Sunday, 4 December 2011

Geological Route explored!

 It is with great excitement and delight that I am posting this blog!

Paul Rixom and two other geologists have explored Dr Chris Lee's geological route in die oervlakte book. They are raising funds for WESSA and did six different routes along the South Coast last year and are planning to add this route to their itinerary in the new year. 

This has made publishing the book absolutely worthwhile! Thank you to the geologists!

To order a book please contact 
Louise Heckl | 044 752 1143 | 083 861 8802 |

‘The Kammanassie Circuit’

A Possible Geological Tour for WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa)

Inspired by the excellent publication ‘die oervlakte’ and particularly the geological route compiled by Dr. Chris Lee, myself and two friends set out on Monday 28 November from George to travel the route in order to see whether we could use it as a potential geological tour to raise funds for WESSA.

Last year we ran six geological tours for WESSA, three along the coast from Mossel Bay to Wilderness and three over the Swartberg going via Meiringspoort and returning via Prince Albert and the Swartberg Pass, all of which were a great success.

We stopped at the Village Trading Post in De Rust, where we were able to purchase a further copy of ‘die oervlakte’, and were able to chat to Niekie Eksteen who said he would be able to provide set cooked breakfasts and even packed lunches for reasonable prices for our potential WESSA group. This would make the Village Trading Post an excellent gathering and starting point for the tour.
We thought we could first take the group into Meiringspoort (geosite 14 in Chris Lee’s geological route) and talk about the folding and faulting of the Table Mountain Sandstone. We would then briefly retrace our steps and join the R341 going east. The Enon formations just north of the road could then be viewed (geosite 12 ). 

Further east along the road we could see die oervlakte on the flanks of the Kammanassie mountains to the south (geosite 11) and stop at the road cuttings in Bokkeveld shales (geosite 10).

die oervlakte

Bokkeveld shales

We then took the sand road north to the hot springs at Toorwater (geosite 8). It was at one time a caravan site and spa and although the site is now rather derelict we found it very interesting, particularly the large black and brown heaps of iron and manganese oxide-bearing tufa deposited from the hot springs (travertine may also describe the deposits). In some areas the tufa material was quite hard and an amazing dark blue colour, presumably related to the manganese oxide content. We immediately saw a pipe with fairly hot water gushing out into an apparent irrigation system but we were unable to trace the pipe to an ‘eye’ where we believe much hotter water comes out of the ground. We understand Chris Lee may be able to show this to us at a later date. The hot springs lie directly on a large east-west fault system that stretches from west of PE to Tulbagh. The geological map shows the Enon formation, “largely covered by alluvial slope deposits” directly faulted against the Table Mountain Sandstone to the north. We also thought that this may a reasonable picnic lunch spot for the group, although with no working toilet facilities.

Tufa material

We completed the sand road loop and saw Enon formations to the south (geosite 9) and the upper Olifants River valley carved out of the softer Bokkeveld shales (geosite 7). We then went east on the R341 for a short way to join the main N9 going south west. Even though we slowed down at each road cutting we were unable to see a Karoo age dolerite cutting through sandstone. Again Chris Lee might be able to help us here.
Just north of Uniondale we were impressed by the three oervlaktes (mesas) east of the road. We understand from Louise Heckl that she could arrange closer access to these features through Cobus van Rensburg of the farm Vleiplaas. It is these mesas which are illustrated in ‘die oervlakte’.

We stopped briefly in Uniondale to view the old restored watermill and had a snack at Crackling Rose’s. We understand from Louise Heckl that there are other establishments in Uniondale that could be used as a possible afternoon tea stop.
South of Uniondale we left the N9 and travelled west on the Rooikrans, Buffelsdrift, Daskop sand road. This delightful road runs south of the Kammanassie Mountains along the Kammanassie River and gives many photographic opportunities to view the many oervlaktes that are evident on the southern slopes of the main range (geosite 5). The road also follows the Bokkeveld shale, which is well exposed in several road cuttings. According to the geological map the road is in the lowest Gydo shale formation which in other parts of the Little Karoo can contain fossils such as trilobites and brachiopods. Due to time constraints we did not stop and examine the shales.

We think that ‘The Kammanassie Circuit’, which represents about a 300km round trip from George would be an excellent geological outing for WESSA sometime in the new year.

Paul Rixom

Monday, 28 November 2011

Uniondale Launch, Tuesday 22nd November 2011

We all waited in anticipation for the Uniondale launch of die oervlakte book. The event took place in the Jewish Synagogue which is run by The Lions, who kindly allowed us to use the venue.

