A full-flavoured, well-matured hard cheese made at Prince Albert in the Karoo has walked off with top honours at the South African Farm-Style Cheese Championships run by the National Dairy Institute at Irene. Known as Parma Prince and produced by Gay’s Guernsey Dairy, it won first prize in the Italian-style cheese sector and was also given a special award as an exceptional cheese. The road to success started four years ago when dairy owner Gay van Hasselt visited Italy to promote mohair products of her farm. While there, she visited top parmesan producers to study their methods. “Then I was convinced we could make a similar cheese in our farm dairy. I could hardly wait to get home to try. So I am immensely proud that Parma Prince has emerged a winner,” she said. Many of Gay’s other cheeses are also winners in the market. The well-matured, strong-flavoured Gouda-style Prince Albert Royal, with its distinctive blue wax covering, is served on the Blue Train and Rovos Rail. Like most of her cheeses, it has distinctive character and is long-lasting. “We supply it to the specialist caterers on these trains, but sadly had no stock to enter the competition. Since winning this coveted prize, we have been approached to supply several top hotels. We are not always able to meet their demands as we are a small, specialist cheese-maker that concentrates on quality,” Gay said.


Karoo dorpies langs die N1 word is genooi om deel te word van volgende jaar se Positivity Cycle Tour. Organiseerder James van der Hoven, van die Saffi groep wat onlangs gestig is om ‘n meer positiewe beeld van Suid-Afrika in die buiteland oor te dra, is tans besig met beplanning. “Honderde Suid-Afrikaanse en oorseese fietryers sal vanaf Johannesburg na Kaapstad in November 2003 ry om fietstoerisme te promoveer.”

* Great Cycle Tour Planned for 2003

Small Karoo towns alongside the N1 will be invited to be part of the Positivity Cycle Tour next year. Organiser James van der Hoven, of the Saffi Group, which was recently inaugurated to help promote a more positive image of South Africa abroad, says: “Hundreds of South African and international cyclists will be invited to ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town in November 2003, to promote cycle tourism and gain a more positive impression of the country.”


Thornhill Game Farm, 15 km south of Three Sisters in the Karoo, has been awarded four stars by the Tourism Grading Council. And it was given these not once, but twice. First, facilities at this top ecotourism venue so impressed grading officer Rod Douglas that he gave it a four-star grading. Then the venue and grading was spot-checked by another grading officer, Mark Goveiea, and he confirmed it. “We were extremely proud of this achievement,” said owners Nico and Corlia Pieterse. Thornhill offers luxury accommodation only a few turns of the wheel from the N1, one of the country’s busiest highways. The venue has a permanent chef. There are hikes, walks and rambles along which an abundance of game roams. “We offer guided game drives and a 4 x 4 route for those who want to explore on their own,” said Nico. “The main guesthouse has eight suites, each with its own bathroom. Those who prefer a real wilderness experience, can enjoy a self-catering bush camp in a scenic glade that also abounds with game and birds,” said Nico. The bush camp accommodates16.


Historic researcher Emmarentia Ferreira has landed in a house of mirrors trying to figure out how the Von Waltzleben family of the Karoo fits together. “Similar names seem to relate to one man and one woman. A Hester Harmse pops up married to George Willem as well as Johan Wilhelm, both apparently the same person. I am totally confused. Then, just as I think I’m winning, a branch of the family moves to Prince Albert and changes its surname to Van der Walt. At times, it’s worse than a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces,” says Emmarentia. “The Von Waltzlebens came to the Karoo from Germany in the mid-1800s. They wandered about in the Beaufort West, Aberdeen, Klaarstroom and Prince Albert areas, staying on several farms where children were christened. Towards the turn of the last century, the family was linked to a large fortune in Germany, but most could no longer speak nor understand German. Also, they’d lost the relevant documentation. Hardly surprising, as their family records are so muddled. Some seem to have tried to claim the inheritance with the help of a German teacher in Willowmore but were unsuccessful.” Emmarentia is now appealing to anyone else out there studying this elusive German family to “please” contact her.


Die werk van plaaslike kunstenaar en kuns onderwyser Christine Thomas is op uitstalling by die Prins Albert Kunsgallery tot Oktober 10. “Christine se gawe om die siel van die Karoo in haar werke op te vang maak hulle uiters gewild,” het plaaslike kunslikefhebber Dr Jan van Heerden tydens die openings geleentheid gesê.

