Role-players in the Central Karoo were recently briefed on new strategies to streamline the tourism industry in the Western Cape Province. Sheryl Ozinsky, manager, Cape Town Tourism, Roger Carter, of the UK-based organisation TEAM (Tourism Education and Management), and Anneline Kriel, of Western Cape Tourism, discussed proposals for E-business information management systems and progress on the JMI (Joint Marketing Initiative), which is an attempt to create a common vision for five key economic development sectors: tourism, major events, film, investment and trade. “These strategies will result in closer links between the Mega City and the hinterland, particularly as regards tourism,” Sheryl said. “Centralising and streamlining key functions will eliminate duplication, allow each sector to become more focussed, result in more equitable membership fees, better operating structures, standards and services. Funds could also be more realistically used and training at every level improved.” Roger Carter discussed the rapidly developing world of electronic communications and the almost limitless frontiers being opened by new products. “What formerly was the preserve of desk-bound PCs has become a world of portable electronic aids. Even the smallest operator now has better access to up-to-date information and, as all information is instantly fed into central databanks, efficiency of the whole system will be enhanced,” Roger said.



Alle Suid-Afrikaanse toergidse moet her-registreer. Die proses word nou op provinsiële vlak gehanteer. Wes-Kaapse Minister van Landbou, Toerisme en Dobbelary, Johan Gelderblom, sê dat die nuwe proses die bedryf en die beroep gaan opgradeer. Hy het ‘n beroep op alle toergidse, tot dié wat onwettig optree, gedoen om voor die einde van Maart te registreer. “Dit sal ons in staat stel om die bedryf te rasionaliseer, transformeer, te verseker dat elke toergids aan kwalifikasie vereistes voldoen en dat hulle betroubare inligting aan toeriste oordra.” Na registrasie sal alle gidse ‘n verdere 24 maande gegun word om kwalifikasies te bekom en deur die Toerisme, Gasvryheid en Sport Onderwys Opleiding Owerheid (THETA) geëvalueer te word. Ongeregistreerde gidse sowel as operateurs wat van hul dienste gebruik maak kan beboet word.

  • A call for all tour guides to re-register

New legislation requires all South African tour guides to re-register. This re-registration is being handled at provincial level and the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling, Mr Johan Gelderblom, has called upon all guides, including those who have been operating illegally, to register before the end of March. “This will enable us to rationalise and transform the industry, ensure all tourist guides in the province are properly qualified and capable of disseminating quality information to tourists.” After registration guides have 24 months to be evaluated by THETA (the Tourism, Hospitality, Education and Sport Training Association). Thereafter unregistered guides and operators who use their services will be liable for fines.


The Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling, Johan Gelderblom, paid a short visit to Prince Albert on February 22 for discussions with Mayor Dawid Rossouw. He met key tourism role-players at a cheese and wine function to briefly discuss tourism plans, policies and strategies. Most would be finalised by mid-year. The minister gave an undertaking that Route 62 would be more closely linked to the Great Karoo and be of greater benefit to Prince Albert. Mr Gelderblom also said plans for a pont on the Gamkapoort Dam were still under consideration. He also agreed to officiate at the opening of the Olive Festival on April 27, 2002.


The “four of the happiest years” of Helen Cherrington’s life were spent at Beaufort West. Here she first saw snow, experienced the severest drought she ever knew and saw locust swarms “so dense they blacked out the daylight.” “My previous husband, Nick Vorster, and I lived in Beaufort West from 1948 to 1952,” she said during a recent visit. “He came to take up a post as secretary to the hospital. We arrived in the middle of an extreme drought. Each household only got a bucket and a bath of water a day. We cooked and drank from the water bucket. The bath water was used for washing and laundry. I’ve never again had to be that economical with water. We did the laundry after we’d all bathed, used the residual water for treasured garden plants and rinsed the clothes next morning when the clean water came. Eventually it rained, but then dark clouds of locusts arrived. They stuck to everything. Doors and windows were sealed to prevent them from coming into houses. Vehicles crushed so many that roads became slippery, so each day the fire department had to hose down the streets. Buckets full of the insects were swept up from the pavements. A few months later it snowed. It started at night and at first I thought thousands of moths were swirling around the street lights. We did not believe it could snow in this desert area. We stood for hours at the window watching the floating flakes. It was quite romantic. The whole world was gently coated in soft whiteness.” Helen, now 80, and her husband, Norman, 84, recently spent a few days exploring Beaufort West. They stayed at the Karoo National Park and at Huis Pisani, near the swimming pool. “This was one of the coolest places on hot summer nights. Many residents gathered on the lawns at night and chatted with Miss McCullum, the attendant. Old Beaufort West was such a friendly place, and I am delighted to find it unchanged.”


