DM: 'Gong rock songs in the stone hills of the Great Karoo'

Published 20 February 2023 in Insights

Daily Maverick

'Gong rock songs in the stone hills of the Great Karoo'

By Julienne Du Toit

Daily Maverick - Maverick Life - Escape

Published 31 January 2023

On the koppies around Nelspoort lies history written in rock – with an ancient soundtrack.

'There is one particular hilltop outcrop that is full of engravings. Laurence Rathenam on left, with Elrico “Seun” Adams, Shaun Gentels behind, and Patrick Hendriks on the far right. Image: Chris Marais'

Spring, 2002: From a hillside, you look down into a long, shallow valley. 

A railway line and a dry rivercourse run beside one another, leading into the vanishing distance. A bulky flat-topped hill behind you looms over the landscape. Just over a ridge on the right is the little railway settlement of Nelspoort.

Back in the 1850s, missionary David Livingstone was already talking of the Karoo as the perfect place to cure lung diseases; and so tuberculosis sufferers – in the days when it was still called consumption – headed for this dry land. 

'The terrain around Nelspoort consists of gentle flat-topped hills with engraved dolerite rocks, interspersed with interesting Karoo plants and grasses. Image: Chris Marais'