Geography and History
Carnarvon and surrounds charm visitors with magnetic hospitality, good traditional food, a history steeped in land conflict and mission work (mostly Rhenish missionary history). The former, combined with unique architecture, hundreds of windmills and vistas of flat topped hills, gave Carnarvon and district a unique charm that lures visitors to experience all of this in the peace and quiet of this sparsely populated land.
The San-Bushmen that roamed the area hundreds of years ago used the typical Karoo hills for ceremonial events such as initiation rites. The San were hunter-gatherers and their lifestyle and culture could not survive in an era when migrating livestock farmers moved into the region.
The game that they depended on for their livelihood became scarce as the large herds of domestic animals competed with the game for grazing. At the same time hunters with firearms killed off large numbers of game. The result was that the San started killing domestic animals for food with resulting reprisal raids carried out by the livestock farmers. The San clans that did not move away, started working for the livestock farmers and their culture was lost for ever. The only evidence that remains today of their presence is the thousands of rock engravings on the black boulders of the Karoo.
Carnarvon has much heritage and this can be experienced at the Carnarvon Museum. The Carnarvon Museum, built in 1907, originally served as a community hall for the Dutch Reformed Church. The corbelled house outside the museum is an excellent example of the many corbelled houses that can be found on farms in the district of Carnarvon.
Koeëlkop, the prominent hill that overlooks Carnarvon, got it’s name because of the many bullets (Afrikaans:” koeël”) that were found lying around on top of the hill, left there by the English soldiers during the Anglo-Boer war. One can assume that Koeëlkop would have been an important lookout point for the guards during the war, but today it serves as a site for the water reservoir that supplies water to Carnarvon. Lately the remnants of an old English fort was rebuilt on top of Koeëlkop.
The Skietfontein hiking trail offers hikers a typical Karoo veld experience with a variety of interesting shrubs (Karoo bossies) and beautiful views of the Karoo hills and windmills as well as water fowl in the pools of water in the river. At Skietfontein remnants of the ancient stone houses of early inhabitants can still be found, as well as a few typical Karoo houses and very friendly people.
Other interesting walks include the Historic Houses Trail where you can visit many of the original houses of the settlement at De Bult, as well as many of the Victorian houses and stylish mansions, that were built before and just after nineteen hundred.Nature reserves, San Rock paintings & engravings are just a few more of the interesting things to see and do in and around Carnarvon.
The accommodation offered in Carnarvon is that typical of the Karoo hospitality and is something visitors will always remember. There are many Guest Houses and Guest Farms in Carnarvon and District.
Photos and information courtesy of Carnarvon Tourism.
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