Day twenty one - Griquatown and Hardcastle (below)
23rd October 2007

Another big day in Africa. I slept well and woke at just before 8 to the happy sounds of Jim de Villiers making breakfast. Jim is the Dominee (Priest) for the local Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerk and his wife Karien runs the local guest house. Jim and Karien have always put me up in the lovely home - thus the sounds of Jim in the kitchen! (Unfortunately Karien is studying at UNISA and only returns after I leave).

After breakfast I went down to the Mary Moffat Museum (image right) - a one minute drive - set up the posters and slide show with the help of Hetta Hager.

It was a very small launch with less than ten people attending but amongst those who attended were the three local Griqua chiefs - Adam Kok V (Campbell), Johannes Waterboer (Griquatown) and Pastor Ivan Beukes Secretary of the local Griqua People's Organisation.

The launch, held in the main room of the Mary Moffat Museum went very well with a reporter from the Afrikaans publication "Volksblad" asking most of the questions. I remember Volksblad (People's paper) from my days at boarding school! I spoke under the famous missionary bell and we then retired to the back room and ate cake and cool drink kindly supplied by Hetta Hager the Mary Moffat Museum's curator for the last 20 years.

I presented each of the three Griqua leaders with six copies of "Children of the Mist" for use by their community and the Mary Moffat Museum took four copies for their initial stock.

I then drove to the point that the great African explorer Burchill had once sat 200 years before and drawn what was then called Klaarwater... but I was on the 30 meter high watertank!

Click on the large image below for 360 degree views of Griquatown from the top of the water tank. Burchell's 1812 drawing from this point facing to the right of the water tank at this link.

My personal challenge had been to climb up the 75 vertical steps, to the top of the nearly 30 metre high water tower - something I was too scared to do last year (I only climbed half way up). The view from the top - the metal roof of the water tower - was amazing but windy. Within minutes the presence of a white man wobbling around up there drew a large audience of Griquas who watched as I tried to take photos and video of the view of Griquatown Burchell would have died to replicate! (Burchell drew Griquatown from the ground below this point in 1811).

After successfully making my way back down the flimsy stairwell I set off to find the mystical "Hardcastle"  (images below) about 60k to the south of Griquatown... but still north of the Orange river. Not even Hetta Hager from the Mary Moffat Museum knew its exact location but suggested that some Griqua at Niekerkshoop on the road to Prieska might be able to help.

I had not travelled more than a kilometre when I came across three Griqua walking back from the tigers eye mine. I had to stop and take their photos - with the haunting photo below of the Griqua from Griquatown for ever recorded. In particular, the Griqua at this link who's image is now on canvas in my museum.

Video from the top of the water tank at Griquatown...

  

Signing books in the
Mary Moffat Museum

Pastor Ivan Beukes with picture  
of his missionary father.

Johann Waterboer with his
great grandfather
Nicholas Waterboer

Adam Kok V with his
great grandfather
Adam Kok II

Pastor Neukes, Jim de Villiers,
Reporter, Hetta Hager,
two local ladies & Waterboer

Waterboer, Beukes and Kok

Scott with the Griqua
leaders of this region

On top of the watertower

Its high!

Griquatown

My climb draws the
interest of locals

The coloured shanty town

Photos taken from the

top of the water tank

The water tank landmark

Some local kids

The face of classic Griqua

- tigers eye workers

Hardcastle

Finding the historic but elusive Griqua settlement of Hardcastle!

I arrived at Niekerkshoop but had little success - eventually an old man ventured forward and told me to take an old farm road that led east of the small coloured township.

I set off and within 15k drove into the most remarkable valley with asbestos-like cliffs rising on either side as the road led down an old dry river bed. The landscape was just as Campbell and Burchell had described Hardcastle in the early 1800s and the location was right - even to the small spring.

I drove down this little used farm road littered with signs warning of violent armed action if caught tresspassing. Then I stopped and just walked into the crags of the rocky face finding my way up a steep crevice that took me up to the top of one of these extraordinary layered rocky crags that rose above the valley. Here I took photos not realising that my lookout was very fragile indeed! In fact it is remarkable that it did not break away - see video right. After enjoying the view I drove out the other side of this kilometer long geographic anomaly... then plunged back through it again as I set off home.

It was just before 5pm when I got back to Jim and Karien's home.

Jim and I went out to the local pub for dinner meeting with the locals, having a glass of wine before returning home to watch my the new documentary DVD "Enemy of the State" based on my political arrest in Australia.    

Video taken in the Hardcastle vicinity...

The image below, extracted from an 1842 map by J Arrowsmith, confirms that the position I believed Hardcastle was located in is correct.

Turn off to Niekerkshoop

On road to Hardcastle

The amazing community

birds on road to Hardcastle

Only thriving business here - liquor

The local farmers at

Hardcastle mean business

Hardcastle appears

These rocky crags once rang

with the sound of Griqua

Caves abound

I discover a "face" while
climbing

On the way to

the top  

Views of Hardcstle

from the top

More views from the top

Beautiful slate rocks

The overhang where I stood -

Could Barend's kraals have
once stood there?

Local at Niekerkshoop

The only sign of life

On the road back to

Griquatown

Right beside the
coloured shanty

Beautiful Griquatown

Jim and Scott

with the locals

Daniel behind the bar

Great steaks!

Return to Scott Balson's 2007 book tour