Cities and towns

Aggeneys

One hundred kilometres east of Carolusberg on the Springbok Pofadder road, Aggeneys (place of water) is a copper, zinc, silver and lead mining complex. Set in an oasis, it offers a welcome round of golf.

Alexander Bay

At the mouth of the Orange River, the town is no longer a high-security area and no permits are needed. The town takes its name from Sir James Alexander, who shipped the Richtersveld copper ore he mined in barges down the Orange River for export from this bay.

Augrabies

The small town of Augrabies and Marshand lie on the banks of the Orange River and are surrounded by lush green vineyards. The towns are mostly populated by workers on the vineyards.

Barkly West

The discovery of diamonds at Klipdrift on the Vaal River in 1869 drew thousands of prospectors. The area was renamed Barkly West in 1873 after becoming part of the Crown Colony of Griqualand West.

Renowned writer Sarah Gertrude Millin grew up in the district. Her father opened and operated a shop in Barkly West. One of the first towns to be affected by the diamond rush, the district’s economy is driven by stock and irrigation farming and mining.

Brandvlei

Brandvlei was developed near a Sak River ‘vloer’ in the heart of Bushmanland where ‘Ou Brand’, a 19th century trekboer, settled. The town was cut in two by a flash-flood in 1961, recovered, and a municipality was formed in 1962.

Britstown

A private irrigation scheme was started by the Smartt Syndicate in 1885 and liquidated in 1954. The concern built two dams, planted lucerne and wheat and grazed karakul sheep and Clydesdale horses. The 1961 floods destroyed the Smartt Irrigation Board Dam, rebuilt by the government in 1964.

Calvinia

Founded in 1851 on the stunning Oorlogskloof River and named after religious reformer John Calvin, Calvinia lies at the foot of the dolerite-topped Hantam Mountains (Hantam being a Khoi word meaning \'where the red bulbs grow\').

It is the region\'s key growthpoint and one of the country\'s largest wool-producing areas. Like Sutherland, Calvinia enjoys 80% starlight and the night sky is as much an attraction for city-dwellers and astronomers as the rare sterboom is for botanists and horticulturalists.

Carnarvon

Communities of Xhosa moved up to the Orange River as early as 1795. One group subsequently settled at Schietfontein, which was served by a Rhenish mission, and a village named Harmsfontein was established in 1860.

In 1874, it changed its name to honour the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Carnarvon. The district is well known for its corbelled houses, built between 1811 and 1815. Carnarvon is set among flat-topped hills and is one of the region’s busiest farming centres.

Colesberg

Surrounded by koppies and flanked by the towering Coleskop, when the sun slips to the horizon, brushing the skies with brilliant hues, Coleskop’s former name, Toverberg (Magic Mountain), seems more appropriate. So named because, for the traveller, it is visible from 40km but appears to get no closer. In 1814, a mission station was built here in the hope of bringing peace to the volatile frontier area of the Cape Colony.

Concordia

During the Anglo-Boer War the Boers used Concordia as their headquarters while Okiep was under siege. Some old Cornish style houses still remain as well as the original granery, used as a hospital by the boer commandos.

Danielskuil

Other sources quote ‘Koup’ and ‘Tlakalatlou’ (seTswana for ‘elephant’s reed’) as its name. The name, ‘Daniel’s Den’ was first found in documents by the missionary, Campbell, in 1820. The name derives from a natural crater in a limestone formation, reminding observers of the Biblical story of Daniel.

De Aar

De Aar, the third largest town in the Northern Cape, is centrally located on the main railway line between Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Namibia and tarred roads to surrounding towns. The junction was the second most important railway junction in South Africa, with 110km of railway lines including 29 rail-tracks. The name De Aar refers to the underground water supply in arteries with all of De Aar’s water coming from boreholes. 68 boreholes in the surrounding area of the town, ensure the water supply.

Dibeng

The town has very strong Dutch Reformed roots, the congregations at Kuruman, Kathu and Olifantshoek having seceded from the original congregation in Dibeng.

Douglas

The town was founded in 1848 as a mission station on the farm Backhouse, by the Reverend Isaac Hughes. In 1867, a group of Europeans from Griquatown signed an agreement giving them the right to establish a town.

Fraserburg

Named after a Scottish cleric and immigrant, Rev Colin Fraser, and a certain church elder, Meyburg, Fraserburg was founded in the West Nuweveld in 1851.

In 1870 the first attorney, HWA Cooper began writing the culturally important ‘Boerebrieven’ for Het Volksblad. He wrote under the assumed name of Samuel Zwaartman.

Garies

In 1845, Garies sprang up on land given to the Dutch Reformed Church by the owner of the farm Goedeverwagting. Originally named after the farm, its present name, a Khoisan word meaning 'couch-grass', was given it by former Cape premier John X Merriman. A flood of visitors descends during the flower season and the Garies Municipal tourist hall stocks everything but the kitchen sink!

Griquatown

Their leaders were Adam Kok II and Andries Waterboer. In 1813, at the instigation of Rev John Campbell, the ‘bastaards’ renamed themselves Griqua, and the place called Klaarwater became Griquatown.

Groblershoop

Founded in 1936 and named after a former Minister of Agriculture, Groblershoop is a farming and administrative centre in the Orange River Valley, east of Upington.

Hanover

Once part of the Graaff-Reinet district and known as Bo-Zeekoeirivier. As the farming community grew, a community centre was needed and, in 1854, the 8 656ha farm, Petrusvallei, was bought for 33 333 Rixdollars (R5 000). The former owner asked that the proposed town be called Hanover as his ancestors came from the German city. Walk through town and discover old furrows and historic buildings.