Robert Grey’s arduous travels in the Karoo: 1848

In 1848, Robert Grey, the first Bishop of Cape Town almost frightened his wife, Sophy, to death with tales of his travels “through the waterless Karoo.” In one of his letters he wrote: “there was in fact no “road”, not even a tract through the arid wilderness and, to save the exhausted horses we many times had to walk.” More than once, he said he had to put his shoulder to the wheel to get his English wagon out of a sandy drift. Beaufort West’s Dutch Reformed minister, Colin Fraser, and the local magistrate had sent word to all farmers along the route to supply them with horses, and they had done this. Nevertheless, the rough, rugged, stony, non-existent roads took their toll. His cart had capsized more than once and a wheel had been broken. Under a cloudless sky and in the heat of a Karoo summer day, he had had to trudge almost 25 miles to find a farm house. Once he had “fallen on his knees to drink from a filthy pool like a animal.” But, on a more cheery note ha added that Beaufort West’s charming Scots predikant placed his splendid church at my disposal to preached a sermon to the Anglican community.” He was immensely proud of having instantly raised 200 pounds towards a church, writes Thelma Gutsche in The Bishops Lady.


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Vol 2 No 43 – April 2007