Nieu Bethesda

Unveil the Rich Tapestry of Nieu Bethesda’s Cultural and Natural Heritage

The Owl House:

Step into the mesmerizing world of Helen Martins at the Owl House. Discover the fascinating story of this visionary artist who dared to express herself freely, away from the constraints of societal judgment. Wander through the enchanting sculptures and whimsical figures that adorn the space, and immerse yourself in the creative spirit that fueled Martins’ artistic journey.

Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre:

Embark on a journey through time at the Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre. Delve into the depths of Nieu Bethesda’s ancient past as you explore informative exhibits and marvel at fossil specimens from the region. Experience the thrill of discovery as you witness fossils firsthand, some even nestled within the riverbed, offering a glimpse into the prehistoric wonders that once roamed this land.

Nieu Bethesda Church:

Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the Nieu Bethesda Church. Admire the timeless architecture and elegant design of this historic landmark, which stands as a symbol of faith and resilience in the heart of the town.

Explore the Helen Martins Museum:

Dive into the captivating world of Helen Martins at the Helen Martins Museum, a poignant tribute to the life and legacy of this extraordinary artist. Contrary to popular belief, the museum is distinct from the Owl House, though closely linked in theme and proximity. Located on Martins Street, this museum offers a deeper understanding of Helen’s complex journey, showcasing old photographs, letters, and an introductory video shedding light on her artistic evolution and struggles.

Gain insight into Helen’s inner turmoil, believed to be rooted in undiagnosed bipolar disorder, as you peruse letters and personal writings reflecting her emotional turmoil. Despite her inner battles, Helen’s creative spirit flourished, culminating in the creation of the iconic Owl House and Camel Yard, her lasting legacy to the world.

Explore the Water Mill and Water Furrows:

Discover the historic treasures of Nieu Bethesda as you explore the charming village streets and uncover its hidden gems. One such gem is the old water mill, dating back to 1860, a testament to the village’s rich heritage. Marvel at the intricate network of water furrows that channel water from a spring atop the hill to nourish the village below.

Cross the suspension bridge over the Gats River, opposite the Owl House, to catch a glimpse of the original watermill with its towering metal wheel. Take a leisurely stroll along the village streets, tracing the path of the ancient leivore (water furrows) that sustain the community to this day.

Wander Through the Cemetery:

Step back in time and unearth the stories of generations past as you wander through the historic cemetery of Nieu Bethesda. From elaborate headstones to weathered markers, each grave tells a tale of love, loss, and resilience. Pay homage to fallen soldiers and newborn infants, each memorial a poignant reminder of the village’s rich tapestry of life and death.

Trace the origins of Nieu Bethesda back to the 1700s, as you decipher faded inscriptions and weathered carvings on ancient tombstones. Let the tranquil atmosphere of the cemetery envelop you as you contemplate the passage of time and the eternal cycle of life and death.

Go Stargazing:

Escape the glare of city lights and bask in the brilliance of the night sky over Nieu Bethesda. With its clear, dry air and minimal light pollution, the village offers the perfect setting for stargazing. Look up at the Milky Way in all its splendor and marvel at the twinkling constellations that adorn the heavens above.

Discover the Stone Folk:

Venture north along Martin Street to uncover the Stone Folk of Ongeluksloot at Doornberg Farm. Created by artist Ryno Greef, these striking stone and wire sculptures are a testament to the creative spirit of the Karoo. Wander among the ten figures, each with its own unique story to tell, and immerse yourself in the artistry of this outdoor installation.

Climb the Compassberg:

Challenge yourself to conquer the towering peak of the Compassberg, the highest free-standing peak in the Eastern Cape. With its breathtaking 360-degree views of the Karoo landscape, the summit offers a reward like no other for hikers brave enough to undertake the ascent. Contact Brenda at the farmhouse for permission and directions before embarking on this moderate to difficult hike, ensuring a safe and memorable adventure.

Explore the myriad wonders of Nieu Bethesda, from its rich cultural heritage to its breathtaking natural beauty, and uncover the secrets of this hidden gem in the heart of the Eastern Cape.

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Getting to The Rest
We are half way between Cape Town and Johannesberg (about 8 hours in either direction) half an hour off the N9 highway. We are an hour from Graaff-Reinet and 25 minutes from Nieu Bethesda.

To Drive: Email us for directions and check on the current state of the road and how your car will fare on the dirt roads.

Carpool to workshops: Join the event on the Facebook page and see who is keen to carpool. Email us to put you in touch with other drivers coming from your area.

Bus: Both Intercape and Translux stop in Graaff-Reinet. We will arrange to pick you up from the bus station and bring you to the farm directly or via a guest house (buses usually arrive at awkward times in the late or early hours.)
Email us to arrange this.

Fly: Catch a flight to Port Elizabeth and hire car to drive to the farm (this is a four hour drive).
Co-ordinate with other workshop participants who want to do the same. Email us for directions.

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