Members Meeting: Forgotten Overberg Routes


Speaker: Roger Stewart

Venue: Catholic Church Hall, Eastcliff, Hermanus

Date: 14 February 2022

Time: 16.00 to 17.30

Forgotten Overberg Routes

As ox-wagon traffic to, from and through the Overberg increased in the 18th and 19th centuries, so too did the route options. The numerous early routes over the mountains were notorious and numerous and a significant factor in the development of Port Beaufort. Most of the old routes have been forgotten and only the Gantouw pass is a provincial heritage site.

In the year that Hermanus Pieters arrived in Cape Town (1815) and took the ox-wagon to Caledon, William John Burchell was in the Overberg, returning on a different route, after a 4-year trek in southern Africa. Six months later, Burchell was on his way back to London and passed Rev. Christian Latrobe in the Atlantic. He was on his way to visit missionary stations in the Cape Colony. He travelled through the Overberg and took another route. Yet another pass was built during the second Anglo Boer War.

I shall discuss, and illustrate with historical maps and Google earth, the main routes, including the following ox-wagon ‘passes’: the three Groot Houw Hoeks, Poespas, Klein Houw Hoek, Donkerhoek, Drostersnes.
Roger explaining De Lacaille’s map of the Cape of Good Hope

Roger is a truant from medicine, academic clinical physiology, and commercial business. He conducts self-funded research and publishes on African maps and associated history (forty articles & three monographs). His curated collections of miniature maps have been acquired by UNISA and Stanford University Library. He also deals in historical maps of Africa. He is the representative of the International Map Collectors’ Society in South Africa, Chairman of the Friends of the Cape Medical Museum and a member of the Washington Map Society, Royal Society of Southern Africa, and the Owl Club.

Footprint Press recently published his book of essays inspired by historical maps of the Cape of Good Hope: . Copies will be on sale at the meeting.


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