DE AAR POSTCARD : An important Karoo town which is surrounded by sheep farms. De Aar is also referred to as a "town of windmills" and boasts colourful Karoo architecture. It is home to many excellent artists and an important weather station that can be toured by visitors. Celebrated its centenary in 2002
THE TOWN IN A NUTSHELL
The junction, the name of which means "the artery", is the second most important railway junction in South Africa, with 110km of railway lines including 29 rail-tracks.
When the railwayline was built from Cape Town to Kimberley, the administration purchased a large part of the farm De Aar. It was originally planned to name the place Brounger Junction, after the general manager of the railways, but this name did not survive.
The name De Aar refers to the underground water supply occurring in arteries. All the water used in De aar comes from boreholes of which a major part comes from Burgerville. Burgerville was a flourishing town in the early 1930's, but the town council of De Aar wanted the water from the area on which Burgerville sited. The whole town was thus bought out. 54 Boreholes in areas surrounding the town, ensures the water supply.
DE AAR, true to its motto SEMPER PROGRESSUS-"Always striving ahead", has since its founding on 20 May 1904, developed into the main town of the Upper Karoo.
The headquarters of the Central Karoo show is also situated in De Aar with a major show during January / February each year. The show draws entries from the whole country and is a red letter event every year.
As a declared industrial growth point, with ample, very reasonably priced industrial sites, affordable labor and the necessary infrastructure, De Aar is the ideal place to establish an industry in the Northern Cape. Various major industries have already taken advantage of De Aar's central location and excellent rail and road links to establish themselves here. Several chain stores have opened branches in De Aar.
De Aar is the third largest town in the entire Northern Cape Province, and is renowned for its central location on the main railway line between Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Namibia. Tarred roads link De Aar to all surrounding towns in the region as well as all major centers in the Republic.
De Aar is served by two airfields used by civil aviation. One is situated at the Department of Defense Ammunition Depot with an all weather runway capable of accommodating any type of aircraft.
De Aar is only 52km away from the nearest stop on the national bus routes.
De Aar is served by all the courier services that operate in the country.
De Aar is increasingly becoming the center for supplying the whole country with the famous "Karoo" mutton, so highly prized for its unique flavor and quality.
De Aar has three abattoirs; One solely for sheep, with a capacity for 1000 carcasses per day, supplying meat to all the provinces; One with a capacity for 550 sheep carcasses, in addition to cattle, also supplying meat far beyond our region and even as far afield as Durban; The third supplies ostrich meat, also for export. In addition to these three, the Council has approved the establishment of an abattoir for pigs, which has already been completed.
The long awaited new South African Police Department police station and district headquarters which serves 24 towns, some far beyond the borders of our region, has recently been completed. The value of this project amounted to R 14 M.
Housing is available for all income groups. The construction of 192 subsidized low cost houses approved by the Housing Board, has been completed.
Serviced stands are available on demand in all the residential areas and ample office space is provided in the central business district.
De Aar boasts a weather station gathering climatic data which has literally put De Aar on the world map.
De Aar's electricity is supplied by ESCOM.
De Aar has an average yearly rainfall of 300mm with the lowest minimum temperature of minus 10 ºC, the highest maximum temperature of 40.7 ºC, an average summer temperature of 24 ºC and an average winter temperature of 14 ºC.
De Aar is situated at 1280 m above sea level and has an average humidity of 43%
Last but not least, mention should be made of the pleasant country atmosphere of De Aar. The motto of the Upper Karoo Region "Where tranquility is only surpassed by the hospitality" certainly also applies to our lovely Karoo town...
Some other places in and around town....
Olympic Standard swimming pool in De Aar. The town has already produced two Springbok swimmers.
A fine example of a steam locomotive which can be viewed by arrangement in the railway yard.
A project is envisaged to again establish a steam train in De Aar which was once synonomous with steam trains.
The Karoo - open spaces and mountains.
A windmill in the Karoo countryside.
Van derkloof dam, 110km from De Aar. Various aquitic sport events take place on the dam.
To the right, the dam can be seen at 108.2% full, overflowing on 28/11/2001
Phandulwazi Library - one of three libraries in De Aar.
The Central Karoo Hospital in De Aar.
