n the small, dusty dorpie of Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo there may not be tarred roads or a supermarket, but there are certainly a number of things that keep a constant stream of visitors interested in the place. To some it may seem isolated and estranged from modern life, but for others that’s exactly why they choose to go there.
n the small, dusty dorpie of Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo there may not be tarred roads or a supermarket, but there are certainly a number of things that keep a constant stream of visitors interested in the place. To some it may seem isolated and estranged from modern life, but for others that’s exactly why they choose to go there. Caroline King recently spent a weekend in this quaint hide-away and took some pictures.
Just three hours away from Grahamstown lies a sleepy hollow where there is but one donkey cart that has dominion over the dusty streets. And like many of the businesses in the town of Nieu Bethesda, its purpose is to serve the tourists who come to explore the place.
On my trip there I encountered visitors from America and Holland, warm hospitality and even a former Fort England patient who insisted on serenading me and my friend when we walked past him in the street.
For a very small town it seems to have a good few things to see and do. The area is rich in fossils and one can take a walking tour to see some of the sites, a handful of art galleries and eateries are dispersed around the dorp where everything is in walking distance, there is a brewery that also makes its own delicious cheeses and of course the flagship of Nieu Bethesda is the enigmatic Owl House. This is a museum that was once the house of the eccentric artist, Helen Martins who made statues out of cement and glass, and filled her property with more than 300 of her peculiar creations of creatures and people.
On the weekend that I was in Nieu Bethesda there was much excitement because South African guitarist Steve Newman was to perform a concert to raise funds for the anti-fracking campaign, lead the by Treasure The Karoo Action Group. Every local person that I spoke to on the weekend eagerly asked if I would be attending the concert, but unfortunately an extended afternoon nap stopped me from doing so. Before leaving on Sunday my friend and I tried to avoid the locals after missing the concert, in case we were branded heretics and run out of town by the single donkey cart.
Overall, it was a wonderful stay in a peaceful town where one feels safe and welcome, and the Karoo lamb can make any vegetarian doubt themselves for at least a second.