Een van die straatkinders wat vanaf Beaufort-Wes na Nelspoort gestuur is, Wiehahn Esquire, het ‘n opwindende ontdekking gemaak. Tydens ‘n ontkenningsveldtog het hy op ‘n rotstekening van ‘n uitgestorwe kwagga afgekom. “Ons is ook opgewonde daar oor,” sê navorser Sven Ouzman, van die Nasionale Museum in Bloemfontein. “Ek gaan verdere ondersoek instel wanneer ek in Maart kom om ‘n roete in die gebied uit te lê en die kinders op te lei as gidse. Die Nelspoort rotskuns gebied, bekend as die Klipkraalterrein, is baie groter as wat eers gedink is. Dit sal ‘n besondere toeriste besienswaardigheid in die area wees.” Toere kan deur Restvale Primêre skoolhoof Laurence Rathenan, beskermheer van die bewaringsterrein, gereel word.

  • Street child discovers rare fossil

One of the street children from Beaufort West who were sent to school at Nelspoort, Wiehahn Esquire, has made an exciting discovery. While assisting with investigations at the rock art site he found an engraving of an extinct quagga. “We are all excited about this,” said Sven Ouzman of the National Museum in Bloemfontein, who is leading reaseach into this valuable site and who will conduct further investigations in March. “The Nelspoort site is bigger than originally imagined. It will become a valuable tourist attraction.” Tours can be organised through Restvale Primary School principal, Laurence Rathenan, who has been appointed custodian of the site.


Healthy living, the magic of the Swartberg and Karoo night skies encouraged TV3 to take a closer look at Prince Albert recently. A camera crew from the Life, Style, Matters programme visited Bija Cana, the village’s holistic health stop-over where aromatherapy massages set the tone for a closer look at the ecology, the night skies, olives, figs and village life. A traditional meal at Maggie Boshoff’s Cannabals was rated a winner. Radio 702 recently also devoted an hour on air to Prince Albert and its many tourist attractions.


Two new businessmen on the Kwa-Mandlenkosi Township Tourist Route understand all about customer satisfaction. At The Fruit and Veg Shack, which shelters under a thorn tree, Jacob Shebane steps out with a smile when tourists stop to admire the art work on the Kwa-Mandlenkosi Stadium wall across the road. He offers fruit, a cold drink from a cool box and philosophically chatters about township life. Jacob goes the extra mile for regular clients by doing shopping for those at work all day. In the evening their orders are ready and waiting despite his having to hire a taxi for this customer service. Jacob doesn’t mind. “Your attitude must be first class if you want to be a success in business,” he says. Further along Jabavu Road is The Tuck Shop. This brightly painted little café belongs to Simon Nduku, who lost his job when the Bokomo bakery in Beaufort West closed. Simon also gives service top priority. His shop is open from 06h00 to 23h00 every day. “I work long hours to keep my customers happy,” he says. “My shop is close to Elizabeth Ngondo’s B&B, so I always hope that a tourist will pop in to see a typical township store. My door is always open, and I keep my smile ready for all who enter.” Asked about his stock, Simon says: “I try to keep the things that my customers like to buy.”


