Sutherland

It may not be your imagination when you look up at the clear, dark night skies around Sutherland and think that the stars are brighter than you have ever seen them. Perhaps the early white farmers who settled here from 1750 onwards were so moved by this wondrous sight, that one of the first things they did was to build a church. The town itself was established in 1855 and named after Henry Sutherland, a well-known cleric from the town of Worcester.

Sutherland is also known for its cold winters, caused by its height of 1 600 m above sea level.

Adventure and Sport

4×4: The Banksgate 4×4 Trails offer six alternative routes for exploring the

Nuweveld Mountain range between Sutherland and Fraserburg.

Hiking, biking and paragliding: These adventure opportunities attract many visitors to the area.

Hunting: Contact the Northern Cape Hunters’ Association for more information.

Fauna and Flora

Indigenous flora: The sterboom (“star tree”) and olifantspoot (“elephant’s foot”), a unique succulent species, Daubenya Aurea and Secale Africanum are but two of the indigenous plants that grow in the area.

History and Architecture

The Dutch Reformed Church: Travel for 50 km along Road 354 towards Matjiesfontein to reach the lonely church building, which dates from the 18th century and still has its original pedal organ. British soldiers scribbled graffiti on the walls when they occupied the town during the Anglo-Boer War. Louw House Museum: NP van Wyk Louw and his brother, WEG Louw, both well-known Afrikaans writers, were born in this house. The museum features memorabilia of their lives and that of Dr Henry Olivier, also well known in his field. He was the engineer who worked on the Kariba and Cahora Bassa water schemes on the Zambesi River.

Natural Wonders

The South African Astronomical Observatory: Situated on a ridge 18 km north­east of town, the domed buildings of the observatory are an intriguing sight. Low rainfall and the unpolluted air ensure maximum visibility for 80 per cent of the hours of darkness, allowing researchers maximum time to use the powerful telescopes. Tours of the facility are conducted on certain days of the week, at present only during daytime. Book visits at the local tourism office.

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