Willowmore, Eastern Cape

Willowmore

Sophie’s Choice in Willowmore – a favourite stop for overlanders.

If you look at your typical Karoo town, you’ll see the most imposing building is the Dutch Reformed Mother Church.

It’s generally a Victorian-era masterpiece that looms over the rest of town like a spiritual guardian.

And that’s why most Karoo towns came into being. Farmers in the area needed somewhere to pray and socialise, so they had churches built and congregations formed around them. And the dominee (preacher) normally had the best house in town.

Willowmore, however, had different origins. An Englishman called William Moore had a farm here, at the northern entrance to the magical Baviaans Wilderness, called The Willows. Farmers from all over the district used to gather here and play tennis. It was such an agreeable spot that a town was declared here.

Of course, a grand Mother Church followed.

Modern-day Willowmore still has the pace and the look of yesterday, of a slower tempo of life. Golf has become the most popular sport and the Karoostyle buildings are generally well preserved.

Willowmore occasionally lights up with action when large groups of bikers appear on their super-powered machines, either heading into the Baviaans or further on down to the Little Karoo via places like Prince Albert.

Then there’s the Freedom Challenge, nearly 2 000km of winter cycling through the vast Karoo from the Midlands of KwaZulu Natal down to Cape Town. By the time the riders pass through Willowmore, they’re more than happy to pop in at a delightful restaurant shop called Sophie’s Choice for something hot and sweet.

But if you like your transport a little more sedate, then hop on the Willow Limo and see the town from between the twitching ears of a couple of slow-moving donkeys…

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