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Breese and Kathryn Johnson from Knoxville, Tennessee wanted to become involved in Africa. They chose South Africa, and bought a farm with an historic “haunted house” on the Klein River Lagoon between Hermanus and Stanford. They saved the ghost house, and are actively involved in local community projects – page 30

Photo: Annalize Mouton

Number 27 : December 2007


A safe journey

At least some of the people reading this – the lucky ones! – will be taking a break after another year of hard work. Many would have undertaken long trips to go on holiday, with the coast as a favourite destination. This should be a time that one takes special care, by driving carefully, observing safety rules at the beach and on boats and generally showing consideration for others.

But also spare a thought for our environment and for the creatures in it. The article by Ian Thomas (page 8) of the dangers that humans and their dogs pose to the White-fronted Plover is a real eye-opener, and holiday-makers can help by watching out for the tiny tracks in the sand. Other beach-nesting birds, such as the Black Oystercatcher, face the same threats, so rather keep the dogs on a leash and all vehicles off the beach – walking to that angling spot will be good for you!

For those people who prefer to be sitting in the shade with a good read, this issue will take you from the Limpopo in the far north through the Karoo and over mountain passes to a haunted house and an old whaling station. We trust you will enjoy the journey, and wish you a healthy and prosperous 2008!



2: At the office

Letters from readers and other important matters


4: New Aloe in the fynbos

Maarten Groos tells of a new species that has just been described by Ernst van Jaarsveld, and provisionally named after artist Eric Judd


6: The face of South Africa

Picture gallery: John Costello of Port St Johns caught a humpback whale in action while it was courting a female. View as PDF


8: Life on a busy beach

Tiny tracks in the sand reveal the presence of a breeding White-fronted Plover to Ian Thomas, who recounts the various strategies the bird employs to lure predators away from its nest


12: The four passes of the Outeniqua

By Jane Mulder

For early travellers who had to get from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape, the mountains between George and Oudtshoorn were a formidable barrier


18: Coral-trees add a dash of colour

Charles and Julia Botha look at the genus Erythrina in their series on Gardening for Wildlife


24: The Diary of Iris Vaughan

The family gets a "shift on" to Pearston in our third excerpt from this delightful diary


30: A new life for a ‘haunted’ house

Annalize Mouton delves into the past of the old mansion at Wortelgat which has now been restored as a tourism and conference venue


34: The magic of Mapungubwe

Charles & Julia Botha visit this National Park at the Limpopo, once the site of an ancient kingdom


40: The slaughter of the whales

By Alan Clegg

The gory history of the old whaling station at Stony Point, Betty’s Bay. The site is now home to one of only three land-based breeding colonies of African Penguins


45: A literary refuge in the Hantam Karoo

By Judy Bryant

Die Boekehuis in Calvinia honours writers past, and offers current scribes a place to work


50: When it rains rocks

Dr Duncan Miller visits some of the sites in Southern Africa where meteorites have struck. One's chance of being killed by a meateorite is about the same as of dying in a plane crash!


56: Birds that flock together

Nico Myburgh looks at the highly efficient system of Sociable Weavers. Read full text


60: Fish for a festive table

We cook, eat and share some more recipes from our Country Table – this time it's hake baked in a sauce


64: Tail piece

A sparrow at the office – by Brent Naudé-Moseley. View as PDF


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Artist Eric Judd with a painting of the new aloe named after him

Artist Eric Judd with a painting of the new aloe named after him

A female White-fronted Plover on her nest. © Ian Thomas

A female White-fronted Plover on her nest. Photo: Ian Thomas

Passes over the Outeniqua Mountains

A view from the wagon-tracks that were the Cradock Pass towards the modern Outeniqua Pass in the distance. In the valley inbetween the narrow road of the Montagu Pass can be seen

Goats in side street, Pearston, Eastern Cape

A side street in modern-day Pearston, where the Vaughan family had to endure the "bludy nothing" of the Karoo. Photo: Annalize Mouton

Die Boekehuis in Calvinia, South Africa. © Judy Bryant

Die Boekehuis in Calvinia. Photo: Judy Bryant

The Tswaing meteorite impact crater near Pretoria, South Africa. © Duncan Miller

Tswaing near Pretoria, one of the meteorite impact craters in South Africa. Photo: Duncan Miller

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