* Top Art Show

The work of local artist and art teacher Christine Thomas is on show at the Prince Albert Art Gallery until October 10. “Christine has a gift of capturing the soul of the Karoo in her work and this has made her paintings immensely popular,” said local art lover Dr Jan van Heerden during his opening address.


The story about the weird behaviour of Beaufort West’s absent-minded Scotsman and early surveyor in Round up No 103 has captured the attention of a Garden Route reader. “I loved the story of James Alexander Thwaits who appeared in church in his night shirt,” writes Hugo Leggatt, of The Wilderness. “He has a link with our town. In 1874, Thwaits and a partner, William Guest, bought a seaside property known as Lot H Barbierskraal from a bankrupt estate for £225. In January 1877, they sold it to George Bennett, who built the first house on it and called it The Wilderness. Few people know of this 125-year-old link with the Great Karoo. According to my records, George Bennett married Henrietta Melvill in George in 1875. Her father was the land surveyor there. The year before that, James Alexander Thwaits married her cousin, Janet Maria Melvill. I’d love to know what happened to Janet.”


Pogings om die geskiedenis van alle gemeenskappe van Beaufort-Wes in uitstallings in die museum in te sluit word goed ondersteun, veral deur die skole. Museumhoof Sandra Smit doen nou ‘n beroep op alle gemeenskappe om deel te word van permanente uitstallings. “Ons wil graag ons toerisme basis verbreed en die museum meer verteenwordigend van die dorp se geskiedenis maak,” sê sy. “Ons het al aansoek gedoen vir professionele hulp met die opgradering van uitstallings en hoop om vroeg volgende jaar nuwes op te rig.”

* Transformation on the Cards at Museum

Efforts to include the history of all communities in displays at the Beaufort West museum have been well supported, particularly by schools. Museum head, Sandra Smit, is now appealing to all communities to take portray more of their cultural heritage in permanent exhibitions at the museum. “We are striving to broaden our tourism base and make the museum more inclusive. We have already applied for professional assistance in upgrading our permanent exhibitions and hope to have some new displays in place early next year.”


The story headlined “Soft drinks, tin roofs and bicycles” in the September issue of Round-up took Australian reader Midge Carter back to his youth. “In 1940, while travelling through the Karoo by car, our family stopped at a small town for refreshments. The cool drinks arrived in ‘waisted’ bottles sealed with a marble trapped near the lip. My dad was so intrigued to find these bottles still in use that he bought several to make into money boxes for my brother and I. Some broke as he tried to chip a slot into their strangely shaped necks. I wonder when that style of bottle eventually disappeared from the South African platteland?”


“So often when I read Round-Up, I wonder whether anyone in Prince Albert knows of the work of Marianne North,” writes reader Jennifer Leigh Marais. “She is one of my ancestors and came to South Africa in the late 19th century to study plants, a fairly unusual thing for a young woman to do in those days. Marianne ended up in the Prince Albert area where she did studies and paintings of a huge variety of indigenous plants. All these records have been preserved, and today can be seen at Kew Gardens in England.”


A species of tiny beetle found on some Karoo mountain peaks is of great scientific interest because of its link to the ancient continent of Gondwana. These highly sought- after stag beetles, among the oldest faunal elements on earth, belong to the genus Colophon. Dr Henk Geertsema, head of the Department of Entomology at Stellenbosch University, says: “Six species are found on Swartberg peaks. They are the C. primosi, C. neli, C. cassoni, C. berrisfordi, C. whitei, and C. montisatiri. Like other members of the genus they are named after the mountaineers who first discovered them. The C. izardi occurs in the Langeberg mountains. Different members of the genus are found on Table Mountain and other Cape mountains.” Male stag beetles are bigger than females and have greatly enlarged mandibles. These are used in male-to-male combat over females and are useful for flipping rivals on to their backs.


“It is presumed that these beetles once had a wider distribution during past cool, temperate and humid climates,” says Dr Geertsema, “However, as areas such as the Klein Karoo and Great Karoo became warmer and drier, a shift of climatic zonation took place and the beetles could only survive by gradually moving to high-mountain (alpine) biomes where climatic conditions better suited them. These translocated relict habitats are termed refuge habitats of refugium. Several other organisms followed the beetles to the peaks.” Little is known about the biology of the Colophon. The adult beetles appear during the summer months to mate and lay eggs. “The eggs are presumably laid in well-composted soil. The larvae remain in the soil for some three to four years. They are so difficult to find that only the larva of one species has been described so far, ” says Dr Geertsema. “Unfortunately, these beetles are highly sought after by collectors. Most who have related species of stag beetles from deciduous forests and elsewhere in the world in their collections are now keen to include the Colophon. “Because these are scarce, they are prepared to pay extremely high prices for specimens. This has resulted in Colophon beetles recently being placed in CITES’s Schedule II. This means that no trade whatsoever in Colophon beetles is allowed. Specimens may be collected for scientific purposes and then only with an appropriate permit.”


