Did you know?
By making ground water accessible, the windpump opened the arid areas of South Africa to settlers.
The most striking sight that will greet you as you drive through the little Northern Cape village of Loeriesfontein is a cluster of more than two dozen windpumps whirring away.
Loeriesfontein lies deep in the folds of the Hantam region of Namaqualand. To get here from Cape Town, travellers usually drive up from Nieuwoudtville, passing a magical spread of quiver trees lining the mountain slopes to the east.
Windpump museums are springing up all over the world, especially in arid areas like Texas and New Mexico in the United States of America, and the outback of Australia. The Fred Turner Museum in Loeriesfontein boasts South Africa’s only large grouping of windmills.
In spring, visitors come to the region to see the 4 000-odd varieties of seasonal flowers. Many of them grow amongst the 27 windpumps at the museum, adding even more colour to the creaking giants of the Karoo.
The names of these windpumps are legendary: Gearing Self-Oiled, Massey-Harris, Leers, Spartan, Star Zephyr, Aermotor, Atlas, Wonder, Springbok, Beatty Pumper, Spilhaus & Co, Eclipse, Fairbanks, Malcomess, Vetsak President, Conquest and the ever-popular Climax.
Inside the Fred Turner Museum are a number of displays depicting the livestyles of the trekboer (wandering farmer) in the Namaqualand region. The trekboer families moved through this area in constant search of grazing and water for their livestock. The museum displays the kind of wagon they typically travelled in, the family tent and the cooking area.
Pride of place was always held by the family bible, and many bibles have been donated to the Fred Turner Museum. Trekboer children played with the dried jawbones of sheep, turning them into wagon models. Bonnets worn by the women as they toiled in the sun are on display, as are the specially-braided leather pouches which normally contained sugar, tobacco, dried fruit and the South African all-time road trip favourite: biltong.