Cradled in a loop of the Sundays River, the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet is home to some 200 national monuments. Around every corner a piece of history is revealed to the visitor.
And it is here, in the centre of town, that Merino sheep farmer and breeder, Jan Stephanus Minnaar, built his dream house during 1911. Avondrust (“evening rest”) was to be his retirement home. He lived here with his wife, Maria Magdalena Smuts, “Ouma Smuts”. After he passed away, his daughter, Cora Lückhoff inherited Avondrust. Cora did not want to live in the house and sold it to her brother, Eduard Smuts (Eddie) Minnaar. After his and his wife’s death, Cyril Minnaar bought Avondrust from the estate. His grandfather was Jan Minnaar’s brother.
* Secure Parking.
* BBQ facilities.
The oldest town in the Eastern Cape, the fourth oldest in South Africa and certainly one of the most atmospheric, Graaff-Reinet lies enclosed by a bend in the Sundays River, overshadowed by the rocky Sneeuberg Mountain within the Camdeboo National Park.
With over 200 buildings claimed as National Monuments and an entire street restored, including its slave cottages, Graaff-Reinet has retained much of the character of a typical 19th century town and is well worth a visit because of it. Known as the ‘gem of the Karoo’, Graaff-Reinet was founded in 1786 by the governor Cornelius Jacob van de Graaff, whose wife’s name was Cornelia Reinet. Her namesake - Reinet House - was originally built as a parsonage and is now a museum with one of the largest living grape vines in the world in its garden. This still bears fruit today.
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. This ‘cathedral of mountains’ provides many visitors with an incredible spiritual experience at best and one of environmental awareness at least.
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. There are also specialised tours in Graaff-Reinet for game viewing, rock art, fossil study, township walkabouts and Boer War monuments. A visit to the area would be incomplete without a visit to the little hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda and the Owl House.
In Room Facilities:
All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with private entrances leading out into the tranquil garden behind the impressive Edwardian Mansion.
All rooms boast space, privacy and comfort plus the use of a large pool overlooking the mountains.
Wake up to a full country breakfast.
Avondrust is within walking distance from all shops, museums and restaurants.
A full country breakfast is also offered as an extra.
* Camdeboo National Park.
* Camdeboo Pass.
* Camdeboo Route.
* Graaff-Reinet Dutch Reformed Church.
* Mountain Zebra Wilderness Corridor.
* Polka Restaurant.
* The Coral Tree Restaurant.
* Obesa Cactus Nursery
* Hester Rupert Art Museum.
* Spandau Kop Walks.
* Urquhart House Museum.
* Valley of Desolation.