The Eastern Frontier of the early 1800�s (1770 �
1814) was the meeting of two cultures, the Boer and
the Xhosa, both of whom looked upon cattle as their
wealth. They both coveted the same grazing area.
Earlier the Eastern trek of the Boers was
through the arid areas of the Cape, and
Reinet was founded as the fourth Drostdy in 1786
(it was the fourth district in the Cape colony to be
granted a Drostdy or seat of local government).
It was in 1814 that Sir John Cradock decided to
build a series of forts along the lower Fish River
and all the way up to the Cradock to try to contain
the Xhosa people to the East of the Fish River which
had been proclaimed the boundary by the Government
of the Cape.
Cradock, although intended as a fort, never saw
conflict. The Xhosas in their Western migration were
nearer the lower part of the Great Fish River rather
than its upper reaches.
Lord Charles Somerset succeeded Sir John Cradock
and decided to invite the 1820 settlers to South
Africa to act as a buffer between the Xhosa and the
rest of the Cape Colony.
In 1848 Thomas Baines, the explorer and painter
passed through Cradock and said that it had a
population of about 9,000 persons (4,300 whites and
4,490 black/coloureds). He was impressed with the
great buildings, of both English and Dutch
A group of 25 refurbished Karoo style cottages
from the 1840s, known as Die Tuishuise, serve as
guste houses and are ideally located in Market
Die Tuishuise capture the period of Thomas
Baines� visit as they were built in both English and
Dutch style, and housed the artisans, namely harness
makers and wainwrights, who made a living from the
wagons and oxen and horses that passed through to
the Great Northern line.
As civilization caught up with Cradock,
first the Railway line in 1881 and then the
motor car between 1908 and 1920, the skill
of the blacksmiths, the farriers and the
harness makers became less and less in
demand. Poverty began to descend on the
inhabitants of Market Street. This poverty
resulted in less and less money being
available to modernise homes, with the
result that Cradock has many houses that
have stood unaltered for a hundred years.
Today Cradock is the capital of the Cape
Midlands and is one of the thriving rural
towns. Prosperity has come with the ability
of the farmer to utilize the indigenous
flora such as Karoo Bushes to produce of the
best wool and mohair and to impart that
typical Karoo flavour to the lamb and
Cradock has a healthy climate, with hot
summers, bracing winters and a low rainfall.
It is the lack of rain that provides the
magnificent view of the stars at night and
the glorious sun rises and sunsets one
associates with a desert.
Tourism prospers in Cradock because of
its historical past (the Great Trek started
in Cradock and its surrounding districts)
and the geographical position makes Cradock
an ideal stop�over for the traveller
en-route to the major centres.
Located in Cradock, this was the
home of the famous South African
authoress. It is a fine example of
A 3-4 hour hike to the summit of
Buffelskop mountain takes you to the
spot where the author is buried,
together with her husband, their
baby and dog.