Archive for the Namaqualand Category

Hondeklipbaai – Part 1

Woke up to a beautiful day on Saturday 15th – sun shinning and no wind – so decided that this was the day to take a drive down to the coast and visit Hondeklipbaai.

The road from Kamieskroon to Hondeklip, about 85km’s, is gravel and you travel over 2 small passes. All in all it was not too bad but there were a few really bad patches so one had to concentrate all the way or risk some major damage to the vehicle. No way would I tow a normal caravan on that road.

On arrival at Hondeklipbaai I  got the feeling that it was going to be a special place and that’s the way it turned out for me.

Entrance to Hondeklip Baai.

Entrance to Hondeklipbaai.

This little village was once the main harbour from which the copper ore of Namaqualand was exported in the 1800’s. It is now a settlement of about 750 people and for the 4×4 enthusiast it offers a vast, unspoilt, coastline to explore. One of the major attractions is the wreck of the Aristea that ran aground in 1945 and is situated about 5 km’s south of the village.

Info about the Aristea.

Info about the Aristea.

The wreck of the Aristea.

The wreck of the Aristea.

Amazing to think that this wreck has been lying exposed to the element s for over 64 years.

Amazing to think that this wreck has been lying exposed to the element s for over 64 years.

Braai (barbacue) set-up.

Braai (barbecue) set-up.

Obviously a popular spot as they have braai facilities at the site.

Also met up here with 4 students from Cape Town who are studying at the African Film and Drama Academy. They were in the area for the weekend location scouting for a student film. Two of them were very lucky to have escaped virtually unscathed after rolling their car on the road to Hondeklipbaai.

Spotted tis guy sunning himself on the rocks.

Spotted this guy sunning himself on the rocks.

I was not really a flower photographing person, before this trip, but now love the challenge to show them off as best I can, so took these pix right at the beach.

Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.
Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.

Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.

Info on The Dog Stone.

Info on The Dog Stone.

The Dog Stone.

The Dog Stone.

Info on crayfish/rocklobster.

Info on crayfish/rock lobster.

This old structure, in the harbour, was used in the old days for unloading and processing the crayfish.

This old structure, in the harbour, was used in the old days for unloading and processing the crayfish.

Hondeklipbaai is renowned for it’s crayfish but the income from crayfish can be very erratic as it is seasonal and sometimes the weather does not play ball. They have now started a pilot abalone mariculture project that is looking very positive. Unfortunately it being a Saturday I could not get in to have a look around.

Abalone piolet project.

Abalone pilot project.

I was originally going to cover Hondeklipbaai in 1 post but it would  really be too much as I have not even started on the people and the village itself so – to be continued.

Visit to Namaqua National Park.

Yesterday after a freezing start to the morning it turned into a hot windless day and ideal to go and look at the Namaqualand flowers. Many of the locals say that because of the early start the best of the flowers for this year are just about over and people that have booked to come up in September are going to be disappointed. To be honest apart from a few displays that I have seen I don’t think this year was a particularly good flower year.

Namaqua National Park or should I say the section I was going to called Skilpad is 21km west of Kamieskroon and is accessible via a not too bad gravel road.

About 4km from Skilpad I happened upon 3 ladies who had set up a business at the side the road so stopped to have a chat.

Pannekoek Paleis - Pancake Palace.
Pannekoek Paleis – Pancake Palace.
Granny Ragel chief cook
Ouma Ragel – chief cook and what a gal.

Ragel, Olene and Anna.

Ragel, Olene and Anna.

What stunning ladies! They have been doing this for 15 years and started off in a tent, then to a caravan, and now this little stone room. While I was there quite a few people stopped for pancakes and when I passed by on my way back to Kamiekroon it was still busy. They also insisted I had to try one and it was delicious.

Welcome to Namaqua National Park.

Welcome to Namaqua National Park.

The Park is situated in the heart of the Succulent Karoo and the biome is divided into 134 vegetation types and about 40% of the plant species are endemic and occur nowhere else on earth. It is no wonder that the Succulent Karoo was declared one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots on the planet of which it is the only purely arid one.

I took quite a few photographs and because I am no expert on flowers will let the pictures do the talking.

