For Chris Marais very little beats rootling around the diverse museums of the Karoo and Kalahari
Chris went on a little meander about to pull out some of the quirkier tales and tidbits from an handful of the funkiest little museums you’ll find. Here are three gems with an introduction from the author.
On your way west on the N14 from Upington, you pass Pofadder. Turn right shortly after that to Pella, a little palm date oasis where you will find a community clustered around a stunning golden cathedral.
Ask the resident nuns to show you around. There’s a tiny museum next to the cathedral. That’s interesting, but the place of worship is the rock star. It was built back in the 1800s from directions gleaned from an encyclopaedia.
The Port Nolloth Museum, right on the seafront, is a real treat.
It has the crazy random stuff I love: slave bracelets from the shipwreck of the Black Joke that sank in 1600, old medicine containers for citronella oil and liquorice powder, partial heads and limbs of china dolls, veteran meerschaum pipes, a Nama Bible and a set of crayfish teeth, with the intriguing information that a crayfish can bend a R2 coin in its teeth.
Ask the ebullient curator, George Moyses, to tell you all about his colourful home town – and don’t get him started on his diving days. He’ll keep you entertained for hours.
Alexander Bay Museum
North of Port Nolloth lies Alexander Bay, at the mouth of the Orange River, on our border with Namibia. The local mine museum is all about the heydays of Ay-Bay, when diamonds were scooped up like Smarties and the cops went crazy, running around to catch the smugglers.
There’s a framed drawing of a kransduif on display, bringing to mind the posduif legends of this craggy little bay nestled in the armpit of Namibia. The posduif (homing pigeon) was used to smuggle diamonds out from the diggings.