Gesamentlike toerismebemarking van die Wes-Kaap het onlangs ‘n stap nader aan realiteit gekom met die aanwysing van ‘n taakspan deur Minister van Landbou, Toerisme en Dobbelary Johan Gelderblom. Die span is getaak om ‘n kollektiewe markbeeld te ontwerp, ‘n drie-jaar aksieplan voor te lê, doelwitte daar te stel om die bedryf te transformeer, ‘n sterker stelsel van lidmaatskap van buros te ontwerp en voorstelle te maak wat e-besigheid betref. Lede van die span is Anisha Archary, SA Lugredery (SAL); Patty Duncan, Weskus Distrikmunisipaliteit; Alex Hooper, Highgate Volstruis Skouplaas; Clarence Johnson, Boland Distrikmunisipaliteit; Monwabise Kalawe, Lughawe Maatskappy (ACSA); Andy Lamont, Wes-Kaap Plaaslike Regering Organisasie (WEKPRO); Thope Lekau, Kopanong B&B Khayelitsha; Faiz Noordien, SA Toerisme Diens Assosiasie (SATSA); Patrick Parring, Kaapse Skiereiland Nasionale Parke; Otto Stehlik, Protea Hotelgroep; en Jeremy Wiley, Kaapse Metropolitaanse Toerisme. ‘n Tegniese ondersteuningspan, bestaande uit Ian Bartes, (ACSA); Dr Mike Fabricius, WKTR; Anton Groenewald, Unistad Kaapstad; Dr Laurine Platsky, Ekonomiese Ontwikkeling en Toerisme; en Rick Taylor, MICE-bedryf, is ook aangewys.

  • Tourism Minister Appoints Special Task Team

Joint marketing of tourism in the Western Cape has taken a step closer to reality with the appointment of a task team by the Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling Johan Gelderblom. The team has been tasked with the development of a cohesive marketing image, the tabling of a three-year action plan and the setting of targets to transform the industry. It will also discuss ways of improving bureau membership and make suggestions regarding policies. investigate membership. Members of the team are: Anisha Archary, SAA; Patty Duncan, West Coast District Municipality; Alex Hooper, Highgate Ostrich Show Farm; Clarence Johnson, Boland District Municipality; Monwabise Kalawe, Airports Company of SA; Andy Lamont, Western Cape Local Government Organisation (WECLOGO); Thope Lekau, Kopanong Bed and Breakfast, Khayelitsha; Faiz Noordien, SA Tourist Service Association (SATSA); Patrick Parring, Cape Peninsula National Parks; Otto Stehlik, Protea Hotel Group and Jeremy Wiley, Cape Metropolitan Tourism. A technical support team consisting of Ian Bartes, (ACSA); Dr Mike Fabricius, WCTB; Anton Groenewald, Unicity; Dr Laurine Platsky, Economic Development and Tourism and Rick Taylor, MICE, has been appointed to assist.


At the turn of the last century two novels set in the Karoo were a hit with readers throughout South Africa. Both The Breath of the Karoo and The Glory of the Backveld were written by Lambert Hendrik Brinkman, a Victoria West solicitor. According to the South African Biographical Dictionary, both were well received. Brinkman was born in Clanwilliam in 1870. Shortly after he qualified as a solicitor he moved to Victoria West where he set up a practice. He loved the Karoo and spent many a happy day in this tiny, friendly village where, in his spare time, he wrote both novels. Brinkman died in 1933.


