Here’s John Norval in the mid-1800s, fresh from Glasgow and presently residing in the frontier town of Colesberg.
What’s Colesberg got a lot of, thinks John. Tortoises, comes the answer from somewhere. And what are fancy ladies’ combs best made from? You guessed it.
So John Norval begins collecting tortoises and, luckily for the local padloper population, no one in the rough ’n ready settlement really cares for a tortoise shell comb.
What do folks around here really need, thinks John. Again, the Universe or at least someone in the bar obliges: hats. To protect the head from the Karoo sun.
John Norval proceeds to make some of the finest woollen hats South Africa has ever seen. Even buys a farm on the Orange River and sheep for a constant supply of wool.
But he doesn’t stop there. Norval gazes longingly across the river at a potential market he can’t readily reach.
A pont. I’ll build a pont, muses John Norval. Then my hats can travel freely to markets anywhere in the country. And I can charge others to cross here.
Norval’s Pont was established. It was a wonderful boon to both the Great Trekkers, the diamond-fielders and just about everyone during the Anglo-Boer War.
Of course, one crosses the Orange here by bridge these days. But don’t forget to fall in for a drink at the Glasgow Pont Hotel and see if that crocodile is still smoking his cigarette under the old-time telephone.
Karoo Roads – Tales from South Africa’s Heartland by Chris Marais & Julienne du Toit will be available as a First Edition Author-signed Print Book from November 2020 at R350 including taxes and counter-to-counter Postnet service.
To order, contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will put you on this exclusive list of Karoo Lovers – and Karoo Space supporters.