Tourism in the hinterland has grown between 12 and 18 percent over the past year. “International tourists in particular are beginning to discover and appreciate the peace, charm and tranquility of inland venues such as are found in the Karoo,” said Johan Gelderblom, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Gambling and Tourism, on a recent courtesy visit to Laingsburg, Leeu Gamka and Prince Albert. “Not only is the hinterland perceived as a safe place, it is also seen to be a silent and restful. People from the big cities of Europe cannot appreciate the true meaning of silence until they experience the serene vastness of the Karoo along a quiet, farm road. Most city people never get to see the stars and here they can be enjoyed virtually every night.” While traditional markets were growing, many new and interesting markets areas were developing an interest in visiting the Western Cape said the Minister. He recently hosted a function to introduce facilities in the province to 100 Chinese tour operators, many of whom expressed a desire to visit the hinterland. “I confidently prophesy that there will be dramatic growth in tourism to the Western Cape over the next few years. The new Conference Centre in Cape Town, scheduled to open in July, already has more bookings than any other centre of its kind opened within the last five years. All that remains now is for us to do our part. We must ensure that crime is eliminated from this province.”


‘n Uiters suksesvolle toerisme werkswinkel is onlangs in Beaufort-Wes gereël deur nuut-aangestelde Tourism Help Desk-beampte Amos Post. Al 64 afgevaardigdes wat dit bygewoon het, stem saam dat die program vir hulle ‘n beter begrip van toerisme en die rol daarvan in die Sentrale Karoo gegee het. “Die Tourism Help Desk is in die lewe geroep om voornemende entrepreneurs te help om klein, medium en micro besighede te begin en op te bou. Ek help met navorsing en beplanning, die skryf van besigheidsplanne en om moontlike befondsing te bekom,” sê Amos, wie deur die Departement van Toerisme opgelei is om hierdie werk te verrig. Hy sê hy gaan oor die volgende paar maande nog heelwat seminare en werkswinkels reël.


A greatly successful tourism workshop was recently organised in Beaufort West by newly-appointed Tourism Help Desk officer Amos Post. All of the 64 delegates who attended agreed that the programme gave them a better understanding of tourism and its role in the Central Karoo. “The Tourism Help Desk was started to help entrepreneurs start small, medium and micro businesses and build them up. I can help with research and planning, as well as with the writing of business plans and possible acquisition of funding,” said Amos, who has been trained by the Department of Tourism to do this job. Several more seminars and workshops are in the pipeline, said Amos.


A century ago a strange rumbling sound was heard followed by a great explosion in the veld south east of Beaufort West. It had the villagers of Prince Albert, Merweville, Beaufort West and many farmers in these districts in a stir. No one seemed to know what had happened nor where the noise had come from. Only a lonely shepherd on the farm Jakhalsfontein saw a flash of light and a”fireball” plummet earthwards. He was too scared to approach the spot, so raced off to report this frightful occurrence to T J Bothma, his employer. Bothma set off immediately to investigate and found portion of a huge meteorite in the veld. It was still warm and it had split on impact. The biggest piece, which weighed 360lb landed on Jakhalsfontein, where it still is. The smaller chunk, weighing 180lb, leapt over the fence and onto the farm of J S Marais. Pieces of this section were cut off and sent for analysis, display in Prince Albert and eventually to the S A Museum.


A Scottish genealogical researcher is looking into the family trees of several old Beaufort West families. Ingrid Paterson of Inverness in Scotland is taking a closer look at the Christies, Symingtons and Wolhuters of the old Karoo. “In the March issue of Round-up you mentioned the famous big game hunter Harry Wolhuter, who grew up in Beaufort West. I think he is a relation,” writes Ingrid. “My great-grandfather, John Christie, who was born Forfarshire, Scotland, in 1824, married Wilhelmina Elizabeth Johanna Wolhuter in Victoria West in 1862. They later lived in Beaufort West. Then, in the April issue of Round up you mention Rev Teske. My grandmother’s brother, Jacobus Johannes Symington, born in Murraysburg in 1864, married Soldalima Van Rheede Van Oudtshoorn Teske and I am trying to follow up on this link. I am, of course, still continuing my research into the Symingtons, but have now added the Wolhuters, Christies and Teskes. I would love to hear from any descendants researching these families,” says Ingrid


