The first tourist route through a Karoo township is being created in Kwa-Mandlenkosi, Beaufort West. This was recently announced by Siphiwe Piti, chairman of the District Municipality Tourism Committee, when he appointed 12 tourism ambassadors at Mandlenkosi Secondary School. They are Gift Louw, Utombekhanya Lawrence, Athone Ngondo, Uthabiseng Manewe, Bongulethu Faas, Siyabulela Swartbooi, Andiswa Mzakala, Sandile Kohwe, Mzwamadode Visagie, Sipho Ngwenya, Uonzwakazi Lekanyane and Mucedisi Minye. All are in Grade 9. They volunteered to help with a community service project. Siphiwe presented the pupils with T-shirts and background information. The idea for the route developed after Msi Nxele, Western Cape Tourism Board’s educational co-ordinator, visited Beaufort West. He found the school, but not the entrance, which is tucked away in a side street. He said: “Tourists may know of a place, as I did today, but if they can’t easily reach it, they’ll never visit”. The pupils and their teacher, Mrs Lungi Ngondo, took his talk to heart and the idea for a route to put Kwa-Mandlenkosi on the tourist map was born. Lungi discussed a township tourist route with regional tourism co-ordinator Rose Willis. Further discussions were held with artists, crafters and other interested organisations. Eventually plans were brought to the attention of Noel de Villiers, founder and director of Open Africa. The level of local enthusiasm impressed him and Noel offered to help with funding. The new ambassadors will help plan, clean, and research the route. It has the full support of Mandlenkosi High School’s principal, Mr Tamsanga Pandle.


Beaufort-Wes Toerisme Buro is tans besig om twee nuwe staproetes op die dorp te ontwikkel. Die een is op Blokhuis- en die ander op Springfonteindamkoppie. “Van albei is daar pragtige uitsigte oor die dorp en omgewing”,sê BWTB voorsitter Bettie Smit. ”Toeriste kan met hul motors ry tot bo-op albei die koppies en daar ‘n kelkie wyn teen sonsondergang geniet. Daar is ook heelwat mense wat na hulle aankoms op die dorp graag bene wil rek en teen die koppies uitstap. Ons gaan roetes merk en interessante plantegroei aandui”.


The Roy Oosthuizen Fossil Room at the Fransie Pienaar Museum in Prince Albert has been completed. This display of Karoo fossils, in the room formerly used by the Tourism Bureau, was set up by the paleo-team of the SA Museum. Some of the material came from Roy Oosthuizen’s private museum. After Roy’s death his museum was closed, and in terms of his will, most exhibits were sent to the SA Museum in Cape Town. Prince Albert’s local expert on palaeontology and geology, Judy McGuire, helped set up the exhibit.


SAN Parks held an environmental interpretation and education for conservation workshop in the Karoo National Park from May 22 to 24. The aim was development of a corporate perspective, strategy, curricula and business plans to cover the many groups who visit the parks. These include schoolchildren, adult education organisations, local and international tourists, day-trippers and neighbouring communities. “The course, covered tourism, conservation, the more effective operation of socio-ecology departments and communication with communities”, park manager Leighton Hare said.


Beaufort-Wes Toerisme Buro trek eersdaags vanaf die museum na ‘n nuwe perseel in die KSOK gebou in Donkinstraat. AHier sal ons die dorp en ons lede beter kan adverteer en ‘n beter diens vir toeriste lewer”,sê voorsitter Bettie Smit. Die perseel het ‘n lang geskiedenis van diens. Die dorp se eerste professionele foto-ateljee en apteek was hier gestig. Die eienaars was Townshend, Townsend en Folley. Frederick Townsend, wie met Antoinette Weeber getrou het, het roem verwerf as ‘n fotograaf tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog. In 1880 het J Brittain die apteek oorgeneem en net voor die uitbreek van die Boereoorlog het Lennon Limited’n deftige winkel daar geskep. Na die oorlog het George R Thwaits die plek gekoop en na 35 jaar is dit deur W D Plekker oorgeneem. In die 1940s, was E A Michaels die apteker en in 1952 het H Friedman oorgeneem, maar die naam Michael’s Pharmacy behou. In 1967, na meer as ‘n eeu in die geneesbedryf, is die gebou in ‘n klerewinkel omskep. Bergers Bpk het vir jare daar handel gedryf. In die 1990s is ‘n kleinsake korf en opleidingssentrum daar begin. Die gebou is onlangs deur plaaslike antiekehandelaar Kobus Rossouw gekoop. Hy is tans met restourasie werk besig. Om toeriste verder te trakteer ontwikkel hy ‘n “ou dorp”agter sy antiekwinkel net oorkant die straat. “Toeriste is meer as welkom om dit nou al te kom besigtig”,sê Kobus.


