SUTHERLAND IN SOUTH AFRICA
The quaint town of Sutherland in South Africa’s Northern Cape was established in 1855 when life centered around the Dutch Reformed Church. Today the town is mainly a sheep farming area and an astronomer’s delight. Sutherland’s main attraction is the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), situated here because of Sutherland’s perfectly clear skies. The observatory is close to the town and is home to the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere the Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT. The town is in the center of the Great Karoo and the nearby Roggeveld Mountains are usually glittering with snow in wintertime. Sutherland is also the most southerly place where diamonds was discovered in South Africa, and old diamond diggings can still be seen in the area. For the physically active, there are an array of activities in Sutherland, including an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and a yoke-pin course. To the southeast of Sutherland is an old volcano named Salpeterkop, extinct for some 66 million years and now filled with sedimentary materials including saltpeter, hence the name. The site makes for a great hike up to the observatory. On the Fransplaas farm in the Roggeveld Mountains, Koos van der Merwe has been producing sheep milk cheese since 1997. Fransplaas sells fresh produce to the public so be sure to try out their cheese when in Sutherland. Sutherland is the birthplace of two famous poets and writers, N.P. Van Wyk Louw and W.E.G. Louw. The Louw Museum in Sutherland houses several items of interest such as the old lykswa (mortuary cart), which was used between 1912 to 1950.