Field of Namaqualand daisies

Field of Namaqualand daisies - the contrasts of colour are beautiful.

Love it!!

Love it!!

Did some close ups of various plants and have no idea of names so just enjoy.

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The Skilpad Padstal Restaurant

The Skilpad Padstal Restaurant.

It was while having a cup of tea and a sandwich that I met well known videographer Mike Downie who is working on a secret  project in the Namaqualand area. In fact it was so secret that if he told me what it was he would have had to kill me.

Mike Downie.

Mike Downie.

I can remember when I worked as a photographer at the Cape Times and Argus that they would send out some sucker and a model to go and take pictures of the Namaqualand flowers. I think my model below is much better.

My model was a bit shy and would not give me his/her name.

My model was a bit shy and would not give me his/her name.

The Springbok Caravan Park

There are 2 caravan parks in Springbok. The one I mentioned in my first post here is the Kokerboom Motel and Caravan Park and the other is The Springbok Caravan Park. Both are situated just outside of Springbok but that is where the similarities end.

The Springbok Caravan Park is by far the more popular of the two and the main reasons are position – not smack bang next to the national road – and the really nice clean, well functioning  ablution block. The manager is a young guy who seems to keep a beady eye on what is going on, not like many of the other park manager who don’t seem to give a damn, and they are upfront about what is and is not tolerated regarding noise after 10pm. The rules of the park are in bold typed notices stuck up in the ablution blocks for all to see and read.

The Entrance.

The Entrance.

As you can see there is a laundry which has 3 washing machines and a tumble dryer. I got the impression that some of the residents of Springbok also make use of these facilities. I did 2 loads of washing for R20.00 and had my ironing done by one of the friendly ladies who would only charge me R35.00 for the lot. The door on the right is to a small self-contained flat which is also for hire.

The Ablution Block.

The Ablution Block.

Everything was keep nice and clean, toilet paper was supplied – it took me about 2 days to get out of the habit of taking my own – and the showers not only had plenty of hot water,  hooks to hang your things on but also had sliding shower doors so that all your goods did not get sopping wet. What a difference compared to the other parks  I had been to previously.

Well maintained and clean swimming pool

Well maintained and clean swimming pool

Popular section of the park. Check out the back drop!

Popular section of the park. Check out the back drop!

The  set up closest to the camera on the right hand side had a rig worth over R800,00.00.

My set-up.

My set-up.

If I had to criticise one thing it would be that I thought the sites were a bit cramped and close to one another.

They also have chalets/rondawels most of which were occupied all the time I was there.

They also have chalets/rondawels most of which were occupied all the time I was there.

Old converted ox wagon.

Old converted ox wagon.

Spoke to a young couple who slept one night in it and they said it was fine but a bit cramped.

View of caravan park.

View of caravan park.

This shot was taken mid morning so many of the campers had already left.

I enjoyed my 5 day stay at the Springbok Caravan Park. A lot of people only come in for one night on their way to or from Namibia or the Richtersfelt but there were a few, like myself, who used it as a base for a few days to explore Springbok and it’s surrounds. If I had to rate it out of 5 stars I would give it 3½.

Visit to Nababeep and Okiep.

Two towns close to Springbok, that used to be part of my sales territory, are Nababeep and Okiep. Both are old copper mining towns that have now shut down all mining. I think the last mine to shut down was in 2003, and by the look of things they are both are battling to survive.

Saw this display of flowers just outside Nababeep.
Saw this display of flowers just outside Nababeep.

Namaqualand daisies.
Namaqualand daisies.

Nababeep is about 30km’s from Springbok and to get there one must travel on a road that has the most potholes I have ever come across on one  road. They must like them because there are notices  the whole way reminding you “Potholes”.  The name Nababeep combines two Nama words, naba meaning “hump of an animal” and  bib meaning “small spring”. Mining began here in the 1850’s and from 1876 ore was taken through to Port Nolloth by train for export.

Clara, a narrow-gauge steam locamotive used to rail copper ore to Port Nolloth.
Clara, a narrow-gauge steam locomotive, used to rail copper ore to Port Nolloth.

