A story in Rose’s Round-up has been instrumental in raising funds to help preserve a fossil treasure of the Great Karoo, the recent find of an invertebrate trackway that could be the most spectacular example of its kind yet found in the world. The news item, covering Laingsburg’s fossil trackway, was noticed and also published by SAA’s in-flight magazine, Sawabona, which is how it came to the attention of Professor Peter Spargo and his wife. After reading the story on a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg they generously offered R1 000 from the Spargo Fund towards the preservation of the site. However, after a discussion with Dr John Almond, the man who found the rare fossilised tracks of the spectacular giant eurypterid or water scorpion, Professor Spargo increased their donation to R2 500. “This will enable us to carry out more work,” says John. “Initially, the South African Museum sponsored casting of a representative length of trackway. A 2,5m silicone rubber cast was made by Dr Roger Smith, head of Karoo palaeontology at the museum. This will now be used to make a fibreglass replica for research and display purposes. The museum intends mounting a eurypterid display next year. We are now seeking advice from an engineering geologist, Mike van Wieringen, on the best means of conserving the trackway. Most of it remains buried, but we do know that it is at least 15m long. This makes it the widest, longest and most complex invertebrate trackway yet found in the world.”


‘n Suid-Afrikaner wie tans besig is met nagraadse studies by ‘n Britse universiteit het onlangs melding gemaak van ‘n Karoo roete tydens ‘n toerismepraatjie in Finland. Jenny Briedenhann doen navorsing oor landelike toerisme by Buckinghamshire Chilterns Universiteit in Engeland vir haar doktorsgraad. Toe sy gevra is om ‘n praatjie te lewer by ‘n seminaar in Finland het sy besluit om melding te maak van die Kwa-Mandlenkosi roete by Beaufort-Wes. Die roete is onder haar aandag gebring deur streekstoerisme ko-ordineerder Rose Willis, een van 60 deskundiges in Europa en Suid-Afrika wat Jenny help met navorsing.


A South African who is currently studying at a British university recently mentioned the Karoo in a tourism talk in Finland. Jenny Briedenhann, who is researching rural tourism for a PhD at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University in England, was invited to share her findings at a Finnish seminar. She decided to include details on the Kwa-Mandelenkosi Township Tourist Route in BeaufortWest. This route was brought to her attention by regional tourism Co-ordinator Rose Willis, who is one of 60 specialists from Europe and South Africa who are assisting Jenny with her research.


Eye-catching rondavels alongside the N1 at the start of the Kwa-Mandlenkosi Township Tourist Route south of Beaufort West have intrigued tourists for months. This complex, designed as an arts and crafts centre, has just been completed, and the buildings were opened during a gala function on June 14 and 15. It was attended by several ministers, dignataries and VIPs.


Suid-Afrika se eerste Jeugfees sal volgende jaar in Oudtshoorn gehou word vanaf 3 tot 12 Julie. Die man agter die idee, plaaslike sakeman Nic Barrow, sê : “Die program sal alles insluit waarin die jeug belangstel van sport en sportklinieke tot kuns en kultuur. Pogings word aangewend om minder bevoregtes te betrek.”


Three Prince Albert authors recently published booklets dealing with natural cures, the town’s architecture and a nearby gold rush. Hendrik Mostert, popularly known as “Hennie Hoed” because of the strange little hat he loves to wear, has written a guide to the medicinal plants of The Hell in collaboration with Dr Jan van Elfen. Hendrik, born and raised in The Hell, or Gamkaskloof, has a wide knowledge of herbal remedies used in the little valley, and increasing their efficacy with potent witblitz, or white lightning. Jan van Elfen illustrated the booklet and another local resident, Pat Marincowitz, added botanical and pharmacological information. This informative and amusing booklet costs R10, and is available in English and Afrikaans. Helena Marincowitz’s long-awaited Victorian Buildings in Prince Albert is an essential guide for those who wish to explore the village on their own. Its concise explanations are well supported by photographs and line drawings. Local geologist Albert Theron has captured the story of the late 19th century gold rush in a booklet entitled Prince Albert Goldfields. Publications can be purchased at the museum.


