Cradock, Eastern Cape

The Cradock Mother Church.

In 2014, the Karoo Heartland river town of Cradock turned 200.

In those two centuries, this remarkable little town that straddles the Great Fish River has gone from being a frontier supply settlement to one of the major farming centres of the Karoo.

Cradock is also the family seat of many of the old Settler dynasties like the Cawoods, Michaus, Butlers, Colletts, Trollips, Van Heerdens and Jordaans. Driving around the area, you will come across many farms that have been occupied by one family over the centuries.

The Victorian pride of Cradock is, of course, Market Street. With its Tuishuise cottages and heritage-styled Victoria Manor, the Market Street accommodations host thousands of visitors every year, from up-country and abroad.

Cradock has also become the Festival Town of the Karoo, boasting no fewer than four major annual events.

The year kicks off with a Karoo Food Festival in March, a new gathering that celebrates food of origin and welcomes chefs, growers and producers from all over the Karoo.

During winter months, Cradock tends to snuggle down at the fireplace while snows fall heavily on the surrounding mountain ranges.

Come spring, the festivals begin again. The Cradock Agricultural Show is more than 150 years old, and this attracts the farming gentry of the area and their best livestock.

The Fish River Canoe Marathon sees thousands of athletes and their supporters arriving in Cradock and spending nearly four days in and about town. The ‘Fish’ has become SA’s premier river race and is always popular.

The literary types have their day in the sun with the Schreiner Karoo Writers’ Festival, held in honour of Olive Schreiner, author of The Story of an African Farm.

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