Cape Nature Conservation is upgrading, refurbishing and stabilising most of the historic buildings in Gamkaskloof, The Hell. R1,1m has been obtained for this important project. Work has already progressed in some areas, while tenders are awaited in others. The restoration of Oukloof, the oldest raw brick and clay farmhouse, has been completed. This house, home of Zanie and Anita van der Walt, Nature Conservation officers and full-time residents of the valley, revealed many of its secrets during restoration. “The house was stripped back to basics and this gave us a good deal of much-needed historic information,” said Zanie. “It has now been totally restored and repainted in its original colours. A small information and conference centre has also been created. Many more tourists are now opting to overnight in Gamkaskloof as it offers a prime eco-tourism experience.”


Toerisme is die lewensbloed van Beaufort-Wes. Die dorp, ‘n wyd-bekende poort na oorde van die Wes-Kaap, is ‘n gewilde oornag bestemming op die N1 hoofweg. ‘n Vergadering om toerisme in die dorp te versterk, ‘n beter dorpsbeeld op te bou en werkloosheid uit te skakel, is onlangs deur burgermeester Truman Prince belê. Mnr Pierre Nel, bestuurder van Oudtshoorn Toerisme Buro, is genooi om die vergadering toe te spreek. By die vergadering is beter benutting van die deurgangsverkeer, nouer samewerking en die opbouing van standaarde ook bespreek. “Beaufort-Wes moet ‘n bestaan maak uit toerisme en as dit reg bedryf word sal dit ‘n belangrike werkskeppende faktor wees. Onthou goeie kommunikasie is die sleutel tot goeie samewerking,” het mnr Nel gesê.


While engineers worked on the flood-damaged road through Meiringspoort they discovered extremely rare fish breeding in the rivers. “We actually found three fish species in the river,” said road engineer Roy Pietersen. “The three were the Cape kurper, the slender, red-finned minnow and the small-scaled, red-finned minnow. Both minnows are rare and highly endangered.” At least 76 different bird species have been recorded in Meiringspoort. The diverse flora in this poort is among the richest in the world. It has led to the development of some distinct and beautiful species. A new information centre was openened at the Waterfall, a popular stop in the centre of Meiringspoort. It is already proving to be popular among tourists who stop at this site to picnic and explore.


Inwoners van Beaufort-Wes se oue tehuise, onderwysers en gemeenskapsleiers het ‘n onglangse ope-dag by die Karoo Nasionale Park se Ou Schuur Inligtingsentrum geniet Plaaslike dansers, sangers en musikante het vermaak vir hierdie feestige geleentheid, wat deel van ‘n publisiteitsveldtog gevorm het, verskaf. “Ons wil graag meer mense deelmaak van die park,” sê sosio-ekoloog Stephanus Jooste.


Willem and Carissa Smuts of Kareebosch have always wanted to share as much as possible of the Murraysburg environment with visitors to their farm. It lies in a beautiful area on the banks of the Buffels River, and was once the site of oil explorations. Willem and Carissa wanted to reveal the enchantment of the area even before visitors began to explore. So they asked local artist Janet Kingwill to paint “typical veld scenes” on the walls of their accommodation lodge. “I developed local rock art engravings into murals. The designs, involving considerable research, have been highly praised,” says Janet.


Die orrel in Sutherland se NG kerk is deur die weduwee van die digter D G Esterhuyse geskenk, skryf ds Vernon Marais, na hy Round-up No 83 gelees het. “Ek is so bly om te verneem dat mense in Duitsland iets meer van ons orrel en kerk wil weet. Die kerkgebou se hoeksteen is op 8 Mei 1899 gelê. Die kerk sou op 27 Oktober 1900 ingewy word, maar toe breek ‘n witseerkeel epidemie uit. Daarna neem die Engelse troepe op 3 September 1901, tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog, die kerk oor as fort en kaserne. Uiteindelik is die kerk in April 1904, ingewy. Die orrel is deur Schlag en Seuns van Schweidnitz vervaardig teen ‘n koste van R700. Toe die Engelse soldate die kerkgebou beset het, was die orrel gelukkig nog in die winkel van R Muller in Kaapstad. Na die oorlog is dit teen ‘n koste van £63 na Sutherland toe vervoer. Tydens die inwyding van die kerk is dit deur ds J A Malherbe van Goudini bespeel. Die orrel en die pragtige klipkerk self bly groot toeriste attraksies.”


Anglo-Boer War researcher Taffy Shearing has finished the third book in her Commando Series. General Jan Smuts and His Long Ride, is a 248-page work, with nine maps and 90 photographs. It costs R155. It follows the story of Smuts’s epic ride through the Cape Colony during the Anglo-Boer War when he tried to elicit support for the Boer cause. It covers an action-packed four-month period during which Smuts and his small force experienced dreadful weather, endured hunger and faced the British in a series of dramatic skirmishes. Leo Amery, author of The Times History of the Anglo- Boer War refers to Smuts’s ride as “the most daring raid of the war.” Taffy and her husband, David, followed Smuts’s route from the Orange River to O’Kiep. They also traced the routes followed by Commandant Jaap van Deventer and a party of stragglers including Denys Reitz, who ended up in Gamkaskloof, The Hell.