A painting in the South African embassy in Washington, DC, has a link with Beaufort West. It was painted by Yvonne de Wet, who grew up in this Karoo village. She now lives with her husband, Derek McLean, in Somerset West. Yvonne took some time to have shed more light on the De Wet family of Beaufort West for Ingrid Mousley, of Clarens in the Free State (Round-Up No 85). “My father was Jacobus McCheyne de Wet. His middle name was in honour of the Scots midwife who brought him into the world. It is pronounced ‘Mac-chainie’ and Afrikaans wags in the Karoo jokingly called him ‘Mac-Ketting.’ Normally, he was simply known as Jim or Jimmy. My grandfather, Gerald Christiaan de Wet, was widely known throughout the Karoo as ‘Pappa’ de Wet. His brother was Jack de Wet. My ‘Ouma’ was extremely religious. She never went anywhere without her bible and played the organ in the Moederkerk. Typical of a South African family, however, we had close ties with the Anglican Church. Anne, an aunt, married the son of the local rector, Guy Gething. The family has strong Irish links. Almost all have beautiful blue eyes. My only son, Rory, recently earned a handsome sum in half an hour when an advertising agency photographed his blue eyes. The De Wets are blessed with longevity. Papa was 85 when he died, my dad, 81, and his sister, Beatrix ‘Bertie,’ lived to 91. Until her dying day she was the life and soul of any party”.


Prins Albert Toerismeburo het getrek. Die nuwe perseel, steeds in die Fransie Pienaar Museum-kompleks, is groter. “Dit is meer sigbaar van die hoofstraat as ons vorige kantoor wat op die voorstoep van die museum was”,sê toerismebeampte Raylene van der Berg. “Ons hoop nog meer toeriste sal kom besoek aflê. In die ruim kantore kan ons lede nou ook beter geadverteer word”.


A church history researcher recently discovered that the Dutch Reformed Mission church in Merweville was started by a shepherd. As he moved about with his flock of sheep, Hendrik Tamatie spread the word of God. Eventually, with a small personal allowance, Hendrik built a tiny stone room from where he preached each Sunday. His efforts were recognised in 1908, and the local church congregation helped him. By 1923, a mission church was built in Merweville.


Browsing the ‘net recently revealed that Laingsburg in the Great Karoo has a twin town in Michigan in the United States. The towns have a great deal in common. Advertising literature for the American village, also in a rural area, states: “Passing through our sleepy little village tourists would hardly imagine this once was a thriving city with shops, businesses and a busy railroad. Nevertheless, today it still lies alongside a main highway with many beautiful, historic winding routes, truly worth exploring, nearby”. Laingsburg, Michigan, lies on the banks of the Looking Glass River (the Karoo town is on the banks of the Buffels River). The US town was virtually destroyed by fire in 1888. Its South African counterpart suffered a similar fate in a devastating flood in 1981, almost a century after it was established. The US town, in Shiawassee County, has a population of 1 148. Only 430 families live there. The first inhabitants, Native Americans, built a Chippewa village called Wassololo at this site in the 1600s. It vanished without trace. The present-day town was founded in 1836 by Dr Peter Laing, a Scot who moved to this outlying area to practise medicine. He ended up building a tavern on the rugged route between Pontiac and Grand Rapids. Weary travellers soon began to stop and soon more hotels and taverns popped up. The fledgling village became known as Laingsburg. Oddly enough, like its local counterpart, it also underwent name changes before settling on Laingsburg.


