Saturdays Sutherland And Sandstone
Sadly Karoo towns as we know them are changing. They’re dying a slow death. Sutherland too. Some call it progress, others the state of the nation, a few just shrug, sniff and probably think it’s someone’s just deserves. I think it’s tragic.
These once bustling towns, the heart of the farming community where Jewish shopkeepers, English soldiers, school teachers, clergymen and traders had close friendships with the farmers, who supported the villagers with their produce and custom.
The Dutch Reformed church, steeped in history, lovingly restored and the heart of the town doesn’t even warrant a permanent minister anymore, services now led by a retired Dominee who leads his motley flock with compassion and kindness.
Many stately homes and cottages are dilapidated, uncared for and unloved. As I walked around the town my heart broke as I saw neglected gardens, overgrown, tired and dying.
Fortunately not all is lost, there are inhabitants who love Sutherland and call it home, who have bought properties and are restoring them to their former glory. Young people, who have settled in the village, have businesses, restaurants, guest houses and even a new Private School.
These are the new generation who choose to escape the maelstrom of city life and opt to live a quieter life in the beautiful Karoo. Their enthusiasm, commitment, compassion and drive will save this special place so that you and I can visit it, be rejuvenated and breathe the cold, crisp Karoo air.
So I took to the dusty streets after a wholesome Karoo breakfast whilst my Precious worked on contracts. Shabby Chic always catches my eye; it’s more colourful and has more character in my opinion!
My first morning was concentrated on photographing colonial, English, Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture. Corrugated iron roofs, broekie lace, wooden staircases, whitewashed walls and sometimes brightly painted doors, windowsills and balustrades. The church tower and a windmill or two, often in the background, I’m sure in the days of old to remind parishioners where their loyalties must lie, in God and the earth.