Stories and Traveltips

ID #5003

Naming of Compassberg, Graaff-Reinet, Karoo, Eastern Cape.

Robert Jacob Gordon, a Dutchman of Scots ancestry, commanded the garrison at the Cape from 1780 to 1795.  A gifted man, he had a restless zeal for exploration and undertook many journeys into the interior. In 1777 he undertook what was to become a momentous journey.  He passed through Swellendam to Beervlei at the confluence of the Kariega and Salt Rivers and from there to the Sneeuberg.  Travelling north he subsequently discovered the Orange (Gariep) River. 

On the way from Beervlei he probably stayed on the farm Brakke Fontein on which the town of Aberdeen was later founded in 1855.  Here he made a panoramic drawing eighteen feet long by 18 inches wide. Comparison shows that it was made from an isolated cone-shaped koppie near Aberdeen.  It is known as Gordon’s Kop and is marked by a stone tablet next to the main road.

He continued his journey though the Sneeuberg and, being an experienced mountaineer, climbed Compassberg.  From the top he was able to comprehend the lie of the surrounding land.  It is believed he named it Compassberg because streams flow from its summit in all directions. Lichtenstein said Gordon named it because of the fine all-round view from the summit. ASNaming

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Last update: 2014-05-14 01:48
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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