Quena shrines, a temple of the dead and a sophisticated astronomical observatory have been discovered near Murraysburg. The man behind these archaeological finds is Dr Cyril Hromnik, who recently visited the Karoo to discuss them. “Much needs to be done to reverse the academic neglect of the Great Karoo in recent decades,” says Dr Hromnik. “Hottentots in the history of the Karoo are all too often ignored, simply as if they did not matter. Yet the Otentottu or Quena people were culturally, religiously, economically and technologically more advanced than the Stone Age Kung or Bushmen who preceded them and who were their African ancestors.

Their non-African ancestors were Asian, particularly Dravidian Indian gold prospectors, miners and traders, who in the first millenium exploited the gold fields of Southern Africa. We shall never understand the Quena nor their role in the history of the Great Karoo unless we acknowledge their Indian ancestry. The very word Karoo is of both Quena and Dravidian Indian origin. In both languages it means ‘dryland,’ ‘wasteland,’ or ‘barren soil.’ Research indicates that the Karoo was not just the domain of the primitive Kung hunter-gatherers. It was the home of sophisticated Quena metallurgists, astronomers, priests, pastoralists and drug consumers”. Full details of Dr Hromnik’s finds on Uitkyk, Coetzeeskraal, Toorberg and Quaggasnek will appear in the next issue of Round-up.


Die omgewingsopvoedings adviseur in die Department van Nasionale Onderwys, Razeena Wagiet, het onlangs in die Karoo besoek afgelê om die eerste in ‘n reeks werkswinkels aan te bied. Haar man, Fadli, ‘n vak adviseurd in omgewingopvoeding, het haar vergesel. Hulle het die belangrikheid van plaaslike kennis onderstreep en onderwysers gewys hoe om die natuur as bron te gebruik. Die Karoo Nasionale Park is die enigste nasionale park wat deelneem in hierdie projek wat deel is van die gemeenskapsprogram.


Twenty students recently delved into the architectural history of the old buildings on the farms that make up the 75 000 ha Karoo National Park. They spent ten days surveying sites, homesteads and other structures, sketching plans and gathering historical data. This was fed into a computer with site survey information and it generated scale plans and elevations. Digital photographs were also taken.

The researchers were undergraduates specialising in various aspects of architectural history, as well as a student from the Vrye Universiteit of Amsterdam, who is completing his master’s degree. “They all enjoyed this field trip,” said Johan Jooste, director of research of the Department of Architecture at Pretoria Technikon, under whose guidance research was conducted. He was assisted by three other staff members. “Our reports cover three distinct phases. Part One is field research and data gathering. Phase Two covers stabilisation, maintenance, restoration strategies and possible skills development. The final phase includes a programme for development and use”.


Beaufort West women were among “Loyal Colonial Ladies” who contributed towards a gift for the Duchess of Cornwall and York when she visited South Africa in 1901. In a letter thanking them for their generosity, Helena Kingsley, Honorary Secretary of the Ladies’Executive Committee in Cape Town, wrote: “Her Royal Highness received an ostrich feather fan mounted in gold and diamonds, a cabinet of colonial woods and a portfolio of Cape wild flowers. The gifts greatly delighted her and she graciously used the fan in Cape Town. A balance of £354 4s 5d remains and it will be used to endow a woman’s bed at Somerset Hospital, in Cape Town. The Duchess has consented to name the bed”.

REEKS NUWE TOERE (Tel No 08082 – 2031 \ Sel. 083-724-7916)

‘n Reeks bekostigbare toere word nou deur Japie Claasen van Karoo Safaris aangebied. Volle- of half- of twee-dag Karoo voëlwaarnemingstoere kos net R70, R150 or R500 per persoon en by langer uit-stappies word kos en akkommodasie ingesluit. Die toere sluit Fraserburg, Williston en Carnarvon in. Japie neem ook graag groepe oor die Swartbergpas en op die 4 x 4 roete in die Karoo Nasionale Park.


During the Anglo-Boer War a grateful patient made a gift of a splendid silver cigarette case to a Beaufort West doctor. A century later it turned up on the sales table of an itinerant antique dealer at a flea market in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. Collector Phil Berkowitz bought it and tried to establish its history. His search eventually led him to Round-up. “According to the hallmark, this truly beautiful case was made in London in 1901. The inscription looks like a personally-penned note and reads: ‘FBC from his grateful patient MBB, October, 1901, Beaufort West, SA.’ Until I found this case I’d never heard of Beaufort West. I’d love to know more about the town and FBC or MBB”.


‘n Tweede reeks kliëntediens werkswinkels, is onlangs deur Veronica Jooste van Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad aangebied. Die wat bygewoon het is vol lof vir haar aanbiedinge wat op grondvlak personeel gemik is. “Tuiniers, kamer-meisies, skakelborddames en diesmeer is toeriste se eerste kontak met ‘n besigheid en speel‘n uiters belangrike rol,” het sy gesê. “Hulle voorkoms, maniere en houding moet altyd goed wees”.


