Eight chairmen of Regional Tourism Organisations in the Western Cape recently met with Mr Hennie Bester, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, for discussions on problems facing the industry. Also present were Mr David Jack, chairman of Western Cape Tourism Board, and Mr Hennie Taljaard, head of the new Strategic Management Team. Core issues were legislation, establishment and accreditation of bureaus, funding, and workplace challenges. Ways of streamlining communications were also discussed. The minister said a Strategic Management Team, headed by Mr Hennie Taljaard, regional general manager of the Airports Company, had been appointed for three months with the option to continue for a further three to investigate these problems and study changes required to the Tourism Act. Also on the team are Western Cape Tourism Board members and the chairmen of the standing committees, and Mr Gert Lubbe, a guesthouse owner and partner at Matoppa Country Inn in Beaufort West. The team will operate according to strict terms of reference, study structures, strategies, business plans, marketing and development policies and the database. They will also set up a process for the appointment of a new chief executive. As a follow-up the minister has arranged to visit every region, accompanied by members of the management team, for in-depth discussions with RTOs and key roleplayers. They will be in the Central Karoo on June 8, 1998.
MUSEUMS OP SOEK NA STORIES
Museums van die Suid-Kaap en Karoo is ernstig op soek na stories van die Anglo-Boereoorlog wat sal oorvertel word as deel van hulle Amasiko-programme. Reelings vir uitstallings en ander geleenthede tydens die herdenking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog het deel gevorm van besprekings tydens ‘n onlangse museum streekseminaar in Mosselbaai. Museums het ‘n groot rol to speel op die gebied van toerisme. Foto versamelings sal veral vir buitelanders van belang wees.
NEW ROUTE FOR BEAUFORT WEST MARATHON
Runners in the Beaufort West Metropolitan Marathon, scheduled for August 15, this year, will find the new route more challenging and enjoyable. Formerly a straight run along the NI from Nelspoort to Beaufort West, the route was becoming boring and stressful in the traffic. The new course, which will start and end in the Karoo National Park, passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in this part of the Karoo. It includes challenging up and downhill sections as well as a few kilometers along a gravel road. It passes through the historic core of the town. The danger of running along the busy NI has been totally eliminated, say the organisers, and the new course promises a much more scenic and enjoyable run.
KAROO KOPPIES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Researchers from two major South African universities and a team of international specialists have teamed up to study the fauna and flora of flat-topped Karoo koppies. The project is being led by Dr Karen Esler of the Department of Botany at Stellenbosch. “It promises to be fascinating,” she said. “Most people hardly notice the `platkoppies’ of the Karoo, always there in the distance as they drive through this vast arid region. Some are astonished to learn that they provide a refuge for an interesting array of animals and plants. These koppies have an ecology all of their own. In them are a myriad of crevices not easily accessible to farm animals and reachable by only a few predators. These provide a perfect place of safety for little koppie creatures. In these crevices they shelter from icy winter winds and scorching summer sun. The crevices also retain moisture and create climates essential to the survival of a selection of fascinating plants. Financial support for the project is being provided by the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, as well as the Foundation for Research and Development in Pretoria. Taking part in this co-operative research programme will be plant biologists from the University of Stellenbosch, animal biologists from the University of Natal, as well as a team of German, British and Namibian ecological specialists. Dr Esler has invitated farmers and conservationists to participate in the programme.
KLEIN BESIGHEDE ONTMOET
Mnr Jeffrey Citani, ‘n deskundige op die gebied van kleinsake-ontwikkeling by die Karoo Bronne Sentrum in Beaufort-Wes, het onlangs ‘n spesiale vergadering belê om nouer samewerking tussen sakemanne en die toerisme bedryf te bespreek. “Ek wil graag ‘n uitruiling van idees bevorder en mense stimuleer om hulle gedagtes te laat gaan oor die vervaardiging en bemarking van produkte vir toeriste. Reisigers soek altyd iets eie aan die gebied waar hulle besoek aflê. Ons moet die mark benut. Daar is genoeg kundige mense op die platteland om produkte te ontwerp.”