Beaufort-Wes Rapportryerskorps het onlangs die soeklig op die dorp se historiese geboue geplaas en streekstoerisme-koördineerder, Rose Willis, genooi om hulle daaroor toe te spreek. Die vergadering was in die oudste gebou in die dorp gehou. Die huis is in 1832 deur Pieter Daniel Jacobs, a boer van Slangfontein, as tuishuis gebou, Toe hy in 1838 die dorp met die trekkers verlaat het, het hierdie huis as stopplek vir koetse gedien. Rapportryers het die huis onlangs oorgeneem en gerestoureer. “Beaufort-Wes het twee ander huise wat terug dateer tot die 1830s. Albei word tans as gastehuise bedryf,” het Rose gesê. “Matoppo was in 1835 as residensie vir Magistraat J J Meintjies gebou en Clyde House, in 1839 as ‘n tuiste vir Dr James Christie. Daar is heelwat ander geboue van groot historiese belang soos bv die tronk. Dit is in 1873 in die middel van die pad gebou, tenspyte van die besware van inwoners. Daar is ‘n kern van pragtige geboue op die hoek van Donkin- en Kerkstraat. Hulle sluit in Die Moederkerk, die ou stadsaal, die munisipale geboue, die museum, die Karoo Lodge en Pritchardhuis. In sy eie reg is elkeen iets besonders. Die dorp het ook pragtige Viktoriaanse huise en talle interessante Karoo-kothuise. Menige reisigers van Toeka se dae het Beaufort-Wes as ‘die mooiste dorp in die Karoo’ beskryf.”


Beaufort West’s Rapportryers recently placed the town’s architectural heritage under the spotlight and asked regional tourism co-ordinator Rose Willis to talk on this subject. The meeting was held in the town’s oldest building. It was built as a town house in 1832 by Pieter Daniel Jacobs, a farmer from Slangfontein. When he left the village in 1838 with a party of trekkers, the house became a stop for post coaches. The Rapportryers recently took the house over and restored it. “Beaufort West has two other houses which date back to the 1830s. Both are guest houses,” said Rose. “Matoppo was built in 1835 as a residence for Magistrate J J Meintjies and Clyde House was built in 1839 as a home for Dr James Christie, the only medical man in a radius of 200 miles. The town has many other building of historic importance, such as the jail. Despite protests from residents it was built in the middle of the main road in 1873, in keeping with Lord Charles Somerset’s ideals of having “vistas of avenues” converge on official buildings. There is a core of magnificent buildings on the corner of Donkin and Church streets. These include the Dutch Reformed Mother Church, the country’s first Town Hall (now part of the museum), the municipal buildings, the Dutch Reformed Mission Church and Barnard House (also part of the museum), Karoo Lodge (formerly the Masonic Hotel) and Pritchard House. Each is interesting in its own right and each has some spectacular features. The town also has some beautiful Victorian houses and interesting Karoo cottages. Many early travellers referred to Beaufort West as “the prettiest town in the Karoo,” in their journals.


In the early 1900s Beaufort west considered itself “the world in miniature.” The town had a vibrant economy, a Chamber of Commerce, a Masonic Lodge, sports and social clubs and theatre groups. Residents had roots in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, America, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Many were Jewish. There was a choice of barbers. While some swore Mr M Kanabathy, an Indian, gave the best trim, others preferred Mr Verspen, a Dutchman, who also made hairpieces and wigs. An Indian resident, Vangadoo Sammy Naidoo, invented The Great Sampwell Hair Restorer and sent a sample to the King of England. In March 1906, The Wesleyan Church Guild proudly announced that the town’s true spirit of comradeship led it to organise several international nights where various groups could share their cultures, traditions and values. “The recent combined Welsh-Scottish night was a roaring success,” said guild chairman E J Williams. “There were many kilts and a bagpipe solo. Out-of-town visitors, in particular, enjoyed the Welsh folksongs. Everyone was surprised by Lloyd Morgan’s excellent rendition of The Bonnets o’Bonnie Dundee. Clearly the audience expected something like Men of Harlach when Morgan stepped on stage.”


