BIG PLANS FOR KAROO NATIONAL PARK

The ever-popular Karoo National Park has expanded again. It recently acquired an additional 12 000 ha, extending its total area to over 70 000 ha. The farm Paalhuis has already been transferred to the park. The latest acquisitions include Brandywynsgat, Berg en Dal, part of Boesmanskop and Onderklipplaatsfontein. Discussions are also in progress to spend about R6-m on improvements. These will include a variety of projects such as 10 new chalets and predator-proof fencing. “We plan to upgrade and expand our restaurant and create a ladies bar,” said manager Leighton Hare. “There are also plans to include an extensive outdoor entertainment and braai area to meet the growing demand for small conferences. We would like to enclose part of the open veranda with glass as it is a popular place for watching sunsets. At present guests are denied this pleasure on windy days.” The park is already fully booked for millennium functions. “We have special treats, night drives and excursions for who those will to see in the year 2000 in with us.”

‘NOU IS DIE LEEU LOS’

Kuier en Krap, Leeu Gamka se nuwe handwerksentrum het so pas geopen. Hierdie droom van die gemeenskap het ‘n werklikheid geword met die hulp van Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad. Diegene wat die openingsgeleentheid bygewoon het was verstom met die verskeidenheid en hoë gehalte van die handwerk. Geleentheidspreker Mario Masher, vorige parlementslid vir Sentrale Karoo, het gesê: ANou is die leeu van Leeu Gamka los. Die gemeenskap se kreatiwiteit en entoesiasme is nie net ‘n voorbeeld vir die Karoo nie, maar vir die Wes-Kaap as geheel. Die sentrum het ‘n groot potensiaal vir groei en heelwat klein besighede kan van hierdie klein begin ontstaan. Die plek is ‘n skatkis vir toeriste en bied iets vir almal. Enige jongman wat die ja-woord verlang en sy meisie hiernatoe bring sal nie daarsonder uitloop nie. Hy mag wel ‘n armer man wees, want hier is ‘n pragtige trourok, lakens, duvets, kussings, slope, gordyne, geborduurde en geraamde prentjies, sowel as klere. Vir kinders is daar poppe, popklere, karretjies en muurbehangsels. Daar is emmers, mandjies, stoele, kussings, blikblomme en -trommels, sowel as draadwindpompe vir die tuin. Leeu Gamka kan trots wees op hierdie projek. Ek wens hulle graag geluk en sterkte toe vir die toekoms.

RHINO vs BAKKIE – A PANELBEATER’S DREAM

It was one of those wonderful winter Karoo mornings. A light breeze tickled the undergrowth, and all seemed well with the world as game ranger Emil Schmidt drove on his rounds through the rhino camp at the Karoo National Park, outside Beaufort West. Tranquillity reigned until he had to cross a sandy river bed. When Emil paused to engage low gear to negotiate the steep embankment ahead, there was an almighty snort to announce the thunder of great hooves on dry earth. A glance out the window confirmed Emil’s worst nightmare, a charging rhino. The huge cow hit the bakkie at full speed, backed off to consider her handiwork and charged again. Another crunching thump. Again she backed off, this time smugly satisfied. The day belonged to her. She then sauntered off across the veld. “It took quite some time to get my heart to stop pounding,” said Emil. “It is not the sort of adrenalin rush I would recommend. I was unhurt, but not so the bakkie. I could still drive it. This once again proves how dangerous rhinos are. Users of the 4 x 4 trail should take note.” So far seven new rhinos have settled at the park. Eleven more are still to come

KAROO LAMB SANS GHOSTS

Monte Rosa Guest House in Rawsonville prides itself on maintaining a tasty link with the Karoo. Among its specialities is Karoo lamb, prepared according to a traditional, family recipe. “It’s a delicious way of sharing the history of the hinterland with guests wanting a peek into the past,” says hostess Greta Deetlefs, who loves to tell of a recent guest on a ‘ghost hunt.’ “She was such a keen ghostbuster she almost persuaded us a spectre in the passages would be an added tourist attraction. However, in the end she had to declare the house ‘unhaunted and ghost-free.’” Monte Rosa nestles in beautiful gardens and vineyards, laid out by Nicholas Johannes Deetlefs. He built the spacious Victorian villa in 1904 to indulge his love of entertaining. This family tradition is still carried on by the present owner, Kobus, his great-grandson and wife Greta.

