The role of fossils in ecotourism was the subject of a study done at the Karoo National Park recently. The research team, led by Dr Francois Durand, a Rand Afrikaans University Department of Zoology palaeontologist, included several members of the S A Society of Amateur Palaeontologists. Material was collected for a paper entitled “Problems relating to the identification and management of palaeontological sites in South Africa with special reference to ecotourism” and for a report being prepared for the park. The group also discussed the possibility of setting up a natural heritage display at the museum. “We chose the Karoo National Park for our research project because it is the only park of its kind in South Africa which has attempted to develop palaeontology as a tourist attraction,” said Dr Durand. “We hope to gather sufficient material to encourage other parks to preserve the country’s palaeontological heritage.” Dr Durand talked on the popularisation of palaeontology throughout all communities, in schools and through tourism bureaus. He also talked to farmers who wished to develop specific sites on their farms and stressed the importance of not allowing any more fossils to leave the Karoo. “You are allowing your natural heritage to be removed and stored in museum basements, when you should preserve it to share with all who visit the area,” he said. Dr Durand pointed out that sites on individual farms could play a vital role in tourism routes. The group located several fossils and a Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to mark them for future research. A good example of fossilised mudstone, found by amateur palaeontologist Cynthia Kemp, was presented to park manager Leighton Hare. It included an excellent Equisetales (horsetail fern) imprint.


Die ou wapad en bergpas vanaf Beaufort-Wes oor die Nuweveldberge na Loxton is onlangs herontdek. Arnold Hutchinson en ‘n paar kollegas van Eskom het werk daarvan gemaak om die pad, wat in Hooyvlakte beskryf word, op te spoor. “Maar dit het ‘n draai in die Kaapse Argiewe gekos, sowel as navorsing van ou Afdelingsraad padkaarte, om duidelikheid te kry,” vertel hy. “En als is nog nie heeltemal uitgepluis nie. Daar bestaan nog verwarring oor die plaas Donkergat. In die oudste kaarte word die Nuweveldberge die Boesmansberge genoem. Dit was ‘n asemrowende ervaring om tot bo-op die berg en by murasies van ‘n ou tolhuisie verby te stap.” Arnold nooi graag stappers wat in die navorsing wil deel om hom te bel.


An Irishman who divides his time equally between the Emerald Isles and South Africa, recently convinced Irish friends to join him on a “pub crawl with a difference”. Mike Dennehy promised them a combined exploration of South African wine farms, Anglo- Boer War battlefields and a swing through the Karoo. Word got around and soon nine couples and six singles had booked for the trip, all members, and some even founder members, of such wine societies as the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Commanderie de Bedeauz and Chante Flute, Gild of Sommelliers as well as the Manchester and Enniskillen Wine Societies. The group included a master of wine, wine writers, authors of books on wine, teachers, doctors and top military brass from the Manchester Regiment. Their ten-day tour from Durban to Cape Town included a stop-over at the Karoo National Park where they enjoyed drives, rambles, traditional cuisine and, of course, the wine list. They enjoyed every minute of it. Now Mike hopes to make the “pub crawl” an annual event.


A television programme in France featuring the Great Karoo and Owl House at Nieu Bethesda so intrigued a group of viewers that they decided to visit. Accor, parent company of the Formula One Hotel Group, was contacted as it was the only one they knew with connections in South Africa. Accor forwarded the request to Rob Pollitt, manager of the Formula One in Beaufort West. He then arranged a tour to the Karoo and Owl House for 42 Frenchmen. Impressed with this “super quick service,” they aim to arrive later this year.


