Picture the scene. It’s early September, springtime in Namaqualand. You’re sitting in a booth in the Springbok Lodge & Restaurant, enjoying a hearty mixed grill.
Seasonal visitors are all around, because this particular spot is Flower Central in northern Namaqualand. If you want to know where the daisies are blooming today, this is where you find out. At the day’s end, they return flushed and happy after spending hours and hours on a ‘belly safari’ amongst the vast swathes of daisies.
The owner is a colourful local character called Jopie Kotze. Not only do he and his family run the busy eatery, but they let out furnished cottages to visitors, manage a geological exhibition and a book nook. This is where you’ll find rarities like Fred Cornell’s The Glamour of Prospecting, re-published by the very same Jopie Kotze.
Most people just use Springbok as a springboard to southern Namibia, the Richtersveld or, if they’re headed south, to the very heart of Namaqualand. But if they set aside a day or so for the local delights, Springbok would become a beloved destination in its own right.
Just outside the town is the Goegap Nature Reserve, a marvel of wide landscapes, succulents and seasonal flowers. Springbok was also the headquarters of the burgeoning copper industry in its time. Nama and Khoisan traders wore copper bracelets, which attracted the 16th Century Dutch settlers at the Cape. Eventually, the governor sent a number of prospecting parties north to source the copper fields.
Springbok was besieged and finally taken by Boer guerrilla supremo General Jan Smuts during the Anglo-Boer War. He was just about to take the nearby copper village of Okiep when he was called back to the Transvaal to sign the Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the war.
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