Suid-Afrikaners behoort toerisme meer menslik te maak het Anthea Rossouw, direkteur van Dreamcatcher, gesê op ‘n onlangse navorsingsbesoek aan Nelspoort. ‘n Hoofdoel van haar organisasie is die bemarking van die platteland en sy mense in die buiteland. “Die wild van ons land is ‘n skat om op trots te wees, maar besoekers wil graag mense ontmoet en net met hulle gesels. Toeriste, veral diegene wat besoek aflê in die platteland, wil graag meer leer van ons tradisies, kos, kultuur, gewoontes, geskiedenis en toekomsplanne. Nelspoort het ‘n ryk geskiedenis, vriendelike en bekwame mense en die grootste San-rotstekening gebied in die Wes-Kaap. Dis ‘n skat wat julle moet ontwikkel en bemark sodat julle toeriste kan oorreed om hier te kom oornag,” het Anthea gesê Sy was deur die Southern Cape Land Committee getaak om die gebied te besoek en die toerismepotensiaal van Nelspoort vas te stel.


South Africans should ensure that tourism is more people-oriented said Anthea Rossouw, director of Dreamcatcher, during a recent visit to Nelspoort. One of the main aims of her organisation is marketing the hinterland to people abroad. “The game in this country is a treasure to be proud of, but most visitors would just like to meet the locals and chat to them. This applies particularly to tourists who visit the hinterland. Mostly they want to learn more of our traditions, food, clothes, culture, habits, history and plans for the future. Nelspoort has a rich history, friendly and capable people and the largest area of San Rock Art in the Western Cape. This is the treasure that you must develop and market so that you can encourage tourists to overnight here.” said Anthea. She was contracted to conduct a survey into the tourism potential of Nelspoort by the Southern Cape Land Committee.


Strange colours on Karoo rocks have fascinated visitors for centuries. “The bright yellow, ochre and green stains, indicating uranium, in particular catch the eye,” says Nico Scholtz of the Free State University. He is studying Karoo uranium outcrops, dumps and excavations for his M Sc thesis, entitled Assessment of potential toxic influence of uranium trail mining in the Karoo. These rocks were first described in 1778 by wellknown soldier/traveller, Robert Jacob Gordon. Nico recently visited Rystkuil and Rietkuil near Beaufort West and at De Vaderlandsche Rietvalleyen in the Moordenaarskaroo, 30km north of Laingsburg, with senior lecturer Johan Loock. They took samples and scintillometer readings at the various sites, startling farm labourers with their machine that “made the rocks scream.” “Much research has been done since S A mineralogist R A Cooper found uraninite in Witwatersrand mines in 1923. In the 1930’s people in Beaufort West thought they’d found copper when they saw yellow, orange and green stains on rocks at Rietkuil. They started mining, but their efforts proved fruitless and their excavations were abandoned. They did not know that this was a uranium deposit.” Uranium in the Karoo then received scant interest for almost 40 years. “In the 1940s uranium oxide was used to create yellow and green patterns on porcelain. In May 1945 some tests were done in the wake of the Manhattan Project. Interest was sparked again in the 1970s when an American exploration company embarked on a systematic worldwide search for uranium. They selected the Karoo as a prime target because its sedimentary rock basin has a similar geology to the USA’s Colarado Plateau. Research teams from huge corporations, such as Union Carbide, moved into the Karoo and the wild enthusiasm to mine uranium hit fever pitch. The first uraniferous sandstone was found on Grootfontein, 20km west of Beaufort West, after almost a year of wide-ranging research. I am now re-evaluating the sites, taking a fresh look at uranium, how it was formed, where it occurs, how it once thrilled far-flung communities.” said Nico.


‘n Span Beaufort-Westers wat onlangs in Die Hel gekuier het, het ‘n nuwe respek vir die ou Gamkasklowers ontwikkel. “Ons het besluit om die tradisionele pad, bekend as Die Leer, uit te klim. Dit was ‘n besondere ervaring,” sê spanleier Arnold Hutchinson. “Die steil, kronkelende paadjie is deur die oorspronklike inwoners gebou om hul plaasprodukte mark toe te neem. Die klim kos konsentrasie, mooi trap en ‘n lang asem. Maar die uitsig van bo maak dit die moeite werd. Bo is daar ‘n ou donkiekraal en skuiling waar die manne kon asem skep voor hulle verder gegaan het. Die moeilikste was die afklim. Weereens moes ons versigtig kyk waar ons ons voete neersit. Die wat dit nie doen nie kan maklik ‘n hele ent op hulle agterent afseil! Die kontrei is iets besonders vol van die geskreeu van visarende, die gesag van voeltjies en die geblaf van bobbejane,” sê Arnold.

