padtekens te bespreek. Daar word nou fyn gekyk na alle toerisme padtekens om te verseker dat hulle wettig en voldoende is om toeriste veilig na hulle besteming te bring.Tekens vir verblyfsinstansies, historiese plekke en gedenkwaardighede, sowel as spesiale roete tekens was onder die soeklig. Ko-ordineerder van die vergadering, mnr Net Ackerman, is deur Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad se Ontwikkelingkomitee getaak met padteken-navorsing en skakeling tussen STOs, toerismeburos, paaie-owerhede en ander provinsies. “Dit is die verantwoordelikheid van toerismeburos om te verseker dat alle tekens in hulle gebied korrek is,” sê hy. “Dit is baie belangrik, veral op die gebied van verblyf, dat die tekens nie verwarrend is nie.”