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Willowmore, it seems, was officially established in 1874. But before that time there were of course Koi and farmers in the area, often at loggerheads with each other. It is now one of the largest mohair producing districts in South Africa. Furthermore, it boasts most of the amenities and facilities found in larger towns and even cities, a hospital and well-kept airfield attest to this (even if the solitary aircraft, ZS-DXZ, dates back to an era gone by!). Karoo towns often have problems with water – or a lack thereof. Willowmore is fortunate in that it has access to a strong water source on the farm Wanhoop, more than 20 km from town.
The name Willowmore is nowadays closely associated with the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site and the annual Baviaans Mountain Bike Race (intended only for the super fit since it ends in Jeffreys Bay after a strenuous section of more than 100 km through the Baviaanskloof). But do please peruse these pages further to find out more about this exclusive town, its district and people.
Baviaanskloof life received a boost in 1989 when a SAP Police Station was opened at Studtis. An extra boost for opening up the kloof took place in 2004 when the more than 500,000 ha area was declared a World Heritage Site.
Rietbron lies in in the flat expanse to the north of Willowmore. With an average rainfall below 200mm per year it is much drier than the area more to the south, yet small stock seem to thrive under these conditions while animal pests and diseases do less well!
Vondeling’s claim to fame derives from the crafts enterprise housed here – living proof of what a person or people with a clear vision and missionary spirit can achieved when driven by entrepreneurial verve. Hand-manufactured figurines are sold throughout South Africa and even exported to Europe
Construction of Beervlei dam was completed in 1957. The initial planning was for Beervlei to be used for flood control lower down in the Groot River – where it becomes the Gamtoos River. In recent years Beervlei has become something of a white elephant since it is mostly empty. The reasons are that the dam has become silted up and that run-off from the veld has drastically diminished because of better farming practices and to the numerous soil erosion structures that have been built in the catchment area.
Rainfall & weather. Willowmore lies on the border between the winter rainfall area – typically associated with the Western Cape – and the summer rainfall area. Statistically most rain occurs in the autumn period mid-February to mid-April but rain can occur in any month. The average rainfall varies from south to west in the district and even from west to east. The average can be considered to be 300 ± 150mm per year.
Willowmore falls under the Cacadu District Municipality of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and is the main town of the Baviaans Local Municipality. Steytlerville is another important town, but Baviaans Municipality now also includes the town of Rietbron. Baviaans Municipality covers and area of 11,668 km² and has a population of approximately 17,000 people.