Colesberg – Horse Breeding and Historical Attractions

The history of Colesberg in South Africa all started with the perfectly symmetrical, cone-shaped hill that can still be seen just above the town today. It was this hill that served as a landmark for early travelers who were exploring the South African interiors, and it was below this landmark, around a water hole, that the first mission station sprang up here in 1814. Situated just 28 kilometers from the Orange River, approximately half way between Cape Town and Johannesburg, the Colesberg mission marked the furthest outreach of the Cape Colony.

When the Colesberg Mission was first established, it was hoped that its presence would help bring peace to a turbulent frontier. The mission soon attracted large numbers of San and Khoikhoi people who lived peaceful lives and embraced what they were learning. Unfortunately, the presence of these people was later seen to be a threat to the farmers who’d moved into the area and the Cape Government later closed the missionary station down. Shortly afterwards, in 1822, the remaining farmers petitioned for town status. This was granted in 1830 and the town was named after Sir Lowry Cole, the Governor of the Cape at the time. As a frontier town, it quickly fell into disrepute with illicit gunpowder and liquor trading making it a busy place. These activities toned down somewhat after a Magistrate was sent to bring order to the town. During the Boer War the town was captured and held by the Boers for several months.

Today Colesberg is known for its hot, dry and dusty conditions, its horse breeding and its interesting historical attractions. In fact, the town continues to enjoy good agricultural yields and merino sheep and horse farms are found across the area. The town itself is filled with an unusual mixture of architecture, with examples of Cape Dutch gables, Victorian, Georgian and Karoo Cottage all present in the town. Indeed, whole streets of Karoo Block houses can still be seen here. One of the primary tourist attractions is the Kemper Museum which is filled with fascinating photographs of Karoo nomads. The Horse Mill – one of the last remaining mills of this type – is also worth seeing. Other things worth seeing are the Anglican Church, with its beautiful stained glass windows, and the Doornkloof Nature Reserve which is situated just outside the town.

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