LINKS ACROSS THE WORLD
In 2002, Beaufort West in the Great Karoo will host a get-together of a society for towns called “Beaufort.” This was revealed by Beaufort West Tourism Bureau marketing committee chairman Rob Pollitt at a recent annual general meeting. He said: “Some time ago, while overseas I attended a meeting of the Societe Beaufort, originally established in France. This exclusive society has only 14 members, all towns called Beaufort. Its members are in countries such as France, Ireland, Wales, North Carolina, in the United States, and Australia. The group meets every second year, each time in a different country and each time in a town called Beaufort. The get-togethers are attended by mayors, town clerks, businessmen and individual residents. At each meeting a display is set up to enable the towns to share cultures, anthems and national costumes, as well as folk songs, dances and literature. I so enjoyed the meeting that I extended an invitation to the society to meet in South Africa. They accepted and plan to come to Beaufort West as a follow-up to the year 2000 event scheduled for Australia. Formula One Hotels has indicated its willingness to act as a sponsor.”
BLOKHUIS HERSTELWERK BEGIN
Die Sentrale Karoo Distrikraad het begin met die herstel van die ou Boereoorlog blokhuis wat in 1901 in Beaufort-Wes gebou was “Ons het vir maande tevergeefs gepoog om ‘n borgskap te kry om ons te help om alle blokhuise in ons streek te herstel betyds vir die herdenking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog volgende jaar,” het hoof uitvoerderende beampte van die Sentrale Karoo Distriksraad, mnr John van der Merwe, gesë. “Toe niks te vore kom nie het die Distrikraad besluit om die fondse tot hulle beskiking te gebruik om net een blokhuis te red. Ons het die een by Beaufort-Wes gekies omdat dit langs die spoorwegbrug staan en maklik bereikbaar is. Daar is heelwat werk wat gedoen moet word. ‘n Nuwe dak moet gebou word en ‘n deur moet ingesit word voor ons vloere, lere ensovoorts kan vervang. Ons beoog om die blokhuis in ‘n museum te omskep.”
A PEEK AT THE DISTANT PAST
A team from the South African Museum in Cape Town has just completed a new fossil display at the Fransie Pienaar Museum in Prince Albert. The exhibit has been named in honour of Roy Oosthuizen, the renowned, self-taught palaeontologist, who has a private museum his farm Zwartskraal near Klaarstroom. This significant little museum is widely known among the world’s researchers. “The display at the Fransie Pienaar museum includes a major selection of fossils from the Prince Albert area. It forms part of a special feature depicting the transition of this part of the Karoo from swamp to semi-desert,” said Dr Roger Smith, who handled the design and layout of the exhibit. Dr Smith, an internationally recognised expert on Karoo fossils as well as the great extinction which occurred 250-million years ago, is currently overseas addressing conferences in Britain and the United States
DRIE KWALIFISEER VIR AKKREDITASIE
Drie gastehuise in die Sentrale Karoo het vir Satour akkreditasie gekwalifisieer. Hulle is bed en onthyt lokale by Kerkstraat 56 en 60 in Prins Albert. Die eerste is die tuiste van Susan en Herman Perold en die ander is Prins Albert van Saxe Coburg, van Dick en Regina Billiet. In Beaufort-Wes is Clyde House van Esther Smith van B&B tot gastehuis opgegradeer en sal nou ook deur Satour op ‘n internasionale vlak bemark word. Die lokaal verskyn ook in Satour se nuwe video, The Lions Share.
GET AN EARLY START ON CHRISTMAS
Western Cape Tourism Board is supporting Craft Action Body’s (CAB’s) drive to improve handcrafts through its Make a Christmas Tree Competition. CAB’s Sue Heathcock explained, “Trees should be no smaller than 25cm and no larger than I,5m. Any material typical of Africa such as wood, wire, metal, old tins, beads, seeds, grasses, flowers, plastic, paper, glass or fabric can be used. This can be glued, sewn, modeled, shaped, bent. rolled, cut, dyed, painted or stained. The export market and job creation should here be borne in mind.”