As deel van die Provinsiale Verkeersafdeling se Paasfees Vakansieplan het Radio Punt vanaf satelietstasie by Leeu Gamka uitgesaai. Hierdie plaaslike gemeenskapradiostasie van die Kaapse Skiereiland het Rietfontein Gastehuis as basis gebruik. Omroeper Richard de Villiers het inligting oor die verkeerspatrone, sowel as onderhoude met plaaaslike mense en reisigers vanaf ‘n sateliet stasie uitgesaai. Deur hierdie poging het hulle probeer om die “pad van die dood” stigma, wat hierdie deel van die NI het, uit to wis. ‘n TV-span van Pasella was ook onlangs in Beaufort-Wes. Hanna Koster het ‘n onderhoud met toerisme beampte Wendy Antonie oor die dorp, haar werk, beoogde gemeenskapmuseum, en haar beplande boek, “My Groot Onthou”, gevoer. Sy skryf oor haar kinderdae en die unieke spreektaal van die Kleurlinggemeenskap.


While researching family ties in the Karoo, Rupert Speyer of Bristol, England, discovered that one of his ancestors literally received the kiss of death in Beaufort West. Ben Watermeyer, or Judge Watermeyer as he was popularly known, married one of the daughters of “Black Rod” Reitz, a member of the Legislative Assembly for Swellendam. She took great interest in her husband’s work and accompanied him on most of his travels for the Circuit Court. While in Beaufort West, she contracted diphtheria after kissing a sick woman. There was no treatment in those days and death was a direct result of this kindly kiss. Yet another of Rupert’s ancestors has a link with Beaufort West. He is Jeremias Benedictus Auret, who lost his heart to a local lass, Marcella Susan, daughter of John Meares Devenish. They were married in 1823, and three of their 10 children were born and baptised in Beaufort West in the Anglican Christchurch.


Elke jaar word die begin van witblitzstook op Vrolikheid met `n tradisionele partytjie gevier. Daarna kuier gaste gereeld gedurende die stook en proe proses tot wanner die produk net reg is. “Daar is ‘n groeiende belangstelling in plaastradisies,” sê boer en baasstoker Vincent Marincowitz, wie onlangs ‘n “Blitz en Braai” restourant langs sy witblitsstil, ‘n nasionale gedenkwardigheid , opgerig het. “Toergroepe kan nou langer vertoef en braaietes saam met ons geniet terwyl ons die stookproses aan hulle verduidelik,” se hy.


Lemoenfontein Game Lodge near Beaufort West is constructing several A-frame chalets in a glade on what was once the historic old Tierfontein farm. Each will house two to four guests and there will be a central restaurant, bouma and swimming pool. The area is bird rich with plenty of game. There are also several interesting walk/and rambles in the vicinity. The chalets will be ready for the hunting season.


Daar’s ‘n nuwe bed-en-ontbyt rusplek in Laingsburg. Dit is bekend as Soetkoek en Bolletjies. Dit is deel van die Laingsburg Hotel en ‘n ideale oornagplek vir gesinne. “Die ou herehuis is in die hotel ingelyf om ‘n gaping in die mark aan to spreek,” se eienaar Brenda Poole. “In vakansietye ry baie groot gesinne saam en hulle wil saam bly. In hierdie ruim huis kan hulle heerlik kuier. Ontbyt en ander etes word by die hotel bedien.” En, die koddige naam? “Jare gelede het ‘n Tannie Bets die heerlikste soetkoek en bolletjies hier gebak en verkoop. Mettertyd het haar huis die beskrywende naam gekry en ons wou dit graag behou.”


An architectural student recently arrived in Beaufort West and confidently asked where he could see a wolf-nose and an eyebrow. The request was met with blank stares. Unperturbed, he produced James Walton’s book on Cape cottages which explains that “a wolf-nose is a term used to describe an ‘eyebrow’ over a doorway of a thatched cottage.” Dr Walton states: “The origin of the word is obscure. It is thought to come from the Dutch word ‘wolveneus’ and it is most descriptive. For the more technically inclined, the term describes a half-hipped roof terminated by end walls, the tops of which are rounded off as segments of a circle. Above this the thatch is swept back in a high arch towards the roof ridge, allowing a full-height doorway to be fitted and forming an ‘eyebrow’. 0ften the thatch is lifted to form a gable over a fanlight or small dormer window in the eyebrow. This is then called ‘eyebrow dormer’ or leg of mutton gable.” The student did find a bull-nose, a veranda roof style, and a cat-slide. He was then pointed in the direction of Fraserburg where a house with wolf-noses and eyebrows serves as the museum.