Lede van die Walliese mannekoor, wat onlangs in Suid-Afrika was om ondersteuning aan hul rugbyspan te verleen, het ‘n jong Beaufort-Wes sokkerspeler se drome laat waar word. Tydens ‘n konsert in Beaufort-Wes het hulle verneem dat Llewellyn Lakay van Beaufort-Wes Sekondêr gekies is om in ‘n sokkertoernooi in Brazilië te speel maar nie oor genoeg fondse beskik het vir sy reisgelde nie. Koordirekteur Mark Burrows het gou bydraes van sy lede ingesamel en voor die einde van die aand is R5 700 aan Llewellyn oorgehandig. ‘n Bedrag van R2 500 is ook aan sy skool geskenk.


Members of a Welsh male choir, who visited South Africa to lend vocal support to their rugby team in matches against the Springboks, recently turned young Beaufort West soccer player’s dreams into reality. While performing at a concert in town they they learned that Llewellyn Lakay from Beaufort West Secondary School had been chosen to play in a soccer tournament in Brazil but did not have sufficient funds to meet his travel costs. Choir master Mark Burrows quickly sent the hat around and before the end of the evening was able to present Llewellyn with R5 700, plus an additional R2 500 donation for his school.



This is the tale of two friends who spent their boyhood in Beaufort West and who after many years returned on a nostalgic visit. Now with adult eyes, Raymond Vos and Carel Schouten looked at some of the many buildings Carel’s father, Gerrit, had built long ago. “As a boy I was so proud. I thought my father had built the whole town. Schouten Flats, which still bears his name, was his pride and joy. I remember Jack Ellert buying it from him in 1944 and paying half the asking price in cash and the other half in diamonds.” A fading photograph in Beaufort West Museum shows Carel’s mother wearing a diamond brooch fashioned from the best stones. Then there were the people of long ago. The memories are mostly good, but “there was a lad in the same class at school with us, Marthinus Rossouw, nicknamed ‘Skollie,’ who was the accused in the sensational Baron Dieter von Schauroth murder trial in 1961. The case drew the attention of the world press. Rossouw claimed that Von Schauroth had begged to be killed. His defense counsel claimed Rossouw had killed the Baron “as an act of deep friendship.” Evidence was led of large insurance policies, diamond deals and the Baron’s unhappy marriage.” The jury found Rossouw guilty after less than an hour’s deliberation. Raymond, who attended the hearing, still remembers the chills he felt when the death sentence was pronounced on a former classmate. Marthinus Rossouw was hanged at Pretoria Central Prison on June 20, 1962. As Charles Dickens went on to say: “… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …”


“Golf is one of the Cape’s biggest tourism drawcards,” said WCTB chief executive Mike Fabricius during a recent meeting in the Karoo. Yet in the legal sense it was not even considered a game during the 1800s. A quote from a 1933 Karoo newspaper clears up this anomaly: “In the Cape it is still illegal to play sports on the Lord’s Day. According to the Sunday Observance Ordinance of 1838, players of sport on Sunday can be prosecuted and ‘instruments’ used in the game confiscated. The exception is golf, which according to a ruling by Sir Thomas Graham (Judge-President, Eastern Districts Court) is not a game.”


The Karoo was not left out in 1887 when almost everyone in the British Empire was planning celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. After a public meeting in Prince Albert, residents approached the government to change the name of the Swartberg Pass to Victoria Pass. The government “passed” on the idea and maintained the name “Swartberg.” Pleas for a special funding for a celebration were acceded to.


One of the first government officials to arrive in Beaufort West after its proclamation in 1818 was deputy magistrate John Baird. This gentle, kindly and hospitable Scot is now something of an enigma. It now emerges that he is also somehow connected to the Baird fortune, still held in trust in Scotland. John arrived in South Africa with his sister Agnes in 1806 to join the Cape Regiment. When it was disbanded, he was sent to assist Dr Robert Hart, the manager of Somerset Farm. John married twice, raised eight children and led an eventful life in Beaufort West. He died at his Donkin Street home at the age of 60 and was buried on April 27, 1845. Recently, two of John’s descendants, Lindy Sykes and her father, David Wickley Baird, visited Beaufort West to try to find traces of their ancestor. Lindy has traced the family history back from her father to John’s emigration from Scotland and unearthed many mysteries along the way. “John is a bit of an enigma. I cannot locate his Scottish connections. I can’t find his birthplace, nor his parents. I keep crossing the paths of people trying to establish a link to the Baird fortune, still in trust in Scotland and now worth millions. John’s son, John David apparently once tried to claim the fortune, but all the required documentation was lost when Springfontein Dam burst its banks and flooded the town, destroying his house on October 3, 1869. I can find no reasons for John Senior’s bankruptcy in Beaufort West, nor of the corruption of which he was accused, and which allegedly led to his dismissal as magistrate. I’d love to hear from anyone with details.”