  • Stiff Climb out of the Hell

A group of Beaufort Westers recently visited The Hell and developed a new respect for the old inhabitants of Gamkaskloof. “We decided to try the traditional route up the mountainside, known as The Ladder and we found it quite an experience,” said team leader Arnold Hutchinson. It is a steep winding road, which eventually reaches to the peaks. It was constructed by the original inhabitants of Gamkaskloof by which they could carry their farm produce out to market in nearby villages. This zig-zag climb requires concentration, deft foot work, strong legs and a good set of lungs. However, once you reach the top and see the view all agonies are forgotten, and the climb becomes more than worthwhile. At the top we found a donkey “kraal” and shelter where the men, who had made the stiff climb, could pause and catch their breath. Then. it was time for us to tackle the descent and, to our dismay, we found this worse than the ascent. Again, concentration and a steady foot was necessary to prevent you from slipping and sliding a considerable way down on your rear end. The Hell is a magnificent place, nothing beats just hearing the cry of fish eagles, listening to the bird song which fills the valley, and enjoying the warning bark of the baboons.”


Winter is hunting season in the Great Karoo, a time enjoyed by venison lovers and those who like making their own biltong. It is also a time when the greatest care is exercised by those carrying rifles in the veld. In 1906 two lads set off on the farm Stampvlei, near Victoria West, to prove their prowess as hunters. Suddenly, 13-year-old Nielsen’s rifle went off accidentally. The shot hit 18-year-old Lloyd Rivers in the shoulder. Lloyd leapt about in agony experiencing “a burning sensation around the wound.” To cool the pain he plunged fully clothed into a nearby dam. The pain subsided so he roamed about until a light breeze dried his clothes. Late that afternoon when the unsuccessful hunters returned to town Lloyd was shivering uncontrollably. His mother summoned Dr Darter. Lloyd was rushed to hospital in critical condition suffering from shock and exposure. Dr Darter removed 40 mixed shot from Lloyd’s shoulder. Lloyd then developed pleurisy and later pneumonia. “Only his youth and strong constitutions led to his full recovery,” said Dr Darter.


‘n Nuwe boek oor die Anglo-Boereoorlog gaan eersdaags beskikbaar wees. Dit is Vir Vryheid en Vir Reg: Anglo-Boereoorlog Gedenkboek onder die redaksie van bekende joernaliste Marthinus van Bart en Leopold Scholtz. Dié boek bevat die keur van die honderde artikels wat sedert 1995 in KultuurKroniek (voorheen WoonBurger) verskyn het. Die skrywers daarvan wissel van mense in tehuise en aftree-oorde tot professore en ander akademici. Dit beloof om n lekkerlees-boek te wees wat niks wegsteek


A new Anglo-Boer War Book is in the pipeline. Entitled Vir Vryheid en Vir Reg: Anglo-Boereoorlog Gedenkboek (For Freedom and Right : Anglo Boer War Commemorative Book) this volume of Afrikaans stories has been edited by journalists Marthinus van Bart and Leopold Scholtz. The book contains the cream of hundreds of articles published in KultuurKroniek, formerly a supplement of Die Burger, known as WoonBurger. Writers include residents of old age homes and retirement villages as well as professors and other academics. This book promises to be a delightful read say the publishers.


Early indigenous Karoo dwellers loved the watery flesh of an ancient, edible, potato-like bulb. When the settlers came they too learned to enjoy kambro, Fockea angustifoli. Many said the flesh of this tuber tasted like “spring water on a hot, dry, dusty day.” C Louis Leipold described kambro as “the white watery gold of the Karoo.” According to him the best way to enjoy the unique flavour of kambro was with wild fennel, bay leaf and a touch of lemon rind. In his book Polfyntjies vir die Proe he tells of a three foot long kambro, 18 inches in diameter being served to Cecil John Rhodes and other dignitaries. “About a century ago Cape gourmets could search out this delicacy on The Parade,” wrote Cape Town journalist Errieda du Toit after she visited the Karoo to search out this elusive culinary treat. “Until recently bottles of delicious “kambro konfyt” could be found at farm stalls, but these too are now just a memory.” Farmer Johannes van Wyk took Errieda on a long hike and then showed her “some insignificant, fragile-looking leaves.” He explained: “The plant’s camouflage is perfect. Only a skilled eye will find it.” He then carefully scraped away soil to reveal a cucumber-sized tuber, which he gently wiggled out of its rocky bed. Errieda liked the taste of this ancient titbit. “Its subtle tart after taste set my culinary mind racing,” she said. Note: Kambro, like most South African wild plants is protected by law. No person may dig out, pull up, pick, destroy or spoil any wild plant in this country.