MOVES TO PRESERVE THE HELL
Trustees of the Fransie Pienaar Museum feel strongly about preserving Gamkaskloof, or The Hell, as the almost secret settlement it once was. They have organised a team of experts to visit the valley on June 17 and 18. Among them will be representatives of the National Monuments Council and the Stigting van der Stel. “The Hell was declared a national monument in September, 1997, but little is being done to conserve its architecture and culture,” said museum curator Lydia Barella. “There are interesting and picturesque valleys in every mountain range throughout the country, so allowing this one to return completely to nature will destroy its appeal forever. The Hell is unique because it fostered a self-sufficient community for over a century. It is essential that it be preserved to show visitors exactly how efficiently they lived in isolation.”
GROOT DE BEER INDABA
In ‘n poging om die voorvaders van die dorp te vereer het Prins Albert toerisme ontwikkelings-komittee afstammelinge van die De Beer gesin genooi om in Augustus besoek te kom aflê. “Ons reel ‘n spesiale program vir die naweek van Augustus 15 en 16, ‘n heerlike tyd van die jaar in die Karoo. Ons nooi alle De Beers om te kom kuier en deel te wees van hierdie groot samekoms. Die man wat vandag die voorvader se naam dra, die bekende politikus en industrialis, Zac de Beer, het al laat weet dat hy belangstel om die geleentheid by te woon. Die oorspronklike Zachrias de Beer, die eerste man in Suid-Afrika wat die voomaam gedra het, het in 1762, hom in die area aan die voet van die Swartberge kom vestig. Die dorp is in 1846 op sy plaas, Kweekvallei, uitgele. `n Afstammeling van ‘n garnisoen soldaat en wamaker, van Wase in Switzerland, hy was alombekend vir sy gasvryheid. Heelwat reisigers het daaroor geskryf.
BLACK RHINO ON THE MOVE
The black rhino at the Karoo National Park are to be exchanged for black rhino, but there is a difference. Currently the park has five Diceros bicornis bircornis, a species of huge black rhino once indigenous to this part of the Karoo. They are to be swopped for 10 Diceros bicornis michaeli or East African rhino, a smaller variety. The larger animals will be sent to Addo Elephant National Park, from where the smaller ones will come. The whole exchange programme forms part of the South African National Parks Board’s endangered species breeding and conservation programme. The black rhino from Addo come from the largest free-ranging herd outside East Africa. Their introduction to the Karoo National Park, outside Beaufort West, will be of great benefit to tourism in this part of the Great Karoo. “The simple fact that there are more of them means that they will be easier to spot,” said park manager Leighton Hare. “Many visitors come to the park specially to see rhino, but are often disappointed as these huge animals manage to disappear in the dense bushy area along the 4 x 4 route. Already our black rhino bull, Chipembere, and older calf, Gamka, as well as the younger cow, Catherina, have been placed in a bouma. Ngara and her youngest calf, Dwyka, will soon join them. Once all the animals have been ‘bouma trained’ we will arrange to transport them to Addo. This training or settling down period ensures that the animals suffer as little stress as possible. The ten East African black rhino will go through the same procedure of bouma training and acclimatisation in this part of the Karoo before they are released into the wild. So, it will be a while before the public will see them. However, once they are free ranging, we are convinced they will be a major tourist attraction.”
VAN VISSKUBBE TOT DIE BOEREOORLOG
Nog ‘n kunswerk van visskubbe is in die Karoo ontdek. Die een, van ryers, is op groen fluweel uitgewerk en is die eiendom van mev Anna Lund. “Dis ‘n uitstekende stuk werk wat deur my ouma, ‘n baie kunstige persoon, uitgewerk is. Dit beeld ryers uit by ‘n watergat en die hele voël van sy kop tot sy voete is in visskubbe uitgewerk. Elke een moes geknip word om presies in sy eie plek te pas. Dit was ‘n tydsame werk en ek is glad nie verbaas dat die soort handewerk vandag as waardevol beskou word nie,” sê sy. “My ouma het ook bale stories uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog vertel. Een van die opwindenste was van ‘n aand toe sy en haar susters alleen in die huis was en Engelse soldate oor die muur geloer het. Die dogters het in die kombuis gestaan en was verskriklik bang. Toe een soldaat gemaak het of hy oor die muur wou spring, het ouma se oudste suster met ‘n geweer na hom toe gemik. Op sy beurt het hy net so groot geskrik, sy houvas op die muur verloor, oor getuimel en in ‘n rotstuin beland. Maar hy was ‘n ratse jong man en was net so vinnig terug oor die muur. Later het die jong meisies te hore gekom van die groot stories wat hy vertel het van manne wat hom aangeval het.”
