True gems of experience await the traveller who ventures into this arid, sparsely populated hinterland where donkey carts are the means of transport for many families. The Hardeveld lies north of the Knersvlakte; it comprises Bitterfontein as its commercial centre and the settlements of Molsvlei, Stofkraal, Nuwerus, Rietpoort and Putsekloof.
In 1927 the railway line from Cape Town was extended as far as Bitterfontein to transport the green granite that is quarried in the area. A famous diamond heist took place in Bitterfontein in 1931 when Kleinzee’s monthly production diamonds was stolen out of the postmaster’s office before it could be railed to Cape Town. The diamonds were valued at over £80 000. The case was never solved.
Nuwerus was once an important outspan called Erdvarkgat and before motorised transport, a halfway station between Vanrhynsdorp and Garies. The hamlet has a population of less than 600 people. Boreholes in the area are brackish and residents get their drinking water from a desalination plant here too.
Where the Hardeveld meets the ocean is an expansive, wild and desolate coastline. The raw beauty of the landscapes attracts a particular kind of traveller who enjoys camping in the rough and the solitude of going off-road. It’s here that you’ll find soul-replenishing hideaways like Brand-se-Baai and Skaapvlei among the many remote bays and inlets.