Aberdeen, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
Aberdeen was established on a farm originally called 'Brakkefontein' ('brackish water'), that was owned by Jan and Betsy Vorster. The Dutch Reformed Church bought Brakkefontein in 1855 to build a church and a school and the town was founded the following year.
The village of Aberdeen lies within sight of the Camdeboo Mountains, 50km south of Graaff-Reinet in the Great Karoo.
This small Eastern Cape settlement has become synonymous with preserved Victorian architecture, wide streets and a relaxed pace of life.
It has become a haven for artists, ‘down-sizers’ and a generally lively creative group. And it also has delightful eccentricities …
Take the Dutch Reformed Church steeple, for instance. It’s said to be the tallest in South Africa. However, photographers shooting images of the church from a distance can easily spot the skewness of the high steeple – about 4,5cm off-beam at the top.
Then there’s a very ornate post office, complete with Eastern tiling and a brace of gargoyles glaring out over the rooftops.
Legend has it that this building was supposed to have been the magistrate’s court of Grahamstown. How it suddenly ended up in Aberdeen is anyone’s guess. By the time the mistake was discovered, it was well on its way to completion.
And Frank Wilke Jnr established what was then South Africa’s largest privately owned zoo in the town.
Bridal couples would pose with the resident lions for daring photographs. A thick pane of plate glass separated the lovebirds from the carnivores – but you couldn’t spot that in a carefully taken photograph.
Aberdeen’s history is rich. It was near here, in 1675, when Ensign Schrijver took delivery of a herd of cattle from the local Inqua Khoisan people.
And a wounded British soldier who was nursed back to health in Aberdeen during the South African War (also known as Anglo-Boer War) later went on to serve with Captain Robert Scott in the South Pole expedition of 1910.
He was Captain Lawrence Edward Oates, famous for giving up his life because his ill health was a threat to the survival of his colleagues by leaving the tent in a blizzard with the words: 'I am just going outside and may be some time.'
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Aberdeen Publicity Association
Tel: +27 (0)49 846 0014