A former BBC producer and Methodist lay preacher, who lived and worked in Beaufort West from 1989 and 1990, will visit the Karoo in November. He is Colin Cradock, who together with local camerman, Trevor de Kock, produced a wildlife film called The Great Karoo. “I discovered the magic of the Karoo while working on that project,” he said. “Its fascination grips you and never lets go Over the years I”ve felt it calling me to return.” Colin now plans to introduce the wonders of the Karoo to a wide range of people. He and fellow BBC programme-maker, Michael Kendall, will lead a series of wildlife tours to the area next year. “These trips have just been announced, and interest in considerable. I hope the flocks of lesser kestels still visit Beaufort West. In 1990 I once saw about 10 000 come to roost in the blue gum trees at the caravan park. This must be one of the most sensational bird pbenomena in the world.”


Japie Claassen, secretary of the Willem Quinton Karoo Wild Bird Association, is currently busy with a research programme into lesser kestels (klein rooivalkies). He said: “At the moment there is a great interest in this species particularly since 50/50 TV series recently broadcast a story on them. It is now time for them to return from their overseas migration. We are appealing to all bird watchers to be on the look out for these beautiful birds and to report all sightings. Please note the numbers, you see, the venues, the weather conditions at the time of sightingas, describe the roosting spots and the number of birds roosting at each site. Bird counts should then be done at least once a week. I would appreciate help from any birder who is prepared to assist.


Malcolm Bates, of Tafelberg Publishers in Cape Town, has a great love for the Karoo and visits whenever he can. His most recent trip was to Swartbos Holiday Farm near Murraysburg. “This is pardise,” he said. “It is a superb, typically Karoo environment, where guests can walk for kilometres, spotting buck and birds. Farm owner, Peet de Klerk, has mountain bikes available for use by guests, who wish to cover greater distances to become better acquainted with the area.” Malcolm’s love for the vast open spaces of the Great Karoo date back to childhood visits to his grandfather who lived in Beaufort West.


The farm holiday venues of the Central Karoo are joining forces in a new marketing campaign. An advertisement has been placed in Getaway magazine in time for the Christmas Season in the hopes of introducing farm hoidays to a wider audience. The Farm Holiday Association also has a wide range of brochures from members and these are being sent out in specially designed folders as enquiries come in. The desgin of the “cover” had been done by Hanlie van der Walt and printing has been handled loally.


Beaufort West Publicity and Tourism Association has adopted a friendly sun with hand raised in greeting as its logo. It is used in Beaufort Bugle, a newsletter launched with an appeal to the business community to assist in promoting the town. “Cost of business membership is low,” said chairman Herman de Witt. “For only R25 a year – a mere R2-80 a month – businesses can show an interest in the town, help us keep it on the map and get a copy of the newsletter. Individuals, former residents and other interested parties may also obtain a copy of the newletter by joining the Publicity Association at the cost of R5-00 a year, as a friend of Beaufort West. Beaufort Bugle will carry news of what’s going on, as well as snippets from yesteryear.


Christiaan and Hannie de Wit of the farm Scholtzkloof in Prince Albert are avid bird watchers and have earmarked a special bird rich area of their farm to to share with other birding enthusiasts. The de Wits have created a bush camp at this spot especially for bird watchers. This lies in a delightfully shady area under some huge trees. Showers and toilets are available at this beautiful camping spot. “Bird species are abundant,” says Christiaan, “And there are also a huge variety of interesting plants to see on a variety of walks We are also able to provide information on specific birds and the special places where they are found for those birders keen on walking. We will point out a myriad of interesting plants. Please be aware that the area is not very large, so groups seeking to visit should be kept to a minimum.”


Two injured birds, which were nursed back to health at the Karoo National Park, are free again. One a black eagle, had its talons severely injured when it was caught in a trap on a farm in the Nuweveld Mountains. A bird lover brought it to the Rehabilitation Centre at the Karoo National Park for attention. Here it was nursed until most of the wounds had healed, then it was taken to a veterinary surgeon in Camdeboo Nature Reserve. “Once an eagle has been caught in a trap it is best not to release it in the same area again as they are territorial birds and there is a strong possibility that they will be caught again,” explained Henriette Engelbrecht, information officer at the park. The second bird restored to health was an owl, which in fright had flown into a car. It spent months in the Rehabilitation Centre, and when it had fully recovered was freed again in the park.


Two tame meercats, which have been cared for in the Karoo National Park, are being sent to the Suurberg National Park Rehabilitation Centre near Addo. They are both female. One was hit by a car and the other had been kept as a pet until the owners tired of it. “This often happens,” said Henriette Engelbrecht, information officer at the Park. “People often decide to keep a meercat then lose interest and leave the creatures to be terrorised and bitten by dogs. This creates great problems and often these little animals, many of whom have been injured, land up with us at the park We appeal to people not to catch these little creatures. We also wish to advise anyone who has tired of a meercat pet may bring it in to us for attention and we will also sent it to Suurberg Rebabilitation Centre


The Karoo National Park is appealing to farmers to donate riverine rabbits to its breeding programme in an effort to introduce new blood. These highly endangered rabbits are found only in the Central Karoo and nowhere else in the world. They are nocturnal creatures and form an integral part of the Karoo eco-system. They are easily identified by a black stripe on each cheek and a brown woolly tail, creamy yellow fur on the belly and throat, club-like back feet and long ears.


