FAMOUS FILM CREW VISITS KAROO
A film crew of world famous Jacques Coustou Organisation recently visited the Beaufort West area to film the farming operations on Elandsfontein. There were six in the team, who worked under the guidance of producer and cameraman, John Jackson. Their focus was the fauna and flora of arid zones and life on a typcal Karoo farm. It was a hetic time for Andre, Martie and Gustav Lund. There were obvious communications difficulties – most of the crew were French speaking – but the Lunds ensured that they were shown everything from old Bushman wells to stone walls built by the Xhosas in the late 1800s. Andre’s ecological farming methods were of particular interest to the team. “We thoroughy enjoyed our time on this beautiful farm,” said Jackson. “We shot a great deal of material, but we aim to return to conduct research into some of the andicent holy and religious sites of the Quena and Kung peoples, some time next year.”
MORE MEMBERS, LESS INTEREST
Beaufort West Publicity Association now has a record number of members, but it seems every one is shy about attending meetings. Two attempts at holding an annual general meeting have failed because at neither time were there enough members to form a quorum. It was thus decided that the old committee should continue with its promotion of the town.
A meeting is now being planned for November to finalise plans for the Christms season.
FIRST COUNTRY MEMBERS
For the first time in its history the Beaufort West Publicity Association has country members. Among them are top class Garden Route resorts and Oudtshoorn’s oldest ostrich show farm.
These entrepreneurs consider Beaufort West an important gateway to their region and feel that promotion of their businesses in the Great Karoo will bring rewards. The new members include Eight Bells Mountain Inn, a 400-acre Alpine–type resort below the Robinson Pass in the Outeniqua Mountains. It offers rooms, rondavels and chalets, each with TV, telephone and radio. The cuisine is widely acclaimed. Then there is Stromboli’s a tranquil resort of comfortable log cbins set in lush gardens and nestling in a forest environment Fine food and friendly service are the key to its popularity. Ashmead, an estate with its own indigenous gardens, which ramble through a park environment along the banks of the Knynas Lagoon, has also joined. It offers self-catering cottages, waterfront chalets and luxury en-suite B&Bs.
Seafood delights and Knysna Oysters are facourites at its restaurant. World famous Hooper’s Highgate Ostrich Farm, which often hosts 300 people at lunch times, is now a member as well. Several former Beaufort Westers have joined as Friends of the Publicity Association.
TOURISM TAKES OFF
Tourism in the Central Karoo has come alive with a steady stream of overseas visitors enjoying the mild early summer weather. In addition to a flood of phone calls from people wanting to book overnight stopovers, the regional office has also been inundated with written requests to help with route planning. Many of these letters and faxes come from Europe. There are also many more tour operators taking exploratory looks at hinterland tours and there is a trend for operators to bring smaller groups, with specialised interests, into the area. The emphasis always is on value for money and service. Also, tourists are becoming more inclined to report where they feel they have had a good deal and where they consider they were badly treated. Remember research has shown satisfied customers tell five friends, unhappy ones tell 11 people, who each in turn tell a further five.
WHO ARE THE FRIENDLIEST?
Beaufort West Rotary Club is seeking the friendliest people in the town. A competition was recently launched, and big prizes are at stake. The competition is aimed at the public, people serving in shops, cafes, offices, at hotels, guest houses, rooms and filling, stations, and any similar type of place in the town where service is key. The competition will run for the entire month of November and the public will be asked to vote. Forms will be available at strategic places all over town. Growing tourist numbers have led to the launching of this competition in an effort to promote the town even further.
NEW VENUE IN BEAUFORT WEST
A charming new accommodation venue will soon open in Beaufort West. To be known as Beaufort Cottage it is in a seluded garden off Donkin Street and away from traffic noise. The cottage is an ideal self-catering overnight venue for families travelling to the Cape and Garden Route resorts. It has two bedrooms, each with a double bed and bunk bedroom for children. There is a lounge, dining room, fully fitted kitchen and sheltered braai area. Behind the idea of bringing this venue into the market is Amanda Vermeulen, owner of the popular Little Green World garden cottage “I decided to branch out as so many guests expressed a desire to return with other framily members,” she said.
