GRAND DUCHESS OF KAROO GETS TOP WEBSITE
Matjiesfontein, the tiny Karoo village which offers visitors a peek of Victorian England, now has one of the country’s top websites. Set up by RMC, consultants who are assisting village-owner David Rawdon with a series of upgrades, the site was hailed a winner within days of its launch. Pages were designed by Catherine Kerr-Petersen and text written by Sarah Powys, winner of this year’s Silver Loerie Award for advertising copy. RMC director Chris Yates-Smith said: “It’s more than a pretty site. It’s designed to deliver useful information to tourists and Matjiesfontein management alike.” The pages provide ecological, cultural and historic information, and also act as a booking service. This website gathers strategic information for marketing and forward planning. There are daily reports on which places in the world displayed interest. “Within hours we knew which were the 10 most accessed pages and trends regarding the village on Anglo-Boer War commemorative routes,” said Chris. Visit this 112-page site at www.matjiesfontein.com.
WKTR SE DROOM
WeskaapToerismeraad het ‘n droom om die provinsie die top bestemming in die wêreld te maak. Hoofuitvoerende beampte, Dr Mike Fabricius, sê hy voel dis nie onhaalbaar nie omdat die gebied klaar die nommer een plek in Suid-Afrika beklee. Hy het onlangs besoek in die Karoo afgelê met lede van sy bestuurspan om rolspelers te ontmoet en sy raad se langtermynplanne te bespreek. WKTR beplan om die mark rondom die omgewing, kultuur en ervaringe uit te bou. Klem sal op moderne kommunikasiemetodes, webblaaie, databasisse, en elektroniese inligtingsnetwerke gelê word. Aandag sal aan produkte, standaarde en dienste bestee word. “Ons moet streeksgrense ignoreer en saam werk om interessante roetes te beplan. Ons moet poog om elke fees en soortgelyke geleentheid tenvolle te benut. En, ons moet nooit vergeet hoe kompiterend die toerisme mark is nie.”
DISCOVER ENYATHI – LAND OF THE RHINO
While researching the history of Murraysburg, the local Tourism Committee discovered that early indigenous people referred to it as Enyathi the Land of the Rhino. The reason was that “Murraysburg” was too difficult to pronounce. To honour this ancient name the committee has now set out to establish Enyathi Eco Experiences and Information Centre in the town. Their efforts and handwork, which includes stained glass, pottery and batiks, have greatly impressed visitors from Wesgro, MAG Training and Freedom of Trade in Africa. Among experiences on offer are challenging 4 x 4 routes, farm holidays, hunting, hiking and mountain biking, with opportunities to overnight in a cave and visit a perennial waterfall, once considered magic by the /Xam who freely roamed with the rhinos and other game. The area is rich in birdlife and petroglyphs. There are graves of soldiers killed during the Anglo-Boer War to interest researchers.
NEWSPAPER READERS TAKE BARNARD TO HEART
Sunday Times readers have chosen Professor Chris Barnard as South Africa’s science, medicine and technology hero of the century. Barnard, the medical pioneer who performed the world=s first heart transplant in 1967, now joins the ranks of other heroes, such as Nelson Mandela, Sol Kersner, Pieter Dirk Uys and Gary Player, all voted outstanding figures in their fields by readers. At the end of this year readers will choose one from among them as the Sunday Times and Castle Lager Hero of the Century.
WHAT, NO CHEESE IN THIS BEAUFORT?
A Swiss couple recently visited Beaufort West simply because they love its namesake in France. Christof and Valerie Trapp, who live in Strasbourg, looked forward to “visiting this town in the desert”. They say its French counterpart is tiny, but also in mountain country. Only 500 people live there, and they make a unique cheese. The milk comes only from cows grazing above the snowline. “This cheese is a major tourist attraction,” said Christof. The Trapps were delighted to learn that the Karoo has a cheese maker, not on the peaks, but at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. They vowed to visit cheese-maker Louis Le Roes near Prince Albert to taste his products, mainly because he uses milk from a Braunveich (Brown Swiss) herd. Learning of further French connections in the Karoo, such as the Huguenot family that started the farm which became Beaufort West delighted them.