This building was completed in 1906 and it was important to have the launch here as it is one of the historic buildings of the town that features in the book. We were all delighted when our guest list topped 75 people! We started the talk by Dr Chris Lee on Iconic Landscapes a bit later to accommodate the farmers who find it very difficult to get anywhere by 6 o’clock and are proud of the fact that we were the only town that had farmers attending the launch, not just one or two, but a good representation. A good evening was had by all and the last launch was truly a successful event.
Dr. Chris Lee talking on Iconic Landscapes

die oervlakte team had all worked hard and given generously of their time and expertise, travelling to three different venues on three different occasions to launch this book, with oervlakte stones, equipment and at times an overnight bag to sleep over to avoid kudus on the road on the way home in the dark.

Cheese and wine before the talk

I was pleased to speak to a geologist from the Wilderness area this morning who was testing out the geological route to take out tours and hopefully as more people explore the routes it will have a positive effect on die oervlakte, this magical ancient African Surface!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Willowmore Launch 15 November 2011

Niekie from The Village Trading Post, de Rust in front of The Old Jail, Willowmore
The Willowmore launch of die oervlakte book took place on Tuesday, 15th November at the Old Jail in Willowmore. The hosts, Oleg and Karen von Loeper-Dyatschenko, have renovated this magnificent historical building beautifully and we were delighted to be able to use it as a venue as it is featured in the book. Twenty-eight people from the surrounding area and town attended the function and Dr. Chris Lee again enthused and inspired everybody with his talk on Iconic Landscapes.
Judy J├Ârgenson and Leon Nell, the co-author
The audience listening attentively to Dr. Chris Lee
Jane Zaayman from Baviaans Tourism, thanking the community for attending

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

de Rust Launch of die oervlakte book

die oervlakte team arrived early to get the venue ready for the launch. Niekie from The Village Trading Post confirmed that he had 75 people booked for the evening, which, in this part of the Karoo, where people drive long distances to get anywhere, was heart warming and very encouraging.

The media who attended also arrived early.
Elsabe Olivier from Suid-Kaap Radio interviewed the team first and the interview will be broadcast on Suid Kaap fm 104.1 on Wednesday, 16th November, at 16.10pm. Louise Olivier freelance journalist for Country and Life, Tisha Steyn from die Burger and Liesel le Roux from die Hoorn, Oudtshoorn also attended and interviewed the team. Die Hoorn published an informative article ( prior to the launch.

The cheese, wine, bread and accompaniments of caramalized onions, figs and olives went down well with all!

die oervlakte team was introduced and thank you’s to the authors, Leon Nell and Dr Chris Lee was done  by Franzu Badenhorst, the presenter. A special thank you to Mr. Cobus van Rensburg from the farm Vleiplaas in Uniondale as he gave the team access to his farm over the two years this project has taken and allowed Louise Heckl, who did the branding, conceptualization and design, use of the photographs of the mesas on his farm for publication in die oervlakte book.

Dr Chris Lee talked on Iconic Landscapes which had the audience riveted in their seats and left them inspired and enthusiastic about the landscape of this region and enlightened about GeoParks.

We thank all for attending and the tremendous generosity from the people in de Rust and Oudtshoorn!

Franzu Badenhorst presenting die oervlakte

Leon Nell and Dr. Chris Lee
An attentive audience inspired by Dr. Chris Lee's talk on Iconic Landscapes

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

die oervlakte book has arrived!

die oervlakte book has arrived from the printers in Johannesburg! The printing and binding is superb and we are ready for the de Rust launch on Thursday, 10th November.  It has taken a great effort from many people to get this little book to this stage of publication and we look forward to launching a new book about the magnificent area that we live in!

 We thank the following sponsors of the cheese from Prince Alfred and the bread from George.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Launching of die oervlakte book

die oervlakte book is about to be launched and will be available at the beginning of November.
The printing of this book has been generously sponsored by the printers, Ultra Litho, Johannesburg in memory of Wolfram Heckl (1949 - 20101) who was part of die oervlakte project team.


Ultra Litho (Pty) Limited | 4 Repens Street | Heriotdale
Johannesburg | 2094 | P O Box 40895 | Cleveland | 2022
Tel + 27 011 621 3300 | Fax +27 011 626 3578

There will be three launches held. In de Rust on 10 November, Willowmore on 15 November and Uniondale on 22 November. The communities of these three towns have pulled out all the stops to make these launches memorable events and get this book to the public. Many individuals have given time and energy generously!

The Old Jail, Willowmore
The Jewish Synagogue, Uniondale

The cheeses for the launches have been sponsored by Gay’s Dairy in Prince Albert.

If any one is interested in ordering a copy, please just email your postal information. The book will retail at  R190.00 plus R25.00 for postage and will be  available at the beginning of November.
Ex Libris Design | Tel: 044 7521 143 | Cell: 083 861 8802 |