"Another day, another obscure platteland dorpie ..." Vryburg by CatherineReichardt

Vryburg Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 9 photos

One of my former teachers told me that if I didn't have anything positive to say, then I shouldn't say anything at all. Of course, I have long since disregarded this - and much more - of the sterling advice that I was given at school (and elsewhere), but in my writing on VT, I have tried to adhere to this rule and genuinely strive to find the positive in even the most unpromising of locations. Hell, I've even found innumerable positive things to write about Big, Bad Jo'burg!!!

Which might be why Vryburg proved to be somewhat of a trial to me ... and sadly prompted the most negative review of a place that I have yet to write

I have to travel to Vryburg occasionally on business, which is how I unsurprisingly found myself the first - and, to date, only - VTer to blog about the town. Vryburg is the major service centre for cattle ranching country on the fringe of the Kalahari and styles itself (somewhat optimistically) as the 'Texas of South Africa'. It is apparently the site of the largest cattle sales in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 250,000 head of cattle being sold here every year.

Vryburg sits in the remote northern section of North West Province. It's an obscure and timeless part of the world which isn't really on the way anywhere, and is flat, dry and brown even at the height of the rainy season. Like most cattle areas, there is great wealth among the ranching community, but other than low paying jobs on the ranches and supporting service industries in town, there is little else in the way of employment, and opportunities for economic upliftment are few and far between.

The concrete monstrosity that Vryburg's municipal building says it all: a town stuck resolutely in its heyday of 1960s and 70s - when farmers from the platteland heartland wielded significant influence over the apartheid government - which may have politically transformed, but has never really moved on. The town's few monuments - a lonely monument to the Voortrekkers and the gate house to the town's game reserve, which formerly served as a Boer war prison - speak volumes about a place where the last noteworthy events occurred over a century ago.

I am sure that if it's your home town, you might manage to hold it in some affection, but for the tourist, it's hard to see any appeal, other than as a refuelling point and staging post on the road to somewhere more interesting. Maybe if you're there for one of the weekly cattle sales, it might have more to offer, so hopefully one of these days, I will be able to time one of my visits to coincide with this, and hopefully revise my opinion: sadly, in this regard, I am not constrained by any lack of opportunity for improvement ...

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A regional service centre, so a good place to reprovision and avail yourself of services
  • Cons:Dry, dusty and depressing
  • In a nutshell:Refuel and then drive on ...
  • Last visit to Vryburg: Feb 2011
  • Intro Updated May 1, 2011
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Reviews (3)

Comments (1)

  • wabat's Profile Photo
    Sep 8, 2013 at 5:15 AM

    On seeing the main picture i couldn't resist reading to get you take on it. Your comments turned out to be exactly as I anticipated ... Haha.

CatherineReichardt

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