Karoo views and landscapes along the Swaershoek Pass

I don’t know how many times my tourism friends in Cradock and Somerset East have asked me if I have driven over the Swaershoek Pass yet. I just heard about the beautiful Karoo landscape and stunning views but because the route is 76km of dirt road I’ve been a little hesitant. But that changed recently when the N10 road outside Cradock was blocked due to protests and I had to take the alternative between the two mentioned towns in the…


Exploring (and not ghost hunting) the Somerset East Museum

I struggle to pass by a small town museum if I have time on hand and time on hand I had the last time I visited the Karoo Heartland town of Somerset East.  I immediately headed up to the Somerset East Museum standing in the shadow of the Boschberg Mountain at the top end of Beaufort Street.  I've been here before but it's been a few years so I decided another visit was in order.The Somerset East Museum is also…

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Walter Battiss Art Gallery – the home of Fook Island

The Karoo Heartland town of Somerset East is a place full of interesting and quirky attractions.  One of them is the Walter Battiss Art Gallery which also houses the local tourism information office.  Battiss (6 January 1906 – 20 August 1982) was generally considered to be the foremost South African abstract painter but is probably equally as famous as the creator of the quirky Fook Island.  Fook Island was Battiss' "island of the imagination" for which he created a map,…


Remembering the Slagtersnek hangings

If you are flying along in a northerly direction through the Karoo Heartland on the N10, the main drag between Port Elizabeth and Cradock, do slow down a bit after you pass the first turnoff to Somerset East and keep a look out on the right hand side of the road for a cenotaph like monument.  Once spotted, do pull over and have a look as this is a very significant spot in the early history of the area.I'm not…


Somerset East’s whiskey bar in a church

I'm not much of a drinker preferring to do the sacrilegious thing of making beer shandy by throwing lemonade into a perfectly good beer.  But I am known to enjoy a good beer or wine tasting so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that I'm doing a post on a place where you can do a spot of whiskey tasting.  As long as I only need to taste.  But this isn't sommer any place, it's a whiskey bar inside a…


Moonrise over pink clouds

Not long ago I spent a night at Angler and Antelope Guesthouse in Somerset East.  Coming out of the guesthouse on my way to dinner, the near full moon was rising in the east over clouds painted bright pink by the setting sun behind me.  I rushed back to my room to grab my car keys, dashed to the car to get my camera and by the time I got back to my view spot most of the pink had…


Museum lane

Looking up Museum lane to the Somerset East Museum at the foot of the Boschberg.  The museum is at the top of Beaufort Street with the Dutch Reformed Church at the other end.


The Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset East

Somerset East's historic Dutch Reformed Church stand on the main drag through town at the intersection with Beaufort Road.  After the village of Somerset (with the East only being added 30 years later) was established, a need started to arise for a church.  The corner stone of the church was laid in 1830 and it was completed in 1833.  The church in it's current form is the result of extensions made in 1870 with only    a few of the…


The town of Somerset East

The town of Somerset East lies in the southern Karoo Heartland at the foot of the Boschberg mountain.  Somerset East was established by Lord Charles Somerset in 1815 as an experimental farm to provide meat and fresh produce to the soldiers on the Eastern Frontier.  The site was chosen over sites in the Gamtoos Valley and Swartkops Valley.  The farm was named Somerset Farm.  Ten years after being established the project was cancelled and a new Drostdy was declared.  The…


Somerset East’s beautiful Beaufort Street

I spent a day in Somerset East recently just driving around town and visiting some of the historic building and attractions.  At first I thought about just doing one post featuring it all, but because there wasn't really a story to my visit (other than the fact that I was actually there for a Karoo Heartland meeting but couldn't help but going sightseeing) I decided to rather do a series on Somerset East featuring a different place or view every…