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  • On 25 December, 2015 there was a full moon. Younger than 38 years old at the time? Then this would have been your first Christmas full moon. The last one was in 1977 and the next one will only be on 25 December 2034!


  • Calitzdorp became the  Port capital of South Africa by accident. Years ago, Shiraz vines ordered and planted by the Nel family of  de Krans,  later turned out to be Touriga Nacional – the main port grape! Happy mistake!


  • Calitzdorp has South Africa’s largest Pale Chanting Goshawk bird population – the only polyandrous raptor in South Africa.



  • The dam was built in 1913-1918, before modern equipment was available, and work was done with picks and shovels. Donkeys and mules did the hauling. There was one 36 BHP suction gas engine which ran all the major plant.


  • The Nel’s river which flows through Groenfontein valley and fills Calitzdorp dam was previously known as the Kango river and is shown as such on the original subdivision map of the Buffelsvlei farm, dated April 1834.


  • A Surveyor General’s Map dated 25 Jan 1847 shows that Daniel Nel owned large sections of the Kango river / valley farmland, Probably why the river became known as ‘Nel’s river’.


  • The ostrich is the world’s largest flightless bird, followed in size by Australia’s Emu and Cassowary.


  • The word  Kango comes from the Khoisan language – The Khoisan called the Swartberg mountains the Kango and the word means ‘place rich in water’.


  • Cape leopards still roam freely in the mountains around Calitzdorp. Extremely shy, and ranging over enormous territories, these rare, beautiful animals are seldom seen.


  • The Cape Leopard is a small animal – probably the size of a large dog – and is half the size and weight of its Kruger Park cousins. The average weight of a male Cape Leopard is about 35 kilograms.


  • Calitzdorp sits on a geological fault line that runs for 300 kilometers along the southern edge of the Cape Fold mountains – proof being our local hot spring at the Calitzdorp Spa.


  • In the 1850s the town of George was a 50 hour trek by ox-wagon from Calitzdorp!



  • Calitzdorp municipality had its own Coat-of-Arms which was registered to it in perpetuity. Calitzdorp Municipality no longer exists but legally no one else may use the Arms.



  • When built between 1943 -1954, the concrete road from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn – known locally as the ‘sementpad’ – was the longest concrete road in South Africa.  It was NOT the country’s first concrete road, as is frequently claimed.


  • The last ever steam train on the Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp line was a special Union Line steam-train enthusiast day trip on 13 August, 1997 four years after the official closing of the line.  The loco was a class 19D No 2753.


  • The Little Karoo was once an inland sea of approximately 14,500 square kilometers. It would have been a quarter the size of Lake Victoria, half the size of lake Malawi, 24 times the size of the Dead Sea and 87 times the size of the Sea of Galilee!


  • Huge Fossil bones found in the Calitzdorp district,  were identified by Hoffman in 1966 as probably the Giant Plesiosaur – the same as Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster, ‘Nessie’. However they were later identified as those of the sauropod Algoasaurus related to the Brontosaurus.


  • In the 1800s and early 1900s there was a thriving Jewish community in the Little Karoo. Many of their shops had no doors for customers – who climbed in through the windows!


  • When Electricity was first provided in Bergsig, each of the smaller houses had one connection to a street light, and electricity was only available at night when the street lights were switched on.


  • Lucerne – a major fodder crop around Calitzdorp, came to South Africa from South America in 1861. Its introduction into the Little Karoo dramatically changed the ostrich industry.


  • There are 34 internationally recognised biodiversity Hotspots in the entire world  – and Calitzdorp is surrounded by three.


  • The plant biomes – areas of a certain type of plant growth – are identified as World Hot Spots because of the unique – and threatened vegetation, found nowhere else in the world.


  • Each of the three World Hot Spots around Calitzdorp –fynbos, thicket and succulent Karoo – has at least 1 500 endemic plant species – each Hot Spot biome having more plant variety than the whole of Europe.


  • Calitzdorp’s first cemetery is said to have been in the area of “The Queen of Calitzdorp” Lodge – but maybe this old cemetery was under the ‘spookhuis‘ – giving reason for its name? Long demolished, the police station now stands where the ‘spookhuis’ once was.


  • During the world-wide ‘flu epidemic of 1918, Calitzdorp was not spared and the beautiful double-storey home at 1 Queen street was used as a make-shift hospital for the duration of the epidemic.


  • More than eleven thousand hand-cut stones were used to build the Dutch Reformed Church. The raw stone was transported by ox-wagon from Swartkop at Vlei Rivier and dressed on the building site.


