My first visit to Rietbron was on 31 December 2013. Yip, we spent the last day of 2013 in the settlement in the Karoo between somewhere and nowhere. To be exact – 85 kilometres from Beaufort West (Western Cape) and about 64 kilometres from Willowmore (Eastern Cape).
Recently Amore Bekker from RSG asked who knows where Rietbron is. I could reply with an answer that I have twice been to this populated area (population approximately 1 184 in 2011). I think with our revisit eight years later in 2021 the population even declined further as it was noticeable that also the only guesthouse closed down since then.
With an early start from our base in George we crossed the Outeniqua mountains into the Klein Karoo. First we made a quick stop at Karoo Lusern Slaghuis, one of the best kept secrets in the Klein Karoo, to stock up on some prime goodies for the road – biltong! Stocked with padkos we were ready to explore some less travelled roads.
The road via Oudtshoorn and Meiringspoort (N12) to Rietbron is 226 km long and Google Maps say it will take you about 3 hours and 7 minutes. Being on a solo women’s trip we were not in a hurry and stopped a gazillion times to take pictures of the desolate feeling that you experience and wind pumps and flowers…… longer travel time for us!
Rietbron reminds me of those small towns that you always see in cowboy movies – dry and dusty. We arrived during midday on a Saturday. It was either siesta time or everyone went shopping in Willowmore. We parked right in front of the church in the shade of the steeplechase to enjoy our padkos. The only movement we noticed was at a spaza shop and with COVID going around we opted to steer clear.
We took a drive through the town, and like the little museum, we noticed that the school and police station is exceptionally neat and the grounds well kept. It warmed my heart to see that although this town is on the outskirts of the Dr Beyers Naude Municipality it was very clean.
Our return trip for the day was via the N9 and Willowmore with only 64 kilometres of gravel and lots of tar which makes travel time a bit faster.
What could we tick of our travel list today? A church tower with a springbokkie at the top!
GPS coordinates: 32.8642° S, 23.1561° E
Note to fellow travellers:
Take care when driving to Rietbron, the local farmers are friendly but they are flying on those gravel roads!