Saturday, 28 May 2011

Nieuwoudtville, Loeriesfontein & Clanwilliam

Early on the morning of Saturday 15 May we departed on our first weekend away.  We had no firm plans, apart from vaguely thinking about Nieuwoudtville as one of the pit-stops of the day.  Hennie travelled passed Nieuwoudtville and over the VanRhyns pass on the way down and thought it was a beautiful area.

Nieuwoudtville lies on the Bokkeveld plateau.  As their website describes it: “where Cape Fynbos meets the Hantam Karoo, Bushmenland and Knersvlakte.  The view from the pass was indeed spectacular, and I think would become even more so as the landscape turns greener during winter (if it happens like that here?).

There is the most beautiful sandstone church, apparently finished circa 1907.  Unfortunately we did not feel comfortable to try and enter the church, as there was evidently something happening inside with music being played, but I heard the inside is spectacular. 
The town is pretty much “closed” outside of the flower season as not a single café or coffee shop was open.  Outside town we stopped at the signs for the waterfall, but unfortunately the dry summer has dried up all the water.  I can imagine it would be a beautiful waterfall when there is water.

So where does a windpomp goes when it dies?  To South-Africa’s windpomp capital – Loeriesfontein.  We trekked the 60km north to town and back, just to visit this spectacular place.  It was so much fun.  Not sure how many different windmills they had but each have an unique character. 
Flowers outside Nieuwoudtville
Black and "white" springbuck living in harmony
Driving back to Nieuwoudtville we drove past a few black springbuck and a host of quiver trees.

We took the dirt road out of Nieuwoudtville with the hope to get to Clanwilliam before we get to Calvinia, because then we were on the wrong route.  We even encountered a few veldt flowers next to the route, way too early to be to be the real mccoy.

The Botterkloof pass is a scary pass with no rails and with the fear of the road service slipping down the side of the mountain.  Also bliss as we did not encounter any other vehicles on the road.  Shortly after passing the turn-off to Wuppertal, we stopped at the Englishmen’s grave.  There we met a husband-and-wife team mountainbikers enjoying a glorious day on the road (and I am sure secretly wishing it was them getting back into the car and not us!). 
Botterkloof pass - quite scary
In the Pakhuis pass we saw the turn-off to Louis Leipoldt’s grave.  Even though being a bit of a Junior and Senior Groot Verseboek fan, I did not know that he was buried here (strictly speaking it is only his ashes interned here).  The area is fenced off, with a rusted garden gate hanging on its hinges.  The grave itself is serenely situated in a natural cave, with some very vague Bushmen paintings.  On the grave itself were gravel, and a dried bouquet of indigenous scrubs.  Reminded me of the words of his poem about the Cederberg:
'n Handvol gruis uit die Hantam -
My liewe lekker Hantam-wyk!
'n Handvol gruis en gedroogde blare,
Waboom-blare, ghnarrabos-blare!
Arm was ek gister, en nou is ek ryk.

That evening we slept in a refurbished "bywoners" cottage outside of Clanwilliam.  The sky was open and the moon was nearly full.  Utter bliss.

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