  • Because of its enormous size, the Dutch Reformed vestry table (5,2m) had to be made on site.


  •  On 22 February 1991 the imposing sandstone Dutch Reformed Church and its surrounding fence was declared a National monument – now known as a Provincial Heritage Site.


  •  The cast-iron fencing, erected around the perimeter of the Dutch Reformed Church grounds in 1899, is eleven years older than the church itself.


  • The five massive Dutch Reformed Church bells – three huge and two slightly smaller ones, cost £425 and were cast in Germany. They were donated by J J Grundling and his wife in memory of their grandson Jacobus Johannes Grundling Meyer     


  • The magnificent Dutch Reformed Church organ – considered the best in the country at the time and said to have then had 942 pipes, was imported from Hamburg, Germany.


  •  The Huisrivier Pass underwent major upgrading in 2012 and 2013. To the astonishment of workers at a stop/go point on the construction site, a leopard crossed the road right in front of them – in broad daylight!



  • Voortrekker road – or Route 62 – was firstly known as Bloekomlaan (Bluegum avenue) due to the gun trees which lined the road.


  • A number of original little houses were demolished on Voortrekker Road and the bluegum street-trees were removed to widen the road when Route 62 was built.


  • The house which reputedly stood on the land where the police station and magistrate’s court now stands, was known as die Spookhuis  Could the reason be – that just maybe – this might have been the site of Calitzdorp’s first unmarked, unidentified cemetery?


  • Axe Hill winery was named after stone-age hand tools, from some 250 thousand years ago, found on the property when the farm was being established by the late Tony Mossop and his wife Lyn.


  • It is rumoured that Cecil John Rhodes gave a speech to Calitzdorp residents from the steps of the beautiful residence at 1 Queen Street, but so far we have not found any proof of him ever visiting the town.


  • Old timers have suggested that the beautiful home at 1 Queen street was ransacked or torched by Boer Commandant Gideon Scheepers and his men during the second Anglo-Boer War. We have found no proof – but we do know that Scheepers was active in the Calitzdorp area at the time.


  • In 1922 when Howard Carter opened Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, one of the first things he found was a perfect, 3,000 year old, ivory-handled ostrich feather fan.


  • In 1918 there were outlying schools in Groenfontein, Buffelskloof, Buffelsjagsfontein, Gamka-Oos, Gamka-Wes, Huisrivier, Janfourieskraal, Kruisrivier-Wes, Uitvlug, Warmbad en Warmwater, along with the Juta and Reenen school.


  • Spekboom Portulacaria afra – takes in and uses huge volumes of atmospheric carbon – part of the global warming problem – and converting it into oxygen. How great is that?  Plant some and help save the world!


  •  The Kanna plant (Sceletium Tortuosum of the Mesembryanthemoideae family) is a local anciemt herb with mood enhancing properties said to rival Prozac! – but it is non addictive and has no side effects.


  • The very rare, unusual, yellow ProteaMimetes chrysanthus – was discovered in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve by game guard Mr Willie Julies in September 1987.


  • In 1869 Arthur Douglass invented an ostrich incubator,  causing a stir in the Little Karoo where farmers now started fencing their lands to farm ostriches more intensively




  • Endemic to Seweweekspoort, the first specimens of an unknown, rare Protea were collected by botanists T P Stoekoe and R Primos in 1928. Later thought to be extinct – this Protea Aristata was ‘re-discovered’ in 1953.


  • The survey for the new Huisrivier Pass was started in 1951. It took almost ten years to find a suitable route over the difficult, treacherous mountains to Ladismith, before construction of the Pass could start.


  • Seweweekspoort peak at 2,352m is not only the highest peak in the Klein Swartberg range, it is also the highest in the Western Cape. Classified as an ultra prominent peak it is also the 8th highest peak in South Africa.



  • The first regular train from Oudtshoorn ran into Calitzdorp on Friday 14th November 1924 and the official opening took place a few days later on the 20th November.



  • On the 3rd of July 2015, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), at a meeting held in Bonn in Germany, approved the elevation of the existing Rooiberg, Gamkaberg and Groenefontein Protected Areas, to the status of World Heritage Sites   


  • Western Cape’s provincial symbols : The provincial flower is the Red Disa, the provincial tree is the Silver Tree. Our animal is the Bontebok and our provincial bird is the Cape Sugarbird.


  • Everyone knows South Africa’s symbols – the flower symbol is the King Protea, the animal is the springbok, the tree is the Real Yellowwood and the bird is the Blue Crane.  But did you know that we have a national fish? Believe it or not, we do!  the Galjoen