I had long wanted to visit Sutherland to see SouthAfrica’s massive optical telescopes, and the fact that Sutherland is a remotetown situated in the Great Karoo made it a doubly attractive destination. InOctober 2011 I managed to get there, by joining a U3A (University of the 3rd Age) coach trip, with 59 other members, shepherded efficiently by the genial, unflappable Derrick Rule, master organiser.
On the whole I’m not a fan of organised coach trips, however on this occasion, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had the good fortune to have a friend from the West Coast Writers’ Circle, Pauline Campbell, as room-mate at the Sutherland Hotel. Most of the photos in this post were taken by Pauline and are indicated (PC). If the photo is over-exposed and not tagged, it was taken by me.
Wikipedia says (in part) : Sutherland, 2,840 inhabitants, lies in the western Roggeveld Mountains in the Karoo. Sutherland’s arid climate and remote location 1,450 metres (4,760 ft) above sea level make its night skies among the world’s clearest and darkest. The telescopes of the South African Astronomical Observatory are nearby .These include the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere.
Sutherland is among the coldest towns in South Africa, although Buffelsfontein holds the official honour. Winter snow is common. The coldest temperature recorded in Sutherland was -16.4°C on 12 July 2003. The average yearly temperature is 11°C. Sutherland has a semi-arid climate
Major economic activities include tourism and sheep farming. An NGK Dutch Reformed church in Sutherland was built before the Anglo Boer War.
Sutherland is also the birthplace of NP van Wyk Louw, WEG Louw two famous Afrikaans writers …
Suffice to say that Sutherland is a very clean, very quiet little Karoo town with the cleanest, clearest air. The scenery is magnificent, the people friendly, the food is hearty country cooking – we ate like kings. We lunched at the historic Maatjiesfontein Hotel on the up journey and on the way back to Cape Town.
The photos will tell the rest of the story.