Eastern Cape DestinationsVondeling, Baviaanskloof
The little village of Vondeling, a euphemism for a smattering of homesteads grouped together alongside the now disused Vondeling railway siding, lies roughly 47 kilometres north west of Willowmore in a district known as the Cacadu.
There is also a primary school and church hall, in amongst the tiny houses, but no electricity and no connection to the outside world, bar a dirt road, particularly as the train stopped running long ago. There is the R332 that edges fairly close to the settlement but most travellers take the N9 between Willowmore and Aberdeen, missing little places like this back water completely.
What Vondeling does have is a community project. Vondeling Optel Craft is a social enterprise run entirely by the local community, in a bid to close the gap between the community and the outside world. Thirteen women and two men not only supply to craft retail stores in South Africa but they also export their beautiful wire angels overseas.
The products are ethereal. The project make what they call 'angelic creations', a series of hand-made angels - a fusion of knitting, crocheting and felting in which they mix merino wool, wire wool, beads and other local products like ostrich feathers. They've become know as the Vondeling Angels and have placed the town quite firmly on the map.
Nearby the town of Rietbron has a similar craft project in which they produce crocheted and knitted hearts in wire. Rietbron is slightly bigger. It qualifies as a town and has both permanent residents and holiday homes. It's known as the garden town of the Karoo, even if the gardens are primarily a series of Karoo bush, stones, dry river beds and thorn trees – it's still beautiful.