Landscapes and nature

A country ‘just come from the hands of the Creator’ – 1898

Powerful feelings affect the mind of the traveler in the Karoo. He ponders the self-sufficiency of nature, the insignificance of Man, the mystery of the universe as he moves across the brown desert in shimmering waves of heat. But most of all he wonders how much of this high desert-like interior is fit for comfortable […]

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And Now There Are Bones

The early travellers reported vast herds in the Karoo. They wrote of steenbuck, bushbuck, reedbuck, oribi, hartebeest, kudu, buffalo, lion, wildebeest, springbuck, ostrich, hippo and rhino, said Schwarz in The Kalahari or Thirstland Redemption. He dated the drying of the Karoo to the disappearance of the Kalahari lakes in 1820. He said the configuration of […]

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Collecting specimens at Deelfontein

One unusual aspect of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein in the Karoo, was that it had a menagerie for the entertainment, amusement and instruction of the sick and wounded men.  Specimens were collected by principal medical officer, Colonel Sloggett and two taxidermists from the British Museum, who had been sent to the hospital to be […]

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Drought, rain and Hail in the Karoo

The Karoo is a place of fascinating contrasts. The Graaff-Reinet Herald of Thursday, March 28, 1889, reported that “a warm gentle warm rain during the past week broke a dry spell, but in the Camdeboo the mountains are thickly covered with snow. We anticipate a continuance of the delightfully bracing cold weather that set in […]

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Drought: Gustav Lund’s experiences in the 1920s

Drought is a constant threat in the Karoo. Nelspoort farmer Pieter Lund has monitored the recurring droughts of the Great Karoo. Intrigued by the many tales of hardship during drought conditions that have now and then appeared in Round-up, he decided to share a series of stories.  “In the 1920s, my late father, Gustav Lund, […]

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Eve Palmer celebrates the Karoo

The Mid-Karoo region is using the works of author Eve Palmer, a “child” of the area, to promote the route. In The Plains of Camdeboo she writes: “Few people have the good fortune to be born in a desert. I was and all my life I have been conscious of my luck.” Like other deserts […]

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Fauresmith Veld Reserve

A young girl, who was born in Basle, Switzerland, developed an interest in South African plants. She studied the vegetation of the Karoo and later died at the age of 79 at an old age home in Bloemfontein.  She was Dr Marguerite Gertrud Anna Henrici.  After completing her schooling, Marguerite spent some time in France, […]

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On a troop train in the Karoo, 1900

On February 4, 1900, Dr Howard Tooth, a British doctor serving at a Cape military hospital received orders to travel to Modder River. It was “at the front” and he was apprehensive. He wrote to his wife stating that he was not taking much in the line of civilian clothing because he was to be in […]

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Station-Master Joseph Archer creates a winning garden in 1890

At the turn of the last century, Matjiesfontein’s station had a prize winning rock garden of Karoo plants. It repeatedly won the South African Railways prize for the best station garden in the country. Its creator, Joseph Archer, came to the Cape in 1890 and joined the Railways, working as a foreman. He was later […]

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The earthquake in Graaff-Reinet, 1850

In May 1850 rumblings of an earthquake rocked the central interior. The Graaff -Reinet Herald reported that “The shock of the earthquake of the 21st ultimo was felt over a very extensive area. Accounts are coming in from the upper part of Graaff-Reinet in the north, to Uitenhage in the West, the land beyond the […]

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