THE APOLLO MOVIE MAN VISITS BEAUFORT WEST
An author who has decided to settle in the Karoo, David Robbins, recently visited Beaufort West to study examples of the town’s historic architecture. One of the places that greatly interested him was the old National Theatre, next door to the Good Hope Cafe. David and a group of interested people have decided to restore the old Apollo Theatre in Victoria West. “While looking at some old buildings recently we were surprised to find that the old Apollo had simply been walled up, complete with curtains, plush seats and its projectors.” he said. “Finding such an old movie theatre virtually intact was like finding buried treasure. It must be the last survivor of its kind in the country. We aim to clean it up, do the necessary restorations and then open it as a ‘live’ museum for photographic and film exhibitions. In time we will organise a film, photographic and publishing festival to encourage more tourists to visit the Great Karoo.”
SEARCH FOR ANGLO-BOER WAR INFORMATION
The coming centenary of the Anglo-Boer War has created renewed interest in events that took place in the Karoo. Information on this is difficult to find and requires hours of reading and research. Now enthusiasts have found that Taffy Shearing’s thesis, The Second Invasion of the Cape Colony (1901 to 1902) during the Anglo-Boer War, provides this information, and she gets many requests for copies. This 50 000-word, 263-page thesis, includes maps. Three, which cover Commandant Fouche’s movements during May and June are bound in. In a side pocket are maps covering the invasions of generals Hertzog and Kritzinger, as well as the movements of commandants Scheepers, Fouche and Jan Theron through the Southern Cape from July to October, 1901. The Smuts raid, considered one of the most daring of the war, is covered in two maps. This dash through the Colony started in appalling weather that pushed men and horses to the limit. Today Boer War enthusiasts follow the Smuts Route which is expected to be a major tourist attraction during the next few years. Enthusiasts also visit Gamkaskloof, The Hell, to plot the route taken by Denys Reitz, as described in his book Commando.
GROOT LOF VIR BURGER ARTIKELS
Met die oog op die herdenking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog het Martiens van Bart, redakteur van die Woonburger, gedurende die afgelope maande ‘n reeks artikels oor die oorlog gepubliseer. Verskeie van die artikels het gehandel oor oorlogs gebeure in die Groot Karoo, en die reaksie was uitstekend. Almal was dit eens dat Martiens besondere werk verrig. Die stories het die kollig geplaas op gebiede soos Gamkaskloof en heelwat nuwe inligting is ingewin. Die reeks oor die blokhuise en fortifikasies was besonder gewild.
MAN WITH BEAUFORT LINK FINDS THE PRISONERS
Lennard de Klerk , a direct descendant of Abraham de Klerk, founder of Hooyvlakte, the farm on which Beaufort West was established, is completing valuable Anglo-Boer War research. He and other enthusiasts of the Southern Transvaal branch of the Genealogy Society of South Africa have compiled a list of all Boers taken prisoner during the war. The list, about 750 pages, has been verified through the International Red Cross Society. It contains the prisoner’s name, commando, his POW number, where he came from and the camp to which he was sent. Mr De Klerk is currently investigating ways of compiling this information in an affordable book form and making it available to interested museums, libraries and researchers. As a keen genealogical researcher he has also researched the De Klerk or Le Clercq family as they were originally known who came to South Africa. “My interest began as I have De Klerks on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family. The entire South African family came from one progenitor. His siblings were a brother, who had no issue, and a sister.”
ROCK ART DISCOVERY
The Karoo never stops sharing its secrets. Another rock art site was recently discovered on the farm Leeurivierspoort. It was found by Tony Reynolds and workers while setting lynx traps in the mountains. Researcher Arnold Hutchinson, who visited the site, says a huge slab of slate bears what appear to be very old and fairly recent drawings. “The ancient ones seem to be stippled and are quite primitive. Their outlines are less definite, while the more contemporary versions of a horse, wagon, house and buck have solid lines. Nearby in the valley, Tony Reynolds also discovered the ruins of a very early homestead, or ‘trekker opstal,’ and what appears to be the earliest hand-excavated well in this part of the Karoo,” said Arnold. The finds have been reported to archaeologist David Morris of Kimberley’s McGregor Museum, who hopes to visit soon.