Tel : 053-6310594Fax : 053-6310617
Eating out in De Aar can be quite a fancy food affair. At Upstairs, situated above a corner with the only traffic light in town, restauranteur Jurgen Currie serves all the normal meat dishes like steaks or lamb chops, but also great calamari rings and tasty tagliatelle Pavarotti, a pasta with shreds of beef, garlic sauce and cheese. Other specialities include his Full Monty pizza, various Greek tramezzinis, and a delicious quiche and salad for less hungry folk.Tel : 053-6310594
In this historic dwelling, Rina Edwards now offers delectable traditional dishes that include Karoo lamb chops and savoury stuffing and sauce, or try the calamari tube filled with prawns, mussels and cheese. To book call Rina at Tel : 053-6313335 or 6310472
Tel : 053-6311622
Tel : 053-6310062
Olive Emilie Albertinia Schreiner was born on 24 March 1855 at the mission station at Wittebergen in the Eastern Cape. She as the ninth child of twelve. Her parents were Gottlob Schreiner, a missionary, and his wife Rebecca Lyndall, the daughter of a Londen reverend.Olive received most of her education from her mother a well read; cultured and gifted woman. In 1874 Olive began work a governess, the occupation by which she was to earn her living for the next seven years. Around this time she began work on STORY OF AN AFRICAN FARM.. She had by then finished her first novel, UNDINE, eventually published posthumously in 1929. She travelled to England to find a publisher for her book. She stayed in London for 6 years. Her asthma attacks became more frequent and she returned to South Africa for health reasons. She lived at Matjeisfontein. During this period she published DREAMS (1890) and DREAM LIFE AND REAL LIFE (1893). During a visit to Cradock she met Samuel Cron Cronwright a progressive young farmer. On 24 February 1894 they were married and he adopted the name Cronwright-Schreiner as a sign that the one was not subservient to the other. She was 38 years old and he 30. She was restless and for the sake of her health her husband abandoned his farming. They went to live in Kimberley where their only child, a daughter, was born on 30 April 1895. The baby only survived for 18 hours. During the Anglo-Boer war the couple were strong supporters of the Boer cause. They moved to Hanover in 1900 and then to De Aar in 1907. Her husband was elected to the Cape Parliament in 1902. In De Aar she was extremely unhappy and called the town a town of wind-mills. Olive was a pioneer in the cause of womens liberation. In 1911 she published WOMAN AND LABOUR. Under the slogan Give us labour! the book articulated the need of middle class women for a more active role in society. In 1914 she left for Europe once more. She spent most of the First World War in Brittain. Her health failing, she returned to Cape Town where she died during the night of 10 December 1920. she was buried in the family plot in Maitland Cemetery. According to a wish once expressed, she was reburied on the top of Buffelskop, a mountain near Cradock, overlooking the farms Krantz Plaats and Gannahoek. On 13 August 1921, Olive Schreiner was re-interred together with her infant daughter and her favourite dog Nita.
The vast Karoo has been inhabited by the San people for centuries, and they have left the mark of their early presence in the form of rock art. Fine examples of these can be found on many farms in the De Aar, Britstown and Philipstown areas.Koos du Toit of Nooitgedacht (053) 631 0241 is one of the locals that can take you on a trip to view such ancient paintings on his farm, and he is knowledgeable on all aspects of the San peoples history and way of life.
Some 55km north of De Aar is Potfontein, the farm of Peter and Gail Ferreira. A school built around 1895 functioned on it for more than half a century. Now the disused school and adjacent schoolmasters home have been revamped to form a guesthouse.
The single classroom has been turned into a combined dining area and geselsplek, with a massive 12-place, sleeperwood table to eat at and cosy lounge furniture around a fireplace to relax in. The back storeroom has been converted into a bathroom and kitchen. Fresh paint, tiled floors in place of the old wooden floors, and better windows have given the shool quite a facelift. The schoolmasters house has been given similar treatment and is filled with Victorian and art deco furniture that offer old-world comfort. Theres a formal lounge, a diningroom, a farm kitchen with AGA stove, three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The eco-friendly farm is rich in bird and animal life.
Potfontein Guest House, Gail Ferreira (Tel: 053 631 0092) email: email@example.com
The Art Village at the De Aar College for FET started in 1998, offers training in pottery, stained glass, fine art, metal work, carpentry and sewing. There is also a fine hotel school.
These skills training workshops where all the courses are accredited by the various SETAs, concentrate on the unemployed youth, and the training is taken to surrounding towns in the Upper Karoo.
Pottery and catering classes are also given as part of an upliftment project at the Correctional Services in town. The overall theme of the centre is indigenous to the Karoo and of the San people who inhabit the region.
The college is piloting a tourism project, with a guest house which they will be running as part of the Art Village.
All items made by the students are on daily display in their gallery, which is open to the public for both viewing and buying. The contact person is Eleanor Mitchell at (053) 631 0594 and fax (053) 631 0617, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Oudag" on the farm Nuwejaarsfontein was built as a cottage for the present owners Sterrie and Ilse Marais when they got married in 1979. It was their home while Sterries parents lived in the main homestead.A few years later the young couple got the opportunity to occupy the main house when the older people opted to semi-retire from farming and move into the much smaller "Oudag". Shortly afterwards they preferred to leave the farm altogether and went to live in their comfortable house in De Aar.
That was when the family decided to create a living museum, for the vacant cottage was already filled with superb antiques, from fine furniture pieces to exquisite objects darts that has been in the Marais family since the 1838 Great Trek. These are now displayed exactly as they were once utilised in daily living, with new items added on an ongoing basis. With fully fitted modern kitchen, a spacious open-plan dining area and lounge, a nice bedroom with bathroom, Ilse is thinking of turning the old place into a classy yet cosy guest house. The visitors can enjoy both the cottage, the old things and the farm itself, which is a real oasis in the Karoo with perennial fountains and a swimming pool, tennis court and wide open spaces that can be explored on foot and by mountain bike or 4x4 vehicle. Call Ilse on Tel : 053-631 0155 if you just want to visit this interesting farm, or to find out if "Oudag" is open for overnight stays.
