Hanover, Karoo, Northern Cape, South Africa

Hanover, Karoo, Northern Cape, South Africa.

Position, position, position! That's the main attraction of this town almost halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town on the N1. (And also halfway between Durban and Cape Town on the interior route which some people take because it is faster than the coastal route, even if it is a bit further.) There is very little tourist development here but it's a good overnight spot and there are some pleasant farm stays. There are fuel stations, a craft shop and restaurant on the national road. This is real Karoo country and it takes a bit of getting used to.

Hanover, a small town in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, is named after Hanover in Germany. The town was established in 1854. Historic figures were at the centre of life here, people like Olive Schreiner, author and women's rights champion, and the tempestuous Rev. Thomas Francois Burgers. Among its residents were the wealthy and eccentric. The town's chief constable was the grandson of Lord Charles Somerset, the magistrate's clerk a son of Dean Vaughan of Llandaff, well-known churchman and devotional writer of his day.

Today the busy Karoo N 1 route cuts through the veld between the town and its cemetery. But during the last century all roads converged in Hanover and all travelers passed through the town. It was on an important stop for stage coaches carrying passengers to the Diamond Fields, and the Free State mail was carried through by post cart. Daily life bubbled with people ever on the move. But then in 1884, the advent of the railway deprived the town of much of its through traffic and its character slowly changed.

Hanover grew rapidly and by 1881 a jail was built, but a courthouse only came in 1897. The town had a post and telegraph office, a bank, several general dealers, a hotel and a school. Its list of tradesmen included a mason, a farrier and groom, painter, miller, dam builder, brick maker, scab inspector, carpenter, wagon maker, butcher, a post rider and carriers to the railway station 18km away. The original farmstead is today a national monument. It houses a small cultural history museum, and on display are old bottles, clothes, glassware, kitchen utensils and implements. There is also an intriguing model of the Dutch Reformed Church.