The Royal Karoo

karoo town 2

karoo town 1

By Rose Willis

Photographs By Chris Marais

karoo town 5

Lords, lairds, dukes, and Britain’s queen

Are forever linked to the dryland scene.

Victoria and Albert, will remain

With many governors on the thirstland plain.

karoo town 2


Among these Lord Charles gave family’s names

To little towns across the plains.

Soon brilliant Beauforts, were a part

Of Africa’s great, growing heart.

karoo town 3


Somerset, both East and West

Honour this Lord, at whose behest

Worcester, the Boland town so friendly,

Was named in honour of brother Henry.

karoo town 4


Then Peregrine Maitland to Richmond granted

His in-law’s name – they were enchanted

Colesberg shared Sir Lowry’s fame.

A duke to Bedford gave his name.

karoo town 6


George Grey, Cradock, Caledon

Gave their names a local spin.

Then Donkin and Chris Barnard play

Roles in Beaufort, to this day.

karoo town 7


Donkin kept his wife’s heart forever

in a casket, like a treasure.

And Barnard, transplant pioneer

with brothers spent his boyhood there.

karoo town 8karoo town 9


The Scottish clergy, who came to guide

far-flung flocks, all took pride,

Robertson, Fraser, Sutherland too

Added their names to the Great Karoo

karoo town 10


Graaff-Reinet was Murray’s home

From there he far and wide did roam

Naming Aberdeen, Bethesda , Murraysburg

As he travelled preaching God’s own word.

karoo town 11


Hanover, shares a German name

It also shares Olive Schreiner’s fame.

Afrikaners then tried for par

Naming Noupoort, Middelburg, De Aar

karoo town 12


Vos, Brits, Loxton and Merwe, too

With Laing and Willis, are in the Karoo.

William Moore became Willowmore,

Sharing fame with men of yore.

Matjiesfontein – quite unique

of a “Scottish Laird” and spa did speak

Uniondale paid tribute to

the end of old, the start of new

karoo town 14


So shakers, movers, men of merit

Were honoured and in this zone got credit

People, weather, politics and chance

Wove a tapestry of rich romance.



  • Poem by the original Rose of the Karoo: Rose Willis, author of the popular monthly Rose’s Roundup newsletter. If you want to subscribe (R100 annually), here are her details:



Landline: 051-436-2471





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *