This lovely Karoo town is steeped in history and has a number of attractions to delight visitors to the area.
Steeped in history, Cradock is considered the capital of the Karoo Heartland and lies on the banks of the Great Fish River. Most of the migration during the Great Trek started around Cradock. The area was originally intended to be a Boer fort to contain the Xhosa who were competing for grazing ground for cattle. This relaxed Karoo town today produces some of the best mohair and lamb in the country.
Construction of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel was of great importance to the town’s economic development and had a big impact on households and local industry. Completed in 1975 and 83km in length, the tunnel diverts water from the Gariep Dam on the Orange River to the Great Fish River and then onto the Sundays River Valley, Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth for irrigation. The tunnel also led to the establishment of the annual Fish River Canoe Marathon, which attracts more than 1,500 paddlers from all over the world.
Other interesting events in the area include the annual Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival, the Karoo Food Festival and the Cradock Show, with its saddle horses a particular highlight. Thousands of visitors flock to the Mountain Zebra National Park outside town every year, while others come to pay their respects at the Cradock Four Monument and Garden of Remembrance.
Visitors are also attracted by the numerous historic buildings in the area, such as the Dutch Reformed Mother Church, a national monument designed to look like London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields church, and the Olive Schreiner House Museum, devoted to the author’s life and works. Olive is said to have written the novel The Story of an African Farm while working as a governess on farms in the district, and she spent much of her early life in Cradock.
The restored Old Water Mill and the Great Fish River Museum are also favoured by visitors, and Die Tuishuise and Victoria Manor has been beautifully restored to offer unique accommodation.
Cradock provides an authentic taste of country living and is a pleasing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
I love the fresh air, beautiful mountain scenery, nature, the big backyards, the fruit trees, the architecture and the farm-style feel. I love that we know everyone, but the day-to-day kindness is most important to me and I don’t want, or need, to live anywhere else in the world. This is home!
-Lisa Ker, resident.
Tourist attractions in Cradock:
- Mountain Zebra National Park
- Schreiner House Museum
- Fish River Museum
- Dutch Reformed Mother Church
- Cat Conservation Trust
- Orange Grove Karoo
- Cradock Four monument and Garden of Remembrance
Eating out in Cradock:
- True Living: for great South African cuisine
- Daggaboer Farm Stall: for delicious baked goods
- Buffalo Dan’s: for juicy steaks
- Albert Restaurant at Die Tuishuise and Victoria Manor: for a fantastic dinner
- The Olde Maple Shed: for great breakfasts
- Mila’s: for yummy pizza
Where to stay in Cradock:
- Die Tuishuise and Victoria Manor
- White Rose Guest House
- Annie’s Guest House
- Fish River Cottages
- Heritage House Bed and Breakfast
Private Property has the widest selection of houses for sale in Cradock.
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.