In 1888, Beaufort West, like so many other little Karoo towns, established its own mineral water company. The aims were to refresh residents in hot summer months and to provide ideal mixers for the stronger stuff. The company was a great success. No surprise as the Karoo is a dry place. By August 1902, the Beaufort West Mineral Water Company was an “old established company in a stronger position than ever to defy the competition”. A newspaper advertisement also proclaimed it to be “striding ahead” with “recently bought and installed new and improved machinery”. “ We use only the best chemicals and Barnard & Foster filters guarantee us pure water,” said manager A van Zyl. “Our mineral waters, ginger, hop and other beers are all machine made and untouched by hand. Our customers are always satisfied”.


Die toerisme opleidingsprogram vir Graad 1, 2 en 3 klasse by geselekteerde Karooskole is nou in volle swang. Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad opleidingsfasiliteerder Msi Nxele het onlangs werkswinkels vir onderwysers aangebied en besprekings met skoliere gevoer oor verskeie toerisme werksgeleenthede. “Min sal formele werk in die toekoms kry,” het hy gesê. “Julle moet jul eie geleenthede skep”.


Eight young farming couples from the Swartruggens area recently visited the Karoo by train. “The best way to enjoy the Karoo is from an air-conditioned railway carriage. You, eat and drink, sleep and rest and still get to see major attractions like the Karoo National Park and Matjiesfontein. And, best of all, no speeding fines or problems with that extra beer!” they all agreed.


A Methodist Minister with a yen to do “something different” has cycled through the Karoo to raise funds for St Luke’s Home of Healing in Stanger. Reverend John Senekal, who had not ridden a bicycle for almost 20 years, thought such a fund-raising feat would impress his grandchildren. It certainly did. It also intrigued parishioner and close friend Eric Erskin, who decided to join him on the 1 648km ride from Stanger in KwaZulu Natal to Cape Town. The two over-nighted in Prince Albert and entertained locals with stories of their intense training programme and adventures en-route. St Luke’s Home was established in 1945 to care for the mentally and physically handicapped of all races. It is an interdenominational establishment housed in one of the original homes of the Hulett family at Kearnsey. Its inmates range from six to 76 years.


Spookvure word dikwels in die Karoo gewaar. “Vlamme ontstaan skielik op spesifieke plekke, maar daar’s geen rook en niks brand werklik nie,” sê Paul Neethling, eienaar van die prag gasteplaas Matjiesfontein naby Beaufor-Wes waar spookvure voorkom. “Plaaswerkers sê die vure, wat van vêr gesien kan word, ontsettend warm is, maar daar’s min wat dit naby waag. Die vure verskyn glo wanneer grafte deur die wind oopgewaai word en bene blootgestel word. Spoke raak dan boos en roep ‘n vuur in die lewe.tot die bene herbegrawe is,” sê Paul. Daar’s ook ander spookstories by Matjiesfontein te hore. “Af en toe, veral tydens donkermaan, dans spookligte in bergklowe en oor die vlaktes.

Hulle jaag mense wat in die aand rondstap. Dan is daar ook die huilstem van Makapou. Sy word op Uitspansfontein gehoor wanneer sy kerm oor haar verlore dogter. Niemand het nog ooit vir Makapou gesien nie, maar baie mense het al haar krete gehoor. Spookwaterslange is gewild onder kinders. Die storie laat hulle gil as hulle oor stroompies spring. Daar is glo twee van die slange. Hulle styg uit die water uit en pik ‘n mens wanneer jy ‘n stroom moet oorsteek. Hulle spoeg ook en dit veroorsaak blase op jou vel. Dis moontlik om hul aandag af te trek deur klippies in die stroom te gooi, en kinders doen dit graag”.


The Beaufort West Courier, established in 1869, is one of the oldest newspapers in South Africa. A long-ago proprietor, James Bryant, did everything possible to keep townsfolk informed of the very latest in local and world affairs. So, in 1900, the Courier was published as “the first penny daily in the Karoo”. An advert at the time stated: “This paper will be published each morning as soon after the receipt of the latest war telegrams as possible. It is thus an excellent medium for local advertising”. In 1901, Charles Herbert Crane and Christian Zinn formed the Beaufort West Printing and Publishing Company, and purchased the newspaper from James Bryant. The new owners guaranteed a circulation of 3 500 copies and an eight-page newspaper every Thursday morning in addition to the daily news.

They announced that “a great number of orders for advertisements has given us the strength to enlarge the paper”. They also stated that they had arranged an improved hour-to-hour telegraphic news service from Reuters Telegram Company in addition to their links with other news services. The paper had special correspondents in Fraserburg, Fraserburg Road (later Leeu Gamka), Prince Albert, Prince Albert Road, Aberdeen, Williston, Matjiesfontein, Calvinia, Willowmore, Sutherland, Victoria West and Oudtshoorn. It also “at great expense” obtained the services of Ian Cameron, a wellknown London author, journalist and clubman to write an exclusive “London Letter”. Its other extremely popular column, Lumen, provided in-depth coverage on local affairs. In 1901, the annual subscription to the Courier, with all supplements, was 15/-, delivered post free.


