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Number 5 : April 2004


1. Barrys revisit their roots

By Annalize Mouton

From Germany, Australia, France, Argentina, the UK, the USA, Namibia, Zimbabwe and from all over South-Africa, they came to Swellendam during the weekend of 19 to 22 March for the 11th International Barry Festival. One hundred and ninety in all. ...

3. A whisper through Wolvengat

Wolvengat – also known as Viljoenshof – lies 30 kilometres from Gansbaai between Elim and Die Dam. En route one passes fields of blooming fynbos; rows of brightly dyed fynbos hanging from lines, drying in the sun. ...


4. Where's my penny?

Like the woman in the parable of the lost penny, Elza wishes to light a lamp to search for her lost penny – a penny with an extraordinary history. On 20 May 1934, little Charlotte Elizabeth (Elza) was baptised in the Dutch Reformed Mission Church at Zuurbraak where her father, Rev Daniël Helm Rossouw, and her mother, Alice, served as missionaries...


Age very much in action

The Elderly is Our Gold, the T-shirt proclaimed on the back of one of the participants in this year’s Age In Action get-together on Wednesday, 18 February. Those aged between 65 and 120 years qualified. ...


Birkenhead victims remembered

One of the most famous of all shipwrecks, that of the Birkenhead in 1852, was commemorated on 26 February with the laying of a wreath on the sea at what is now called Birkenhead Rock.


5. There's life at Bot River station

Sunday, 29 February, the first Cape Overberg Explorer was due to arrive at Bot River station. Music played, a local choir performed on the platform, people milled amongst the multitude of stalls selling food and mementos. There were displays in The Shed on the goods platform, and in the main building the Railway Museum next to the restaurant attracted people longing for days gone by. ...


6. Fire on Houw Hoek reveals old routes

By the Editors of Village Life

Following the article in our previous issue on the wagon route over the Hottentots Holland Mountain via the Gantouw, we started looking at the continuation of the Caepse Wagen-weg further east. The recent fire on the Houw Hoek Pass uncovered tracks normally lost amongst proteas and other vegetation, but we only got on the right spoor after we enlisted the help of veteran Overberg researcher Hercules Wessels, who in 1988 took an ox-wagon over the Gantouw as part of the Huguenot commemorations. ...


[The article goes on to detail the research that led to the rediscovery of wagon tracks on both sides of the pass. This resulted in the first-ever map showing all the pioneer routes over the Great Houw Hoek Pass, published as part of the article.]


6. Over 'kloof corner' to a river of butter

The origins of place names are often shrouded in mystery – and controversy. How did Houw Hoek (the historical version of the current Hou Hoek) and Bot River get their names?


8. With Mug in Hand, by Andy Mitchell of Birkenhead Brewery

Liquid bread for Lent

Certain styles of beer, mainly from Belgium and Germany, are perhaps appropriate to this time of the year, it being almost Easter, and in the middle of Lent. The monks of old used high-alcohol, full flavoured beers as “liquid bread” to keep themselves sustained during the Lenten fasting ...


The Village Gardener, by Tracy Paton

It's the season to plant

Experienced gardeners will agree, gardening is an occupation which hugely rewards forward planning. Early autumn in the Western Cape is a case in point: now is the time for much preparatory work.


9. It was only fool's gold at Napier!

A letter from Jean Malan, Chief Geologist, PetroSA, Cape Town, provided further interesting information on the article in Village Life No 4:


Why not farm with sour figs?

By Mathia Schwegler, author & lecturer

When people talk about “sour figs” or “suurvy” they think jam or bluebottles, but the plants do so much more.

There are two types. The one has deep purple flowers and the leaves and fruit are a bit different from the one with creamy, pink flowers also called “hottentot’s fig”. Their botanical names are Carpobrotus acinaciformis and Carpobrotus eduli ...


Marine biologists have a whale of a time

The International Whaling Commission held a conference in Cape Town in March. Mr Wilfred Chivell of Dyer Island Cruises of Gansbaai invited some of them to join him on a boat trip around Walker Bay.


10. Black Harrier: Fynbos raptor

Photographs: Nico Myburgh. Text: Maré Mouton

In the 1930s the Black Harrier was a common resident in the Stanford area, often seen hovering over the shortish fynbos where it bred. Then the rooikrans (Acacia cyclops) and other aliens started invading the area, and by the 1950s there were no Black Harriers left.

“They will only breed in fynbos that’s less than a metre high,” explains Mr Nico Myburgh (79) of Onrus, doyen of South African bird photographers and a man who has been studying this particular bird virtually all his life. ...


Help the Harrier!

By Dr Andrew Jenkins, UCT

Despite its impressive appearance, and its inclusion in the national “Red Data” book as a threatened species, the status and conservation needs of the Black Harrier have, until recently, been little studied and poorly understood. A new research project, involving scientists at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at UCT, has recently been launched to determine how to adequately conserve the Black Harrier and, in turn, determine what the Black Harrier can do for fynbos conservation.


11. Walk through the marine forest

By Daniela Kotekova. Photographs: Annatjie Krügel

The underwater kelp forest is the most amazing place. It is extremely important that we understand its intricacies and therefore why we should help protect it.

Kelp, also called “sea bamboo”, is one of three groups of marine plants. Other marine plants are red or green, depending on the pigment they contain.


12. Overberg Gallery – Readers' photographs

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Rev Andrew Thomas Barry and wife Joan

Rev Andrew Thomas Barry and wife Joan, for many years missionaries in Botswana, at the mouth of the Breede River at Witsand. Rev Barry is the great-grandson of Thomas Barry as well as Dr Andrew Murray, famous pioneer theologian. Photo: Annalize Mouton

Pink house, Wolvengat

Wolvengat has its own sense of style – a house on the main road through the hamlet

Historic Houwhoek mountain passes

A magic vantage point at Houw Hoek, from where the east-bound highway enters the first cutting: In the foreground is the Michell road, intersected by the wagon route from left to right; behind it (left lower quarter) is the roof of a train, with the two rail bridges in the centre. At the middle right is the railway road winding through the cleft towards Bot River

Black Harrier on plucking perch. © Nico Myburgh

The Black Harrier, the lovely Overberg bird that only thrives where its type of fynbos is left undisturbed. Photo: Nico Myburgh

Sea urchin and kelp, Overberg coast

The colourful underwater world along our coast: a sea urchin and kelp

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