Saturday, August 28, 2010


While married to a Graaff-Reinet-educated (Union High) woman from 1983 to 1986, I made regular pilgrimages to the Jewell of the Karoo, where I was able to sketch some of the historic town's attractions. This is one beautiful place. Established in 1786, Wikipedia tells us Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Swellendam. It was named after the then governor of the Cape Colony, Cornelis Jacob van de Graeff, and his wife, whose maiden name was Reynet.

This is Reinet House Museum, just one of more than 200 national monuments in the town.

I believe this characterful area, near the Drostdy, a historic hotel, used to be the slave quarters.

A quick sketch of a girl in, I suspect, the slave quarters, which now form part of the hotel.

Surrounded by mountains, it is Spandou Kop which is the most dominant and distinctive. This is a view from the toposcope above the town and in the Camdeboo National Park.

From the same spot, if you look in the opposite direction to the town, you see this side-on view of the famous Valley of Desolation. These weathered dolerite pillars tower possibly hundreds of metres into the air, and are populated by, among others, black eagles, pale-winged starlings, dassies and chacma baboons. Viewed from the ledge on the right, they provide an awe-inducing foreground spectacle, with the Camdeboo plains behind stretching out hundreds of kilometres into the distance.

This is another view of Spandau Kop from the town, with the sun starting to set behind it.

Afrikaans business tycoon Anton Rupert's roots were in Graaff-Reinet, and when I visited he had just established a job-creating mohair-spinning cottage industry for the locals. We paid a visit and I did a couple of sketches, which I later worked on with watercolours.

Seated on the pavement outside was this guy, playing an accordion - though it might easily have been in Paris!

One of the wheels used for making the mohair thread.

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