Koppies (including Kwakwatsi)

The renowned Boer General CR de Wet established this small town on the banks of the Renoster River in 1904 to aid underprivileged Boers who had lost their properties and livelihood as a result of the Anglo-Boer War. Emily Hobhouse, the famous Welsh humanitarian who worked hard to help the Boer women and children in the concentration camps, also played a major role in the settlement of the town. She promoted the idea of home industries to allow Boer women to earn a living. Koppies is located in the so-called “Maize Belt” a primarily agricultural area where maize, sunflower and grain crops flourish. The township of Kwakwatsi lies close to town and boasts no less than15 fully functional churches of different denominations in one street – appropriately called Church Street.

Adventure And Sport

Farm holiday: The Sonneblom Guest House is on a working ostrich farm, next to the N1 Toll Road at the Rooiwal/Vredefort turn-off.

Horse riding: Contact Erasmus Stables on the farm Arbeid, 10 km from Koppies on the Edenville Road, for horse riding lessons and other equestrian pursuits.

Hunting: Hunting packages can be negotiated on the farms Verdeel and Prospect.

Koppies Dam: The dam and nature reserve is a popular recreational, water sports and angling venue.

Motorbike and quad bike trails: Well-indicated trails have been established on the farm Buffeldoorn, located along the gravel road to Waaihoek, between Koppies and Edenville.

Paradys Holiday Resort: This resort is situated eight km north-west of Koppies on the Vredefort Road and offers game and birdviewing, water sports and angling on the nearby Rooipoort Dam. Accommodation consists of chalets and a guest house, on a hill overlooking the Rooipoort Dam. Paradys Hotel is situated in Koppies.

Water sports: Water sports such as skiing, paragliding, sailing and angling can be enjoyed at Koppies Dam.

Art And Crafts

Koppies Crafts: This business specialises in making the type of toys that children used to play with before the advent of video games and television. Do not be surprised to see doll’s rocker cots, rocking horses, miniature houses and a variety of pull-and-push toys for smaller children.

Kwakwatsi Market: An informal market is held in front of the Community Hall every pension day. Contact the Municipality for more information.

Lace: Handmade lace is made and sold at the Old Age Home in town.

Taxidermy and Curio Shop: The De Moed Taxidermy and Curio Shop prepares hunting trophies, tan skins and offers an interesting array of leather articles and other curios.

Cuisine

Dairy with a difference: This unique goats’ milk dairy is located on a farm situated four km out of town on the Vredefort Road. The Van Schalkwyk Dairy produces goat milk cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and condensed milk. Goats’ milk is easier to digest and has lower levels of lactose than cows’ milk, making it very effective for use in diabetic diets and for people with peptic ulcers and other gastric complaints.

Entertainment And Shopping

Shopping: Koppies has several shopping facilities, such as the Carousel Gift Shop and Marthie’s Home Industry and Health Shop. The ladies of the Free State are renowned for their baking and sewing skills.

Fauna And Flora

Koppies Dam Nature Reserve: Koppies Dam Nature Reserve covers an area of 4 300 ha. The reserve is 16 km east of Koppies and is home to several species of birds, some of which are aquatic. Game viewers may also spot white rhino, buffalo and small mammals, such as cane rats. This reserve consists mainly of grassveld and dense thickets of sweet thorn trees, an ideal nesting place for secretary birds. The weeping willows along the banks of the Renoster River lend colour to the surroundings. The reserve provides camping sites without electricity and there is also a self-catering bush camp with tents that sleep 12 people. The huge Koppies Dam is a haven for anglers who hope to catch various species of fish, such as Orange River mudfish, yellowfish, barbel and carp.

Plant Nursery: Keen gardeners will enjoy an outing to Serfontein Saailinge (seedling) situated on the old Kroonstad Road about 25 km from Koppies. Visit, view and buy ageratum, petunia, poppy, impatiens, begonia and many other seedlings.

History And Architectue

Roodewal Battlefield: The Battle of Roodewal took place on 7 June 1900 near Rooiwal Station, approximately 10 km from Koppies. On this day General Christiaan de Wet decided to attack the garrison of 150 British soldiers guarding the war supplies that had piled up at Rooiwal Station after the Boers had damaged the bridge over the Renoster River. He succeeded in overpowering the garrison with only 80 men and made off with supplies worth 100 000 pounds.

Centenary Memorial: This memorial, erected in 1938 to commemorate the centenary of the Great Trek of 1838, was erected in the grounds of the Dutch Reformed Church in Kerk Street.

Concentration Camp Cemetery: The Concentration Camp Cemetery lies near Dreamland Station on the Sasolburg/Koppies Road and contains the graves of the Boer women and children who died in the British concentration camps in the area.

General de Wet’s House: General Christiaan de Wet, the well known Boer general, lived in this area for a few years during the 1900s. The British burnt down the original house during the Anglo-Boer War but General de Wet had it rebuilt after the war. The farm is situated in the vicinity of Rooipoort Dam on the Vredefort Road.

German Church: Mr Fredrich Krause, a German resident of the town, donated the parcel of land on the farm Groenvlei on which a small German church was erected in 1918. This quaint little church is situated approximately 25 km outside the town and is still in use. It seats 60 people and is a popular venue for small, intimate weddings and christenings.

Historic remains: The farm Poortjie on the Heilbron Road, approximately 15 km out of town belonged to a Mr Erasmus who, in 1917 built a big sandstone storehouse, stone pens and water canals on the farm. The storeroom is still relatively intact, as are the water canal and walls of the sheep pen. According to legend this was the site where General de Wet and his followers had their first meeting to discuss the Rebellion against the British and South African Government.

House Emily Hobhouse: Emily Hobhouse established a Lace School in Koppies in 1909. She introduced the idea of home industry crafts to help underprivileged Boer women to earn a living, to many of the small towns in the district. She was so highly revered by the Boer nation that her ashes were buried with those of the beloved Boer leader, General Christiaan de Wet, President and Mrs MT Steyn and the Reverend JD Kestell at the foot of the National Women’s Museum in Bloemfontein. Koppies Library and Emily Hobhouse House exhibit lace articles produced at the school.

Kopjes Irrigation Nederzetting School Building: The Kopjes Irrigation Nederzetting School was established in 1914 to house and educate the children of the (mainly white) workforce that built the Koppies Dam. The dam was built after the war on the recommendation of General Christiaan de Wet to help impoverished Boers who had lost their farms and had no other work to do. Part of the old school building has been preserved and can be seen at the Sarel Cilliers High School. The old principal’s house is still standing. Both buildings were built with great expertise, some say by Italian artisans, with dressed ironstone/granite blocks and sandstone.

Memorial Pillar: A memorial pillar erected in the grounds of the Dutch Reformed Church in Kerk Street commemorates the Emily Hobhouse Lace School, a godsend for impoverished Boer women who lost everything they owned during the Anglo-Boer War.

Open-air Farm Museum: The farm Humphries has become the home of various old tractors, horse-drawn carriages and hooded carriages. This is a private collection that can only be viewed by prior appointment. The farm also boasts Red Afrikaner cattle, sheep and a Frisian horse stud. The homestead is filled with exquisite woodcarvings.

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