Bethulie lies on the northern bank of the Xhariep (former Hendrik Verwoerd) Dam, on the Xhariep (Orange) River. Originally a mission station belonging to the London Missionary Society, the site later became the property of the French Missionary Society. The honourable Reverend Jean Pellissier set up his headquarters here and named the mission Bethulie, meaning “Chosen by God”.
Adventure And Sport
Club sport: Bethulie has several sport facilities, such as a golf course, a bowling green and tennis courts.
4×4 routes: 4×4 enthusiasts can follow a route that will take them past unusual rock formations (the “klipstapels”) in the Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve.
Hiking: There are several hiking trails in the area. The first in the Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve will take you to the confluence of the Caledon and Xhariep (Orange) Rivers and the second has overnight facilities at Spesbona, which can accommodate 25 people.
Hunting: Hunting is allowed in the Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve, during the hunting season.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: The caves on the eastern side of the ridge that runs the length of the Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve still bear evidence of their early San inhabitants. Their drawings adorn the walls of the cave.
Art And Crafts
Bethulie Gallery: The art gallery sells the works of various painters, potters and a sculptress.
Fauna And Flora
Mynhardt Game Reserve: The 160 ha Mynhardt Game Reserve lies next to Bethulie Dam and offers sanctuary to numerous antelope, black wildebeest and zebra. Signs at the entrance to the town direct visitors to the reserve — one of the oldest municipal reserves in the province. The reserve also has a small holiday resort with a caravan park, campsites and chalets.
Tussen-die-Riviere Nature Reserve: Tussen-die-Riviere (“Between the Rivers”) Nature Reserve is the southernmost reserve in the province. It lies 15 km from Bethulie, between the Caledon and Xhariep (Orange) Rivers. The wide-open plains of this reserve are home to antelope such as eland, rhebuck, reedbuck, impala, kudu, hartebeest and zebra. You will also be able to spot buffalo along the bushy riverbanks. Small nocturnal animals such as porcupine, aardvark, aardwolf and the bat-eared fox make night drives particularly interesting. The feisty warthog has also recently been introduced to the reserve. Fish eagles and black eagles explore the skies and secretary birds scour the grasslands for a morsel to eat. The plant life in the reserve ranges from open grassland to bushy areas on the riverbanks. Many trees, such as willow, wild olive, white stinkwood and star apple, fringe the banks of both rivers. Accommodation includes chalets and a hunter’s camp.
History And Architecture
Concentration Camp: The Concentration Camp at Bethulie was the largest of the many concentration camps established by the British during the Anglo-Boer War. Many women and children died here.
DH Steyn Railway Bridge: The 2 993 m (including approaches), concrete railway viaduct and bridge, over the Xhariep (Orange) River, a triumph of engineering, is the longest such construction of its kind in the country.
Horse Memorial: The Horse Memorial pays homage to the courage that horses often displayed on the battlefield.
Louw Wepener Monument: A memorial in honour of the Boer hero, Louw Wepener, a commando leader during the second Basotho War, stands 10 km out of town.
Ox Wagon Monument: This monument honours the ox wagon, the Voortrekkers main mode of travel during their arduous journey into the interior of the country.
Pellissier House Museum: The original mission buildings have survived the ravishes of time as did the house in which the Reverend Pellissier lived. This house is thought to be the oldest European dwelling north of the Xhariep (Orange) River. Today, the house, furnished in rural Republican-Victorian style, is used as a Museum – the Pellissier House Museum. Some of the Reverend’s personal belongings are on display, as well as other exhibits that reflect the history of the area.