So I headed out with some of my peeps yesterday to the #kleinkaroo,  also called the GROOT VOËL paradys ,aka Oudtshoorn, for a long cycle back to George. Having an injury I volunteered to be the “Bakkie Bokkie”, which is the back up vehicle on their cycle, but little did they know that my roadtripping skills are phenomenal,  or maybe they do… I think the smile on my face gave it away.  


First Ostrich Boom

Oudtshoorn’s ostrich industry dates back to 1864. After becoming a fashion commodity for European nobility. Feather exports saw a sharp increase from the Cape Colony during the mid 1860’s , which is generally accepted as the launch of the industry in South Africa. Between 1875 and 1880, ostrich prices reached up to £1000 a pair. The value of ostrich feathers, per pound, equaled almost that of diamonds. Such was the worth of the white ostrich feather, that it was dubbed, “white gold “

Regardless,  put me in a car and tell me to head for the hills and a cheesy grin is stuck on this face for at least three days. I just love being out there on the backroads. “

Second Ostrich Boom

A second and bigger boom started after the war. It was during this period that “feather barons”, ostrich farmers who had become rich, built most of Oudtshoorn’s famously opulent “feather palaces”, their houses, most of them on the west bank of the Grobbelaars River. Ostrich feathers were outranked only by gold, diamonds and wool among South African exports before World War I. The market collapsed in 1914, according to The Chicago Tribune, as a result of “the start of World War I, overproduction and the popularity of open-topped cars, which made ostrich-feather hats impractical.” 80% of the ostrich farmers were bankrupted, and the ostriches were set loose or slaughtered for biltong. 

Followed by the historic passes through the Outeniqua hills and if you stand still and listen, you can perhaps catch the clanging of steel tools on rocks. 

Blood,  sweat and tears seeped into the ground of these forgotten dust tracks. Camera in hand I try and capture a few moments in time,  place myself in the footsteps of ghost and wonder what it must have been like back then. 

 One day I might be brave enough to face this unforgiving history on a bicycle too, but for now the comfort of a car is bliss.Thanks to Mark and Amanda Dixon from and Juan Botes and Janine Swart for tagging me along, I loved it.  #HowzitSouthAfrica