A WONDERFUL WORLD OF FOSSILS, SAYS EXPERT
“Laingsburg is most fortunate that the world’s largest and most complex eurypterid trackway was found right on its doorstep,” said Dr Simon Braddy , University of Bristol, UK, and an expert on the palaeobiology of ancient, extinct water scorpions. “This discovery will bring scientists, researchers, students and lay people to the Karoo, one of the best places in the world to study fossils of the Permian Period. Finds such as this must be included in the region’s tourism plans and visitors must be taught to behave responsibly at such sites,” said Dr Braddy. His visit to South Africa was made possible by British film company, Wall to Wall, who are producing an hour-long programme on fossil arthropods for Discovery TV. The programme will include sites in Namabia and Canada. Dr Braddy spent time at the trackway studying it in detail with Dr John Almond, of Natura Viva, who discovered it a few months ago while studying sedimentary rocks in the area. “The fact that this trackway is 15m long is most important. This allows me to study the creature’s gait,” said Dr Braddy, who has researched a variety of water scorpion sites across the world. He did his PhD on the palaeobiology of eurypterids, including their reproduction, respiration and the biomechanics of their locomotion. “In simple terms, the way they bred, breathed and walked. I went on to study other fossil arthropods and recently combined these fields to develop a computer programme named LocoBug. It enables me to ‘animate’ the walking pattern and body structure of individual water scorpions. When I apply my findings from the Laingsburg site to the programme I will be able to ‘recreate’ this ancient Karoo creature.”
PLATTELAND ‘N JUWEEL VAN TOERISME, SÊ MINISTER
Die platteland is een van die juwele in die kroon van Wes-Kaap Toerisme, maar nie genoeg mense besef dit nie. So het die Minister van Landbou, Toerisme and Dobellary, mnr Johan Gelderblom., gesê tydens ‘n onlangse besoek aan Beaufort-Wes. “Platteland toerisme moet ‘n kans gegun word om te blom en deel uit te maak van die groter prent van toerisme in Suid-Afrika. Ons het ‘n stadium bereik waar ons toeriste moet oortuig dat die Wes-Kaap uit veel meer as net Tafelberg en die see bestaan. Ons moet hulle oorreed om ten minste vir een aand in die platteland te oornag en ‘n ander in ‘n township B&B deur te bring om die ‘vibes’ van die provinsie te voel. Toeriste moet tyd vat om die natuurskoon van die platteland te geniet, die storie vertellers te ontmoet, die tradisies, kleure en geure te ontdek en die heerlike kos van die platteland te proe. Sodoende sal toerisme help om armoede uit te wis, werk te skep en ‘n beter lewenstandard vir almal te skep.”
- Hinterland a Tourism Gem says Minister
The hinterland is a jewel in the crown of Western Cape tourism, but not sufficient people realise this, said the Minister of Agriculture, Tourism and Gambling, Mr Johan Gelderblom, during a recent visit to Beaufort West. “The Hinterland must be given the chance to bloom and become part of the greater tourism picture in South Africa. We have reached the stage where we have to convince tourists that the Western Cape Province has much more to offer than just Table Mountain and the sea. Tourists should be encouraged to spend at least one night at a hinterland venue and to overnight in a township B&B so that they can feel the ‘vibes’ of the province. They should take time to enjoy the natural beauty of the hinterland, meet the story tellers, discover the traditions, sounds, colours and smells and, above all, to enjoy the delicious foods. In this way tourism will help eliminate poverty and create a better standard of living for all,” said Mr Gelderblom.
PLANS FOR PRIVATE RESERVE APPROVED
The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Planning, Mr D M Malatsi, recently informed Ian Uys that his application for a private nature reserve between Prince Albert and the Swartberg Pass had been approved. “With conservation-worthy land being under great pressure it is praiseworthy when private land owners, such as yourself, have their properties declared private reserves, ” said Mr Malatsi. Western Cape Nature Conservation Board will soon award a bronze plaque to Mr Uys.
KAROO SCHOOLS IN TOURISM COMPETITION
Three Central Karoo Schools are vying for top honours in a tourism awareness competition sponsored by Western Cape Tourism Board and MTN. Prince Albert and Leeu Gamka primary schools and Beaufort West’s preparatory school are competing against schools in the Garden Route and Klein Karoo. Entries will be judged on message, artistic content and materials used. Participating students also have to display a sound tourism knowledge of their area. The regional prize winners will compete for an overall prize to be awarded in Cape Town on September 20.