MERWEVILLE TOERISME KOM OP DREEFF
Merweville was eens ‘n “droë-dorp”. Nie omdat dit so min daar reen nie, maar omdat die magistraat wie grond vir die dorp bewillig het nie wou toelaat dat drank in die dorp verkoop word nie. “Op ‘n tyd was die ou Springbok Losieshuis die enigste plek waar ‘n mens ‘n doppie kon kry, vir medisinale redes, of op ‘n koue aand,” vertel Ds Kallie le Roux, van Wesselsbron, met ‘n glimlag. Hy is tans besig om die ou losieshuis op te gradeer vir toeriste en jagters. Kallie, wie op ‘n plaas buite Merweville gebore is en op die dorp skool gegaan het, deel graag sy liefde vir die gebied. “Die Karoo is uiters spesiaal. Ons is bevoorreg om die prag van hierdie wêreld met toeriste te kan deel,” sê hy. Met die inwyding van sy gastehuis het ‘n groep dominees in die Karoo kom ontspan. Op hulle hakke was ‘n groep jagters en hulle word gevolg deur 40 toeriste wat sommer net ‘nadere kennis met die Karoo wil maak”. Dan volg tussen 70 tot 80 manne met 4×4 voertuie wat die roetes rondom die dorp wil aandurf.
SATOUR SHARPENS ITS MARKET THRUST
Last year Satour spent less than Bangladesh on marketing. This year the organisation has R130m in its promotional budget. This was revealed by David Frost, special adviser to the National Ministry of Tourism, during a meeting at a Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town. He said international marketing plans would focus on six main sectors: the UK, Germany, USA, France, the Netherlands and Italy. Mr Frost also discussed strategies and stressed the value of the African market.
BELEEF ‘N ANDER KAROO
Op die plato van die Nuweveldberge is ‘n gasteplaas waar klipspringers soggens op die voorstoep kom water drink. Dis Matjesfontein, ‘n besondere plek waar Paul Neethling, eens ‘n pianis, sy liefde vir die Karoo graag met gaste deel. Hy bied akkommodasie aan in ‘n ruim, self-versorggende ou plaashuis of primitiewe klipkothuis. “Dis perfek vir die wat die natuur wil ervaar. Die uitsig is asemrowend. Hier deel gaste die wêreld van bokke, voëls, dassies en meerkatte, onder die skerp oë van witkruisarende. Die kothuis kyk af op ‘n enorme canyon vol varswaterswemgate. Daar is nie ‘n beter plek op ‘n warm somersdag nie. En, in die winter as dit sneeu en die plek soos die Alpe lyk, is daar kaggelvure in die groot huis en ‘n Dover-stofie of lapa-tiepe vuur by die kothuisie om gaste snoesig te hou. Die varswaterpoele lok baie voëls. Meer as 200 spesies is al hier uitgeken.”sê Paul. Die plaas is ideaal vir Boereoorlognavorsers. Dit lê langs Uitspansfontein waar die Boere ‘n Britse donkiekonvooi op pad vanaf Beaufort-Wes na Fraserburg in 1902 betrap het.
KAROO LANDS TOP AWARD FOR JOURNALIST
Country Life journalist Julia Lloyd recently received South Africa’s top award for travel journalism. The prestigious Mondi Award was presented to her for the articles she wrote on the Karoo. The award also allows the magazine to carry the attribution “Mondi Award Winner” on its cover for a year.
SARIE BRING DIE MENSE KAROO TOE
“Karoo Toe’ sê Sarie se 30 Junie buiteblad. En dis net wat baie lesers wou doen toe hulle die bylaag gelees het. Alida Vos en haar medewerkers het die prag van ou Karoo plase en die leefstyl van die gebied onder die aandag van lesers gebring. Kort na die publikasie op straat verskyn het, het telefone in die Karoo se toeriste buros begin lui. Sarie lesers het meer inligting verlang.
