JoziFolk - images of everyday life in South Africa


 My Karoo Leisure List

by Chris Marais

Time-out in the Karoo Heartland…

The few Jo’burg friends I have left in this life often wander what the hell it is I do for fun down here in the Karoo. So here – especially for them – is my Downtime Activity Report from the last few years. Of late, I have:

1. Photographed tigers. Too marvellous. Scored a special photo shoot at John Varty’s Tiger Canyons outside Philippolis and enjoyed every hairy little second of the experience;

2. Photographed snow. For three concurrent seasons, Ryno Ferreira from up the road has picked me and my cameras up in his Land Rover Defender and crunched up mountain passes so I can capture the white stuff in full glorious bloom;

3. Become a Big-Time Festino. We’ve been to them all a number of times: The Grahamstown Arts Festival, the Williston Winter Festival, The Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon, anything ever staged by the people of Nieu-Bethesda – the list continues over the horizon;

4. Watched farm cricket. Much more fun than The Wanderers. Cricket on Prior Grange Farm near Springfontein is the best way to spend a Saturday;

5. Walked German Shepherds. That’s right. Our dog TwoPack and his parents Shadow and Roxy and his friend Nuka, we take them to the Cradock golf course every morning;

6. Played lounge guitar with Rod Dry from the Silver Creek Mountain Band. He lives in Bathurst these days, but we spirit him up whenever we can and the home-gig is on;

7. Watch an awful lot of Channel One – the Fireplace Channel. In deep winter, glass of red wine, supper on the go and fire crackling in the hearth;

8. Rail Surfed @ Putsonderwater Station. We never pass on an opportunity to visit this legendary ghost station and surf on the long-dead rails. Somehow, it has become a very important thing to do;

9. Attended a Bull Auction in the mountains. Our neighbour Wally Schulze is a Cradock lawyer and a Tarkastad farmer at the same time. He took me to an auction near Lady Grey where they lunch on steaks as big as TV trays;

10. Become a 2nd hand book-shopper. Jules and I know every little bookshop from Cradock to Calvinia and beyond. And we know the movements of every Lawrence Green book, especially the one entitled Karoo.

I haven’t been near a boardroom or a bank manager in a very long time. And most things I do here, I do with Julienne, my best friend and wife.

I’m really not sure any of the above Bucket List ‘ticks’ will make me any richer, healthier or more successful in anyone else’s eyes. But ‘The Happy’? This, here in the Karoo, for us, is where ‘The Happy’ lives…

Celebrate the opening of our new Karoo Space e-Bookstore! Visit us here:

Chris Marais and Julie du Toit are former JoziFolk who semigrated to Cradock in the Karoo and have since gone about making the beauty and attractions of the area known throughout the world. They write about their travels and experiences on Karoospace, their brilliant website and have published a number of delightful and beautiful books. Check them out at

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