It was going to be a long, hot day and so we set off early to drive 504 kms from Bloemfontein to Graaff Reinet.
The first stop was in Bethulie for light refreshment at The Old Watchmakers Guesthouse. The town was quiet, the side roads often dirt roads – it was boiling hot in the sunshine, even at 11.00am, too hot to do very much apart from retreat into the shade. Somehow we failed to locate The Royal Hotel, but this historic hotel is on the list for ‘next time’.
We visited the Pellissier House Museum.
A monument marks the original site of the Bethulie Concentration Camp but we didn’t stop and instead visited the repositioned graveyard and memorial of the Camp. Like many of the sites in South Africa it is difficult to find because the signposting is poor. SatNav or GPS co-ordinates would be a good idea in future visits.
South Africa is suffering a very bad drought indeed and the Orange River, dangerously low, was a sad site. If the river level falls much lower the water will be below the level of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel which carries water to the Eastern Cape Province – the consequences will be dire for farmers in the area, and the country at large.
The road from Bethulie to Steynsburg was depressingly awful – dry countryside, empty dams, thin animals, dying trees – and baking hot sunshine – it must have been close to 40C. I couldn’t photograph the animals and after a while I closed my eyes.
And finally Graaff Reinet came into view with the sight of Spandau’s Kop!