Most visitors to Somerset East discover this quaint Karoo midlands town along the Blue Crane Route on the R63 while travelling between Cape Town and Gauteng. Also known as one of the country’s best cattle producing regions, this location about halfway between the neighbouring towns of Bedford and Pearston has a reputation for attracting long lines of farming communities.
The town of Somerset East town remains known for its natural beauty and spectacular rose gardens, in its location at the foot of the Boschberg Mountains. Newcomers delight in the town’s many outdoor pleasures including a number of hiking trails and overnight hut at the summit of the mountain in the Boschberg Nature Reserve. Other adventures available to visitors to this area is Rainbow and Brown trout fishing at the Glenavon Waterfall pools, as well as trout fishing on one of several dams in the area. The area also boasts a malaria free safari region while visitors can also enjoy a round of golf at what is known as one of the country’s most beautiful nine hole golf courses.
In the town itself, beautiful old buildings now declared national monuments make for interesting historic visits, such as the Old Wesleyan Chapel once the officer’s mess, and now home to the Somerset East Museum. This is also where one of the largest collections of paintings of the reknown local painter Walter Batiss who was born there, is now housed.
The history of this country town, also famous for its beautiful rose growing areas, goes back to Somerset Farm that was an experimental farm and settlement initiated by Lord Charles Somerset in 1815. Located in the Boschberg Valley, it was established as one of three farms in the district, including the Gamtoos and Swartkops Valleys, for the improvement of stock breeding purposes, and to produce supplies to soldiers on the frontier. It was ten years later, after this project was cancelled, that a new district was declared, and the word East was added to its name 30 years later.
Current property statistics show a low turnover of sales possibly as a result of residents and property owners in this district staying for extended periods, mostly exceeding 11 years. Yet, a variety of properties are available on the market in this area, including a range of smaller historic and large family residences in the centre of town. Average values of freestanding properties at R550 000 here compare well to lower values in the neighbouring towns of Aloeville and Cookhouse. Property prices for large four and five bedroom homes, some which are double storey structures in the central town area, are currently on the market from R3-million to R2-million. Two and three bedroom home prices can range from R1-million down to approximately R800 000, and a smaller house in the central part of town dating back to 1825 is currently available for R850 000.
For those in search of a smaller size property to farm, a 130ha Karoo farm in the Somerset East district can be found for R950 000. And a larger farm measuring 963 ha and located on what is known among farmers as the ‘smaldeel’ farming belt, west of the N10 and north of Cookhouse, is on the market for R7.4-million. Another choice is a 760 ha farm on the market for R4-million, with existing stocks of cattle, sheep and game.