Norvalspont, Upper Karoo

Norvalspont, as the word 'pont' in its name suggests (a pont is a ferry boat or punt), lies on the southern banks of the Orange River minutes from the Gariep Dam. It is also really close to the border of the Northern Cape with the Eastern Cape, and the border of the Northern Cape with the Free State.

The town lies 39 kilometres from its nearest neighbour, Colesberg, to which it is connected by the R58. It is a pretty town surrounded by hills on a particularly beautiful section of the Orange River, with the Bethulie hills forming the skyline.

Because of all the water, and its position, Norvalspont is also the site of two historic bridges that bring rail and road into town. The reason for the town's existence goes back to the 1840s when John Norval, from Scotland, started a ferry service across the Orange River (we are talking a rather wide river), naming the pont service 'Glasgow' after the town from which he originated.

Interestingly, today there is a Facebook group dedicated to studying the genealogical research of the Norval family, focusing on Scotland and South Africa.

Norvalspont was also the site of a British concentration camp during the South African War of 1900 to 1902, one which Emily Hobhouse visited and wrote about extensively. It took on the overflow from what was a rather overcrowded Bloemfontein camp with a grave shortage of water. There is a memorial that one can visit today.

Nearby Colesberg is regarded as the halfway mark on the N1 between Cape Town and Johannesburg, deep in the heart of the Karoo.

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