The little town of Rietbron, established in 1910, lies in the heart of the Karoo, almost halfway between Beaufort West and Willowmore. It is the "Karoo dorp" of everyone's imagination, set as it is in Die Vlakte (the plains). Its main attribute is the friendly folk who live there.
Established in 1910 due to the surrounding farming community's need for a church, school and other social facilities, over 100 years later Rietbron is still a settlement that provides to the most basic needs of its community. The heart of the town is still the organisations that exist here namely the Church, the School, the Agricultural Association, the Womans' Club and the Tennis Club.
This is farming country. A vibrant mohair industry stretches from here to Willowmore and to Jansenville in the east. In earlier times farms in the area were heavily stocked - one farm carried 12 000 Angora goats for example, but degration of pasture-land over time has led to a more scientific approach when deciding on land carrying capacity. Given an average rainfall of 188mm a year, most of the farming involving Angora goats as well as Merino and Dorper sheep, is done through purposeful breeding and selection. Mohair and Karoo lamb are synonymous with Rietbron.
In 1973 uranium was discovered in the area, seen from an airplane on the rocks of a rock garden on the farm Ryskuil. Options were taken on several farms in the district and in 1977, Esko Minerals purchased Ryskuil. A test shaft was sunk, a village was laid out and a airfield was built. But in 1984, Esko discontinued its search for uranium becasue the price of uranium had declined by 50%. Since 2004 some prospecting has been done on Ryskuil and several other farms in the area.
The village hosts an annual sporting festival in aid of the local primary school that is attended by loyal "Rietbronners' from all over South Africa.
And, because Rietbron is truly 'in the middle of nowhere", it has become a firm favourite with weekenders yearning for an escape to a place where peace and tranquility abound.
Rietbron lies on the R306 between Beaufort West and Willowmore. It's about 100km from Beaufort West, or a little over and hour's drive.
The best time to visit is during the change of seasons - March/April, September/October to avoid excessive hear or cold. Please note there are no ATM's or banks in Rietbron, nor are there any fuel stations.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
The ACVV (Afrikaans Christelike Vroue Vereniging) hall was originally built in 1927 to be used as a church hall, however when a new church hall was built in 1953, it was decided to use the ACVV hall as a MUSEUM. Although only officially opened many years later, the historical building was restored and filled with collections donated by the community. Antique farming implements are also stored in a shed next to this museum. To visit the museum, please contact Hetta van der Waldt on 083 590 3847.
NG KERK (Dutch Reformed Church)
The NG KERK was built in 1953 after a fire razed the original building in 1913. Currently it serves 95 members. With it's Springbok weather vane on its tower, the only one of its kind in South Africa, it is an unusual attraction. Church services are held every Sunday from 10h00 to 11h00. The number of the Parsonage is 044 934 1009.
Since 1999, an annual INTER-SCHOOL SPORTS weekend is held to raise funds for the school which was founded in 1910. Primary and High school teams from as far as Paarl are invited to participate. Old Boys and Girls return to Rietbron for this weekend of rugby, netball and festive Karoo entertainment. For more info, contact Rietbron Primary School on 044 934 1032.
HUNTING safaris provide a good source of income for many farmers and as a result many farms in the area are well-stocked with eland, gazelle, deer, impala, common and black springbok, kudu and many smaller antelope. Visitors to the area should keep a look-out for game crossing the roads, especially after dark. For info on hunting opportunities in the Rietbron area, contact the Baviaans Tourism Office on 044 923 1702.
The BEERVLEI DAM was completed in 1957. It was built for the purpose of flood control on the Grootrivier, especially for the sake of the farming community in the Patensie area. In 1961 the Kariega and Salt Rivers, the feeder rivers for the Beervleid Dam, came down in flood and the dam overflowed for the first time. The dam never stays full for any length of time since it is a flood control dam and not for irrigation purposes. Whenever the dam receives enough water, the sluices are opened to make water available for irrigation on a rotation basis for users downstream. In 2001 the dam was almost at full capacity and the sluice gates were kept closed for some months. As a result the fish population increased and anglers recorded catches of Carp, Silver fish and Springers. In recent years it has been noted that less and less water flowes into this dam as a result of the construction of weirs upstream and also because the annual rainfall has dropped in the catchment area. Beervlei Dam remains, however, a very interesting attraction. The picnic spot just below the wall remains a favourite stopping place for passers-by.
THe farm, Kaalplaas, depite immense water scarcity, was declared an urban area in 1909. It was observed that a nearby reed-bush (known as "rietbos" in Afrikaans) produced a sustainable damp spot in the soil. Drawing on Biblical ways, a well was dug and a very strong and shallow underground water source was discovered. Hence, the source (translated "bron" in Afrikaans), of Rietbron's name. Water from the source flowed into Paddadam, from which many farmlands and orchards were irrigated.
The current LIBRARY was one of the first buildings in the town. Rietbron's school was established in this building shortly after the establishment of the town. From 1919 until 1960 it was used as a hostel for the school. On 12 July 1961 it was established as the town's library. The contact number for the library is 044 934 1008.
The KANNIEDOOD (Aloe Veriegatal) is probably the most well-known and outstanding of aloes of the Karoo, with its white spots on both sides of its leaves, it resembles the spots of a partridge - hence its common name: partridge breast aloe. The Afrikaans name, Kanniedood (the inability to die), refers to its resistance to prolonged droughts. Kanniedood - indeed - it goes for plant, animal and human in this region.