RUSTIG EN SMAAKLIK BY GRANDMA’S (0201-4448 of 3103)

Daar is ‘n nuwe rustige oornagplek op die pad deur die Karoo. Dis Grandma’s Place, ‘n historiese huisie in Beaufort-Wes wat onlangs in gerieflike gesinskamers met veilige parkering omskep is. Die eienaar, mev René van Eck, is wyd en syd bekend vir smaaklike etes, snoepereye, koeke en melktert by Pop-in, haar kafee in die hoofstraat. Sy is al vir 41 jaar in die bedryf en het al bestellings gelewer so vêr weg as Robbeneiland en Angola. Gaste by Grandma’s Place kan haar boerekos by die kafee geniet of etes bestel by die gastehuis.

TOURISM CHIEF – ‘IT’S ALL SYSTEMS GO’

Tourism marketing and development plans are well on track, reports Western Cape Tourism Board’s chief executive, Dr Mike Fabricius. “We have completed our business plan and the minister has approved this along with our budgets. It’s now all systems go. We are setting up new provincial strategies and realigning structures which will enable us to position ourselves in the marketplace and maximise marketing and development campaigns. Much background research has been completed and negotiations with role players are ensuring that duplication is rapidly being eliminated. We are streamlining our marketing thrusts for the new millennium. This will enable us to be more effective and ensure a faster reaction time. Detailed documents will soon be circulated to regional committees for comment.”

MEDIA MENSE BRING DIE KAROO NADER

Heelwat persdekking oor die Karoo het onlangs die prag van die gebied onder die aandag van koerantlesers en TV-kykers gebring. TV aanbieder Barbara Wicki was gaande oor die “land van vye en kaas,” toe sy onderhoude oor Prins Albert en Gamkaskloof gevoer het vir Hosanna, ‘n Sondagoggendprogram. Die span van Geraas het Beaufort-Wes se eie digter, Gert Vlok Nel, aan TV-kykers bekend gestel. Mercy Morkel, platteland redakteur van Die Burger, het besoek afgelê om onderhoude te voer met die mense van Beaufort-Wes se Flagskip tuinbouprojek. En toe het Maureen Joubert in Die Burger se “Van Alle Kante” ‘n rubriek oor Round-up en Merweville geskryf en sodoende heelwat lesers oorreed om in te skryf vir die nuusbriefie.

SWARTBERG PASS THROUGH THE EYES OF A BAIN

A large group of international tourists on the Shongololo Express during its desert run were delighted to find that a fellow traveller was the grandson of a road building family famous in the Karoo. When they left the train for a trip across the Swartberg Pass, Andrew Geddes Bain Lavis provided a whole new perspective to the awesome pass. He retold the stories told to him by his famous grandfather, after whom he was named. Later the tourists had a taste of traditional farm life. They visited Kobie and Alex Jeppe at Gannakraal to watch sheep shearing and enjoy a tea of traditional milk tart, rusks and scones with quince jam. German visitors agreed that the “Milchtorte und Quittemarmelade” were delights to be long remembered.

DIE HOOYVLAKTE VERHAAL WORD VERDER GEVOER

Beaufort-Wes se Rapportryers beplan om die boek Hooyvlakte op datum te bring. Dié boek vertel die storie van Beaufort-Wes, sy ontstaan in 1818 tot om en by 1960, en is deur ‘n ou inwoner, Wynand Viviers, geskryf. “Die verhaal van die laaste 40-jaar behoort ook vertel te word,” sê Frikkie Bekker, voorsitter van die boekkomittee. “Ons soek ou fotos en inligting sodat ons ‘n opvolg uitgawe, ‘Beaufort-Wes tot Die Nuwe Millennium,’ kan publiseer. Ons versoek enige inwoners of oud-inwoners wat kan help om of vir my of Sandra Smit by die museum of Rose Willis by die Sentrale Karoo Distrikraad te kontak.”

