oxen

Locusts, drought, and devastation in the Graaff-Reinet district

The Cape passed into British hands in September, 1795, yet, by 1797 when Lord McCartney, became governor, there was still scant interest in the hinterland. Their only concern was that the Cape’s meat supply came mainly from Graaff-Reinet and some lesser interior districts. In journals reporting on his journeys to the Eastern Frontier, William Somerville […]

.

Not Such A Stupid Ox After All

In Trekking The Great Thirst, Lieutenant Arnold W Hudson tells of some of the difficulties facing travellers into unexplored territory in the late 1800s. He was making his way into the Kalahari and stated that in this extremely dry part of Africa bullocks were invaluable.  “Indeed one can do nothing without them and in the […]

.

The rise and fall of ox-wagons

Transport riders evolved to serve the needs of the developing hinterland towns and vanished with the coming of the rail. These men brought wagon loads of supplies from the coast to inland destinations, using traditional ox wagons, which carried about 1 800 kg. These soon became was too small and in 1860 a new transport […]

.

Tough Trip To The Karoo

After several locust plagues and a severe drought, Maj-Gen Dundas, in 1801, sent a commission into the Karoo to investigate the situation.  Among them was William Somerville who recorded the trip in his journals, which have recently been published by the Van Riebeeck Society.  A train of six large bullock wagons was readied for the […]

.

William Shaw and the ox-wagon

Many early writers describe ox wagon travel as tranquil, but Wesleyan missionary, William Shaw, did not find it so. He found it noisy, but amusing. Extracts from his letters and journals in Never a Young Man, compiled by Celia Sadler, state: “The African wagons, covered with white sail-cloth tilts, were each drawn by 12 or 14 […]

.