‘n Nuwe gastehuis in Beaufort-Wes nooi toeriste om in vrede te oornag. La Paix, die naam beteken vrede, was eens die ouerhuis van eienaar Maxie Kritzinger. Dié groot rustige huis, in ‘n stille systraat, beskik oor vyf ruim, gerieflik en luukse en-suite kamers. “Ek probeer om die selfde vredevolle atmosfeer van my kinderdae hier vir toeriste te skep,” sê Maxie. “Hier is niks om oor haastig te wees nie. Die kombuis en eetkamer is tot die beskikking van gaste, daar is ‘n braaiplek in die tuin en volop veilige parkering.”


A newly-opened Beaufort West guest house invites tourists to enjoy a tranquil rest. La Paix, the name means “Peace” was once the childhood home of owner Maxie Kritzinger. This huge peaceful home, in a quiet side street, features five large, luxury, en-suite rooms. “I am striving to re-create the tranquil atmosphere I experienced here during my childhood,” says Maxie. “There is no need to rush at La Paix. The kitchen and dining room are there for the convenience of guests, who may enjoy meals at their leisure. There is also a lovely braai area in the garden and there’s plenty of safe, off-street parking.”


Beaufort West theatregoers excitedly anticipated the arrival of “The Great Nelson Jackson” early in 1906. “He comes here fresh from 18 months at the Palace Theatre, a banquet at the London Owl Club and a three-night run in Cape Town. Performances at every venue were booked out,” reported The Courier of March 26. “Beaufort West always welcomes artists of this calibre. We must receive him in such a way that he will not hesitate to include our town in any future country programme he arranges in South Africa.” Jackson kept the audience spellbound with his rendition of Mandalay. “Rudyard Kipling has many exponents of his wonderful poems, but never has such justice been done to them. We compliment local impresario Mr Winterbottom, for bringing a performer of such high quality to town,” wrote The Courier reporter.


Shalom is ‘n nuwe toeriste oornag woonstel in Beaufort-Wes. Hierdie selfsorg woonstel by Brandstraat 4 bied twee ten volle uitgeruste kamers, badkamer, sit/eetkamer en kombuis aan. “Dit is ideal vir families wat in ‘n stil en veilige omgewing wil oornag,” sê eienaar Lynette van Zyl. “Pryse is billik en daar is parkering.”


Shalom is a newly-opened overnight flat for tourists visiting Beaufort West. This self-catering venue at No 4 Brand Street offers guests fully furnished and equipped rooms, bathroom, lounge/dining room and kitchen. “It is ideal for families wishing to overnight in a quiet and safe neighbourhood,”said owner Lynette van Zyl. “Tariffs are affordable and there is safe, off-street parking.”


The irrigation furrows, often admired by tourists in hinterland towns, were once condemned as hazardous in Beaufort West. On April 19, 1906, the local town council was berated in The Courier. “Some severe and near fatal accidents have occurred because of these furrows. It is high time the Council takes steps to address this danger to unsuspecting visitors. Officials are quick enough to pounce on citizens who leave obstructions on the sidewalk causing ‘danger to life and limb.’ Surely the council has a moral responsibility to ensure that visitors walking out at night are not in any danger. A short while ago a visitor wanting to cross Donkin Street from Meintjies Street on a moonless night found himself inadvertently stepping into the water furrow. He cried out in alarm as the ground vanished beneath his feet and he was plunged into a stream of cold water. He sustained injuries to his shins and to his dignity as his shriek of alarm brought residents to their doors. The visitor’s application for damages was rejected. He was informed the council did not hold itself responsible. Following this incident, it was proposed that the streets be better lighted, but a decision in this regard was deferred as the Council feared criticism for a frivolous outlay of funds.”