OVERNIGHT LODGING FOR THE COST CONSCIOUS
A six bedroomed old house in Beaufort West has now been refurbished into an overnight stopover for young people and holiday makers that are cost conscious. It will be known as die Ou Huis and family rooms will be available at a cost of R120 each per night. This house offers a fully equpped kitched, for those who wish to prepare their own meals. There will also be a braai place. “The rooms are large with high ceilings and there is a large stoep. This ensures that the rooms are cool. It is also an idel place for backpackers, young travellers and families says Edith van Vuuren, who at present is very busy fitting it out for the festive season.
SHOOTONG RANGE OPENS
Beaufort West Combat Club has opened an indoor and underground target shooting range. It is an ideal spot to practise the sport of short distance target shooting as it has a range of 15 metres,” says Trevor Young, one of the permanent members. The Club is open on Saturdays from 09h00 to 11h00, but there are five permanent members who are prepared to open the range if anyone would like to use the facilities to practise or put their fire arms through their paces outside these times.
DANCE OF DEAH SALUTED
Two SANDF officers were so impressed with the valour of Padre Isaac Wauchope Dyobha’s Dance of Death on the sinking SS Mendi during WWI, that they made a commemorative brass plaque from bullet shells as a tribute to him. The plaque, made by Colonel B C Geldenhuys, of Tempe School of Armour and Major D Smit, officer commanding SANDF Work Farm, near Bloemfontein, is to be mounted in the Beaufort West Museum. Behind the idea of honouring this padre’s bravery was historic researcher Joan Abrahams, who is affectionately known as Tannie Mossie to Defence Force personnel. She has presented innumerable servicemen with a small bible to which is affixed an old South African one-cent piece, and which bears an inscription from Mathew 10 verse 31: “You are of more value than many sparrows.” Last year Tannie Mossie laid a floating wreath where the SS Mendi sank. The commemorative plaque bears this inscription: “Isaac Wauchope Dyobha entered the ministry and served the Congregational Church in Beaufort West. In 1916 he joined the South African Native Labour Contingent as an interpreter. On February 21, 1917, he was on the SS Mendi in the English Channel when it sand. He is reputed to have called to the black solders of diverse tribes to die together like brothers. They performed the Death Dance while the Mendi sank. Of 801 black troops on board Dyobha and 606 others drowned.
FARM HIOLIDAYS ADVERTISED
The Karoo Farm Holiday Association now has 13 members. These cover a wide spectrum of the market and a many towns. Among the farms that have recently joined are Paddavlei, in Seweweekspoort area, Geelbeksbrug, alongside the Lainsgsburg blockhouse on the N1, Tierberg, beneath the Swartberg Mountains, Amandelhooge op the R62, Noordhoek, near Leeu Gamka, Lemoenfontein, north of Beaufort West, Elandsfontein in the Nelspoort area, Hillandale in the Krom River area, Travalia and Three Sisters Accommodation at Three Sisters, as well as Mordant, Van Tonderskraal and Leeufontein, all in the Murraysburg area. The Association has placed an advertisement in the popular Getaway magazine to promote members and their facilities in time for the Festive Season.
THE NEW FACE OF TOURISM
Tourism has been identified as a function of provincial government. This has resulted in; the phasing out of Satour’s internal offices throughout South Africa. The Satour regional office in George has been closed and all functions will be handled by the Cape Town office until final tourism structures are in place. The new structures have been finalised and the necessary legislation will be passed in February, 1996. The new structures are expected to be operational by April l, next year. At national level a series of consultative workshops are now being held throughout the country. The objective is to consolidate views, proposed policies, principles and organisational structures outlined in the recently released Green Paper, so that a White Paper can be compiled. The Central Karoo will be included in a workshop at the Civic Centre, York Street, George on December 1, 1995. The meeting is scheduled to start of 09h15 and finish at 17h00.