BOEK OOR BEAUFORT-WES
Die Rapportryers se boek Beaufort-Wes tot die Nuwe Millenium is tydens die organisasie se jaarlikse sangfees by Sentraal Hoërskool op 23 Augustus in Beaufort-Wes bekend gestel. Die boek, ‘n spanpoging van heelwat skrywers en navorsers in die dorp, volg op die geskiedenis wat in Hooyvlakte geboekstaaf is. Eksemplare van die nuwe boek is by Beaufort-Wes Museum verkrygbaar teen ‘n koste van R100.
- New Book on Beaufort West
A new book “Beaufort Wes tot die Nuwe Millenium” (Beaufort West to the New Millenium), sponsored by Rapportryers, was launched at the organisation’s annual Song Festival at Sentraal High School in Beaufort West on August 23. This book, a team effort among many writers and researchers in the town, follows on the history published in Hooyvlakte. Copies of the new book, now available at Beaufort West Museum, cost R100 each.
HIGH PRAISE FOR TREE PLANTERS
Kwa-Mandlenkosi residents who last year on Arbor Day celebrated the opening of the Open Africa Township Tourist Route by planting 50 trees in honour of heroes have come in for high praise from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. “This Heroes Route project is one of the most successful of its kind,” said Joel Syphus, of DWAF, when he recently visited Beaufort West. “The trees planted in Kwa-Mandlenkosi last year have been well cared for. All but two show good growth, and hopefully these are just dormant. This project has shown better results than many similar ones, and it deserves high praise, particularly because it is in such an arid area.” The Department has donated 50 more trees for planting this year. “These will again be planted in honour of heroes,” says newly-elected Route Forum chairman Vos Bokwe.
GEWILDE PLAAS RESTOURANT NOU ELKE AAND OOP
‘n Prins Albert meisie wat vir die heerlike etes by die Wes-Kaap Premier se woning, Leeuwenhof, sy kantore in die Parliement en by die Volkskool in die Kaap gesorg het is weer terug in die Karoo. Orcilla Luttig, dogter van Johanna en Samie Luttig van Drie Riviere, gaan nou haar kook talente met dié van haar moeder saamsmelt by Drie Riviere se gewilde plaasrestourant, Die Ou Kelder, net buite Prins Albert. Nadat Orcilla as sjef gekwalifiseer het, het sy vir twee jaar by die Volkskool gewerk. Die Premier van die Wes-Kaap het te hore gekom van haar lekker kos en sy is ‘n pos as huishoudster en funksie-organiseerder by sy offisiële woning, Leeuwenhof, aangebied. Twee jaar later is Orcilla na die Premier se kantoor in die Parliement oorgeplaas. Daar was sy vir die organisering van funksies en spesiale etes verantwoordelik. Die Ou Kelder restourant sal nou elke aand sowel as Sondae oop wees vir etes.
- Popular Farm Restaurant Now Open Every Evening
A Prince Albert lass, who until recently was responsible for delicious meals at Leeuwenhof, home of the Premier of the Western Cape Province, as well as at his offices at Parliament and at the “Volkskool,” has decided to return to the Karoo. Orcilla Luttig, daughter of Johanna and Samie Luttig of Drie Riviere now joins her mother at the popular Ou Kelder restaurant on the family farm. Shortly after Orcilla qualified as a chef she worked at the “Volkskool” for two years. There her cooking skills came to the attention of the Premier and she was offered a post at Leeuwenhof. Two years later she was transferred to his offices at Parliament where she was respsonsible for special functions and meals. Now that she is back in Prince Albert the Ou Kelder will be open every evening as well as on Sundays for lunch.
KAROO GOES TO WORLD SUMMIT
The Karoo showed its wares at the Ubuntu Village at Wanderers, Johannesburg, during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (ISRDS) manager Ralph Links set up a stand to promote tourism and exhibit Karoo arts and crafts. Ralph also discussed Karoo development projects with visitors.
ARTS AND CRAFTS MARKET NOW OPEN
A Beaufort West arts and crafts market has been opened at the eye-catching yellow rondavels at the start of the Kwa-Mandlenkosi Township Tourist Route. Here tourists can purchase a selection of locally-made needlework, leathercraft, candles, woodwork, sheepskin slippers, traditional clothing and ethnic art.