Toeriste maak deesdae dikwels melding van die besige pad deur Beaufort-Wes. Maar druk verkeer is van die begin af deel van dié dorp se daaglikse lewe. Eers was daar net waens, perde en karre. Die eerste mense wat dié deel van die hinterland wou besoek, het gebruik gemaak van Inland Transport Company van Wellington se koetse. Die maatskappy se gekose oornag plekke was Matjiesfontein en Beaufort-Wes. Na die ontdekking van diamante in 1866 op Kimberley, het verkeer deur Beaufort-Wes vinnig toegeneem. Cob and Company van Kaapstad het ‘n gereelde diens na die Diamantvelde ingestel en kort op hulle hakke was die groot en belangrike koetsdiens van Gibson Brothers. John-Alexander, James en Fred Gibson het mettertyd hul maatskappy naam na The Red Star Line verander. Al hulle koetse is na Britse kastele, soos bv Balmoral Castle, vernoem en die broers het aangedring dat hul koetsiers as Akaptein”aangespreek word. Hierdie koetse het welkome pos en klandisie na Beaufort-Wes gebring. Deurreissende passiers het oor ‘n duisend brode ‘n week in die dorp gekoop. Dit het daartoe gelei dat daar op ‘n tyd drie bakkerye op die dorp was. ‘n Enkel kaartjie van Kaapstad tot in Kimberley het ,12 10s gekos, maar daar was ‘n afslag vir diegene wat kans gesien het om buite in die verstikkende stof langs die koetsier te sit. Die pad het al besiger geword met die ontdekking van goud op die Witwatersrand in 1886. Daar was ‘n effense daling in koets verkeer met die koms van die spoorlyn in 1879. Teen daardie tyd het die dorp meer oornag geriewe en hotelle benodig. Tot die goudmagnaat Barnie Barnato het ‘n hotel in Nuwestraat naby die ou spoorwegstasie opgerig.


A student from the Universita Degli Studi di Pavi in Italy recently spent four weeks in the Karoo studying rock formations and searching for fossils. Frederica Vitali, who hails from Bergamo, Italy, began her study of the Beaufort Group of rocks in Jansenville and then made a detailed study of the Ecca/Beaufort layers across a 2 000 metre geological section on the banks of the Dwyka River, near Prince Albert Road. “We found an excellent outcrop near the N1, in the vicinity of the Dwyka Bridge”,said Frederica, who will use the information for a Ph.D. Her supervisors are Professor Bruce Rubidge, Head of Palaeontology at the Bernard Price Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Professor Giusseppe Cassinis, President of Permian Period Studies in Europe at the Pavia University. Frederica was accompanied by Charlton Dube, a technician and fossil preparator of the University of the Witwatersrand. “We found fossilised bones and plant material that will be taken to Wits for further study”,she said. AI will draw the section I studied when I return to Wits and analyse the data and rock samples collected during my field studies there before returning to Italy in July. Frederica was full of praise for the hospitality and friendship found in the Karoo. “Tobie and Andine Gous, of North and South B&B at Prince Albert Road, went out of their way to make my stay in the Karoo a memorable and successful one”,she said. ”Of course, all of our field research is done on farms and all of these farmers were most hospitable and kind”.