BRAAI AT THE BLOCKHOUSE
A Dutch touring group recently enjoyed a typical Karoo braai along the Blockhouse Hiking route at Geelbeksbrug farm near Laingsbrug They could not include the 14km route in their South African adventure tour as they had acquired details too late and did not have sufficient time. “Nevertheless we plan to return to walk this route, which clearly details the earth’s evolution over the millennia,” said their leader. The route passes through a geologically rich area of fossilised glaciers, silt and mudstone and ends at the Floriskraal Dam. Owners Dries and Girlie Swanepoel offer lunches to the tour groups, but booking is essential.
IN SEARCH OF GHOSTS
Anthropologist Sian Hall is writing a book on unexplained phenomena. Stories of The Eye (Die Oog), the unexplained fire ball of the Karoo and Matjiesfontein’s legendary collection of ghosts have riveted her attention. She is fascinated by the ghosts of the Swartberg, especially the toll keeper who is said to periodically appear at Seweweekspoort. But there must be many more tales of unexplained happenings in an area as vast as the Great Karoo. If any reader knows of any strange stories, please let us know and these will be passed on to Sian
GREAT INTEREST IN “KARRETJIE” PEOPLE
There is a great interest in the “karretjie” people of the Great Karoo. Tourists stop and photograph their camps alongside the roads. Their donkeys also offer great photo opportunities. “They are colourful people and very friendly,” said Brigit Spitzengerger, a recent visitor from Austria. A film crew from Canada, the Jacques Cousteau team and a
South African team from TV1’s 50/50 Programme have also recently filmed these people. A great deal of research has been done into their lifestyle by Professor Mike de Jongh, a Unisa anthropologist. He is a regular visitor to the Karoo and the people trust him. He said: “These people are South Africa’s true gypsies. All that they own is on their carts and each group naturally has a dog that runs alongside the cart as they rattle along and then sits in the shade under the cart as soon as it stops. Their knowledge of shearing techniques is phenomenal as they pass it down from generation to generation.
MISSING LINK FOUND IN THE KAROO
Professor Pieter Haputfleisch of Pretoria has been researching his family history but came up against a blank wall because of a missing ink. He placed a small advertisement in the Eskom house magazine asking for help. Arnold Hutchinson of Beaufort West, saw the ad and sent him details of Japie Hauptfleisch’s grave at Scheurfontein, 42 km from Beufort West. “Imagine my surprise,” said Arnold, “when he called to say this was the exact link he’d been searching for. I was delighted to have been able to help.” Japie Hauptfleisch, who served under Commandant Gideon Scheepers, was killed by British soldiers on February 2, 1901. He was 26 years old. His commando had camped in the vicinity of Scheurfonein, and he had been so struck by the farmer’s pretty daughter that he slipped back in the late afternoon to visit her again. Unfortunately, by then, British troops had arrived on the farm and he was shot as he tried to get away. A memorial was erected on his grave in April, 1984.
FAR EAST DISPAYS AN INTEREST IN THE KAROO
“Interest in the Karoo is high in the Far East,” said Albert Odendaal, owner of the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert. He recently visited Hong Kong as a member of the regional tourism organisation. “The people in these countries are intrigued by the rock formations, the fossils and the open spaces in particular.” As is normally the case, this far eastern tourism show was tremendously busy. From Hong Kong Albert and his wife, Rhoda, flew to America to promote tourist in the enormous United States market. Rhoda was a member of the American Road Show Team that represented the Western Cape, Garden Route and the Karoo.
Bird watchers throughout the Great Karoo are preparing for the South African Ornithological Society’s annual Big Birding Day on Saturday, November 25. This popular fun day is hotly contested by teams of three of four enthusiasts throughout South Africa. The team to count the most birds in a given area wins. All birders can enter.