Sutherland, Northern Cape
Did you know?
Sutherland's shops still follow the long practised tradition of closing between 13h00 and 14h00 daily.
The quaint village of Sutherland in South Africa's Northern Cape was established in 1855 when life centred around pioneer farmers and the Dutch Reformed Church. The region continues to be a strong livestock-farming area – and an astronomer's delight.
Sutherland's main attraction is the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), situated here because of Sutherland's perfectly clear skies. The observatory is close to the village and is home to the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere – the Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT.
Sutherland is situated the Karoo Highlands of the Great Karoo and the surrounding Roggeveld Mountains glitter with snow in wintertime. Sutherland is also the most southerly place where diamonds were discovered in South Africa, and old diamond diggings can still be seen in the area.
For the physically active, there are an array of activities in Sutherland, including horse-riding, hiking and traditional yoke-pin. To the southeast of Sutherland is an old volcano named Salpeterkop, extinct for some 66-million years and now filled with sedimentary materials including saltpeter, hence the name. The site makes for a great hike up to the observatory.
On the Fransplaas farm in the Roggeveld Mountains, Koos van der Merwe has been producing sheep milk cheese since 1997. Fransplaas sells fresh produce to the public so be sure to try out their 'sheep cheese' when in Sutherland.
Sutherland is the birthplace of two celebrated South African poets and writers, N.P. Van Wyk Louw and W.E.G. Louw. The Louw Museum in Sutherland houses several items of interest such as the old lykswa (mortuary cart), which was used between 1912 to 1950.
The biggest attraction of all is the night sky. Local skyman, Jurg Wagener, offers wonderful night sky viewings through his telescopes, as does the Observatory, which also offers tours of SALT. Make sure you book in advance because these viewings are extremely popular.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
For more information contact Sutherland Tourism Information on +27 (0) 23 571 1265 or email email@example.com
To book night sky viewings contact Sutherland Tourism Information or Jurg Wagener on +27 (0) 23 5711 405 and +27 (0)82 556 9589