WREATH LAID ON A FORGOTTEN GRAVE

The Friends of Fransie Pienaar Museum recently visited Anglo-Boer War sites in the Prince Albert area and laid a wreath on a lonely, forgotten grave. It was the last resting place of a Boer soldier, Johannes Klue, who died of wounds on the farm Remhoogte in Die Gang on February 2, 1902. Local researcher Helena Marincowitz said: “The wreath-laying ceremony was very moving. No one has been near this grave in almost a century. We intend applying for a small name plaque to be erected on his grave, so that it is not just one more unmarked grave in the Karoo.” Klue was wounded in a skirmish with a Yeomanry regiment initially stationed at Prince Albert. However, because the area was quiet, they were ordered across the Swartberg Pass to Calitzdorp on January 13, 1901. Shortly afterwards the Boers moved into Klaarstroom and the British force was ordered to return. Colonel Parker was told to station five howitzers on Kredouw Pass. “On February 2, Captain McDowell and Lieutenant Torrain captured three Boer spies outside Klaarstroom. McDowell actually rode into the village but found so many Boers there that he did an immediate about turn and charged off in the direction of Prince Albert. The Boers set off in pursuit and caught up with the British at Remhoogte. A skirmish ensued. Klue was seriously wounded and left in the care of the Du Plessis family on the farm. He died later that day and was buried in a wooded area on the river bank. Corporal J Boyd, also fatally wounded that day and initially buried nearby, was later re-interred at Klaarstroom.”

SOLDAAT PER ONGELUK GESKIET

Tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog was Meiringspoort deur Britse soldate bewaak. Soldate van twee Yeomanry garnisoene was in Klaarstroom gestasioneer en van daar het Kolonel Grenfell en sy manne tot by Beaufort-Wes gery op soek na Commandant Gideon Scheepers se kommando. Maar hy het deur Zeekoeigat ontglip en verdwyn. Grenfell en sy manne het sy spoor tot naby Prins Albert gevolg en toe by die dorpie ‘n krieket wedstryd gespeel en aan ‘n gimkana deelgeneem. Later is John Joseph Bell van die Britse Cycle Corps wat wag gehou het in Meiringspoort noodlottig gewond. “Toe manskappe met hulle Lee Enfields geoeffen het is Ball per ongeluk in die arm en ingewande getref. Hy was onmiddellik versorg en na Oudtshoorn gehaas vir verpleging, maar is oorlede. Sy militêre begrafnis in Oudtshoorn is deur Majoor Trench en die burgemeester bygewoon,” Hierdie stories word saamgevat in Helena Marincowitz’s se nuwe boekie “Prince Albert en die Anglo-Boereoorlog”. Dit is van die Fransie Pienaar Museum verkrygbaar teen R38.

IN SEARCH OF A SWEDISH REBEL

At the end of the last century a Swede from Gothenburg decided to make the Karoo his home. According to reports, Frederick Toy lived in Beaufort West and Willowmore from about 1870 until the Anglo-Boer War broke out. He could not help but take up the cause of the Boer people whom he had grown to love. In the spring of 1901, he joined the commando of Commandant Gideon Scheepers. With them Toy galloped across the Karoo plains and through small villages until he was captured on the farm Onbedacht on July 12, 1901. Toy was charged with treason and attempted murder at Graaff Reinet on August 5, 1901. It was claimed he shot at a British officer after he had surrendered. Toy denied the charges but was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. This was changed and he was executed by a firing squad on September 4. Now Bertil Haggman, of Helsingborg, Sweden, is trying to find details of Toy’s time in the Karoo. “Toy is not a Swedish name,” he said. “It is Anglo-Saxon in origin. Toy is reported to have spoken English quite well at his trial, so I surmise his parents were part of the huge English and Scottish populations of Gothenburg at the time. This city had extensive links across the North Sea with Britain at the time. The death report gives his name incorrectly as Frederick Toe. It states that both his age and religion are unknown and gives the cause of death as cardiac failure. I find this extremely odd as we know he was executed. I would love to know more of his stay in South Africa and his reasons for taking up the struggle on the side of Scheepers.”

AUSSIES PLAN HISTORIC RIDE

Australian Boer War enthusiast Steve Nott reports his plans are well advanced for riding the historic Boer War Route through the Karoo to the battlefields of the Northern Cape. He and his party plan to arrive in the country later this year and start the ride from Beaufort West. These men, most of whom had relatives involved in the war in this country 100 years ago, aim to arrive at each battlefield on the actual date of its anniversary. “There is a great deal of enthusiasm for this commemoration in Australia,” reports Steve.

NAMED TO HONOUR A FAT MAN’S LAXATIVE

What a recent British visitor to the Karoo wanted to see most was the spiky Euphorbia in its natural habitat. The reason? Simply because back in 1990 at an airport, while browsing through copy of South African Garden and Home, John May, a London lawyer, discovered that this plant was first named by the Romans. The article said that almost a century before the birth of Christ, King Juba of Mauritania, then a Roman kingdom in North Africa, decided to pay tribute his personal physician by naming this plant in his honour. The doctor, it seems, was a truly corpulent fellow. Legend has it that he used the milky latex of Euphorbia resinifera, which still grows in the Atlas Mountains, to treat patients needing purgatives or laxatives. The old Romans loved nothing better than feasting and drinking, so it seems the good doctor’s rather “virulent and caustic” remedy was widely used. The king decreed that the plant be called “Eu” meaning “well” and “phorbus” meaning “fed”. The name stuck and is still in use 2 000 years later. Today these old-world plants make up almost one-third of South Africa’s rich succulent flora. Six varieties occur in the Karoo. Only one, Springbokmelkbos, is grazed. The /Xam used the latex of another, Vingerhoedpol, for arrow poison.

EKOLOGIE FORUM WEER VIR SEPTEMBER BEPLAN

Prof Sue Milton van Prins Albert sal vanjaaar optree as een van die voorsitters en sprekers by die jaarlikse Aride Zone Ekologie Forum. Dit word in Vanrhynsdorp vanaf 6 tot 9 September gehou, en volgens die program beloof dit om hoogs interessant te wees. Lesings handel oor die unieke fauna en flora van die Karoo en ander droëland gebiede in Suid-Afrika. Onder die sprekers wat spesifieke gedeeltes van die Karoo gaan aanspreek is Dr Richard Dean, ook van Prins Albert, wie saam met Sue Milton ‘n praatjie oor die voël lewe in die suidelike Karoo gaan lewer, K J Esler praat oor Karoo Koppies, en Phil Rundel oor die Karoo in globale konteks. Toerisme in droë gebiede word ook aangespreek.

EARLY FLOWERS HERALD THE SPRING

The red bell-like Sutherlandia flowers have begun dancing in the breeze along the road verges of the Great Karoo, signalling the coming of spring. Already the beautiful silvery-leafed shrubs, commonly known as ‘kankerbos’, have joined yellow daisies to announce that winter is on the way out. Sutherlandia was also a traditional old Cape remedy for stomach problems. Some even believed it to be effective in the treatment of internal cancers, hence its name. Its use as a medicinal plant is said to have originated with the Khoi Khoi and Nama peoples who used decoctions to wash wounds and drank infusions to break fevers and cure a wide variety of ailments. Early settlers are said to have used infusions as a bitter tonic and as a general medicine to treat colds, influenza, chicken-pox, diabetes, varicose veins, piles, inflammation, liver problems, backache and rheumatism, according to the book Medicinal Plants of South Africa.

REUNIE LOK 200 OUD SKOLIERE ‘HUISTOE’

‘n Spesiale reunie van die matriek klasse van Sentraal Hoërskool vannaf 1954 tot 1960 was so gewild dat meer as 200 oud skoliere terug gelok is na Beaufort-Wes. Ses het van so vêr weg as die VSA gekom. Een van die organiseerders, Dr Nathan Finkelstein van Kaapstad, sê die organisering was die grootste pret. “Die meeste van ons het nie ons klasmaats vir meer as 44-jaar gesien nie, en vir die meeste was dit ‘n fees om weer by ons ou skool en dorp te kuier.” Daar was ‘n groot dinee op Vrydag aand, ‘n sjampanje-ontbyt op Saterdag en uitstappies deur die dorp. Op Sondag het twee oud skoliere, nou dominees, ‘n diens in die Moederkerk gelei en Aubrey Hindle, ook ‘n ou Sentraal man het “Jerusalem” gesing. “Die meeste mense het die tyd in die Karoo so geniet dat ons omtrent almal nou uitsien na die skool se 75-jarige herdenking volgende jaar,” sê Dr Finkelstein. “Organisering gaan makliker wees nou dat ons ‘n groot databasis opgebou het.”

PARK HIGHLY RATED BY ‘MYSTERY MEN’

The National Parks Board has “mystery customers” who visit all parks throughout the country to rate personnel and services. “No one knows who they are or when they are coming,” said Danie Gouws, manager of the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West. “You only know they’ve been when you receive a written report. One recently arrived on our desks. The ‘mystery customers’ rated us highly. We are proud to have averaged 88%.”