Prins Albert spog nou met ‘n kunsgalery. Eienaars Anobé Badenhorst en Christine Thomas spesialiseer in Karookuns en werke van plaaslike kunstenaars. Hulle beplan om twee uitstallings ‘n jaar te hou. Die eerste sal die stillewes van Ann Carr vertoon. Kunsklasse sal ook aangebied word.


Walter C Raczkowski, tourism information officer of Beaufort, South Carolina, in the USA, has extended an electronic handshake to Beaufort West in South Africa’s Great Karoo. He sent an e.mail from to Rose Willis, Central Karoo tourism co-ordinator. “We’d love to know more about your Beaufort. Please “visit” ours and explore our town by clicking on the thumnails at for a guided historic “tour”. You will be able to enjoy our magnificent architecture and discover something of our history.” Rose enjoyed the “tour” and mailed Walter information on the Great Karoo and Beaufort West.


Beaufort-Wes se Middedorp Skole bied vir die derde agtereenvolgende jaar ‘n twee-dag jag- en toerismeprogram aan. Belanghebbendes sal vanaf Kaapstad op 7 Junie 2001, vertrek en na ‘n heerlike en ontspannende rit vir ‘n naweek in die Karoo kuier. Jagtogte sal op verkeiei plase plaasvind en daar sal ook uitstappies wees vir die wat nie wil jag nie.


Concern for the preservation of the 112-year-old Swartberg Pass recently prompted a group of Prince Albert design and construction professionals to research its construction. Derek Thomas, John Whitton, Dick Metcalf, Pat Marincowitz and Gerry Skakal, discovered a great deal of valuable historic information on the pass, a national monument and increasingly popular tourist route. “During construction, Thomas Bain stated he would give the pass ‘a good hat and good boots.’ This has stood the test of time,” says Derek Thomas. “These dry-packed, stone retaining walls, arguably the most awe-inspiring on all 19th century South African passes, range in height from half a meter to a 13,1m section at Boegoekloof. Laws of friction and cohesion create a pressure which secures both wall and road. The walls have a bed (ledge, base or shelf) of up to 1m and measure 300mm at the top. Selected stone was used and laid with grain at right angles to the natural bedding line. The walls were battered (sloped inward) in a rise of 1:6. Large stones in the bedding provided good drainage. Bain’s original specifications gave “rule of thumb” measurements for culverts and side drains, but he left no clear instructions, and while these lasted well for over a century, with little damage, the heavy rains over the past three years have taken their toll.”


Dassies seem to laze away their lives basking in the sun throughout the Karoo. What also intrigues many tourists is the close connection these furry little creatures have with elephants, said to be their closest cousins. And then there is the speed with which they evade black eagles in search of a meal. But Natasha Day, a Cape Town schoolgirl, was more interested in why dassies have no tails. Research led her to an old Xhosa legend. “There was a time,” it says, “when Lion was King and only he had a tail. He found his tail so useful he wanted all the other animals in his kingdom to have one, so he had tails made in many different shapes and sizes. He instructed Baboon to call all animals to Council Rock where they would each be given a tail. Everyone but Dassie came. He was enjoying basking in the sun and far too lazy to move. Lion was angry, but he nevertheless picked out a small furry tail and asked Monkey to take it to Dassie. Monkey, a mischievous fellow, pinned the tail on to himself and told Dassie that Lion had given it to him. Even this did not cause the lazy Dassie to react. And so, to this day, dassies still have no tails.”


Archaeological researcher Dr Cyril Hromnik has discovered a number of Quena shrines in the Murraysburg district. These are on Uitkyk, Coetzeeskraal and Quaggesdrift (Round-up No. 83). “The shrines vary in size, orientation and religious dedication,” he says “This proves that the Great Karoo was not simply the domain of the primitive Kung (Bushmen) hunter-gatherers. It was in fact the home of a sophisticated nation of Quena metallurgists, astronomers, priests, pastoralists and drug consumers.” Dr Hromnik found a akti, or Mother Goddess shrine, and a summer solstice observatory at Coetzeeskraal. “The akti shrine, accessed by an old stone stairway, still contains the stone offerings. Several features in the observatory indicate its builders could work with the true amplitudes of solar movement and that they understood how to derive calendaric values from the positioning of the obersvation posts at critical points,” says Dr Hromnik. The Temple of the Dead at Uitkyk is cosmologically linked with several other shrines. “This connected equinox sunrise observatory exploits the interplay of the near and distant horizon in an ingenious way.” A sophisticated astronomical temple/observatory was also discovered and mapped on Toorberg at Quaggasdrift.