Long ago the sonorous tones of Laingsburg’s Dutch Reformed Church organ crept so deep into the hearts of two small village girls that it set their musical souls in motion forever. Nicolette and Ingrid van der Spuy, born in Laingsburg in the late 1950s, were given their first music lessons by their father, Melvyn, the town’s music teacher and DRC church organist. Their mother, Lorraine, owned the local cold drink factory, Karookoel. “Every day we played among empty crates before going to listen to my father practicing on the organ. In 1962, we moved to Diskobolos, near Kimberley. It was so small it made Laingsburg seem a metropolis,” says Nicolette, now a string specialist at the Suzuki Institute in Dallas, Texas. Nicolette studied music at the Universities of Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Witwatersrand. She was introduced to the Suzuki method in Cape Town by her violin teacher, Alan Solomon, whom she married in 1979. They had two children, Melissa, 19, and Christopher, who is 16 and a classical guitarist of great promise. After completing her Suzuki studies in France, Nicolette performed with orchestras across Europe, in Israel, Scotland and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In 1992, she went to Japan to study under Dr Shinichi Suzuki in Matsumoto. There she also taught in Nangano City and at the Shinshu University. She is now married to South African composer Carl van Wyk. Her sister, Dr Ingrid Byerly, is a visiting professor and research scholar in ethnomusicology at the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina. She is currently researching all types of South African music, especially the collaborative styles of the 1980s. She thus visits South Africa at least once each year for interviews with musicians. Her article Mirror, Mediator and Prophet: The Music of Indaba of Late-Apartheid South Africa was awarded the Charles Seeger Prize in Canada in 1996. Ingrid is also in the final stages of a film script, the historical background of which takes place in Laingsburg. She intends to visit South Africa in April for her father’s 70th birthday. She hopes to stay over in Laingsburg at Laings Lodge, which back in 1959 was the nursing home where she was born. “Who knows, perhaps they can even give me the same room!”


About 6 000 of the 20 000 blue cranes left in South Africa live in the Karoo. In 1980, there were 100 000 of these birds in the Republic, but according to a 1998 census their numbers have decreased by 80 000. This was recently revealed at workshops held in the Karoo by Kevin McCann, chairman of the SA Crane Working Group. With fellow researcher David Joliffe he has been studying these birds in the Karoo for eight years. They made a plea for the preservation of the species in the Karoo, which is its last natural habitat, but where birds are more threatened by powerlines than poisons. The highly endangered species, South Africa’s national bird, is part of the logo of the Central Karoo District Municipality. “The blue crane has great cultural significance. Only the chief of the Xhosas, for instance, could wear blue crane feathers in his headdress,” said Kevin. He said the wattled crane was on the critical list as only 250 remained, and there were only 3 500 crowned cranes left in the country.


A magazine article on Merweville’s yellow house snared the attention of a German photographer and soon he was speeding to the Karoo with an armload of yellow roses. Siegfried Layda specialises in international calendars linked to specific colours and themes. The year’s theme was cities of the world, next year’s is yellow. Alex Cremer’s photo-feature in Country Life on the home of Jan and Daleen Mocke with its all-yellow theme was just what the photographer ordered. Siegfried ‘phoned from Cape Town saying he wanted to rush up to the Karoo immediately to see the house. “I was stunned when he got out of the car with 40 superb long-stemmed yellow roses for me,” said Daleen. “I was overwhelmed by the grand gesture.”


Twee navorsers wat besig is om Simonstadse geskiedenis te boekstaaf het heelwat bande met die Karoo ontdek. Skrywers Tony Nunn en Professor J Domisse sê: “Beide James Logan en Generaal Andrew Wauchope wat so ‘n groot deel uitmaak van die Matjiesfontein-storie het byvoorbeeld hier aan wal gekom. Ons is seker dat daar talle ander Karoo dorpies en mense is wat ons storie kan verryk. Ons sal graag van hulle wil hoor.”

  • Researchers seek information

Two researchers who are documenting the history of Simonstown have discovered several links with the Karoo. Tony Nunn and Professor J Dommisse say: “People like James Logan and General Andrew Wauchope, who played such central roles in the history of Matjiesfontein, both landed here. We are convinced there must be many other links with Karoo towns and families that could enrich our tale. We’d love to hear from anyone who can help.”


Early explorers wandering through the Nelspoort/Murraysburg area in December 1903, stumbled across the skeletons of a leopard and gemsbok locked together in what was a violent death. They told the expedition leader, German explorer Heinrich Lichtenstein, who was “amazed that with its long horns a gemsbok could strike fast enough to mortally wound another wild animal.” Tourists, who today visit South Africa to see the Big Five are surprised to learn that at one time lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and even elephant inhabited the Great Karoo. Early sightings of these animals are reported in C J Skead’s Animal Incidence in the Western Cape. Lichtenstein recorded three lion species near the Nuweveld mountains. French botanist and explorer Francois le Valliant in 1793 said lions were prevalent in those mountains because antelope were so abundant. In 1822, when Robert and Mary Moffat visited the area, they heard that in six years more than 60 lions had been killed near Beaufort West. All travelling south were advised to light fires at night to keep lions at bay.