The crafters of Murraysburg will be featured in the December issue of Country Life which goes on sale in mid-November. This feature, recently researched and written by Alex Cremer, reveals that the town has a surprising number of crafters working in a wide variety of media including metal, papier mache, porcelain, pottery and stained glass. Not only did Alex discover the crafters, he also slept over in Bushmen caves before going on the trail of fairies at the magic fountains and mountains in the area.


In the mid-1800s, the swearing of Irishmen and “navvies” working on the railway line through the Karoo was said to be strong enough to make a sailor blush. At the end of the century, it was the lurid language of British soldiers that offended the locals. Then, in 1901, in an attempt to ease irritations with a touch of levity, a passing Professor of Languages from a British university told Karoo people that after spending some time in India he concluded that there was a “paucity of objectionable phrases among the British working classes”.

As proof he related what happened after once dismissing a man in Calcutta for dishonesty. “Early the next day the (dismissed) Indian strode up to my door brandishing a knife. He obviously intended to emphasise his point. My staff would not grant him admission. So he sat down under my window and began cursing my entire genealogical tree right back to the first ancestor of my race. Satisfied with his efforts, he moved on to my anatomy, cursing me from the hair on my head to the tips of my toes. For three full hours he sat swearing luridly. In all that time he never repeated a single curse nor phrase”.

Shortly afterwards, the professor returned to England and on a day, while travelling to London by Underground, shared a compartment with a party of workmen. “They were displeased by their foreman and cursed him loudly. Their remarks were interspersed with the commonest of foul language. They seemed to have only one preferred swear word which they constantly used. Their efforts neither approached the fluent, easy expertise of the Indian, nor matched his colourful turn of phrase. In retrospect I found I had to confess an admiration for him! ” Mark Twain had this to say on the subject: “Let us swear while we may, for in heaven it will not be allowed. “


Drie bedryfskommunikasie studente van die Universiteit van Potchefstroom het tydens hul vakansietyd navorsing gedoen oor die Prince Albert Vriend. Sanet Olivier, Lian Luttig en Joyce Hartzenberg het onderhoude gevoer met redaktriese Ailsa Tudhope en sommige inwoners oor die geskiedenis, inhoud, druk en verspreiding van die koerant. “Ons dosent het ‘n projek oor plaaslike koerante as taak voorgeskryf,” sê Sanet, foto‑redaktrise van Pukke se studenteblad, Die Wapad. “Ons het Die Vriend gekies omdat dit deur ‘n toerismeburo ondersteun en uitgegee is. Dit is ietwat uniek in Suid-Afrika”.

Die drie het ‘n 1934 uitgawe van die koerant opgespoor. De Prince Albert was eers in 1912 uitgegee in Nederlands en Engels. Een van die koerant se eerste redakteurs, ‘n mnr Sieberts, het dit in sy huis, Onse Rus, gedruk en daarvandaan versprei. Later is dit in Seven Arches gedruk. Vir baie jare het die koerant nie verskyn nie, maar in 1995 het Johan Mulder, toe voorsitter van die reklame vereniging en Ronel van der Spuy destydse toerisme beampte dit weer in die lewe geroep.


The Karoo is often overlooked by travellers, yet loved by those who know it. So wrote a contributor to The Beaufort West Courier in November, 1901, when the Anglo-Boer War was at its height. “How often one hears the Karoo condemned as ‘desert’ and adjectived as ‘dreary’ or ‘desolate.’ It is not thus. Those who live in it know its mysteries and charms. They love to see how the sun delights to glance and shift about the slippery sides of Karoo hills, to light their subtle roundness, rosy knees and budded bosom-peaks. ‘But what is this,’ asked Captain Shandy, ‘to war-worn, tired men, heartsick for a Devonshire lane, or the air of the Wolds? To these weary men the hills seem illimitable, inane.’

But a man who loves his Karoo knows it can boast a snow cap which Horace might have celebrated with Soracte. Its sunsets are magnificent, but in the midst of them one cannot help but think of Phoebus’ steeds ‘hard by their chariots standing and waiting for the dawn divine’. Most magical, perhaps even wondrous, are the nights, when ‘in Heaven the stars surround the moon like jewels.’ And, when all the winds are laid, when every height becomes a jutting peak, there is a light which floods the plains and makes every valley immeasurable. Then, the shepherd gladdens in his heart”.


Karoo churches and their organs regularly capture the attention of visitors. And so it was with Dr Klaus Frik, a German astronomer who attended the sod-turning ceremony at Sutherland’s new observatory. He is an avid organist and would love to learn the full story of the magnificent Baulmaeleri-decorated organ in the town’s lovely stone church. “I’d also love to hear the Music of the Spheres played on it,” he said.