Who is the Settler Family of the Grahamstown Settlers Monument?

I posted this picture of the Settlers Family statue in Makhanda / Grahamstown on my Encounter the Eastern Cape page on Facebook recently and Dave Bowker told me something I never knew. Firstly what I did know. The monument was designed by the sculptor Ivan Mitford-Barberton and erected in 1969, but this is what I didn't know. The three figures are Miles, Anne Maria and Elizabeth Bowker. Elizabeth married a Barber and was Ivan's grandmother. Although there was no photograph…

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Schreiner House – “A Story of an African Farm” be here

Cradock is a town filled with history. Frontier Wars, the Groot Trek, Anglo Boer War and more. It's also a town that was called home by a number of historic figures. One of those being Olive Schreiner and there is a museum in the town where you can go and learn more about her. Olive Schreiner House at 9 Cross Street in Cradock is one of the houses in which Olive Schreiner (1855-1920), the political activist, feminist and author of the world-renowned novel, The Story of an African…

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The Storms River Bridge

I don't know how many times I've crossed the Storms River Bridge over the years. Not even counting the number of times I stopped there back when I was a tourist guide. The other day I stopped for fuel and decided to take a walk onto the bridge for a change again. It's always an experience. The Storms River Bridge, originally called Paul Sauer Bridge, is a deck arch bridge designed by Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, and constructed by Concor…

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The Victorian era designed Dutch Reformed Church of Jansenville

Each Karoo town has a different charm and atmosphere just like each one has an unique historic Dutch Reformed Church. The town of Jansenville is in no way any different. The Dutch Reformed Church in Jansenville is unusual in that the bell tower is separate from the church. The church is of typical Victorian-era design, complete with decorative plaster quoins on the corners of the exterior walls. The building was designed by prolific ecclesiastical architect Carl Otto Hager, whose plans…

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The original illustrations of the Roberts Birds of South Africa book

A little while ago I visited Graaff-Reinet for a Karoo Heartland Marketing Association meeting at the Drostdy hotel. I arrived a little early and noticed tons of bird pictures up on the walls. While admiring them somebody asked if I knew that they were the original illustrations of the Roberts Birds of South Africa book. Say what? Now there's something I didn't know. Austin Roberts’ The Birds of South Africa was first published in 1940 and has been in print…

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The Mount Ingwe Anglo Boer War Museum outside Port Elizabeth

This past weekend we joined the Eastern Cape Branch of the South African Military History Society on their quarterly outing. The destination. Lukas van der Merwe's Anglo Boer War Museum at Mount Ingwe in the Elandsrivier Valley between Port Elizabeth and Patensie. It's one of those attractions that I have heard of but didn't know much about and not having a bakkie or SUV I've never really considered heading out to it. The 50km dirt road from Rocklands near Uitenhage…

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Arch Rock near Plettenberg Bay – best done at low tide

One of the Garden Route attractions I haven't had a chance to visit is Cathedral Rock (also called Arch Rock) at Keurboomstrand near Plettenberg Bay. It's not for a lack of trying though. Arch Rock is only accessible at low tide and we've never spent a couple of days in Plett so it's only been a quick attempt while passing through if there was time. This time around I had the afternoon in town before picking my daughter up from…

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The All Saints United Church in Somerset East

In 1848, during his travels through the Eastern Cape, Bishop Gray of Cape Town paid a visit to the young town of Somerset. He was struck by the scarcity of clergyman having only seen one in 900 miles of travel from Cape Town. He undertook to arrange for some 20 Anglican ministers to emigrate from England, and because he believed that there were sufficient English settlers and others to support an Anglican Church, he promised to provide the area with…

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The Cradock Four Garden of Remembrance

Standing on a hill as you come into the Karoo Heartland town of Cradock from the south are four tall concrete pillars. The four pillars are the main focus point of the Cradock Four Garden of Remembrance in Lingelihle township. The memorial was unveiled in 2007 and upgraded in 2019 and includes a visitor center, amphitheater, and research and exhibition areas. The Cradock Four were a group of four anti-apartheid activists who were abducted and murdered by South African security police in…

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Jansenville Townhall and War Memorial plus a bit of history

The town of Jansenville is located in the Noorsveld, an area about 90 kilometers south of Graaff-Reinet and known for its dry, arid climate and its abundance of succulents. The need for a new parish in the district was evident from 1848 and the establishment of the village is largely due to the efforts of Minister Alexander Smith from Uitenhage who visited the congregation once a quarter.  In 1853 Petrus Fourie arranged for the layout and survey of about 80…

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