The name of this strategically-placed Karoo town means “town in the middle”. It was established in 1852 in the middle of the area created by the towns of Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Steynsburg, Colesberg and Richmond. Like many other towns in the area, it was also founded as a result of the need for a new Dutch Reformed community. The town’s uniqueness lies in the fact that, despite its position in the semi-desert, no water restrictions have ever had to be imposed. The rich supply of borehole water has created a permanent oasis where vegetation flourishes.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: Several well-known hiking trails have been mapped through the splendid Upper Karoo scenery. The keen hiker can choose from the Kompasberg, Ventershoek and Trans-Karoo Trails. For more information contact the Middelburg Municipal Offices.
Hunting: Hunting is allowed on some of the farms in the area.
Mountaineering: Most mountaineers cannot resist an attempt on Kompasberg, at 2 502 m, the highest peak in the Great Karoo.
Fauna And Flora
Self-drive Merino Tourism Route: Travel via Middelburg to Cradock, main centre of the Karoo Midlands and in close proximity to the Mountain Zebra National Park and onwards to Port Elizabeth, passing Cookhouse and the historic hamlet of Middleton, just off the main road. An alternative route starts in Middelburg, goes on to Cradock and Bedford, to Grahamstown, and Port Alfred and the Sunshine Coast.
History And Architecture
Historical Buildings: De Waal House is an excellent example of typical Karoo architecture. The house belonged to former attorney, local peacekeeper and mayor, Sir Nicholas de Waal. Other buildings of historic architectural value include the Gereformeerde Kerk (Reformed Church), Karoo House and the Ford Building.
Burger Monument: This monument was built in memory of local Anglo-Boer War victims and is situated in the Mayor’s garden.
Chair Monument: During the Anglo-Boer War, Boer commandants were executed at the spot where the Chair Monument was erected in Richmond Road, just outside town.
Grootfontein College of Agriculture: The college is a highly-acclaimed institution where students are trained as sheep farmers. The college features many historical buildings on its campus, including a museum with historical, military and agricultural exhibits.
Market Square: Visit Market Square, in the centre of town, and see the old water pump that was presented to the town in 1887 by Queen Victoria to commemorate her Golden Jubilee, as well as the Burger Monument and the Wall of Remembrance.
Middelburg Cultural History Museum: Exhibits in the Middelburg Cultural History Museum depict the early Karoo lifestyle. It also includes memorabilia of famous residents of the town, such as playwright Athol Fugard.