Sutherland may be famous as one of the coldest places in South Africa, but it is also home to some spectacular historical sites as well as a Planetary Observatory.
Dutch Reformed Church:
The N G Church was designed by Charles Freeman who also designed the Dutch Reformed church of Graaff Reinet and the Standard Bank in Cape Town . During the Anglo Boer War, the church was invaded for 8 months by the British troops. Filled to capacity, it can seat 1200 people.
When the farmers move their sheep from the cold Roggeveld area down to the Karoo , they have a communal once a year at the Tuinplaas Church 55 km out on the Matjiesfontein route.
The two very famous Afrikaans poets and writers N P van Wyk Louw and W E G Louw were born in this very same house. Together they achieved 6 Hertzog prices for literacy. Several other interesting displays are also to be seen at the Louw Museum.
Road to the Stars:
Plinths for the nine planets of the solar system were built to scale in the main road or Planetarium Highway, representing the size of the sun in comparison to the size of the planets and also the distance between the planets. Craftsman of the local community dressed the stonework.
The most interesting grave in the English Cemetery is that of a soldier drowned in a flash flood. He was given a communal burial and after the war the British government sent a military cross and a second grave was made. The soldier was thus buried twice. The Jewish Cemetery is also worth visiting.
Sutherland and the surrounding areas offer a lot of unusual places, scenes and events to entertain and amaze any traveller.
18 km out of town, one can enjoy the site of the seven telescopes of the Observatory, one being “SALT” (Southern African Large Telescope) which has the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. With this telescope one is able to see a candle flame on the moon. It has a mirror diameter of 11 metres.
Ouberg Pass has a lovely lookout post on the escarpment of the Roggeveld mountains 45 km out of town in a westerly direction. One is able to see the Ceres Karoo mountains about 200 km away.
Fransplaas Sheep Cheese (quite a name!) is the only sheep cheese farm in the country about 50 km out of town in the Calvinia direction. Sheep cheese is definitely an acquired taste – be bold and do as the Aussies do!
The Koornlandskloof Tulips flower at the end of September, an interesting site filled with colour and worth visiting. Hiking and biking trails are also available with ample clean, cheap lodging.
Skurweberg, Verlatenkloof and Banksgate 4 × 4 Farms have exciting off-road routes as well as hiking and biking trails with ample lodging and beautiful scenery. Sterboom, Rye grass, Elephants feet and veld flowers are only some of the endangered species of flora to be found in this area.
Salpeterkop, the last active volcano south of the equator is to be found close to the observatory. It was active 66 million years ago. Seismologically the Japanese found that Sutherland and the surrounding area are now the quietest in the world!
On the farm Ezeljaht, 20 km out of town, one can enjoy a scenic two day hike, called the Silhouette Hiking trail.
Coming from Matjiesfontein, one has to drive the winding 15 km Verlatenkloof Pass climbing nearly a 1000 metres. It was designed by Thomas Bain, the son of the famous Bain who built the Bainskloof pass near Wellington.