DE BEER BYEENKOMS ‘N GROOT SUKSES
Die meer as 30 lede van die De Beer familie, wat in Prince Albert vir ‘n reunie byeengekom het, het die kuiertjie aan hul “familie-dorp” terdee geniet. “Die mense het as vreemdelinge in ons dorp aangekom en as vriende vertrek,” sê burgermeester Dawid Rossouw. Prince Albert lê al vir meer as 100 jaar op Kweekvallei, oorspronklik die plaas van Zacharias de Beer. Hy, sy broers en hul gesinne, het vir jare in die gebied gelewe. Een van die gaste by die reunie was Jolene de Beer van Johannesburg, wie navorsing oor die familie doen en al meer as 20 000 De Beers dwarsoor Suid-Afrika “gevind” het. Sy was verheug om so baie by mekaar te kry, met huIle te kon gesels en heelwat nuwe inligting in te win.
NEW FACES AT NORTH AND SOUTH
The old North and South Hotel at Prince Albert Road Station, once one of the preferred travel stopovers of the Cape-to-Cairo route, is under new management. Tobie and Andine Gous have taken it over and converted the establishment into a bed and breakast operation with dinners on request. “We offer guests a full, hearty Karoo breakfast. and in the evening, in addition to steak and chips, traditional fare such as bobotie, afval and bredies.”
WYNPROE IN DIE SKADU VAN DIE SWARTBERGE
Jare gelede was daar agt wynkelders op Prins Albert. Vandag is daar nie een nie. Maar sommige boere oorweeg dit om weer met boerderye soos wingerde en wynmaak te begin. Samie en Johanna Luttig van Drie Riviere het dus vir Wouter Pienaar, bekende wynmaker van Stellenbosch Farmers Winery in die Boland uitgenooi om ‘n wynproe geleentheid in die Karoo te kom aanbied. Dit was ‘n reuse sukses met heerlike wyne saam met Johanna se smul lekker kos. Onder die wat bygewoon het was voonemende wynmakers, -boere, -handellaars, en -liefhebbers. Plaaslike boer Hannes le Grange, wie al ver gevorder het met planne vir ‘n wynmakery op Angeliersbos, het Wouter verras met die belowende kwaliteit van sy produkte. Hannes beplan om vanaf volgende jaar wyn op sy plans te maak en toeriste te nooi om dit te kom proe.
Christiaan de Wit, an expert on the Karoo and its bird life, invites those who’d like to get to know this arid zone better to come and explore the Swartberg area with him. At his farm, Laer Scholtzkloof, he offers birding. botanical and ecological walks, cocktails in the mountains, night rides and full overnight facilities.
‘N STEM OP DIE LUG
Wes-Kaap Toerismeraad se ontwikkelingskomiteee borg ‘n reeks van nege Toerisme Akademie radio programme op Radio Sonder Grense. Hulle sal tydens Bon Voyage op Saterdagoggende tussen 10:00 en 11:00 uitgesaai word. Elke streek sal ‘n beurt kry om oor ontwikkelingsprojekte te praat. Die klem is op die opbouing van agtergeblewe gebiede. Die Groot Karoo se beurt is op 31 Oktober. Die Ontwikkelingskomitee het ook 24 programme tussen Desember, 1998, tot Januarie, 1999, teen ‘n koste van R850 elk, bespreek.
AN EARLY COMMANDOS HUNGRY RIDE
One of the earliest commandos to leave Beaufort West was led by the man who became the Colony’s first premier.He was John Charles Molteno. Reports reveal that he and A du Toit led a huge commando of 300 men to the War of the Axe. Sir G E Cory wrote: “All men rode off on horseback. They took no wagons, tents nor any night shelter except blankets. They covered 400 miles in eight days arriving at the Eastern Frontier in a sorry state. they were furious that the Civil Commissioner at Graaff Reinet offered them no sustenance, and provided only ‘a little flannel for making powder bags.’ By the time they reached the Sundays River Valley they were tired and hungry and their horses footsore.” Molteno, who years later was knighted and who, as Member of Parliament, earned himself the title “Lion of Beaufort West, was quick to make his displeasure known.
