Did you know?
Apart from the Mary Moffat Museum, Griekwastad, or Griquatown, is also famous for its semi-precious stones, especially tiger's eye.
Ironically enough, we begin our journey along what could be dubbed the 'missionary route' between Kimberley and Upington in the Northern Cape with a drink at the Crown and Royal Hotel near the historic Magersfontein battle site.
This is where the British High Command was once stationed during the South African (Anglo-Boer) War, and from where world-famous war correspondents like Rudyard Kipling operated. After a visit to Magersfontein and an audio-visual presentation of the battle, we head into the Diamond City – Kimberley.
In Kimberley, we dine on excellent tandoori chicken salads and burgers at the Halfway House. The ‘Half’ was where mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes used to stop after work for a drink – not bothering to dismount, he sat astride his horse and quaffed his ale.
The following morning we head west on the N8, passing the tent village of Schmidtsdrift. This is where members of two San groups, the !Xun and Khwe, were moved from Namibia and Angola following Namibia's independence in 1990. The community has been relocated to permanent housing in Platfontein near Kimberley. For more than 12 years they lived in this little tent town – and even had their own radio station.
At Campbell, we stop to take photographs of a rare and old wind pump and a beautiful red-roofed church. This is known as Bartlett’s Church and was built in 1831. Legend has it that renowned missionaries Robert Moffat and David Livingstone once preached from its pulpit.
Campbell itself was named after a missionary, the Reverend John Campbell.
At Griekwastad we stop off at the Mary Moffat Museum. Mary Moffat, the daughter of Robert Moffat, was also the wife of Livingstone. This little settlement was initially the headquarters of the Griqua people, led by Andries Waterboer.
The road gets even more interesting as we close in on the N10 junction at Groblershoop, a pretty little town on the Orange River. We stay overnight in chalets overlooking the nearby Boegoeberg Dam. We’ve been driving in a semi-desert setting, and suddenly it’s water, water everywhere.
At last light we grab a sundowner, park out on the chalet porch and look out over the dam while the barbecue coals simmer away. Life seldom gets better than this.
Nearly 25km south on the N10 and 22km west on a signposted dirt road lies a railway siding that has become an icon in South African travel culture: Putsonderwater – well without water.
Today Putsonderwater is a ruined railway station, but you can see remnants of an old hotel, a general store, homes and offices. The name came about back in the 1880s when this spot was occupied by one David Ockhuis and his two sons. They had a strong well, but guarded it jealously. So when someone arrived with thirsty livestock and enquired about the well, Ockhuis would say: ‘It is a well. But it is a well without water.’
Well worth visiting, we say. And now we turn back and make our way to the river town of Upington and the Kalahari Desert, for a new round of adventures...