Matiesfontein, that grand old duchess of the Great Karoo, has been given a facelift. Four self-catering cottages, each with accommodation for six, and nine extra rooms, at the Garden Mews, formerly the Boarding House, have been brought into the tourism mix. A station has been added next to the old train at the cricket field, and a motor museum is to be created on this site. To enhance the village’s aura of history and romance, a brandy and cigar room, plus a library, is being created on the second floor of the old station building. Artisans are refurbishing 15 more rooms. A special motel-type section is being created so that guests can park outside their rooms. ‘Revamping and upgrading the village has been exciting,’ said manager John Seems. ‘An archaeologist on a visit with the national monuments team found a layout of roadways near the old cricket pitch which seems to indicate that the founder of Matjiesfontein, James Logan, once also had plans for expansion. We have also found some ancient invoice books dating back to the 1890s listing details of all those who ordered mineral water from the plant Logan once had near his house. A great deal of work is also being done in the gardens to eliminate any damage by workmen.’ A large screen TV is also being installed so that guests can view special events and study the village’s huge, highly-acclaimed website.

KAROOKOS OP SY LEKKERSTE Tel No 049222 ask for 1231

Diegene wat tipiese Boerekos geniet sal ‘n nuwe resepteboek, ‘Karoo Family Favourites’ nie wil misloop nie. Die is saamgestel en uitgegee as deel van ‘n fondsinsamelingprojek van Union Voorbereidingskool in Graaff Reinet, waar baie kinders van Murraysburg skool gaan. Die boek is deur Janet Kingwill, van Grand View in die Murraysburg distrik, geillustreer. Twee ander boervrouens van die gebied, Lynne Minnaar en Annatjie Reynolds het gehelp met die insamel, toets en uitleg van die resepte. Die boekie is nie net vol van heerlike resepte nie, maar ook nuttige wenke vir huis en kombuis.


Today tourism advertising is big business. But this was not always so. The wide spectrum of modern-day advertising opportunities in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the web often seem quite mind-boggling to most accommodation vendors in the Karoo. Yet less than a century ago this type of advertising was unheard of. In fact, in 1902, when a Beaufort West guest house advertised its facilities in Worcester, it was so unusual that it prompted the then editor of the Courier, the Beaufort West weekly newspaper, to mention it in a special article. He wrote: “The proprietress of one of the boarding establishments here has hit on a happy idea. She is now meeting visitors to Beaufort half way up the line by advertising the merits of her house in the Worcester Standard. This is an excellent idea which other hotels and boarding houses in the town should certainly follow up. We will be glad to promote the practise by receiving advertisements intended for other papers and arranging for their insertion without any extra charge.” It appears to have worked. A subsequent issue comments on “the number of Beaufort advertisements in the Standard.”


A traditional Xhosa song of welcome recently resounded in Beaufort Street, Murraysburg, for Country Life photo-journalist Alex Cremer. Sung by 40 children of the Murraysburg Intermediate Primary School, under the leadership of their teacher, Shelley Tsoba, it was followed by a specially-written song of welcome. To the strains of “South Africa, We Love You,” the children sang: “Mr Cremer, we love you, thank you for coming to Murraysburg,” at Five Roses Guest House, where he was photographing the handiwork of local crafters. “I have been warmly welcomed in many towns I’ve visited throughout South Africa in the course of my job,” said Alex, “but, I have never been received quite like this. It was so touching, it will live with me forever.” At Rooipoort, a Sneeuberg farm 22 km from town, Alex photographed the handiwork of local farmers’ wives as well papier mâché items made by farm workers at Poplar Studios. Country Life intends publishing a special feature on Murraysburg and its talented residents later this year.

LESSE IN JAG EN PERDRY Tel No 049222 vra vir 1803

Jag en perdry lesse gaan by avontuurkampe in Murraysburg aangebied word. Peet de Klerk, ‘n boer van Brandkraal, leer seuns om te jag, en sy dogter, Maryka, ‘n Springbokruiter, gee perdrylesse. “Die kampe word in vakansietye op ons plaas Swartbosch gehou,” sê Peet. “Seuns wat wil leer skiet en jag moet deur hul vaders vergesel word. Ons neem ‘n maximum van vyf jong mans op elke kursus. Hulle leer om te skiet, jag en vleis te bewerk. Die plaas lê in ‘n waterryk gebied op die walle van die Buffels- en Kleinriviere. Die samevloeiing van die riviere vorm ‘n yslike dam wat ‘n ideale piekniek, swem en braaiplek is. Ons gaste kan ook visvang of heerlik in ‘n bootjie of kanoe rondvaar. Self-versorgende akkommodasie is beskikbaar in ‘n tenvolle toegeruste ou plaashuis.”