Die mark vir kultuurtoerisme is groot en die pki., behoort dit te ongun. So lei die boodskap van konsultant Dr Kobus Steyn gedurende sy onlangse praatjie by die De Rust Toerismeburo oor die ontwikkeling van tuisprodukte en eie kultuur bates. “Amerikaanse studies toon dat 15% van toeriste die land besoek vir kulturele doeleindes en dat ‘n verdere 30 % kultuurervaringe as belangrik beskou,” se hy. “Studies deur die Wereld Toerisme Organisasie dui op ‘n jaarlikse groei in hierdie marksektor van tussen 10 en 15%. Die meeste buitelandse besoekers, en tot ‘n mate die binnelandse mark, wil graag egte kulturele ervarings geniet. Hulle besoek graag plekke van argitektoniese belang, kuier by tuisnywerheid en handwerkwinkels en geniet plaaslike geregte en tradisionele kos op hulle ritte deur die land. Die meeste wil graag op ‘n donkiekar ry, die Karoolandskap of Khoi-kultuur geniet en met plaaslike mense praat. Aandenkinge is ook ‘n uiters belangrike deel van hierdie mark wat in die meeste plekke tot werkskepping kan lei.”


Many tourists who stroll through Beaufort West’s historic core enjoy its mix of architectural styles. Most of these date back to the middle of the last century when the prosperity of the town during the diamond rush era attracted many Cape Town architects. Among them was Charles Freeman, who designed the beautiful Neo-Gothic Dutch Reformed Church in the main road. Years later, it was revamped by James Bisset. Cape Town master builder Listor was responsible for erecting the original building which is similar to its counterparts in Malmesbury and Wellington. Listor was also the contractor for Matjiesfontein. In the book Historic Buildings of South Africa, author D Picton Seymour mentions the interesting old apothecary with its shell-like gable in Beaufort West’s Donkin Street. “Once known as Lennon’s Corner,’ it was designed by an architect named De Witt, and later changed by Robertson, one of his colleagues. A newspaper report of the day states: ‘The interior of Lennons is magnificent in mahogany and glass with many rows of jars emblazoned with coats of arms. These glint in the light of a central hanging oil lamp. Large plate glass windows display wares of the trade.’ Fred Cherry designed many of Beaufort West’s shops, offices and dwellings in 1905, while W Black left his imprint in the form of schools. Forsythe and Parker designed Logan’s Beaufort West Hotel, and also built the Douglas Hotel at Touws River.” Beaufort West’s oldest house is at 11 Bird Street. It was built in 1825 as a townhouse for farmer Pieter Jacobs of Slangfontein. Other edifices that attract tourists are the Anglican Church, Clyde House and Matoppo House.


A group of international tourists, mostly women, was given a special warm welcome to Beaufort West recently, something they “will always remember.” After a visit to the Karoo National Park and a stroll along the Fossil Trail the group was taken to The Ark, the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in Rustdene. On arrival, a Womens’ World Day of Prayer Service was in progress. So the tourists quietly prepared to take photographs of this unusual church from outside. However, word soon spread that these were international visitors and they were invited inside. The service was interrupted and the congregation rose to sing hymns and choruses in honour of the visitors. There wasn’t a dry eye among the tourists.


