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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.

Kleinzee – part 1

On Monday the 3rd, at the invitation of Gert Klopper – Public and Corporate Affairs Manager, De Beers, Namaqualand, I  spent the the day at the diamond mining town of Kleinzee on  the West Coast.

I am doing 2 posts, this one about the town itself and part 2 about some of the exciting new tourism ventures that are being developed.

Situated about 50 kilometres south of Port Nolloth, Kleinzee was established as a town in 1942. Diamonds had been discovered on the farm Kleyne Zee in about 1927 and in 1930 the first recovery plant was built. Diamond mining went through many ups and downs because of diamond market crashes and also due to the start of World War 2. It was only toward the end of the war that mining started again.

The well maintained Kleinzee Museum

The well maintained Kleinzee Museum

Boulder Heritage Route

Boulder Heritage Route

This is where the mining at Kleinzee began in the late 1920s. The neatly stacked mounds of rocks are kept intact to remind us of days gone by when mining diamonds was hard manual labour. In the foreground  is one of the boulders with the pick and shovel that marks this site as part of the “Boulder Heritage Route” – an easy 5 km walk down the rich history of diamond mining at Kleinzee

Early pick and shovel mining.

Early pick and shovel mining

The Golf Course.

The Golf Course.

The first thing that one notices while driving through the town is how clean and neat everything is. The population of the town has dropped from a high of about 7000 inhabitants to less than 1000 today because of the closing down of much of the mining operation. As Gert explained  diamonds are a finite resource and once an area is mined then that’s it. But the difference that I saw and heard here is that there are plans in operation to keep the town not only going but to increase the population with the establishment of new types of sustainable businesses to take over from the diamonds in the near future.

An area between the beach and town that is being restored.

An area between the beach and town that is being restored.

Abundant birdlife at the Buffels River estuary at Kleinzee.

Abundant bird life at the Buffels River estuary at Kleinzee.

The seal colony.

The seal colony.

The Kleinzee Cape Fur Seal colony just north of Kleinzee is, with its 300 000 to 400 000 animals, the largest on-land colony in South Africa.

The local Angling Club

The local Angling Club

There are many sporting facilities, fishing , golf, rugby, cricket, netball, bowls, squash etc. and from what I saw all the fields and courts are in tip top condition.

The oyster farm of Kleinzee Mariculture

The oyster farm of Kleinzee Mariculture

The current dam is used to grow out oysters to specific sizes before they are passed on to other farmers for growing to market size. This will change in the future when the dam is extended,  see below, and full size oysters will be grown and exported from Kleinzee.

A basketful of the “big ones that got away”.

A basketful of the “big ones that got away”

Looking down from the recently constructed platform of the abalone farm

Looking down from the recently constructed platform of the abalone farm

These dams came about as a more productive way of using mined-out areas to create an industry that has the potential of sustaining itself – and the economy of the region – for a very long time to come. Apart from the Mariculture there are plans to establish wind farms for the generation of electricity.

Bucyrus Erie dragline machine which is powered by electicity.

Bucyrus Erie dragline machine which is powered by electicity.

In previous years, De Beers Namaqualand Mines used this Bucyrus Erie dragline as a cost-effective means of removing millions of tons of overburden to expose diamond bearing gravels. Today, this 3500 ton monster is being used to rehabilitate the disturbed land and move the soil back into the pits it created – ready for reprofiling and restoration.

The Final Recovery plant.

The Final Recovery plant..

The checkpoint building and security offices at the entrance to the Buffels Marine Mining Complex north of Kleinzee.

The checkpoint building and security offices at the entrance to the Buffels Marine Mining Complex north of Kleinzee.

All in all I found Kleinzee to be a great little town and I believe that with all the planning and hard work that is going on that it has a really bright future. If I am still around in 5 years from now I would love to go back and see all the progress that would have been made.

If you want to have a look around Kleinzee make sure you have your ID Book with you. If you plan to spend a night or two there then you must get security clearance at least 5 days prior to arrival. There are caravan parks, guest houses and a backpackers in the town and surrounding area.

A look arournd McDougalls Bay.

I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning walking round and talking to some folk in McDougalls Bay. Again everyone was friendly and prepared to go out of their way to help me. One guy even offered to give me some 4×4 driving lessons when I told him there are certain places I don’t take the Pajero as I don’t know much about 4×4. Think I might just take him up on that!!

Plots in McDougalls Bay, belonging to mine managers in the area, date back to 1855 and it is believed to have been the holiday resort of the rich. In 1960 there was renewed interest in the bay and plots could be hired from the municipality but only removable structures could be erected. This changed in 1986 when the bay was resurveyed and tenants could get ownership of their plots.

A guy called Jack Carstens found the first local diamond at a place called Oubeep just south of McDougalls Bay 0n 25 August 1925 but it was only in the 1970’s that the mining of diamonds from the sea started.

McDougall Bay taken from the North side.
McDougall Bay taken from the North side.

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Apart from the rough beauty of the place 2 things really struck me – one was the number of houses and plots  on the market and two some of the unusual architecture. It seemed as if every third or fourth  house is on the market and when I popped in at the local Seeff Office and spoke to Beverly Jackson I was given a list of all the properties and sites that are for sale.  I count 44 plots and about 27 houses listed by Seeff alone. There are also quite lot of B&B’s and Guest Houses in the area.

The price of houses range from about R450,000 to just over R2,500,000. One that caught my eye was this one below.

House for sale.
House for sale.

It is listed as being newly built but here is also a sign above the front door that reads 1894.

The Koi pool area.

The Koi pool area.

This house is on the market for R1,800,000 and consists of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 garages, a Koi pool, is also fully furnished  and  has a bachelor flat attached. Wonder what that would go for in say Yzerfontein?

Yesterday evening on my walk I met one of the real local characters, George who is/was a diamond diver, and I want to do a full post on him. Even his house is fascinating so thought I would start here with some of the unusual architectural  aspects of McDougall Bay.

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The house that George built.
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Ben’s Den

I have seen something similar near Hangklip.

Bigger is better?
Bigger is better?

This one is on the market for R1,530,000 and has 4 bedrooms and 31/2 bathrooms.

Colourful hey?
Colourful hey?

No ja well fine!
No ja well fine!

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On the market for R1,200,000

Netting harders.
Netting harders.

Spotted these 2 bobbing around in the bay netting harders. They were out the whole morning and I saw them pull in quite a few. I have been told that the fishing in the bay is very poor but I aim to try and disprove that in the near future. If there are harders around there must be other fish in the water.

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