Restourasie van die Ou Skuur in die Karoo Nasionale Park vorder goed. Die projek word aangepak volgens navorsing en planne van die Department van Argitektuur by Pretoria Technikon. Dit is deel van ‘n groter werkskeppingsprojek wat uitgevoer word met befondsing van die Regeringse Armoede Verligtings Fonds. Ou verf is deur sandspuiting van die mure verwyder en die gebou vertoon weer ‘n egte klip voorkoms. Rondeklip paadjies is rondom die gebou uitgelê, die ou sinkdak is verwyder en ‘n grasdak word tans aangebring. Die ou kothuis langs die skuur word ook herstel as deel van die projek. Ou verf, plafonne en staal vensters is verwyder en skyfraam vensters wat spesifiek vir die ou kothuis gemaak is word geïnstalleer.

  • Old Schuur project makes good progress

Restoration of the Old Schuur at the Karoo National Park is well under way. Work is being done according to plans drawn up by the Pretoria Technichon’s Department of Architecture. The project is part of a larger job creation scheme being undertaken by the park with Poverty Relief Funding acquired from the Department of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Tourism. The Schuur has been sandblasted to remove all old paint, cobbled-stone drip paths have been laid and the old corrugated iron roof is being replaced by thatch. The adjacent cottage is also being restored. Old paint, ceilings and steel windows have all been removed and specially-made wooden windows are being installed.



Midge Carter’s comments on farm gates in Round-up No 97 reminded former roads engineer Graham Ross of an article once written by Pieter Baartman, retired chief surveyor of the old Cape Provincial Roads. “In a humourous article, Gates I have known, Pieter describes a variety of these devices from the traditional pipe-framed swing gate to contraptions seemingly designed to terrorise travellers. Pieter describes one contraption which is suspended from a horizontal pole pivoted on the gate post. A heavy rock, bound to its short end with wire, acted as a counter-weight and caused it to leap into the air. Closing it was an art. Another fiendish apparatus, known as the ‘bekslaner,’ or ‘jaw-puncher’ gate, could strike fear into the most stout-hearted of travellers. It comprised a loose grid-work of wires, often barbed and most times tangled. When you got to know these gates, you realised the tangles were evidence of many victories over humans. At one end the wires were nailed to what would normally be the hinge post. At the other they were fastened to a moveable vertical pole. When the gate was closed the moveable vertical pole was locked to the last fence post by two wire loops. The loop at ground level acted as an anchor. The one at the top theoretically stabilised the device. For this contraption to do duty as a gate, the wires and the pole had to close under tension. Opening such a gate required great courage, skill and strength. First, the loop at the top had to be slid off the fence post, releasing the tension. Instantly the wires developed a wild life of their own. They whipped back like dervishes, ensnaring the unsuspecting soul seeking entrance. Of course, closing them presented a whole new set of near-lethal complications. These gates were known to reduce swaggering macho types to blubbering idiots.”


Die vroue van Nelspoort Southern Cape Land Committee het die geskiedenis van die gebied geboekstaaf. Dit word hierdie maand uitgegee under die opskrif Nelspoort, ons lief en leed. “Die boek lees soon ‘n treinrit,” sê samesteller Kim Andreoli. “Die vertellers is vrouens en elke toneel lees asof dit op ‘n vensterraam verskyn.”

  • Book is like a train trip

The women of Nelspoort Southern Cape Land Committee have captured the history of the area in a book to be launched this month. “Entitled ‘Nelspoort – ons lief en leed’ (‘Nelspoort – our love and strife’) it reads rather like a train trip,” says co-ordinator Kin Andreoli. “The women are the story tellers and each scene seems to flash by as if seen from the window of a train.”


In early 1904, Beaufort West shopkeeper Isadore Bakst ran out of pepper. This soon after the Anglo-Boer War it was still difficult to obtain supplies, but he came up with what he considered a clever solution. Isadore ground olive stones and added the grindings to his meagre pepper supplies. His subterfuge was discovered and landed Isadore in court where, according to The Courier of February 18, 1904, he was fined 40 shillings for “adulterating pepper.”