What a humbling experience it was to watch Julia Paton, who is but 14 years away from her century, as she conducted her weekly adult art classes at the Little Eden House in the De Aar Methodist Church grounds. With the energy and enthusiasm of a youngster, this dynamic artist - who has achieved great success with her work - dashed around her students, all the time giving guidance and constructive criticism.The simple motto she uses for further encouragement: " Always try to be individual, and never copy somebody else "
These classes started in February 1993 with eight students, working on their knees in Julias lounge. Three months later they moved to the more convenient Little Eden House. Each course begins with the basics of drawing, learning about perspective, balance and composition. Then comes an understanding of colour and how to apply it in the different mediums of acrylics, oils, water colours and pastels. The subjects her students work in are mainly nature, portraiture and still life, and every year the best of these are chosen for an exhibition at the annual De Aar Festival. Each time they have entered, Julias group was awarded first prise for their stall and its artful display, and many works found buyers. No wonder some Little Eden graduates now earn an extra income from their art. If you want to know more, contact Julia on Tel : 053-631 2467
With their vibrant colours , dramatic subjects and often massive sizes, Elize Joostes paintings will bring impact to any decor setting. Working exclusively in acrylics and oils, her work shifts between realism and abstracts, and is often accentuated by interesting collages."I love painting anything that really catches my eye - in a shop, in my garden or just strolling through the veld. Such objects I simply place before me, view them from all angles, and then start painting "
In Namibia, she studied art under Francois De Necker and Esmé Spies, and then gave art classes for eight years at Meisiesskool Eros in Windhoek. In De Aar this talented lady teaches art to housewives, and for the past four years the group - currently 43 - has held an annual exhibition that has resulted in good sales. Her husband Gert de Beer also paints, with work that is equally bold, big and colourful, but generally more realistic than those done by Elize. You can contact them at Tel : 053-631 3373
Being a practical craftsman, Broer Loock filled his Karoo Country Guest House in the main street of De Aar with quite a number of his own creations. Here some bed headboards, high bar stools, corner units, diningroom tables and chairs, wall candle holders and firewood stackers now serve as display items for his vast range of exquisite steel furniture.
In his workshop on the premises, visitors can observe how each item is made by Broer and his team of three full time helpers. Apart from furniture they also fabricate burglar guards, security doors, pool safety fences, car ports and fancy braai equipment. Broer is versatile enough to make anything on order, even working from a sketch or adapting something seen in an overseas magazine. Contact him at Tel : 053-631 0394.
WORM - which stands for Workshop Of Recycled Matter - is the brainchild of Des Bailey and Lorette van der Merwe. It was started as a project to help clean up their region, and they are hopeful that the concept will have a ripple effect through the country.
They recycle any type, shape and size of tin container, as well as glass bottles which can be anything from the small sheep serum bottles, to those used for wines, chutneys and sauces. Wood off-cuts from carpenters become tea trays and frames for paintings, done by both partners. No plastic is used, but odds and ends found in the veld, like pretty seeds or a porcupine quill often becomes a decoration. Their current outlets are two farm stalls, "Uitspanning" in Richmond and "Kambroo" near Britstown, but Des and Lorette have a dream to one day establish this huge workshop where all the rubbish in the region can be recycled into pretty and useful things to be distributed nationwide. For more details contact Des at Tel : 053-631 7002 or fax Lorette at 053-631 0933.
At the Born Free Shelter in De Aar (run by volunteers in a non-governmental organisation), street kids and abandoned children can get basic meals and a roof over their heads, in exchange for daily chores like keeping the place clean.The shelter is not a permanent home, and with the help of the Department of Welfare, everything is done to place the children in a stable family environment. In the mean time they try and help the kids by teaching them skills like candle making and painting. Sales of the items supplement the money generated mainly through the Mandela Childrens Fund and various overseas and local organisations. For more details call Carmen Douw at Tel : 053-631 4379.
Deelfontein is a small railway siding in the middle of the Karoo. While today it is a desolate and dusty place, it is nevertheless widely known by Boer War enthusiasts, both in South Africa and abroad.This is because Deelfontein was the site of a huge military hospital during the Boer War. It has two cemeteries with 134 graves. Deelfontein is situated 46 km south of De Aar with a turnoff at Mynfontein. Deelfontein was chosen at the turn of the century as a site for a Military Hospital by Lord Roberts, Commander in Chief of the British Forces in South-Africa. Staff was recruited in January, 1900. Most of them sailed for South-Africa from Southampton on the S S Norman on February 10, that year. The hospital was opened under the command of Colonel A T Sloggett on March 17, 1900. He had two years experience of running military hospitals and he also considered the site ideal.