The Olive Branch

June 2017

Everyone is asking “When will the Swartberg Pass be open again?” The Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant, visited us on 22nd May to provide some information. Assessment was carried out within days of the flood by Provincial engineers and it seems that once the approval of SA Heritage is received, restoration and repairs will take 10 to 15 months. (Great news… work started on 1/6/2017!)

While we are sad that we cannot offer you access to the Pass at the moment, we can recommend the excellent, tarred road through Meiringspoort as a scenic alternative route from Oudtshoorn to Prince Albert. The poort offers spectacular views of soaring Cape Fold Sandstone rock faces, well-maintained picnic areas with restroom facilities and a fascinating info centre at the Waterfall rest-stop. Every drift in the poort has a name and a story. Energetic visitors can walk up the steps to the waterfall with it’s ‘bottomless’ pool where a mermaid is said to live. You will see baboons and a wide variety of birdlife on your journey and you might catch a glimpse of small buck or mongoose. Once through the poort you enter the Great Karoo, to your left is the hamlet of Klaarstroom and a few kilometres further the R407 leads you towards the Prince Albert Valley with its wine and olive farms and then into beautiful, green, peaceful Prince Albert.

We have lots to celebrate in this newsletter…

Mars and Jeanette Van der Colff and their young sons visited the Klaarstroom Guest House in April while they enjoyed the Prince Albert Olive and Food Festival. They left with more than they had bargained for – a large supply of olive products, Mars’ prize for setting a new record in the “Olyfpitspoegkompetisie”/Olive Pip Spitting Competition. He astounded his family with  his spitting prowess and now plans a training programme to be in shape to defend his title next year.

Prince Albert cyclists, Judith and Michael Treloar, ended an adventure of a lifetime as they cycled into Cape Town on 13 May. After pedalling 11 200km through 11 African countries, during which Michael sampled nearly 80 different beer brews, they are happy to be home in “the fabulous town of Prince Albert… in a wonderful country called South Africa!”  Visit their blog for the highlights.

If you are a cyclist there’s a new regular activity to join when you visit us… during April Arno Botha of Prince Albert Cycles invited locals to pedal their bicycles under the full moon and more than 40 cyclists, ranging in age from 4 to 70+ pressed the pedals by moon and starlight. The next full moon, on 10 May, saw riders heading down Pastoriestraat into the Karoo. Visitors are most welcome and the next moonlit ride will take place on 9th June. For more details contact Arno on 0833959038.

Our Handmade Karoo Handgemaak ladies have been busy creating new characters for their children’s toy range. The adorable bunnies, some wearing tutu’s, have been joined by jolly foxes, elephants and kitty-cats. Visit their website with it’s on-line shop to see some photos (and place your order!)

June promises to be a BUSY month…

Our next Moonlight Market takes place on Friday 16 June, join us for good food and good cheer.

Planning ahead, our next Moonlight Market takes place on Friday 16 June, join us for good food and good cheer.

Helene de Haas offers her Calligrapic Design – Asemic Semantics course on 16 & 17 June – more info here.

The Great Karoo has been in the news and Prince Albert is often mentioned. Times Live reports that Karoo getaways are the new hip holiday: “tourists – both domestic and foreign – appreciate the Karoo as a destination because it is “off the beaten track”…They want to break away and the Karoo offers them this.”

News 24 ran an article on the “vyftig grade van grys” which features Prince Albert businesses, activities and cycle routes in the district.

The June line-up at the Showroom Theatre includes Blacksmith @ Jenny & the Jameses on 10 June and Emile Minnie on 24 June. Visit the Showroom booking site for details and tickets.

The Prince Albert Leesfees, scheduled for 3-5 November 2017, has announced that this year’s theme is In die gees van die Karoo/The soul of the Karoo. The organising team are putting together an exciting programme – more news next month. You can get sneak previews on the Leesfees Facebook page.

As Winter starts to bite across South Africa there’s no warmer place to visit than Prince Albert –  figuratively and literally. A sunny Karoo day encourages you to visit local wine and olive farms or take a slow stroll around town. As the evening draws in, you can head off for a warming supper created from local fare, then ‘home’ by starlight to a crackling fire and snug beds – perhaps even a mohair blanket…

Remember, the Showroom film club meets every Wednesday night, Parkrun takes place every Saturday morning and our Art Galleries host numerous exhibitions…  keep an eye on the on-line calendar, this newsletter and our Facebook page for all our forthcoming events.

“Prince Albert – Unfiltered Great Karoo”

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