Outside display at the museum of old mining equipment.
Outside display at the museum of old mining equipment. (Also nice flower display)
For some reason this outfit reminded me of George the diamond diver.
For some reason this outfit reminded me of George the diamond diver.

"Fools" copper?

"Fools" copper?

While having a look at all the ore samples in the museum came across this one and thought this must be the mother load only to be told it was a very poor sample and of no value.

Ancient copper symbol.

Ancient copper symbol.

This symbol stems from the time when people believed that there were only 6 real metals – gold, silver, copper, tin, lead and iron.

All anyone could tell me about this old building was that it used to be a video shop.

All anyone could tell me about this old building was that it used to be a video shop.

From Nababeep I drove back along the potholed road to get to Okiep which is only about 8 km’s from Springbok. Okiep derived it’s name from the Nama word ‘U-gieb’ meaning ‘the great, brackish spring’. It was , until production stopped in 1918 the world’s richest copper mine. It was also the oldest mining town in South Africa where copper was first discovered and mined in 1855.

Two of the main attractions to see are the Smokestack and the Cornish Pump House.

Smokestack built by the Cape Copper Company as a ventilation shaft in 1880

Smokestack

Smokestack built by the Cape Copper Company as a ventilation shaft in 1880 and which is now a national monument.

The Cornish Pump House.

The Cornish Pump House.

A fully intact steam engine and the only remaining pump house of it’s sort in the Southern Hemisphere was used from 1882 to pump water from the mine.

All in all not sure what is going to happen to these 2 small towns. I remember Nababeep as being quite a modern progressive – for those days – town with a nice little hotel, golf course and other sporting facilities. Not much there now I’m afraid.

Springbok

As a young man I used to travel up to Springbok from Cape Town every 6 weeks. I was working as a sales rep and this area was part of my territory. The roads then, from Bitterfontein up, were all gravel and not very good. Also everything that was brought into the area was transported on massive Jowells Transport trucks which made driving  fairly hazardous. That was over 40 years ago and to be honest whilst  the roads are now tar much of the town has not changed all that much.

Springbok is the capital of Namakwa and also the administrative, commercial, farming and industrial centre. It is 550 km from Cape Town, 1274km from Johannesburg and 113km from the Namibian border. Its history is closely link to that of the copper industry and was the site of the first commercial mining operation in the country. The first mine was brought into operation in 1852 and in 1862 the town of Sringbokfontein was laid out.

Springbok town centre.
Springbok town centre.

I have now been in Springbok for a few days, since travelling through from Port Nolloth, and am staying at the Springbok Caravan Park. (I will do a post on the park soon) I really only wanted to cover the coastal areas of SA but now that I am here might just as well show you a bit of the town.

Monument Koppie.
Monument Koppie.

A small hillock in the centre of town that was wrested away from the British by Boer forces and commemorates the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)

The Masonic Hotel.
The Masonic Hotel.

This is the hotel I always used to stay at on my travels.

The NG Kerk.
The NG Kerk.
The Springbok Museum.
The Springbok Museum.

The Synagogue was completed in 1929 and is now used as the museum.

The involvement of the Jowell family in forming modern day Springbok.
The involvement of the Jowell family is synonymous with the formation of modern day Springbok.

Copper tray from

Copper tray of about 160 years old.

Namaqualand flowers.

Namaqualand flowers.

The flowers, so far, have not been too great but I did find this one patch close to Springbok. I am still hoping that as I travel towards Cape Town they will improve and I can do a whole post of flowers.

Namaquland flowers.

Namaqualand flowers.

Namaqualand flowers.

Namaqualand flowers.

About 15km’s south-east of  Springbok  is the Goegap Nature Reserve which includes the Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden. I got there too late to go and have a look but believe it is well worth a visit so might try and go back later today.

The entrance to the Goegap Nature Reserve.

The entrance to the Goegap Nature Reserve.

I have also been through to Okiep and Nababeep and will do a combined post about the 2 old copper mining towns in the area next.

I am hoping to move down to Kamieskroon next and then head back to the coast, without the caravan as I believe the roads are pretty bad, and visit places like Hondeklip Baai and Groenriviermond.

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