Vanwyksvlei, Northern Cape

Welcome to Vanwyksvlei – a former oasis in the Thirstland.

Vanwyksvlei lies less than 100km north of Carnarvon in the Northern Cape, but for all intents and purposes it could be on another planet.

The little town, once so vibrant, feels like the middle of nowhere as you drive in. The welcome sign at the entrance bears a rendition of a blissful Karoo dream – a huge body of water edged with green trees.

But now it’s dry. There are saltbush hedges and hard-packed dirt backyards, rainwater tanks and screen doors. Everything is closed against the heat.

On the edge of town is a curving line of windmills. Most have seen better days. Welcome to the Thirstlands.

Vanwyksvlei Dam, built in 1882, was the first dam to be funded by the State. Because of it, the nearby town was a wonderful oasis to live in. For many reasons, the dam no longer holds much water – and life has ebbed from the town, which now exists mainly in the fond memories of former residents.

Recollections and anecdotes are posted on a website dedicated to people who lived in Vanwyksvlei. They make for fascinating reading.

  • “The fresh water from the rainwater tank was used only for washing hair, boiling beans and cleaning the car…”
  • “We would drive 90km to a party on a farm – and then 90km back – distance meant nothing.”
  • “The hostel boys let the air out of the night-cart tyres and it stood stinking outside the girls’ hostel.”
  • “Vanwyksvlei had a cricketing academy and we used to play on a cement strip covered with green carpeting.”
  • “We had the greatest temperature variance in one day: from -11 degrees C in the morning to 45 degrees C in the afternoon…”

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One thought on “Vanwyksvlei, Northern Cape

  1. Kobus Breed says:

    11 Desember 2018

    Tydens my deelname aan die finaal van die Dust Media te Vanwyksvlei was ek en my seun van 30 November 2018 tot 2 Desember 2018 in van Wyksvlei en omliggende area’s

    Ek het by twee ou inwoners van die dorp wat met mekaar by ‘n tuinhekkie voor ‘n huis in die hoofstraat gestaan en gesels het, gestop.
    Hulle het aan my vertel hoe die dorp daar uitgesien het in sy gloriedae, die tuine het groen grasperke gehad met vye- en ander bome, die seuns- en dogterskoshuise en nog meer.

    Ek het voor die gesprek met hulle by ‘n paar leë onbewoonde plase ingery en in en om die murasies geloop.
    Op een leë plaas met ‘n ou skuur was ek baie verbaas toe daar nog ‘n feitlik volledige stokou “International Harvester” stroper gestaan het.
    Ek kon nie uitwerk of verstaan waarom die stroper in ‘n kaal, droë area met feitlik net Karoobossies en tussen myle van niks en nerens enige stroopwerk kon doen nie, maar toe die twee inwoners my vertel dat hier ook pragtige koringlande en lusernlande was wat water vanaf die kanale ontvang het toe die dam nog baie water ingehad het , het alles in plek geval.


    Kobus Breed

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