Sentrale Karoo toerisme rolspelers is onlangs ingelig oor die huidige beleide en beplanning van die Gesamentlike Bemarkings Inisiatief (GBI). Hierdie organisasie is in die lewe geroep om ‘n nouer samewerking tussen toerisme-, investering- en handelsorganisasies in die Wes-Kaap te bewerkstellig, veral met die bemarking van toerisme. Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad hoof uitvoerende beampte Dr Mike Fabricius, konsultant Dirk Joubert en e.besigheid bestuurder Anneline Kriel het Sentrale Karoo rolspelers ingelig oor die vordering sowel as toekomsplanne van die GBI en e.besigheid, verpligte registrasie en lidmaatskap.


Central Karoo tourism roleplayers were recently updated on current policies and planning of the Joing Marketing Initiative (JMI). This organisation was created to promote closer co-operation between tourism, investment and marketing organisations in the Western Cape Province and particularly to streamline tourism marketing campaigns. Western Cape Tourism Board chief executive Dr Mike Fabricius, consultant Dirk Joubert and manager Anneline Kriel, informed roleplayers attending a meeting in Beaufort West of progress, planning,, mandatory registration and membership.


Two old discarded photographs have given geological researcher Johan Loocke a peek at life on Prince Albert Goldfields. Johan was guiding a student on a research project when he discovered the two photographs among old papers in a deserted farm shed. “One photograph shows two well-dressed gentlemen with a team of labourers busily working their claim, and in the other they are all at their campsite,” says Johan. “The picture of the camp is extremely interesting. It shows two tents with open flaps. One is obviously a mess tent, while the other is a living area. In this tent there are neatly made up beds and a dog lying on a cabin trunk. Next to the tent is a portable wash basin and shaving mirror on its stand. A kettle is boiling on a tripod nearby, and in the centre there is an assaying unit, set up and ready to handle any discoveries.” Johan tried to relate the scene to the gold fields map drawn by Sydney Cowper in 1891. It shows the huge claims belonging to Danie du Plessis of the Early Bird Syndicate, as well as many smaller ones such as Watson’ s Peg, Eyre’s Shaft and Saunders’s Shaft. Also indicated are Main and One Speck creeks. N J Gillet wrote a report on the gold fields. It was published by Juta in 1891 under the title The Prince Albert Goldfields. A copy is now on sale at Select Books in Cape Town. Bookstore owner Dave McLennan says: “This rare work, which costs R5 000, contains a fold-out map, advertisements and letters to G W Smith, government surveyor and chairman of the Union Gold Mining Company in Port Elizabeth and to TW Chandler, who worked for Smith at Millwood Goldfields in Knysna. These letters, dated September 3and 10, are referred to in Gillet’s report.”


Beskermheer van die rotsgravure terrein by Nelspoort, Lawrence Rathenam, het onlangs ‘n paar kollegas genooi om die eerste staproete daar te kom toets. Onder hulle was Henry Brown, van die Beaufort-Wes museum trusteeraad, skoolhoofde H Roman en H Sawat, en kollega J Paulse. Hulle was dit eens, die drie-uur staptog is ‘n wonderlike ervaring. Hulle is ingelig oor die terrein, die geskiedenis van Nelspoort en die ou Khoi en San rotsgravure sowel as die ander rotskuns. Daarna het hulle die sanatorium se wol- en spinbedryf besigtig. “Ons sien uit na ‘n opvolg besoek om die ander staproetes te verken,” sê hulle. ‘n Groot groep toeriste vanaf Engeland het al bespreek om in September hierdie terrein te kom besoek.


The patron of the rock art terrain at Nelspoort, Lawrence Rathenam, recently invited a few colleagues to test the Karoo’s first Rock Art Ramble. Among them was Henry Brown, member of the Beaufort West Museum Trustee Board, school principals H Roman and H Sawat and a colleague J Paulse. They all agreed that the ramble was a wonderful experience and that they looked forward to testing other proposed routes once these were laid out. The visitors were informed about the history of the terrain as well as of the Khoi khoi and San people who once lived in the area. Thereafter the group visited the sanatorium to see its wool and spinning projects. A large group of British tourists have already booked to take a ramble along this route in September.


