Saturday 26 September 2009

GARIEP - GREATRIVER - ORANJE

Op 19 September 2009 het Simon du Plooy, voorsitter van die Noordwes-tak van die GGSA, die Wes-Gautengtak toegespreek oor Robert Jacob GORDON – die Davey Crockett van Suid-Afrika -- die amptelike ontdekker van die Gariep-/Grootrivier/Oranje. 

Hieronder is Gordon se eerste indrukke van die Oranjerivier nadat sy geselskap die rivier op 23 Desember 1777 bereik het, ongeveer 10 km suidwes van die huidige Bethulie waar die rivierloop ‘n skerp draai gemaak het. Die plek is vandag merendeels onder die waters van die Gariepdam en nie meer herkenbaar nie. Die oorspronklike beskrywing was uiteraard in Oud-Nederlands.

Above:  Colonel RJ Gordon intravelling costume. From drawing by himself or his draftsman Schumacher.

The countryside, falling steeply away, promised nothing.

Then in the flat stretch which was about five hours further on we saw some green shrubs half an hour away, past the edge of the mountain. These we found to be thorn trees and all of a sudden we came upon the steep bank of a great river. It flowed from the east, a good hour to the west,through a gateway in the mountains.

At its narrowest here it is about 225 paces wide as we saw it from the flight of a bullet. In addition it flowed as strongly as the meuse at Maastricht.

The southern bank was about 40 feet high and steep, though it was possible to get to the water, there was reed growing in the direction of the gateway in places and there were high thorn trees.



Picture 1.


Picture 2.


Picture 3.

CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE.


Picture 1:  Painting made on 25 December 1777 of where the Orange and the Caldeon rivers flow together. Gordon named the river on the left the Queen Wilhelmina river (later the Caldedon) and the river on the right the King Willem river (later the Orange river). Where the two rivers meet he named them after the Dutch Royal House, Oranje. Source:   Patrick Cullinan: Robert Jacob Gordon, 1743 --1795: The man and his travels at the Cape. p. 43.  Original in the Ryksmuseum In the Netherlands.

Picture 2:  Gordonskoppie, named after Robert Gordon.  It is approximately 10 km from Aberdeen en route to Graaff-Reinet.

Picture 3: Gordon's Kop.

The northern bank was lower, with reed and many willow and some thorn-trees. This bank had stoney ridges and coarse shining sand but the soil in the river itself was clayey and vegetal.

There were reefs here and there stretching from one bank to the other over which the stream rustled loudly.

At its narrowest here it is about 225 paces wide as we saw it from the flight of a bullet. In addition it flowed as strongly as the meuse at maastricht.

The southern bank was about 40 feet high and steep, though it was possible to get to the water, there was reed growing in the direction of the gateway in places and there were high thorn trees.

The northern bank was lower, with reed and many willow and some thorn-trees. This bank had stoney ridges and coarse shining sand but the soil in the river itself was clayey and vegetal.

There were reefs here and there stretching from one bank to the other over which the stream rustled loudly.

Source:  Cullinan - Patrick: Robert Jacob Gordon (1743-1795) The man and his travels at the Cape. p. 44 and 45.




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