The weatherman forecast another hot day and so we set off early from Matjiesfontein to drive to the Karoo National Park via Beaufort West, 240 kms. I could hardly believe this was only our 6th day in South Africa!
We stopped at Leeu Gamka because I wanted to find the blockhouse and cemetery dating to the Anglo-Boer War. The town started as Fraserburg Road, a siding on the railway line between Cape Town and the mines at Kimberley, and was only renamed in 1950. And, sadly, this is where the last Cape Lion was shot in 1857; the lion is now extinct.However, the driver hadn’t had breakfast and was hungry – silly me! So, no photographs.
And finally we were in Beaufort West, founded in 1818 and the largest town in the Great Karoo. Breakfast at Matoppo Inn = happiness.
Christiaan Barnard, the cardiologist who performed the first heart transplant, was born in Beaufort West where his father was the Minister in the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (built in 1871), and where he grew up in a small house next to the Church. The Church is now an interesting museum with extensive coverage of his life.
The main street had some interesting buildings and, knowing Beaufort West was involved in the Anglo-Boer War we visited the Beaufort West Cemetery.
We could have lingered in the town, but it was time to book into the Karoo National Park, just outside the town.