Just south of Laingsburg lies a geological wonder of the Great Karoo that constantly catches the eye. It is a band of white rock, 15 to 60cm thick, known to geologists as the Matjiesfontein Chert Bed. The white band runs along the koppies to the south of the N1 and is the source of many a question. “This rock layer silently records a single brief, but immense, underwater flood which occurred in the space of a few hours, 260-million years ago,” says Dr John Almond, a keen geologist who runs Natura Viva, a natural history, education, tourism and research organisation. “This layer is part of a single bed that extends without interruption for over 450km from the Tanqua Karoo in the west to Jansenville in the Eastern Cape, and for at least 150km in a north-south direction. The bed consists of a very hard sedimentary rock called chert. It has a high content of microscopically small silica crystals, which give it a flinty quality and make the chert ideal for stone tools, as the San quickly discovered.” Silica is a glassy mineral derived from fine particles of volcanic ash. John explained that this ash was deposited as a result of huge and violent volcanic eruptions that took place during the mid-Permian Period, about 260-million years ago, in what is now Patagonia in southern South America, or perhaps west Antarctica. “While these regions were then about 1 500km from the Karoo, they nevertheless formed part of the same gigantic super continent known as Pangaea.


Winds repeatedly blew dense clouds of volcanic ash across south-western Pangaea over the newly-forming Cape Fold Mountains. It finally settled on the bed of a fairly deep inland water body called the Ecca Sea, and gradually filtered to the bottom to form discrete ash layers. Then a major earthquake, probably associated with contemporaneous mountain-building to the south, shook up and destabilised the thick underwater deposits of mud and ash which had accumulated along the shallow edges of the Ecca Sea. These slumped downslopes, in the process mixing with surrounding water to form a turbulent mass of soupy material, much denser than the clearer waters above. This dense sediment-water mixture then flowed under gravity along the sea bed into greater depths, finally spreading far and wide across the almost level floor of the Ecca Sea. As the flow gradually lost momentum, it dropped its mixed load of mud and ash to form a single, almost horizontal layer containing a total volume of sediment exceeding 16 cubic kilometres. The whole process probably lasted no more than a few hours at most. Subsequent compaction of the sediment, combined with chemical alteration of the silica-rich ash particles, cemented the deposit to form a resistant bed of cherty rock. In time, this was gradually buried beneath several kilometres of younger Karoo sediments and lavas. Over the past 150-million years these have been removed by extensive erosion, revealing this narrow white band of ancient rock. Now, who can say that the Karoo landscape is monotonous and boring!”


Die Prokureur-Generaal van die Kaap het in 1933 ‘n bom in dameskringe laat ontplof toe hy geweier het om ‘n vrou as staatsaanklaer van die Rondgaande Hof in die Karoo aan te stel. Feministe het onmiddelik beswaar aangeteken by die Minister van Justisie, Advokaat Oswald Pirow, asook by Generaal Jan Smuts. Maar voor die bohaai kon vlam vat, het die Prokureur-Generaal weereens almal verbaas toe hy ewe kalm te kenne gegee het dat hy in heroorweging geen besware teen die aanstelling van mej. M Oblowitz het nie. Sy was die eerste dame wat so ‘n pos in die Karoo beklee het, en het vanaf 15 September 1933, in diefstal, verkragting en diamant diefstal sake opgetree.


In 1933 the Advocate General of the Cape almost caused a riot when he refused to appoint a woman as public prosecutor for the Circuit Court in the Karoo. Feminists rushed complaints to the Minister of Justice, Advocate Oswald Pirow, and to General Jan Smuts. Then, just before matters got out of hand the Advocate General did an about turn and surprised everyone by calmly announcing that he in fact had no objections to the appointment of Miss M Oblowitz. This took the wind out of everyone’s sails. Miss Oblowitz, the first women to be appointed in such a post in the Karoo, began appearing in theft, rape and diamond smuggling cases from September 15, 1933.


Translations by local resident Bodo Tolstede have enabled Prince Albert Tourist Bureau to include German information on its website –


Travalia, the popular overnight stop alongside the N1 at Three Sisters, is expanding. “Four luxury double/family rooms are currently under construction. “Two will have en-suite bathrooms, the others will have showers and all units will have wheelchair ramps,” says manager Kobus Albrecht.


Die Beaufort-Wes Marathon vind vanjaar op 20 Augustus plaas. Inskrywings sluit op 2 Augustus, 2002. Bel Mev Elwina Otto by die Beaufort-West Munisipale kantore vir inligting


The Beaufort West Marathon takes place again on August 20 this year. Closing date for entries is August 2, 2002. Call Mrs Elwina Otto at the Beaufort West Municiapl offices for information.