There was much excitement at the Karoo National Park recently when field ranger, Chocolate Bosch, discovered the new baby rhino was a bull. “Ever since the young rhino was born I have been trying to get near enough to discover its sex, but one has to be extremely cautious in a situation like this not to scare the mother or offspring. Ngara is such an aggressively protective mother I could not risk going too close. So, day in and day out my colleagues and I monitored their progress downwind from the undergrowth. Being so involved with the first rhino born in the Karoo in 215 years has been a very special experience. I have been able to watch Ngara sharpening her horn every day in case she needs it to protect her offspring. And I have been privileged to see the gentle side of this huge animal as she nurses the young bull. I would not have missed this for the world.”


Laingsburg is now more prepared to greet tourists with three information services on the main road through town. The newest information service at the Shell Ultra City. This office forms part of a network that has been developed to help tourists to efficiently obtain information about sightseeing and accommodation. Information regarding tariffs can be seen on a screen and telephone numbers of the venues are listed to help tourists with bookings. The other information centres are at the Engen garage and at Foodstop.


“The people of Beaufort West should consider honouring Isaac Wauchope Dyobha, the padre who organised the dance of death on the SS Mendi,” says Bleomfontein historic researcher, Joan Abrahams. “Perhaps there should be a plaque in his honour in one of the local churches, or in the museum, so that this brave man’s deed will never be forgotten. I am also intrigued by his middle name, Wauchope. I am sure that this warrants a bit of research. Perhaps there is a link to the Scottish family or maybe even to a relation of Major General Andy Wauchope, whose story is also interwoven into the history of the Karoo.”


The Great Karoo is being marketed in the United States by Rhoda Odendaal of the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert. She has gone to the USA with a group of tour operators from the Western Cape to promote her hotel, the town and the Karoo in general. During the “road show” this group will visit many towns and villages in the USA.


There is an increasing interest in the Great Karoo, particularly among foreign tourists. A growing number call at the Regional Tourism Office in Beaufort West seeking outdoor and adventure tourism opportunities. The majority come from Germany, Holland and France and most “want to walk in this vast, open land”. The plains, the mountains, the rocks and “curious plants” all have a special attraction for the Europeans. One even searched the veld for interesting leaves and flowers for drying and pressing in a large book of memories. “I want to make a special picture of the Karoo when I get home so that I will remember this place forever,” she said.


Will all accommodation venues please provide a supply of brochures to the Regional Tourism office. During the last few months many tourists have visited the office seeking information on venues, where to go and what to see and our stocks are depleted. Remember, we also supply brochures to the Klein Karoo, Cape Town and the Garden Route, to promote he region.


There is much planning and activity behind the scenes to get Matoppo Country Inn ready for the festive season. And, amid this hustle and bustle, the people of Beaufort West are also beginning to remember interesting stories about the old house’s past. On reading in the last Round-up that the cottages on the house’s northern side are to be called de Villiers House, Pearl de Villiers, one of the descendants of the original family smiled: “That certainly is a lovely way for the family to be honoured,” she said, but in their day those cottages were known as Maiden’s Hope. My father told us that Ryk Daantjie de Villiers, the man who built the house, had several sons. They did not live in the main house, but had rooms in those cottages. Of course, that meant that the cottages became the focus of attention for every young girl – and many a mother on the lookout for a son-on-law. The De Villiers lads were all good-lookers, and it is said that there were days when the pretty parasols of the damsels parading up and down Bird Street eclipsed the beauty of the pear blossoms.”


The nature conservation projects around Beaufort West deserves great praise. “Die Karoo National Park is working with the community and the schools on some of these projects that form part of the Youth Symposium programme,” said Henriette Engelbrcht, information officer of the Karoo National Park. The projects include the planting of indigenous gardens alongside the N1 on the northern and southern borders of the town. One displays a slogan stating – in English Afrikaans and Xhosa – “ons bewaar sonder beswaar”. The schools have also started clean-up programmes to keep he entrances to town tidy and to remove invasive vegetation throughout the town. The playgrounds in Rustdene have also been cleaned up.


Three senior South African National Defence Force officers, who cycled from Pretoria to Cape Town have been enchanted by what they experienced in the Central Karoo. “The people were friendly and the hospitality unsurpassed,” said Brigadier Peter van der Merwe, who organised the event. Along the route they stayed at as many of the smaller places as possible. Top marks went to three venues – Travalia at Three Sisters, which was hailed as “an excellent self-catering venue”, Noordhoek Guest Farm at Leeu Gamka, where the hospitality was truly “home from home” and the Lord Milner Hotel at Majiesfontein, “which gave us an opportunity to wear our dress uniforms to dinner”. We felt as if we were truly in Logan’s old Karoo.” The ride was part of a fund-raising project for St John’s Methodist Church at Voortrekker Hoogte and was undertaken by Brigadier van der Merwe, Colonel Bob Reich, Colonel Bill van der Linde with their coach Colonel Johan Posthumus, who acted as support for the three riders.


Hillandale Guest Farm in the Krom River area, near Three Sisters, has developed some new mountain bike routes. These include a range of challenges and they are ideal for use by families. The farm now offers something for all outdoor enthusiasts. They have a superb camping terrain, a walking route, a breakfast walk and a four day hiking route as well as a x 4 route considered to be one of the best in the country. This route is challenging and covers some awe-inspiring areas There are overnight facilities in mountain huts. Guests can stay in a corbel house or a karoo stone mountain hut. The farm has some interesting Karoo terrain, covering mountainous areas, dry river beds and semi-desert terrain. There are also some excellent spots for birders and nature enthusiasts.