Way back in the 1800s, the little town of Beaufort West could not afford a hearse. Traditionally, coffins were carried to the cemetery by pall-bearers. However, Blythe Street cemetery was a long haul, even for strong men. Also, as roads improved, more farmers opted for a church burial in town. On occasion, a horse-drawn cart was used, but this was considered somewhat undignified. So, according to Oom Frik Swanepoel, whose family once farmed on Kookfontein, one of their neighbours decided to do something. He was the aging but reasonably well-off Koos Fourie, owner of Doornfontein. Koos undertook to provide a hearse on condition his would be the first body it carried. The church accepted his offer. “Koos commissioned the building of a grand hearse”, Oom Frik said. “And, as luck would have it, Koos died shortly after its completion. Sadly, however, the church was unable to honour its part of the bargain and fulfil Koos’s last wish. Two hired black horses, draped in black, were hitched to the new hearse. But before his coffin could be loaded, something frightened the horses. They bolted with the hearse and it was smashed into little pieces. Koos’s coffin had to be trundled to the graveyard on an ordinary cart. Shortly afterwards, in 1869, D G “Ryk”Daantjie de Villiers arranged for the purchase of a hearse for, 75 in Cape Town. Transport to Beaufort West coast, 12. This hearse was used until the 1930s, when it was replaced by a motor-driven vehicle”.


Toe ere-veldwagters Hansie en Betsie van der Westhuizen ingestem het om ou grafte in die Karoo Nasionale Park na te vors het hulle gedink dit sou ‘n paar dae in beslag neem. ADie taak was ontnugterend groot en ons kan nog nie sê dat ons klaar is nie”,sê Betsie. “Ons moes meer en verder in die veld stap as wat ons verwag het. Meeste grafte is in afgeleë gebiede. Die oudstes, bekend as Die Koranna se Grafte, is hoog op ‘n bergie wat tot met ‘n 4 x 4 moeilik bereikbaar is”. Hulle lê op die u-vormige Korannasfonteinberg, tussen Brandewynsgat en Berg-en-Dal. Die gebied tussen die ‘arms’ van die berg, bekend as Korrannafonteinvallei, dui aan dat inheemse mense lank daar gewoon het. “Volgens oorlewering het ‘n Koranna langs die fontein geleef en na die dood van sy vrou, het hy hom daar doodgedrink”,sê Betsie. ADaar is talle ander ongemerkte grafte op die oop veld en daar is ook heelwat klipstawels wat moontlik grafte kan wees. Hier en daar lê ‘n enkel graf langs ‘n ou wapad. ‘n Mens kan nie help om te wonder wie daar begrawe is en wanneer nie. Dit was ‘n uiters interessante projek”. Betsie en Hansie het 54 grafte met inskripsies gekry “Enige grafte wat ons nie gekry het nie, sal ou klipgraffies sonder inskripsies wees”. Die oudste graf met ‘n kopsteen is die van Johan Frederick Scholtz wie op 9 Oktober, 1870 oorlede is. Hy was 15 jaar oud. Die jongste graf is dié van Anna Koopman wie in April 1999 op Sandrivier begrawe is.


Six Beaufort West high school pupils recently studied the effect of local and international tourism on their town for a business development project. Mzukisi Ntambo, Sivugile Fasie, Phumzile George, Thembikhaya Menziwa, Fundiswa Ralehoke and Meleza Damon, all Grade 11 pupils at Mandlenkosi Secondary School, called on the Regional Tourism Office for assistance. They needed to know how the various tourism bodies in South Africa worked together to promote the country, provinces, regions and individual towns locally and abroad. They discussed the various structures within the local tourism industry and how these were linked to develop job creation programmes. And, because their school is in the centre of the Great Karoo, they investigated the eco-, agri- and adventure tourism potential of the town, its surrounds and the Karoo National Park as well as the role of the museum.



An international consultant has drawn up development plans for Prince Albert. After discussions with the municipality, concerned roleplayers and the tourism bureau, Simon White, of the International Labour Organisation, compiled a working paper designed to close the gap in empowerment. This paper will be discussed during LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) week from June 11. “Tourism is central to viable economic development and several tourism plans will be discussed during LEED week”,Tourism Bureau chairman, Gary Smith, said.

DATES TO DIARISE : Laingsburg, Karoo Marathon September 29, 2001; Laingsburg Karoofees, October 26 to 28; Prince Albert Harvest Festival, November 24, 2001; Prince Albert Olive Festival, April 26 to 28, 2002; Murraysburg Sneeuberg Cycle Crawl, December 1, 2001; Klein Karoo Kunstefees April 1 to 7, 2002.