Two former Beaufort Westers, Doreen Musson and Patricia de Lille, plan to write a book which captures the soul of the town. “We’re looking for any stories, even those based on myths and mysteries,” said Doreen. “We also want stories of the loves and lives in all sections of the community. We appeal to people to write or tape them and we’ll edit them as faithfully as possible


Beaufort West Preparatory School has won first prize in the Tourism Awareness Mural Competition sponsored by MTN cellular network and Western Cape Tourism Board. Learners at participating schools were asked to research the tourism potential of their own area and incorporate these in a mural. “The standard of the artwork was amazingly high,” said WCTB chairman Basil Cupido. “Entries in both the child art and adult- assisted art sections of the primary school competition showed great creativity, and judging was difficult.” Beaufort West Preparatory School’s unique three-dimensional mural on a hessian background was the regional winner in the category for Garden Route, Klein Karoo and Central Karoo schools. It also won the child art section and was finally adjudged overall winner. The mural depicted the busy N1 and the Karoo’s eco-tourism potential. The road was central to the artwork. Marked by porcupine quills it snaked across the mural and through real plant material in the veld. Pure wool tufts twisted onto wire formed sheep while goats were similarly made with curls of mohair. Guinea fowl and ostriches, crafted from bread dough, all had real feathers, while other animals, such as riverine rabbits, springbok and game were drawn, coloured in and cut out. People were made in the same way, but cars, trucks and donkey carts are were crafted from cardboard, plastic and bottles. A charming description of the area, written by the children, was attached to the mural.


First prize, a cheque for R7 000, was presented to class teacher Bettie Rust, by Andre Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education, at a special function in the Goldfields Educational Centre at Kirstenbosch on September 20. The 18 young artists, all about nine years old, travelled to Cape Town for the prizegiving. This alone was a special event. But the excitement is not over. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Premier of the Western Cape Province, has invited the overall winners of both the primary and high school sectors of the competition to join him for dinner soon. “The children are bursting with excitement,” said headmaster Jean Le Roux. “We are proud to be winners. Our prize money will go towards extending the school kitchens. We have a large number of underprivileged children at Beaufort West Preparatory School and this will enable us to provide more children with meals.” Prince Albert Primary School created the mural that won second prize in the child art sector. Designed to herald the start of the township tourist route, it won R4 000 and a cheque for this amount was presented to class teacher John Delport by Minister Gaum.


Tussen Maart 2000 en April 2001, het 15-miljoen Suid-Afrikaners meer as 34-miljoen binnelandse reise onderneem en die ekonomie met byna R10-miljard versterk “’n Toerisme kultuur ontwikkel nou deur die land en verstewig plaaslike toerisme,” het Cheryl Carolus, uitvoerende hoof van Toerisme Suid-Afrika onlangs gesê. Sy het ‘n beroep op alle Suid-Afrikaners gedoen om toeriste in hul eie land te wees. “Ons toerisme attraksies is daar vir almal. Ontdek die juwelle. Dis nie nodig om vêr te reis of baie geld op ‘n vakansie te bestee nie. Die land is vol bekostigbare toerisme-verwante plekke,” het sy gesê.

  • Become a Tourist in Your Own Country says Cheryl Carolus

Between March 2000 and April, 2001, 15-million South Africans spent more than R10-billion on 34 million local trips. “A tourism culture has been developed in the country and this is now strengthening local tourism,” said Cheryl Carolus, executive head of South African Tourism recently. She called on all South Africans to become tourists in their own country. “We have sufficient attractions for everyone. Discover these jewels. It is not necessary to travel far or spend a great deal on a holiday. Our own country has a huge variety of affordable and interesting tourist attractions,” she said.


A ghostly light on a lonely road under a moonless Karoo sky recently terrified three Prince Alberters driving home from the Klein Karoo. As Claude Hendriks, Freddie Jaftha and Frans Piedt emerged from Meiringspoort they saw “a strange star” hovering near Klaarstroom. “It remained high in the sky until we turned onto the R407. Then it swooped down and followed us,” said Claude. “We tried to outrun, but without success. Near Kareedouw Pass it changed from a star to a fireball. It zoomed past and hovered in the centre of the road. I pulled up and we sat there, too terrified to move. It seemed to be staring at us. Quaking with fright I did a quick u-turn and raced back to Scheepersrus farm. We leaped from the car and rushed into a nearby house. Happily, we noticed the light had not followed us.” Old residents say it was “The Eye,” a capricious, dancing fireball of light caused by rotting vegetation, but others insist it was a ghost. “Whatever it was, I hope I never to bump into it ever again!” said Claude.


The Western Cape’s Integrated Tourism Development and Road Signage Framework is being launched at a series of regional road shows in October. A special presentation for role players in the Central Karoo region will be held at the Karoo National Park on October 22 from 14h00 to 17h00.