KAROO MERMAID A HIT AT THE NICO
The secret pools and strange rock images of Meiringspoort has led to a hit show at the Nico Malan Theatre in Cape Town. Some say the deep, dark, pools, gouged out by ancient waterfalls in the picturesque Meiringspoort are bottomless so mermaids now live there. According to local legend the beautiful, but fearsome, Mermaid of Meiringspoort became so angry at the state of affairs in the world in 1996 that she unleashed a dreadful flood. It tore great rocks from the mighty cliffs, washed the road away and made people aware of her presence. The tale so fascinated Karoo Diva and story teller Antoinette Pienaar that she started a research project. It took her from the depths of the mountains to the stage of the Nico with colleague Derek Fordyce. “I discovered the mermaid was no new myth. She dates back to the time of the /Xam, who left us a legacy of drawings depicting strange half-human, half-fish creatures on these rocks. Many people claim to have seen the mermaid and spoken to her. She is said to appear just before sunrise and, of course , she speaks ‘mermaid’, a language which is easily understood by all who hear it. Mostly she sings beautiful and terrible songs which can lure people from the road at times. I have not managed to see her, but I have some of her songs in my show.” Cape Town critics hail it as excellent. New rock paintings of fish-like figures, recently found on the farm Ezeljachtpoort, have sparked fresh debate. Experts cannot agree on the reason for mermaids in the Karoo. Some say they’re figments of hunter-gatherer imagination, others feel they are images of departed spirits, while yet another school claim they may be the result of drug induced dreams or hallucinogenic experiences of a shaman. Rock art expert Ann Solomon says: “In the last century an old /Xam man explained that mermaids, called ‘wateranties‘ or ‘watermeidjies’ in Afrikaans, relate to female initiation. Disobedient initiates were abducted by the rain deity and drowned. From time to time they appear at waterholes as flowers, frogs, stars or mermaids. But then,” she sagely added, “the present will never understand the past, when things happened that no longer take place today.”
SWARTBERG WYNLYS ‘N WENNER
Die Swartberg Hotel in Prins Albert het ‘n merkwaardige prestasie behaal. In die Diners Club Wynlys van die Jaar Wedstryd is die hotel aangewys as die nuwe inskrywing wat die hoogste punte vir sy wynlys behaal het. Eienaar Blackie Swart is onlangs by Kaapstad se spoggerige Kelvin Grove Club uitgeroep om die Peter Devereux trofee sowel as ‘n platinum toekenning te ontvang. Bill Cooper-Williams, nuwe wynkonsultant van die wedstryd, het groot lof aan die Swartberg Hotel se wynlys toegeswaai. “Hotelle, restourante en gastehuise, veral in die platteland, raak deesdae baie meer avontuurlik met hul wynlyste en bied ‘n groter verskeidenheid aan, somtyds van regoor die wêreld,” het hy gesê. Blackie was in sy noppies. “Die krediet moet gaan aan Kaapse wynmeester Dick Davidson, wynmaker Chris Kuhn en restouranteur Mike Duggan, van The Upper Crust in Langstraat, Kaapstad, wie gehelp het met die samestelling van die lys en aanbevelings gedoen wat net perfek is vir die platteland mark.” Joernalis Cassie du Plessis het die Swartberg Hotel geluk gewens in ‘n artikel in Die Burger. “Blackie-hulle het nie op hul alie daar in die Karoo gesit en hoop vir die beste nie, hulle het die hotel vemuftig bemark. Om so ‘n toekenning tussen die land se uitgelesenes los te slaan kos huiswerk, konsultasie en kommunikasie. Om te kwalifiseer vir ‘n platinum toekenning moet ‘n eetplek 85% of meer in die beoordeling behaal.”
KAROO HOLDS HELIOGRAPH RECORD
Boer War joumals contain many reports of officers watching the heliographs winking out messages on sunny days. Through their telescopes and field glasses they tried to read the signals, often wondering whether they were coming from friend or foe, writes Edgar Holt, who explains that this was a “method of signalling which captured the sun’s rays and transformed them into Morse Code.” He added: “The signalling system was ideally suited to the clear, sunny atmosphere of South Africa and could effectively send messages up to 70 miles (112 km).” Heliograph researchers agree that these devices certainly were capable of sending messages across vast distances. Anglo-Boer War researcher, Dr Johan du Toit of George, says, “I was amazed when a local farmer Ben Loots once told me that the world record for a heliograph message was set in the Karoo. The message was sent from Compassberg, near Nieu Bethesda, to Hanekamberg, 180km away as the crow flies. According to Ben, who owned the tip of Hanekamberg, this record had not been surpassed by the time heliographs fell into disuse. Ben died last year, and was not able to substantiate the record, but said he’d heard it from many other farmers in the district.” Edgar Holt said” “The literature of the Anglo-Boer War has many stories of false messages sending soldiers off in the wrong direction. The Boers were fairly adept at this.”