BOER WAR RESEARCHERS DISCOVER GHOST TRAIN
A tale of a ghost train fired the imagination of Anglo-Boer researchers recently exploring the Meiringspoort area. Snyberg farmer Bertie Loock told them of lights that travel down the railway line on his farm, pause near the graves of Imperial Yeomanry soldiers and slowly move off amid the sound of whistles, chuffs and clanks. “But the train never appears,” he said. The 30 Boer War enthusiasts standing alongside the graves of Yeomanry Privates Jones and Collins shivered, yet it was a warm winter’s day. Nevertheless, they loved the story. It added spice to the first outing arranged by the Southern Cape Anglo-Boer War Commemorative Group. The route took the enthusiasts from De Rust towards Uniondale, then through Meiringspoort to Klaarstroom where a tea was served by members of the local VLV. Details of Boer War events in this area were presented in a small booklet entitled “A Window on the Past – from Buffelsklip to Klaarstroom” Copies are available at R12 each (incl. postage) from Henrik Voster, P O Box 4491, George East, 6539.
DATUMS VIR DIE DAGBOEKE
Die Anglo-Boereoorlog herdenkingskomitee van Oudtshoorn nooi belangstellendes uit na ‘n reeks toesprake in die C J Langenhoven Biblioteeksaal. Die eerstes, deur Professor Jan Olivier, is vir 15 Julie en 19 Augustus geskeduleer. In September sal Mev Taffy Shearing ‘n praatjie lewer. Beaufort-Wes se senior Rapportryers bied in Augustus ‘n toespraak oor wapens van die oorlog aan. Franscois van Niekerk gee hierdie praatjie in die museum. In September praat Frikkie Bekker oor die oorsake van die oorlog en op 28 Oktober sal Johan Loock, ‘n deskundige van Bloemfontein, ‘n praatjie oor die oorlog in die Karoo lewer. Hy hou dieselfde dag ‘n uitstalling van sy boeke oor die oorlog in die museum.
MEET A CONTROVERSIAL COMMANDANT ON BOER WAR TOUR
A new book on Commandant Gideon Scheepers will be launched on a tour of the Karoo and Eastern Cape midlands in August. This tour, organised by the War Museum in Bloemfontein, will cover events of the Anglo-Boer War in the Middelburg, Graaff Reinet, Aberdeen and Cradock areas. Organiser Elrina Wessels says: “Booking is brisk and already we have had to order an extra bus.” A new 212-page book, Commandant Gideon Scheepers and the Search for his Grave written by Boer War researcher Taffy Shearing, will be launched on this trip. It is the second in her series on Boer Commandants.
INTERNATIONAL VISITORS MEET SWAMP CREATURES
A group of international visitors from the Shongololo Train were intrigued to discover that the harsh, arid Karoo once was a swamp. On the Fossil Trail at the Karoo National Park they learned that even the vegetation had drastically changed. Tourism assistant and management trainee Brian van der Westhuizen explained that in the ancient Karoo broad-leafed Glossopteris trees grew on the banks of huge Mississippi-like rivers and lakes. They provided shade for a ground cover of club mosses and ferns. Water-loving horsetails ferns grew along the water’a edge and hid Rhinesuchus, large salamander-like amphibians that waited patiently for fish (Atherstonia) to swim within striking distance. The lumbering Pareiasaurus occupied the floodplains. Bony heads and scales on their backs protected them from attack by carnivores. These primitive reptiles were often found fossilised in a standing position with their heads raised as if they had sunk in the mud and become trapped. The carnivores included the Gorgonopsian (Rubidgea), which had needle sharp teeth and preyed on small Dicynodonts, such as the Diictodon. Their teeth were, however, not sharp enough to chew bones so they left behind many skeletons which in time became fossilised. “A huge number of Diictodon fossils have been found in the Beaufort West area,” explained Brian. “These small herbivores had long thin bodies and short legs and were common throughout the ancient Karoo. They lived in groups and burrowed into the soft soils of the well-vegetated riverbanks. The Oudenodon were larger herbivores but had no teeth. They used horny pads and tortoise-like beaks to grind vegetation from trees and bushes. Then there were the insectivores, such as the Eurotosaurus and Ictidosuchoides. The former had a protective armour-like shell and thickened ribs, rather like the modern-day tortoise, but research shows they were not related. The latter were a small mammal-like reptiles that fed on dragonflies and beetles.”
MUSEUM COMES ALIVE TO THE SOUND OF MUSIC
An Austrian TV feature on the life of heart transplant pioneer Professor Chris Barnard recently had the museum in Beaufort West resounding to the sound of music. This programme was compiled as a follow-up to the popular feature on his life that the service produced last year. Professor Barnard again shared boyhood memories of his old home town with the TV presenters and discussed his love of some organ pieces played by his mother in the little mission church in which his father preached. Museum head Sandra Smit played some of these pieces on the same little organ his mother once used to the delight of the TV crew.
