Surrounded by koppies and flanked by the towering Coleskop, when the sun slips to the horizon, brushing the skies with brilliant hues, Coleskop’s former name, Toverberg (Magic Mountain), seems more appropriate. So named because, for the traveller, it is visible from 40km but appears to get no closer. In 1814, a mission station was built here in the hope of bringing peace to the volatile frontier area of the Cape Colony.
A second mission station, Hepzibah, was built a few kilometres away and the two soon attracted 1 700 Khoisan. In 1829, nervous farmers petitioned for a town to be established and 18 138ha was set aside. The first erven were sold in November 1830 and the town was named after Sir Lowry Cole, then Cape Governor. The Transvaal Republic’s President, Paul Kruger, born in Cradock in 1825, is believed to have spent his formative years on the farm, Vaalbank, falling in what was, by 1830, the town of Colesberg.
Today, Colesberg is a traveller’s oasis on the main Cape Town-Johannesburg route, the N1, offering many attractive accommodation establishments. In a sheep-farming area spread over half-a-million hectares, greater Colesberg breeds many of the country’s top Merinos. It is also renowned for producing high-quality racehorses.
Beautifully decorated, the church, designed by Sophia Gray (wife of Bishop Gray), was built in 1854.
From November 1899 to February 1900, Colesberg was the southern front of the war. The Information Office offers a tour of Plateau Camp, Suffolk Hill, Grenadier Guard Rock, Memorial Hill and the military cemetery where more than 400 men from 20 regiments are buried. A weekend tour includes a visit to Norvalspont prisoner-of-war camp and cemetery. Tel 051 753 0678.
Murray Str. Dating to 1861, the building was put up for Colesberg Bank, later absorbed by Standard Bank. For years the town clerk’s office, the museum contains many articles dating back to the pioneering days. It includes the Kemper Collection, Anglo-Boer War photographs and artefacts, a 19th century toy collection, a Karoo Nomad photographic exhibition and allows you to relive Erasmus Jacobs’s discovery of ‘Eureka’ at Hopetown, the first recorded diamond find in South Africa.
On the southeastern banks of the Vanderkloof Dam, the 9 388ha reserve features kudu, brown hyaena, mountain reedbuck, steenbok, grey duiker, bat-eared fox, aardvark and aardwolf. Wild olive, sweet thorn and karee can be seen in the ravines. It also features a 10km stretch of the Seekoei River, one of the most important tributaries of the Orange River. There is a hiking trail, an overnight hut and horse trails available. Tel 051 753 1315.
Built in 1860, it dominates Church Str. The clock tower was built in 1925.
Well-marked trails are open on many farms in the area. Tel 051 753 0678.
Bell Str. Now converted into a pub, is one of the country’s last, working horsemills.
Coniston House in Ventershoek Str and the Schutz and De Jager Building in Church Str.
Established in 1840, the Methodist Society built its first chapel in Church Street. The new Trinity Methodist Church, in Stockenstroom Street, was built in 1882.
Many of Colesberg’s original buildings, in pristine condition, are fine examples of early Karoo architecture. The Information Office will organise a walking tour lasting about three hours. Learn of the Karoo Nomads, get a grasp of local history, revisit the past in the old cemetery, and visit the town’s churches and many of its original reed-ceilinged, yellowwood beamed homes where you will enjoy a unique Karoo architecture. Tel 051 753 0678.