PRINCE ALBERT RAISES A STEIN
So many Germans visit Prince Albert that a “mini-Oktoberfest” is being organised for October 12. “Adverts in local German magazines have brought a good early response,” says organiser Bodo Toelstede. “We are planning an evening of dancing and singing of ‘volksliede’. Music will be provided by The Killiebeentjies, who are great at umpa-pa-pa. Champagne cocktails, draft beer, eisbein and sausage will be on the menu.”
A PICTURE OF A LITTLE CHURCH
Visitors to Prince Albert regularly stop to photograph the tiny Anglican Church of St John the Baptist in Bank Street. “This little church, built in 1895, is a National Monument and a great tourist attraction,” says local historian Ailsa Tudhope. “The church hall, however, was the first place of worship here. It was built in 1871 with funds received from Robert Grey, first Bishop of Cape Town. In those days the whole Cape Colony formed his diocese. Both church and hall were designed and built by local architect George Wallis, who was also responsible for St Judes in Oudtshoorn and the Anglican churches at Klaarstroom and Willowmore. Wallis’s clerk of works was the local priest, the Reverend W P Southey. He was assisted by the Reverend Breach of Plettenberg Bay. Breach built and decorated the altar of Prince Albert’s church and also painted the texts which encircle the interior. The harmonium was acquired in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and the Rood screen was erected to mark the peace at the end of World War I. Services are still regularly held at St John the Baptist church.”
JOERNALIS ONTDEK SOLDER VOL TREINE
Hier is dit nie spoke nie, dis maar net die treine wat daar bo in die solder rond rammel. In hierdie ou Drie Susters Karoo plaashuis se 130 m² solder is daar ‘n miniatuur wêreld van model treine en spoorlyne. Vryskut Burgerjoernalis Fanie van Rooyen het die man agter hierdie kunstige wêreld onlangs opgespoor en uitgevind dat Johan Hamman, huidiglik boer en gasteplaaseienaar, al vanaf kleins af groot belangstelling in treine koester. “Ons het so te sê ons eie spoorweg stasie op die familieplaas gehad,” vertel Johan. “Dit was die Drie Sustersspoorwegstasie, en elke dag het ‘n glimmende, blassende stoomlokomotief soos klokslag pos en koerante gebring. Die daaglikse pos was dus by my ‘eie’ stasieposkantoor gesorteer en deur die posryers afgehaal. Stoomtreine was ‘n aar wat die buitewêreld daagliks na my gebring het. Daarbenewens was twee van my ooms treindrywers en vol opwindende spoorweg stories. Dus is dit nie verbasend dat die trein-gogga my al as kind gebyt het nie en dat ek model treine van die HO-skaal begin versamel het nie.” Oor die jare het die versameling gegroei en daartoe gelei dat Johan sy miniatuur wêreld van treine in die solder skep. “Die self-gemaakte wêreld van 600m model spoorlyn is iets heel besonders,” skryf Fanie. “Hier is Frankryk net oor ‘n brug van middel-Engeland, om ‘n draai is Switserland, deur ‘n kloof Namaqualand en deur ‘n tonnel Amerika. Daar is ou treine en nuwes, vinniges en stadiges, goederetreine, passasierstreine, elektrieseeenhede, stoomlokomotiewe en diesels sowel as sylyne en rangeerwerwe. Die treine loop tussen dorpies en stasies en verby ryk tonele tussen berge, passe, en riviere wat Johan sorgvuldig tot skaal gebou het. Dis beslis die moeite werd om besoek hier af te lê.”
