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Julienne du Toit

Julienne du Toit and her husband Chris Marais run www.karoospace.co.za, the definitive website on the Karoo region of South Africa. They are also the authors of Karoo Keepsakes I and II (print), owners of an e-Bookstore on Karoo Space and have a new book 'Moving to the Platteland – Life in Small Town South Africa' - order by sending co-author Julienne an email to info@karoospace.co.za. Julienne and Chris live and work in Cradock, in the Eastern Karoo.

Lunch with One of the Karoo’s Most Beautiful Flowers

By Julienne du Toit 05-06-19 19:10

Lizzy was born on the other side of town, on a farm called Noorspoort, owned by the legendary Craven family. “I learnt from my mother how to bake and cook. She in turn learnt it from old Mrs Maria Craven, [rugby legend] Doc Danie Craven’s wife. “Later on I worked on another farm at Baroe, […]

Angels’ Work in the Karoo, South Africa

By Julienne du Toit 07-02-19 16:00

Ivonne Gentle has been looking after dying dear ones since she was six years old, when the first of her three sisters passed away from cancer… writes Julienne du Toit. By the time her third sister succumbed in 2000, Ivonne and her husband Tommie had moved from Gauteng to the little Northern Cape settlement of […]

Children in the Platteland, South Africa

By Julienne du Toit 15-12-19 12:32

In summer, the familiar rushing sound of the Great Fish River pumping through our home town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape is often punctuated by the excited babble of youngsters as they navigate the gentle rapids on the inner tubes of tractor tyres… writes Julienne du Toit. In the late afternoons, while pensioners watch […]

Moving to the Karoo – Life in a Small South African Town

By Julienne du Toit 03-07-18 21:00

We received a Christmas card a month late the first year we arrived in Cradock, brought to us by our neighbour across the road, Frans Smit. We weren’t disappointed in the crap postal service, and I didn’t curse anyone’s ineptitude. In fact, my husband Chris and I stood staring at the envelope in silent awe. […]


Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

By Julienne du Toit 29-12-16 11:18

People who live in the desert love rain. They love it in ways city people don’t understand. In the Karoo and the Kalahari, the horizons are so wide you can see the weather coming while it is still hours away. You can see clouds coalesce and darken over the mountains, then advance, walking on legs […]


The Healing Powers of Karoo Herbs, Karoo Wisdom

By Julienne du Toit 03-03-16 13:11

There is no obvious way to sneak up on herbalist Antoinette Pienaar and Karoo healer Oom Johannes Willemse. As documented in her well-loved book The Griqua’s Apprentice (translated from Kruitjie Roer My), they live on Theefontein Farm near Beaufort West, which can only be found via an intricate set of directions involving small dirt roads with middelmannetjies […]

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South Africa’s Drought Angels Step Up

By Julienne du Toit 29-04-21 18:13

The vicious El Nino conditions of 2015 have created democratic South Africa’s first truly devastating drought. Not since 1992 has so little rain fallen on the land. Never has our water supply infrastructure been so vulnerable. Six out of the nine provinces have been declared disaster areas. Just before Christmas, the Director-General of the Department […]

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A Pianist in the Karoo

By Julienne du Toit 21-12-15 10:43

A lanky teenage boy in jeans and a t-shirt takes a seat in front of a grand piano in a Karoo farmhouse. Behind him are a few dozen people on sofas and dining room chairs, waiting expectantly. At the entrance to the room is a platter bearing a small but growing pile of cash. The […]

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KAROO DIARY: The Farce of Fracking Consultations

By Julienne du Toit 20-10-14 15:42

Since early 2011, the ANC Government has been promising the people of the Karoo that they would be consulted before any decision to exploit shale gas in the region was taken. The then Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, vowed her people would speak to everyone in the Karoo. In September 2012, when the moratorium […]

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KAROO DIARY: Show Time in Prince Albert!

By Julienne du Toit 17-09-14 14:54

Karoo towns are never the first choice for those seeking the bright lights. Prince Albert, though, is an exception. It’s worth waiting until dark to drive down the main road and wait until the magic moment just after dusk, when the neon outside the Showroom Theatre flickers to life, highlighting its distinctive Art Deco lines. […]

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KAROO DIARY: Snow Business

By Julienne du Toit 30-08-14 15:13

If you’re warm and you’re safe, it’s such a jol to be in the Karoo when it snows… This weekend the forecasters predicted a serious cold front and there was a ripple of expectation as soon as Snow Report posted their map of likely snowfalls. Everyone close to high-lying ground took note and precautions. This […]

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Ouma Rusks Legend – KAROO DIARY, South Africa

By Julienne du Toit 01-08-22 09:51

The fabulous South African rusk has been a staple of Karoo travel, going back to the 1700s. Here’s the story of SA’s famous Ouma Rusks… If you were an explorer, a hunter, a prospector, a trekboer or simply a wandering remittance man crossing the great Thirstland, you always carried a bag of rusks in your […]

KAROO DIARY: Shopping in a Country Town

By Julienne du Toit 03-07-14 09:07

Around about the time that we we’d just moved to Cradock from Joburg, I was debriefed on the art of shopping in a small Karoo town by our friend Elaine Hurford. She lives in Prince Albert, which has scores of restaurants and guesthouses but limited retail. The first thing I learnt was not to underestimate […]

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Karoo Diary – Long, Lazy, Laundry Days

By Julienne du Toit 04-06-14 07:26

A friend who lives in London tells me one of her finest memories of South Africa is of going to sleep between bed sheets dried by sun and wind. She has this whimsical theory that while you sleep, the day’s energy gently seeps back into you through the sheets. I sometimes think of that when […]

KAROO DIARY: Food from the Heartland

By Julienne du Toit 29-04-14 12:42

Right now, the little town of Bedford in the Eastern Cape is frantically a-bustle under its normal serene exterior. The Old Gaol is being festooned. Various kitchens around town are being tarted up. Wine is being ordered in. Guest house duvets are being fluffed. The newly-renovated Duke of Bedford Hotel is looking too grand for […]

Update from the Karoo: What the Frack is Going On?

By Julienne du Toit 14-03-14 15:44

The Karoo lies at the heart of South Africa in many ways. Its spirit of place lies in silence, open horizons, flat-topped hills, windpumps, sheep and starry nights. But this peaceful silence continues to be threatened by the possible implementation of fracking. South African President Jacob Zuma announced during his State of the Nation address […]