To the average British soldier, the Anglo-Boer War was an exercise in endurance. “It was a war against disease and climatic conditions,” writes Henry John May in Music of the Guns. “Sickness, enteric fever and dysentery, took a far greater toll than the battles.” The graveyard at Deelfontein, once the largest British surgical and convalescent hospital, bears testimony to this. British soldiers crossed the Karoo, a semi-desert region three times the size of England, at the height of summer. Insufficient water was the enemy in this arid zone. “Water had to be carried by convoy or rail,” writes May. “Also, the country was devoid of food. Every mouthfull for the troops had to be carted to them. By the time Lord Roberts reached Bloemfontein his troops had only five days’ rations left. His men were exhausted and he refused to move until adequate supplies arrived. But at the time the railway rolling stock on the Cape Town line consisted of only eight trains and two of them were needed to bring up a single day’s rations.” In the earliest stages of the war the British believed the Boers would not be capable of much resistance. “However, with a little dried meat (called biltong), mealie meal as a substitute for bread, a rifle, a bandolier of ammunition and a good horse they were extremely mobile in this wild country. But, they knew how to take cover and casualties were, therefore, much lower than those of the British. When reinforcements arrived they only added to the problem as more supplies had to be dragged inland along railway lines often blown up by guerillas. Blockhouses were built in the hopes of preventing attacks on trains and bridges, but they were not entirely successful.” These silent sentinels still guard the rails along the Karoo’s Blockhouse Route.


Anglo-Boereoorlog Herdenkingbeplanningskomitees van die Groot Karoo, Tuin Roete en Klein Karoo het onlangs by die C P Nel Museum in Oudtshoorn vergader om samewerking te bespreek. Heelwat geleenthede word in hierdie streke beplan en die ko-ordineering hiervan was bespreek. Suid Kaap Stereo, ‘n plaaslike radio stasie beplan ‘n reeks praatjies wat ook mettertyd geboekstaaf sal word. Lyste van moontlike sprekers was dus ook opgestel met die oog om die sprekers ook by ander vergaderings te gebruik. Die vergadering het ook vir toerisme doeleindes ‘n lys opgestel van uitstallings by museums. Die eerste uitstappie wat die groep reel sal in die Meiringspoort-gebied op 5 Junie, plaasvind.


There once pranced a stallion on a Beaufort West farm so magnificent that every Anglo-Boer War British officer who ever saw this beautiful creature covetted him. So, in 1901, when the British commandeered horses in the area, he was among the first to be brought to town. In camp he stood proud, head high while being saddled. But then the trouble started. No one could mount him. The instant anyone tried, he bolted. After one such commotion, the petite and elderly Mrs Daantjie de Villiers appeared mounted side saddle. This little old lady rode off into town on the stallion so docile her riding crop seemed quite superfluous. The British could not believe their eyes. Only then did they find out that the horse had been bottle-fed and hand-reared. He had bonded only with this woman, and would allow no other on his back. Boer War researcher Taffy Shearing says: “There are many versions of this tale and the horse is referred to only as ‘the bottle-fed stallion’. Sadly no one recorded his name, but undoubtedly he was the terror of the army.” Both Boer and Brit suffered to find suitable mounts as the war dragged on. There is a story of some Boer soldiers who proudly brought General Christiaan de Wet some superb thoroughbreds, commandeered from the Robertson stud farm in the Colesberg area. The great general, a passionate horse-lover, sadly shook his head and said: “Take them back, these beauties would never last in the field.”


The riddle of the Murraysburg doctor who so bravely served the town during the Anglo-Boer War has been solved. In a Round-Up supplement on the town questions were posed about Dr “Heydenrych”. No one seemed to know much about him. This prompted Dr Elizabeth van Heyningen, of Cape Town, to dig about until she discovered all the history books have his name spelled incorrectly. According to the List of Cape Colony Medical Practitioners, Martin Heinrich was the doctor in the Murraysburg-Molteno area during the war. He trained in Germany and was registered in South Africa in 1899. “Records reveal that he practised in the area until 1911, so the story of him dying aboard ship must be a bit of local folk lore, ” she said.