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KAROO DIARY: Getting Smashed in Steytlerville

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:47

So this is a true Karoo Moment… Jules and I are sitting on the front stoep of the Karroo Theatrical Hotel. We’re spending the entire afternoon on this stoep, drinking much wine and shooting the breeze with the innovative hotel owners, Mark Hinds and Jacques Rabie. But lest you think we’re a bunch of old […]

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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 […]

KAROO DIARY: Those Magnificent Mother Churches

By Chris Marais 09-10-14 21:01

I’m a presently-lapsed Anglican boy who once attended a Dutch Reformed church service, somewhere in a dusky Mpumalanga coal town, just so I could sit next to a certain farmer’s daughter. I was almost charged with Attemped Kerfuffling! And I never saw that girl again. But now that I’ve begun my middle-aged meanderings through the vast […]

KAROO DIARY: New e-Books from Karoo Space!

By Chris Marais 01-10-14 18:11

This time of the year, you would usually not find Jules and me at home in Cradock. We would be tootling around somewhere on a back road in the vast Karoo. Namaqualanders just had a spectacular daisy season out in the west; summer is said to be on its way and is it shearing season […]

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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: A Silly Sense of Snow

By Chris Marais 11-09-14 06:25

Looking out at the vast and sunny Karoo Heartland today, you’d never think that less than two weeks ago we were all snow-stormed in. Which takes me back exactly 33 years to the day, when I was sitting at a bar in Montana, USA, called The Cherokee Strip. The locals who drank at The Strip, […]

KAROO DIARY: Seeking Out Saskatchewan!

By Chris Marais 03-09-14 12:07

Last summer I had a thought and shared it with my wife Jules. “Jules,” I said. “Imagine a South African sitting up north somewhere like Saskatchewan. He’s working in Canada but he’s missing South Africa like crazy.” “Yes?” “Now imagine that guy’s been to the Karoo but his kids haven’t. And neither have his new […]

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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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Rise of the Freelancers

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:47

Every day, I hear the cries of media people – journalists, graphic artists, photographers and copy editors – who have just been kicked out onto the street by their long-time employers. Many of them have given decades of faithful service – with little remuneration – to their newspapers and magazines. Most of us do 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 Roadside Attractions

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:48

By Chris Marais & Julienne du Toit  In the big desert spaces of the world, an overland driver often encounters interesting objects along the road. Sometimes it’s a novelty object, a ‘world’s largest’ something or other. Other times, it’s a road sign full of bullet hotels. And you park next to it and wonder: what […]

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KAROO DIARY: The Sculptor of Nieu-Bethesda

By Chris Marais 25-11-19 23:16

As you stroll past Frans Boekkooi’s studio in the Karoo village of Nieu-Bethesda, you will see the likeness of playwright Athol Fugard looking down from the doorway. Apart from the amazing image of Athol – creative patron of Nieu Bethesda – the next work of art to catch your eye inside will be Visman Steier […]

KAROO DIARY: Owl House Eye Candy @ Nieu-Bethesda

By Chris Marais 22-07-14 13:59

For many decades, the little village of Nieu-Bethesda in the Sneeuberg Mountains of the Eastern Cape Karoo was a dead-quiet place where very little happened. The spring-fed water furrows (leiwater) gurgled through Nieu-Bethesda, there were lots of donkey carts and survival was hard for most of the villagers. Then playwright Athol Fugard wrote The Road […]

KAROO DIARY: In Search of a Keepsake

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:48

As a travel journalist, you can wander the world, see all its peoples, taste 105 different kinds of ice cream and stomp through a thousand museums – but you know you’re always skating on the surface of experience. You’ve only had one layer of Life’s Onion. What a privilege it was then, for my wife […]

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 eBooks Launch

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:49

The next best thing to actually being in the Karoo, South Africa’s semi-desert Heartland, is to have access to the just-launched Karoo Space eBookstore. Download the Karoo Collection Sampler on your tablet or smartphone, find a shady spot somewhere and settle in for a tour of the most phenomenal people-friendly desert in the world. Travel […]

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KAROO DIARY: The Silver Creek Flows!

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 19:46

If you’re South African and of a certain age, chances are you’ll be familiar with the Silver Creek Mountain Band. Text & Pictures by Chris Marais The Creek is South Africa’s longest-surviving bluegrass band. Forty years ago, they were a live music force to be reckoned with. Two fiddlers, banjo, lead guitar and a big old […]

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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 Keepsakes Goes to Franschhoek

By Chris Marais 27-02-15 22:31

The Franschhoek Literary Festival is one of the Groot Menere of all South African litfests. As authors of the Karoo Keepsakes series, my wife Jules and I normally hang out at smaller gatherings, like the Richmond Boekbedonnerd affair, the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival at home here in Cradock and WordFest in Grahamstown. In fact, we’ll […]

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 […]

Karoo Diary – One Man’s Scrap…

By Chris Marais 25-04-14 17:06

There’s something deeply adventurous about rootling around an old Karoo farm junkyard, clutching a camera and a very big stick. The camera is for when the morning light falls softly on the red rump of an ancient, pensioned-off Massey Ferguson tractor. The very big stick is for the Cape Cobra – the dreaded geelslang – […]

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