MAN MET MESSE BY JAARVERGADERING
‘n Man met ‘n versameling van meer as 300 messe het onlangs ‘n praatjie by die Beaufort-Wes Museum jaarvergadering gelewer. Mnr Jan Britz, wie in die dorp gebore en getoë is, het sy eerste mes in 1947 as present van sy broer gekry. Dit was deur een van die twee plaaslike mesmakers ontwerp sê hy. Die kleinste messie in sy versameling, net 2cm lank, is ook in Beaufort-Wes gemaak deur ‘n mnr Botma, wie in Garciastraat gewoon het. Die lemmetjie kan oop uitswaai en die mes kan gebruik word om naels skoon te maak. “Die messie was nogal duur,” se Jan. “Ek moes 2/6 daarvoor opdok en om dit te kon bekostig moes ek die skoolvensters teen “tickey” >’n ruit was.” Nog ‘n miniatuur was ‘n borspeld mes met drie kleiner messies op kettingkies. In sy versameling is messe van omtrent elke bekende vervaardiger in die wêreld. Daar is ook aandenkings- revolver-, stinkhout-, spring-, Amerikaanse halfdollar en flindermesse. Hy het >’n Paul Krugermes, sowel as ander wat tot die Anglo-Boereoorlog terug dateer.
A JOURNEY THROUGH ‘THE LAND WHERE THE CITRUS BLOOMS’
A journey through the Karoo in 1856 so affected Dutch traveller Hendrik Antonie Lodewijk Hamelberg that he lapsed into philosophical meditations. He wrote: “I compare this road to the life of man. The potholes are the troubles he often feels cannot be overcome. Stoney places symbolise life’s disasters, while individual stones remind one that in the cup of the greatest earthly happiness there’s a drop of bitter wormwood.” Hamelberg travelled from Cape Town through Paarl, Bain’s Kloof, Mitchell’s Pass, Ceres, Karoopoort, and “the endless Karoo” via Beaufort West and Colesberg to Bloemfontein. He stayed at lonely farms and observed many unusual customs. At one a servant appeared with a basin of water and in Biblical fashion washed the feet of the guests. Hamelberg arrived in Beaufort West at dusk, knocked on the door of a likely lodging house and was shocked “half to death” when the door was flung open by a large, grumpy man clad only in red flannel underpants. The De Wit and Meiring families invited him to stay and although Beaufort West, “was not a pretty town.” He stayed ten days to rest his horses. During this time, he joined the Dutch Reformed Church’s Scottish minister, the Reverend Colin Fraser, to “take the air” on a walk through the village. In his diary he wrote: “Fraser spoke Dutch, but not without difficulty. He is an estimable man, who had 17 children, 13 of whom are still living. His parishioners love him, and he mixes easily with all townsfolk.” Hamelberg also reported that neither MacDermid, who stabled his horses, nor Mijnhardt, who repaired his watch, would accept payment. He passed many farms with citrus orchards and wrote the Karoo reminded him of Mignon, by German poet Goethe, which asks: “Do you know the land where the citrus blooms?”
BLOMLYN KOM WEER IN WERKING
Weskaap Toerismeraad en MTN bevoerder weereens vanjaar die blommeprag van die Kaap en Karoo. Diegene wat belangstel om lente blommetjies te sien kan vanaf l Augustus 083 910 1028 bel vir daaglikse inligting.
SPIRITUAL BIRDS OF A FEATHER
New York Columbia University Professor Rob Nixon, who was born “on the fringe of the Karoo,” compares Arizona and the Karoo in his new book “Dreambirds”. Referring to them as “spiritual birds of a feather” he discusses a variety of similar issues from ostrich feathers to the badlands. Reviewer Neil Pendock writes: “Bruce Springsteen once said everybody has a hungry heart, and countries are no exception. Australia has Ayres Rock, America the Wild West. For South Africa, the hungry heart is the Karoo. From Olive Schreiner=s Story of an African Farm to Etienne van Heerden’s Kikuyu, local writers keep returning to the thirstland. Dreambirds shows that even when the writer is a professor of English and comparative literature, the desert never lets go.”