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Cover forge

On a Sunday in August visitors flocked to Stormsvlei for a first open-air art market. The activity that day reminded of this tiny hamlet’s former status as an important junction on the Old Cape Wagon Route. Here Conrad Hicks works in the smithy, which has remained intact from the days wagons were built and repaired here – page 22. Photo: Maré Mouton

Number 36 : Spring 2009


Visitors' guide

This issue marks the sixth anniversary of Village Life, and with it we publish our first supplement: a visitors’ guide to the Cape Overberg and surrounds. The guide is a successor to a similar brochure last published five years ago by the then Overberg Meander Association, and which proved to be hugely popular – it is still in use even today. A total of 50 000 copies of the guide is being printed and, apart from distribution with our magazine, will be available at travel agents, information bureaux and other tourism establishments.

The Overberg offers the visitor an amazing range of experiences, from the rustic to the sophisticated. The area is best known, however, for its rich biodiversity and fascinating history, a place to unwind and leave cares behind. We trust the guide will entice many people to come and visit!

Sadly, one of the stories in this issue of Village Life tells of a severe threat to the very existence of the tourism industry in parts of the Overberg: Eskom’s plans to build a nuclear power plant, twice the size of the one at Koeberg, at Bantamsklip on Groot Hagelkraal. Anyone who can, should raise his or her voice against it.



2: At the office

Letters and other important matters


Photographer identified

Within days after our previous issue appeared, the photographer featured in the article “Trove of vintage images found” had been identified. Subscriber Pieter Hoffman of Carnarvon phoned to say he had some old pictures from Aberdeen, he then forwarded a copy of one of these to Carol Hardijzer, author of the article, who could match the background in the picture to others he had. The photographer was John F Scholtz, whose studio was in Darling Street, Aberdeen about a hundred years ago.


4: Half a century of conservation

Dr Hans Fransen looks back on the 50 years of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (now Heritage SA)


8: The face of South Africa

Time for a break at Genadendal, the oldest mission village in South Africa – by Annalize Mouton. View PDF


10: Bantamsklip: Eskom’s extremely bad idea

National electricity supplier Eskom has earmarked Bantamsklip on the coast south of Pearly Beach as a site for a nuclear power plant twice the size of the one at Koeberg. This is adjacent to the hottest biodiversity hotspot in the world – Groot Hagelkraal. Such a power plant will destroy the livelihoods of all who depend on eco-tourism based on the biodiversity of the Agulhas Plain, from shark-cage diving to flower pickers and guest farms – by Maarten Groos. View full article as PDF


16: The black countess from Bain Street – never kissed by the Queen

Maggie Follett recounts the extraordinary romance between Martha Solomons and Harry Grey


22: Stormsvlei – once a bustling hub

What is now just a cluster of buildings next to the N2 highway between Riviersonderend and Swellendam, was once an important stopover for travellers – by Annalize Mouton


28: Getting to the top of the Tugela Falls

Stephen Pryke ponders the formation of the Drakensberg while he hikes to the highest point, Mont-aux-Sources


32: Lake Fundudzi – a sacred secret

Keri Harvey visits this secluded lake, sacred to the Venda people, in Limpopo Province. Locals may only catch enough fish for their own needs, but not for selling


36: Riemvasmaak – a new beginning

This community in the Northern Cape, which was widely dispersed under the old apartheid government, has new hope of rebuilding itself – by Duncan Miller


40: Figs under attack

A nasty beetle threatens the survival of the domestic fig – by Geoff Tribe


44: Good-bye Lourie, hallo Turaco

Our most beautiful birds have new names – by Nico Myburgh. Read full text


46: It’s better with honey

Our Country Table – Annalize uses honey in some tasty recipes


48: Camera work

Layered reflections – by Maré Mouton. Windows and reflections often present interesting visual material. This church window at Klaarstroom, on the Great Karoo side of Meiringspoort, not only showed another window to look through, but also mirrored the rocks on the hillside behind me. This combined an interplay of images from three different planes into a single two-dimensional picture.


49: Tail piece

There’s a donkey that needs your help at Eseltjiesrus, a sanctuary for neglected, abused and other old donkeys outside McGregor in the Breede River Valley. Village Life has adopted a donkey (view PDF), but there are others who need assistance. For more information, visit


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Church Street in Tulbagh, c.1975, one of the restoration projects of the Simon van der Stel Foundation. Photo: Maré Mouton

Some of the richest areas of the Cape Floristic Kingdom are threatened by the proposed nuclear power plant at Bantamsklip. Photo: Maarten Groos

Martha Solomons of Wellington in the Cape, who became a British countess and baroness

The shop at Stormsvlei a century ago, the inn at left and the bar at right

Hikers in the Drakensberg on their way to the source of the Tugela Falls. Photo: Stephen Pryke

Locals fishing at sacred Lake Fundudzi in Venda

The fig-tree borer, Phryneta spinator. Once the smaller male manage to get hold of a female, he doesn't let go

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