Die Blokhuise van die Anglo-Boereoorlog het ‘n interessante onderwerp gevorm vir ‘n onlangse lesing by die Beaufort-Wes museum. Dit was gereël deur die plaaslike Rapportryerskorps en die spreker was Johan Hatting van die Oorlogsmuseum in Bloemfontein. Hy het belangstellendes ingelig oor die redes vir Kitchener se besluit om die blokhuislinnies te bou, die verskeie blokhuise wat ontwerp was, die kostes van elk en die verveeldheid van die bemanning se daaglikse lewens. Hy het ook etlike briefies voorgelees wat soldate vanaf blokhuise in die Karoo aan hulle gesinne in Engeland geskryf het.


It was with tales of her youth that Betty Weatherhead came home to celebrate her 94th birthday and entertain friends and family in Prince Albert. Betty was born in the village in 1906. After attending the local school, she matriculated at a boys’ high and later qualified as a teacher. She returned to her beloved Prince Albert to marry and also had to write the report of her wedding for the Prince Albert Friend as “there was no one else to do it.” Betty says: “Cecil John Rhodes played a major role in my parents’ marriage. He twice employed my dad to transport men to the then Rhodesia. This endowed dad with a special status and allowed him to catch the eye of a beautiful young Devonshire lass, Bessie Woodman, at the time visiting her sister, who’d married Prince Albert’s Dr Stephenson. Dad escorted her to and from St John’s “Engelse kerk” and eventually they were married in this lovely little Anglican church. Our religious upbringing was strange. My sisters and I accompanied Mom to Anglican services, while our brothers went with Dad to the Dutch Reformed Church. We were all sent to the DRC Sunday School and I am still able to sing Afrikaans hymns and carols. My mom valiantly tried to learn Afrikaans but her faux pas created so much mirth she gave up. My earliest memories of Prince Albert are of ostrich feathers and garlic bags. We lived here through a feather boom, an unequalled time of elegance, and the Spanish ‘flu, a period of immense sadness. My mother accompanied the Anglican priest, who rode a motorbike with sidecar, to minister to ill parishioners. She hung on to her hat with one hand and clung to a little medical bag , which among other things included garlic, with the other. Prince Albert will always have a special place in my heart.”


Dikwels kom ‘n mis oor die Nuweveldberge buite Beaufort-Wes net voor reënweer. Ou inwoners sê dis die werk van die waterslang. Hierdie spook van die berge (Round-up No 83) is nie sommer ‘n grap nie, sê Anna Willemse, wie op Doornhoekplaas groot geword het. “Hy maak die mis sodat hy van een watergat na die ander kan spring. Ou plaaswerkers sê sy geliefkoosde plek is die fontein op die punt van die berg. As die waterslang lus kry laat hy hierdie fontein raas en borrel tot miswolke oor die berg vorm. Dan beweeg hy rond nes hy wil.” Sydney Witbooi, toeriste beampte van die Karoo Nasionale Park, ken die fontein goed. “Dis op die 4×4 roete en word wel dikwels met mis wolkies bedek as die reënweer opstook. Daar’s talle stories rondom die fontein en die waterslang. Die fontein is afgekamp omdat die waterslang glo diere daar intrek as hy woedend word.”


The mysterious doctor “FBC” now has a name. The story about a silver cigarette case, presented to a Beaufort West doctor by a grateful patient in 1901 (Round-up No 83) sent historian Elizabeth van Heyningen searching through old Cape Medical Registers. She discovered that Frederick Burke Carron practised in the Karoo in 1911. “He graduated in 1898 with standard MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and LRCP (Licenciate of the Royal College of Physicians) qualifications.” What brought Carron to the Karoo is not known. He may have come to assist the British medical forces during the Anglo-Boer War, enjoyed the Great Karoo and simply stayed until 1911. This information was e.mailed to Phil Berkowitz in Canada, who now owns the cigarette case. He replied: “I’m amazed at what your research has revealed. Knowing the provenance of an antique gives it special meaning. Your detective work is appreciated. This glimpse into the past made my day.”


Engen, MTN, KFM, Die Burger en Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad span vanjaar saam om besoekers aan die provinsie te verwelkom. Radio KFM sal vanaf ‘n mobiele stasie by Engen se motorhawe by die noordelike ingang van Beaufort-Wes op 15 en 16 Desember uitsaai. Vanjaar sal talle pryse en geskenke weereens daagliks tydens die uitsendings uitgedeel word. Hierdie verwelkomingsveldtog vorm deel van die Ry Veilig veldtog. “Dis baie belangrik dat reisigers van tyd tot tyd stop om asem te skep,” sê organiseerder en WKTB skakelbeampte Melanie Fortuin-Durr.