- Journalist Discovers a Loft Full of Trains
Freelance Burger journalist Fanie Van Rooyen found it was not ghosts but trains that rattled round the loft of an old farmhouse at Three Sisters. Hearing sounds he investigated and discovered a wonderful mini-world of model trains and railway lines. Farmer and guesthouse owner Johan Hamman explained: “We virtually had our own railway station on the family farm. Each day a gleaming, puffing steam engine pulled into the Three Sisters station like clockwork bringing post and newspapers from the outside world. There it was sorted at my ‘personal’ railway post office and as a small boy I watched vehicles of all kinds arriving to cart it away. So, I suppose you could say the train bug bit me when I was very young. In addition to all this excitement two of my uncles were train drivers and told the most exciting railway stories. It is perhaps thus not surprising that I began to collect model trains.” Over the years Johan’s collection grew and in time he developed his own miniature world in the 130m² loft of the old farmstead. “This world consists of over 600m of model railway track and its quite something to see.” writes Fanie. “Here is France, and there over the bridge, a county in the middle of England, around the corner is Switzerland, a ravine leads into Namaqualand and zip through a tunnel takes you to America. There are old trains as well as new ones, fast flyers and slow trains. There are goods trains, passenger trains, electric units, steam locomotives and diesel units, all in a world of main lines, sidings and marshalling yards. These tiny trains pass through towns, stations and, tunnels. They cross mountains, passes and river where each scene has been carefully crafted to scale. This is indeed a stop worth making on a drive through the Central Karoo.”
STORY TELLERS MEET IN BEAUFORT WEST
Two experts on the Karoo will share their collective store of stories of the area with delegates at this year’s South African Museum Association’s Western Cape Conference. It is being held in Beaufort West in October. Prince Albert historian Ailsa Tudhope and regional tourism co-ordinator Rose Willis will tell stories about the Karoo and discuss with delegates how they trace these to help conserve the past. “At this conference we will hear all kinds of stories,” said organiser Dr Helene Volgraaff. “There will be stories told by paintings, by photographs and by many people themselves. The stories will include people’s involvement in cultural, social and political issues. Many stories will be about the ‘olden days’ while others will be cultural and traditional, spiced with some from South Africa’s struggle for democracy.”
WEBPAGE REUNITES OLD FRIENDS
While browsing the Internet recently a woman in Heilbron, in southern Germany, came across Prince Albert’s Website and saw a picture of a man she had not seen for 35 years. Waltrud Prohn could not believe her eyes. The picture showed a once good friend and neighbour buying something at a Saturday morning market stall. “I immediately e.mailed the Prince Albert Tourism Bureau hoping someone may know him. Imagine my delight to learn that he lived in the village,” said Waltrud. It was Bodo Toelstede’s turn to be surprised when she contacted him. “I am not sure whether to be flattered or not that she recognised me after such a long time, but it was wonderful to hear from her,” he said. Visit the Prince Albert webpages, which were designed by local historian, Ailsa Tudhope, at http://www.patourism.co.za.
GETTING TO KNOW THE FOSSILS
Recreating prehistoric monsters and the faces of dinosaurs were among the fun things to do at the special Fossil Stories Exhibition at the S A Museum in Cape Town. A series of lectures brought the public and school groups closer to the ancient world of Karoo fossils. Lunch-time walks through the museum, guided by Dr Roger Smith, head of palaeontology, included backroom visits that allowed guests to see expert preparators at work exposing and removing fossils from surrounding rock. A highlight of the programme was a lecture by Terri Haag, designer of the Fossil Stories Exhibit, on how she creates prehistoric monsters from a variety of material including polyfoam and nail varnish. Many of her “monsters” were on display. There was a special programme for science teachers. Children’s sessions explained how fossils were formed and how palaeontologists worked. These groups had a great deal of fun “digging” for fossils and reconstructing the face of a dinosaur.
‘N TWEEDE WAPAD EN GEHEIME OU TRONK GEVIND
‘n Tweede wapad en geheime van ‘n ou afgeleë Moordenaarskaroo tronk is onlangs deur Laingsburg navorser Carel van Wyk ontdek. Carel lei nuutaangestelde toerisme inligtingsbeamptes Trien Makanda, Wilmien Lukas en Aubrey Marthinus in ‘n navorsingsprojek om verdere inligting in te win vir ‘n beplande vloedroete. “Tydens gesprekke met kenners van die buitewyke van die dorp het ek gehoor dat die wapad op die suidekant van Laingsburg in twee verdeel was. Een deel het bo langs die koppies geloop en die ander oor die vlaktes, nader aan die riviere. Net noord van die huidige dorp het die twee paaie weer saamgesmelt. Ek probeer om uit te vind of dit vloede of weiding was wat die verdeling in die pad veroorsaak het,” sê Carel. “Ek het ook murasies van een van Suid-Afrika se mees afgeleë tronke ontdek in die Moordenaarskaroo. Daar is heelwat haarrysende stories oor die ou tronk en sy bewaarder, ene Van der Kolk. Hy het tot ‘n hoë ouderdom geleef en daar is ‘n legio stories oor hom wat ek moet deursif.” Trien, Wilmien en Aubrey is besig om die geskiedenis van ou huise, die kerke, die Lutheranse sendingstasie, spoke, grafte en skole op te teken.