Die blinde goue mol met sy puik reuksin en dieet van wurms en insekte, was net een van die eienaardige diertjies wat Prins Albert skoolkinders geleer ken het tydens ‘n veldskool by die Karoo Nasionale Park. Omtrent 30 kinders van Zwartberg Primêreskool het onlangs ‘n paar dae by Mountain View ruskamp in die Nuweveldberge buite Beaufort-Wes deurgebring. Daar het toerismebeampte Sidney Witbooi en Jan Jacobs van die Sosio-ekologie-departement die diertjies van die gebied aan hulle bekend gestel. ‘n Gunstelling was die rooiklipkonyn met sy maklik herkenbare rooi agterbene. “Hy grou nie gate soos ander hase nie, maar bly in rotskeure in bergagtige plekke,” sê Sidney. “Die kinders het ook kennis gemaak met die Karoo se grootste knaagdier, die ystervark. Die diere stamp hulle agterpote as hulle bedreig word en laat hulle penne regop staan. Dis ‘n mite dat ystervarke hul penne uitskiet. In gevaarlike situasies hardloop hulle agteruit sodat hul penne aanvallers in die gesig sal steek.” Die kinders het tydens uitstappies ook van mosse en legene geleer.


Prince Albert’s librarian, Reinie Smit, has established a permanent tourist information display in the library. “As so many visitors to the town pop in to the library seeking background details and historic information I have been collecting material for years. Then, when Johan Cornelissen, who wrote a book on the gables of the village, donated his background material, photographs and postcards to us we had a good basis on which to work.” It will be a key feature during Library Week (June 5 – 9).


Sandra Smit, kuratriese van Beaufort-Wes Museum, en haar span het ‘n nuwe Barnard uitstalling geskep wat met lof bekroon is. Hulle het ‘n reeks skilderye van Professor Chris Barnard uitgestal waar die operasie toneel voorheen gestaan het. Hierdie uitstalling is deel van die Barnard versameling wat op tydelike uitstalling in Oostenryk is nadat Professor Barnard met daardie land se eerste “My Way” toekenning bekroon is. Sandra het die nuwe uitstalling “Barnard uit die oë van sy vriende” gedoop. Gereelde besoekers, soos die gidse van die Shongololo-trein wat maandliks die museum besoek, het dit met lof bekroon omdat dit Chris Barnard deur sy hele lewe uitbeeld.


The important role Beaufort West played in the life of philanthropist Emily Hobhouse was highlighted during a recent talk by Maxie Kritzinger, who lives in the town. Addressing the monthly meeting of the “Dames 14 Klub,” she highlighted the fact that Emily found the Karoo a dull and dreary place when she first set eyes on it, but ended up loving this stark, arid territory. Emily stayed in Beaufort West on several occasions during the Anglo-Boer War on her way to visit concentration camps in the Free State. It was in Beaufort West that she first met lifelong friends Olive Schreiner and Betty Molteno. She also formed an undying friendship with Tibbie Steyn, wife of M T Steyn, President of the Free State. Tibbie (her name is a Scottish endearment for girls named Isabella) was the granddaughter of Beaufort West’s beloved dominee, the Reverend Colin Fraser. Maxie’s talk poignantly covered Emily’s hardships and heartaches. One of her great disappointments took place in Beaufort West when illness forced Emily to abandon her journey to deliver the keynote address at the opening of the Vroue Monument. In 1913, on her way to Bloemfontein, Emily became too ill to travel beyond Beaufort West. In a very weakened state, she was taken from the train to the home of Dominee Johan George Steytler, where she was nursed until she was well enough to travel back to Cape Town for her return trip to England. During the time she spent in Beaufort West she met many local people who made lasting impressions on her and who are fondly mentioned in Emily’s letters.


‘n Geslagsregister, “Die De Beer-familie – drie eeue in S A,” gaan in Prins Albert bekend gestel word. Die 1 030-bladsy register word by ‘n buffet-ete op 30 Junie, tydens die De Beer familie reunie in die dorp, vrygestel. Die boek is nagevors en geskryf deur David en Jalene de Beer. Hulle sê dat dit ‘n belangrike deel van Prins Albert se geskiedenis sal uitgemaak omdat feitlik alle De Beers deur die hele Suid-Afrika afstamelinge is van drie broers, Zacharias, Matthys en Johannes de Beer, wat in ongeveer 1768 hulle in dié deel van die Karoo gevestig het. Alle De Beers word genooi om die reunie in Prins Albert by te woon en te sien waar hul voorvaders gewoon en gewerk het.


A search for information on an old mine has unearthed a mass of information on coal mining in the Karoo. Researcher Arnold Hutchinson has been trying to trace the history of the abandoned mine at Leeurivierspoort for years. His efforts have led him on a tour of the archives and into the libraries of the major mining houses. He has discovered that a great deal of mining took place in the Karoo in the mid to late 1800s. Talks with Dr A Jordaan, of Anglo American, who at one time wrote a thesis on mining in the Karoo, and with Mr Nok Frik, of Anglo’s Geo Science Department, have revealed there were also coal mines in Laingsburg and Prince Albert. “The exact site of the Prince Albert coal mine remains a mystery,” says Arnold. “The experts tell me that the coal of the Karoo emits a curious bitumen-like odour when burnt. They say this unique pungent reek indicates the presence of oil.” This fact led him to the oil explorations at Kareebosch in Murraysburg in the 1960s. “The height of the coal seam, which protrudes right out of the cliff face about 1 000ft above the riverbed at Leeurivierspoort, also intrigues experts,” says Arnold. “They also tell me that the miners of the Karoo were drawn away by the prospects of greater wealth at the diamond and gold mines. Scarcity of labour, poor quality coal and the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War led to the abandonment of the Karoo coal mines. Many were blown up to prevent the British Army from using the coal to run the trains. My research also reveals that in 1899 coal was sold in Beaufort West at ‘tickey a bag.’ It was secretly brought into town hidden in wagons under other supplies, such as wood.”


