If you have travelled along the N1 from Cape Town to Johannesburg you probably passed through the Karoo town of Laingsburg, previously known as Nassau.
Normally all are in hurry and do not spend a lot of time intown apart from filling up on fuel, visit the loo and get something cold for the road. With the sharp hike in the fuel prices, we started to explore closer to home. The road took as to Laingsburg and Matjiesfontein.The most famous happening that put the town on the map and earned a place in history was probably the disastrous flood on 25 January 1981. With an annual rainfall of only 175 mm per year a flood was for sure not on the minds of this Karoo town when it started raining on 24 January 1981. The Buffalo River burst its bank and with the confluence of the Wilgehout, Baviaans and Buffalo Rivers near the railway bridge disaster struck and 184 residents lost their lives and 184 houses were destroyed. 10 survivors from this flood were found in the Floriskraal Dam about 21 km form town. You can visit the small Vloed Museum in town that tells the sad story of that day. Note that most of the exhibit is in Afrikaans.
Tucked away behind the Shell garage is a stone church with an interesting steeple – to me it looks like icing on a cake. It dates back to 1905 and stood the test of the flood waters of 1981. Amazingly the sermon Ds Jacobs delivered that same Sunday morning of the flood remained preserved in his notebook in his flooded study. He, however, lost his life.
When you enter the town from Ladismith’s side you will pass under the railway bridge which are now dressed with rainbow colours. If you are looking for a photo opportunity this spot makes a nice backdrop for pictures.
As you leave town driving northwards to Beaufort West you will see a blockhouse that dates back to 1900 and the Anglo Boer War. Blockhouses were normally strategically placed alongside the railway line which was of major importance during the war. You cannot enter the blockhouse but stop in the parking bay and admire the skill with which it was built (33°10’32.41″ S 20°59’08.06″ E)
The area is also known to produce some of the finest garlic in the country. These products are stocked at Hakkiesdraad coffee shop in front of the museum. I fell in love with the pepper garlic!
If you are interested in South African history and the Anglo Boer War follow the link below to read more on our visit to Matjiesfontein.