- Second Wagon Route and Secret old Jail found
A second wagon route and a secret old jail has been found in the isolated Moordenaarskaroo near Laingsburg by researcher Carel van Wyk. Carel is guiding the newly appointed tourism information officers Trien Makanda, Wilmien Lukas and Aubrey Marthinus in a research project to discover more about the town and surrounds for the proposed Flood Route. “In discussions with old residents of the outlying areas I learned that the wagon route split just south of Laingsburg. One route went along the high lying area at the koppies, while the other passed across the plains and nearer to the rivers. I have been trying to discover whether it was floods or grazing which caused this. The routes joined up again just north of the present-day village. I have also discovered a long-forgotten jail in an extremely isolated area of the Moordenaarskaroo. Its history, which I still have to sift through, is filled with hair-raising stories about the one-time jailer, a Mr van der Kilk. It seems he lived to a ripe old age and was became somewhat of a legend in the area.” Trien, Wilmien and Aubrey are busy collecting the histories of as many old houses and churches as they can, as well as of the Lutheran Mission, ghosts, graves and schools in the town.”
ON THE PATH OF THE POWELLS
In the late 1800s, Mary MacDougal, daughter of a Scottish shipping magnate, married Thomas Powell, the man of her dreams. It broke her father’s heart. Not only was Thomas a Welshman, but he was a miner “without sufficient social standing.” So Mary’s proud Scottish father “cut her off without a penny.” To avoid her father’s ongoing wrath and family feuds, the couple boarded a ship bound for South Africa. They ended up at Beaufort West in the Karoo, where Thomas is thought to have made a living overseeing road construction and Mary indulged her “churchy” ways. Now Thomas’s great granddaughter, Joan Villet, is trying to discover more about the family history in the Karoo. “My search has not been particularly fruitful. In the old Beaufort West cemetery, I found the grave of Charlotte Perkins Powell and that of Arthur William Powell, but they seem to have no links to my great-grandfather. I have found out that his son John Henry (my grandfather) left Beaufort West in 1910 and moved to Zululand, where he went into business as a master builder. He later became a sugar cane farmer,” says Joan, who would welcome any further details on this family. The Beaufort West visit of Joan and her husband, Niel, a retired surgeon, produced another twist. Niel attended the same university as Professor Chris Barnard, who was a few years ahead of him, so he enjoyed a visit to the museum to study the Barnard collection. While in Beaufort West, Niel also browsed about looking for traces of his uncle Morné, who was the district surgeon here in the 1930s.
GROOT PRYSE VIR KAROO MARATHON
Laingsburg se gewilde 80km Karoo Ultra Marathon word op 28 September gehou. Benewens 25 trofeë wat verower kan word beloop vanjaar se prysgeld oor die R20 000. Eerste pryse in albei mans- en damesklasse is R4 000, tweede, R2 500, en derde R1 500. Die eerste Laingsburger oor die wenstreep sal R1 500 wen, die tweede R1 000 en die derde R500. Daar is goue medaljes vir die eerste tien voltooiers, sowel as medaljes vir die eerste drie dames, meesters en veterane. Soos altyd, beloof hierdie geleentheid ‘n dag van pret te wees met heelwat heerlike kos ooral verkrygbaar. En vir dié wat nie lus het om te hardloop nie maar nogtans die natuurskoon van die gebied wil geniet is daar heelwat 4 X 4 roetes om van te kies.
- Big Prizes for Karoo Marathon
Laingsburg’s popular 80km Karoo Ultry Marathon will be run on September 28. In addition to 25 trofees this year’s prize money is over R20 00. The first prize in both the mens and women’s sections is R4 000, seconds will get R2 500 and third places R1 500. The first Laingsburger to cross the finishing line will win R1 50, the second R1 000 and the third R500. There are gold medals for the first ten as well as medals for the first three ladies, masters and veterans. As always this promises to be a day filled with fun and delicious food which will be available at many places. And, for those who do not wish to run, there is the natural beauty of the area which can be enjoyed along several challenging 4 x 4 routes