LESSONS FROM THE GEESE
A story in Round-up no 60, “Science Explains What Geese Already Know” attracted interesting response, with several readers providing additional information. The V-formation in which the birds fly enables a flock of geese to fly further, using less energy than that required by a single bird, they pointed out. So they need less rest. Daniel Rousseau, Western Cape chairman of the Hiking Federation of S A, recalled an article by Merle Boos in Agricultural News. “In it she explained the range of a flock in V-formation was 71% greater than that of individual birds. Any goose that falls behind and so out of formation soon attempts to get back so that it can take advantage of the ‘lifting power’ provided by other birds. When the lead goose tires, it moves back and another bird takes over the point position. The geese at the back continuously honk to encourage those in front. If a goose becomes sick or is wounded or shot two geese drop out of the formation and follow it down to the ground to assist it. They stay with the injured bird and protect it until it is either able to fly again or dies.” Ms Boos added the rider that if people had more sense, they would, like geese, make a greater effort to work for the common good, keep in step, offer encouragement and try to help others through crisis situations.” Andrew Varrie of Creative Images in George added, “Grand Prix racing drivers also take advantage of the power of the car immediately ahead. Like the geese, they are ‘towed’ along in the slipstream of the car in front of them at high speed. But, here the team spirit of the geese does not apply. Motor racing is all about winning.”
NADERE KENNIS MET DIE KAROO
Die S A Botaniesevereniging het onlangs ‘n uiters suksesvolle naweek in die Karoo gereël. Omtrent 80 mense, van die Kaap Tuinroete en Gauteng, het by die Karoo Nasionale Park byeengekom om plante en fossiele van nader to beskou. Daar was ‘n oggend uitstappie onder die leiding van deskundiges Dawie Blom en David Shearing. Dr Roger Smith, palientoloog van die S A Museum in Kaapstad, het besoekers ‘n blik in die oerwêreld gegee. Hy het die tyd van Gondwana, toe die wêreld nog net een groot landmassa was bespreek, en vertel hoe fossiele en voetspore vandag die geheime van die oertyd ontbloot. Na ‘n braai daardie aand het David Shearing ‘n praatjie gelewer oor n reeks medisinale plante wat Boere soldate tydens die Anglo-Boere oorlog vir ‘n wye reeks kwale sou kon gebruik het. Op Sondag het die groep die Beaufort-Wes museum besoek en ‘n historiese uitstappie deur die dorp saam met streeks toerisme-koordineerder Rose Willis geniet.
FOLLOW-UP ON ECOLOGY
Spring is a special time in the Great Karoo. Normally wild flowers add great beauty to the arid landscape. This year the veld flowers of Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Prince Albert areas are splendid. This encouraged Landscape, a Cape Town-based tour company, to organise a follow up to the Botanical Society’s highly successful ecological weekend. Botanical expert David Shearing explained how Karoo mutton acquires its special aromatic flavour. “Plants that look good and smell good normally tasted good,” he said as he crushed leaves to release the fragrance of the aromatic herbs. “The less attractive plants normally are less-palatable. Spiny, woody, thorny varieties are mostly not palatable at all.” The group was highly amused by some of the common names. But David warned that these changed from region to region. A birding outing then followed. Maria Andela of the William Quinton Wild Bird Society pointed out a myriad of males already sporting mating colours. Among these were yellow finches, red bishops and malachite sunbirds that seemed to flit about in the sunlight on command. A visit to the Barnard exhibit at the Beaufort Museum, an architectural tour of the town’s historic core and a general talk on the Karoo by tourism co-ordinator Rose Willis rounded off the weekend. The group then departed for Prince Albert, Laingsburg and Matjiesfontein.
THE GLINT OF GOLD SOON ON PAPER
A book on Prince Albert gold-mining ventures and Millwood Goldfields at Knysna will soon be on the shelves. It was written by Neil Ross of Cape Town. He spent considerable time researching both these mining areas that once caused quite a stir and saw streams of fortune hunters dashing to them at the end of the last century. He has visited the mines, the nearby towns and the archives in Cape Town in his search for information. In Prince Albert he was helped in his quest by Fransie Pienaar museum curator Lydia Barella. She found four photographs taken at the Prince Albert Goldfields when they were at their height. Neil was delighted. “These are the only pictures in existence taken at this site,” he said.