Die toerisme potensiaal van Gamkaskloof, die Hel, gaan deur ‘n firma van konsultante van Kaapstad ondersoek word. Grant Kessel Feinstein is onlangs deur Kaap Natuurbewaring getaak om hierdie ondersoek in te stel. Die Hel was ook ‘n hoogtepunt van besprekings by die onlangse Suid-Kaap museums vergadering in Knysna toe Anita Holtzhauzen van die CP Nel ‘n lesing daaroor gelewer het.


Stewart Hutton, a Scottish journalist who freelances for FGF, a Finnish golfing magazine, was amused by Prince Albert’s golf course. It prompted him to write: “Prince Albert has a golf course which by most standards is unusual. The only grass in sight is on the first and ninth tees and in front of the clubhouse. Fairways are brown (earth and grit). The greens are black (sand and oil) and the rough, designated by a border of white painted rocks, consists totally of stony desert. The horizon seems a million miles away. There are nine holes, played twice from different tees. Players are provided with pieces of AstroTurf to play off the fairways. Presumably they use well-scarred irons for recoveries from the rough. Special ‘rollers’ are used to smooth the ‘blacks’ before putting. An extra hazard appears after the occasional July and August rains. Then the fairways are temporarily carpeted by colourful wild flowers.” Steward added: “Henry Longhurst, one of the world’s greatest golf writers, once described golfing in the desert with affection in a piece entitled ‘Golf Without Grass.’ He called it ‘true golf,’ and now, having played at Prince Albert, I agree with his view.” Prince Albert Golf Club was founded in 1928. It has 24 playing members. Women are welcome, but none have joined since 1952, according to secretary Das Olivier.


Spanne van dwarsoor die land het vanjaar in Murraysburg saamgetrek vir die groot jaarlikse jagkompetisie wat deur Seady Guns van Port Elizabeth geborg is. Skutters van so vêr weg as Pretoria, Kaapstad en Bloemfontein het meegeding om prag pryse soos ‘n jaggeweer, teleskope en verkykers te wen. Jacques Theron, plaaslike organiseerder, sê: ‘Die kompetisie is uiters gewild, maar ons kan nie meer as 25 spanne, d w s 100 skuts, per jaar inneem nie. Vanjaar was ons lank voor die tyd al vol bespreek.’ Elke span kry twee ure om twee bokke per skut te skiet. ‘Die bokke word geweeg, hul horings gemeet en daar word na elke skoot gekyk. Punte word vir alles toegeken en in ‘n rekenaar gevoer om die pryswenners te bepaal,’ sê Jacques. Vanjaar het Neil Seady, hoof van Seady Guns, die pryse kom uitdeel en ‘n heerlike “steakhouse” braai saam met die manne geniet. Almal was eens dat dit ‘n opwindende dag was. Hulle sien glo al klaar uit na volgende jaar.

ADVENTURE PLANS FOR SPRING Tel No. 049222 ask for 1811

Phillip Maasdorp of Murraysburg is already planning this year’s popular Spring Commando Ride. He arranges three of these a year in April, September and December over two full days with one night spent out in the veld. ‘The rides take place during school holidays as many youngsters are keen to be part of these adventures,’ says Phillip. ‘Riders must have reasonable competency levels. Our routes vary greatly and cover river, plains and mountain country, taking in many historic, rock art and general interest sites. Everyone enjoys sleeping under the stars and cooking on open fires. We arrange fodder and stabling as well as mounts for those from far afield who’d love to explore our countryside.’

FIND THE PRINCE ON THE WEB Tel No. 023-541-1366

Prince Albert now has its own website. Designed and launched by Alisa Tudhope, editor of the Prince Albert Friend, it can be visited at http://home.intekom.com/patourism The site focuses on tourism, and its earthy colours have been specially chosen to ensure that it captures the feel of the Karoo.


In ‘n Beaufort-Wes systraatjie is daar nog ‘n negosie winkel waar die wêreld se probleme gereeld ter tafel gelê word. Die grysbaarde vergader nou juis daar om oplossings to vind met behulp van koffie, dik en swart soos ou trekker olie. Onlangs dwaal een soos gewoonlik in en, na sy eerste slukkie boere troos, verklaar hy: ‘Julle moet nou net sien hoe drom die lot toeriste daar by die bank om die blik brein masjien saam om geld te trek. Dit druk net knoppies en klou vas aan Gauteng oorbelle.’ Een van die ander ooms krap sorvulding sy pyp skoon en vra: ‘Nou sê vir my broer, wafferse mode is dit nou met dié oorbel?’ AJy weet ook niks nie. Dis die nuwerwetse telefoon sonder ‘n draad.’