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Information on Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Conference Venues South Africa brings you information on Graaff Reinet situated in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa including information on Facilities and Recreation, Climate, Founding, History Suburbs, Town Planning and Geography.

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Graaff Reinet is the fourth oldest town in the South Africa and is located in the Eastern Province. The town lies on the, banks of the Sunday's River. There are many museums and national monuments situated in Graaff-Reinet. For nature lovers, there is the Karoo Nature Reserve.

Although Graaff-Reinet is in the heart of the Karoo Heartland with its flat, sandy plains and incredibly hot summers, it is encircled by the Camdeboo Park, which breaks the sandy monotony with its rich greenness and mountains. Within the park are the Nqweba Dam and the Valley of Desolation, providing some of the best examples of the unique jointed pillars formed by dolerites, which rise to heights of 120 metres in places.

Because of the diverse geography of the area, there is a rich bird and animal life. Within the Camdeboo Conservancy are some 22 farms, providing visitors with a range of accommodation and hikers with some amazing trails. There is trout fishing, horse riding, Graaff-Reinet’s bird club and the national park is stocked with game.

Graaff Reinet History

The town was founded by the VOC Dutch East India Company in 1786, being named after the then governor of Cape Colony, Cornelis Jacob van de Graeff, and his wife whose maiden name was "Reynet".

In 1795, the burghers, smarting under the exactions of the VOC, expelled the Landdrost and proclaimed a republic. Similar action was subsequently taken by the burghers of Swellendam. Before the authorities at Cape Town could take decisive measures against the rebels, they were themselves compelled to capitulate to the British. The burghers having endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to get aid from a French warship at Algoa Bay surrendered to Colonel JO Vandeleur.

In January 1799 Marthinus Prinsloo, the leader of the republicans in 1795, again rebelled, but surrendered in April following. Prinsloo and nineteen others were imprisoned in Cape Town castle. After trial, Prinsloo and another commandant were sentenced to death and others to banishment. The sentences were not carried out, and the prisoners were released, March 1803, on the retrocession of the Cape to the Netherlands.

In 1801, there had been another revolt in Graaff Reinet, but owing to the conciliatory measures of General F Dundas peace was soon restored. It was this district, where a republican government in South Africa was first proclaimed, which furnished large numbers of the Voortrekkers in 1835-1842.

Graaff Reinet became the centre of British military operations for the entire Eastern Cape during the Second Boer War. In 1901, a number of captured Boer rebels were tried in the town for crimes ranging from high treason, murder, attempted murder, arson and robbery. Nine were sentenced to death, with eight of these being executed by firing squad on the outskirts of the town, while the ninth sentence was carried out in Colesberg. The Burgher Monument in Donkin Street commemorates the fallen rebels.

Graaff Reinet Geography

The town lies 750 metres above the sea and is built on the banks of the Sunday's River, which rises a little farther north on the southern slopes of the Sneeuberge, and splits into several channels here. The Dutch Reformed church in the town is a prominent stone building in the high street with seating accommodation for 1500 people. The building is influenced by the architecture of Salisbury Cathedral in London.

The college is an educational centre of some importance; it was rebuilt in 1906. The Graaff Reinet Teachers College was closed down in 1990 after it was used as a centre for further educational training for about six years. Graaff Reinet is a flourishing market for agricultural produce, the district being noted for its mohair industry, sheep and ostrich farming.

Toursit Attractions

  • The Valley of Desolation, a geological wonder of weathered dolerite pillars which is a declared national monument with magnificent views over the Karoo plains.
  • The Camdeboo National Park of 200 km², on the outskirts of the town with its interesting flora and fauna.
  • Stretch's Court, a picturesque restored street of Karoo cottages with brightly painted shutters and doors.
  • Reinet House Museum - a Cape Dutch building, formerly the Dutch Reformed Church parsonage
  • The Agave Distillery - a distillery producing tequila from the agave plant.
  • The Karoo architecture.
  • The Dutch Reformed Church in the centre of the town. This Dutch Reformed Church is the only known church in South Africa and possibly in the world to have a kitchen and a chimney.
  • The Drostdy Hotel - A Cape Dutch building erected in 1806 as the local seat of government by the VOC. Currently a hotel.

Towns and Suburbs of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa

Addo , Aliwal North , Bathurst , Beachview , Beacon Bay , Bluewater Bay , Cape St Francis , Cintsa , Coffee Bay , Cradock , East London , Gonubie , Graaff Reinet , Grahamstown , Haga Haga , Hogsback , Humewood , Humerail , Jansenville , Jeffreys Bay , Kei Mouth , Kenton-on-Sea , King Williams Town , Kirkwood , Nahoon , Mthatha , Paterson , Port Elizabeth , Port Alfred , Port St Johns , Qolora Mouth , Quigney , Rhodes , Richmond Hill , St Francis Bay , Storms River , Stutterheim , Summerstrand , Sunland , Swartkops , Tsitsikamma , Uitenhage , Walmer

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