The Karoo has the feel of pages where stories are waiting to arise from the dust. A space where dreams can bridge the divide to reality. Yet you need a core of rock and a spirit of steel to survive and thrive under the undiluted sun.
We first read of Tankwa Padstal in “The Great Karoo Pub Crawl” article in Country life magazine.
While en-route on the R355 between Ceres and Tankwa Karoo National Park, a quick bit of online research revealed that the Tankwa Padstal and Werkswinkel Bar had burned down in September ’14 . A 19-year-old miscreant from a nearby farm was apparently pee’d off about being asked to leave the bar and returned to torch the establishment; his court case is pending. There are a wealth of trite sayings about dealing with adversity. The padstal (farm stall) and bar owners Wally, Hein, Susan and Henrietta, however, probably don’t bother much with cute quotations and simply got on with the business of re-building.
When we stopped there on 6th January 2015, not only had the padstal been re-built sporting a freshly painted face but a whole new bar had been built in the space of a month and decorated in a week. Community spirit rallied high, patrons from far and wide organised benefits and donated treasures toward decorating. A Karoo ashes to glory tale of heartwarming substance.
We stocked up on a few cool drinks for the road (41° C out there). The ice-cold home-made ginger beer was delicious! The men in our party could not snub the inviting call of a frosty beer, it would have been plain wrong not to pause on our journey to appreciate the Werkswinkel bar. A pub of such irrepressible spirit simply must be appreciated and supported.
In many ways Tankwa Padstal embodies my perception of the Karoo. Its story underlines the resilience of the Karoo and it’s people. While the landscape appears desolate on closer inspection it pulses with life, a story at the heart of every stone.
Links to articles about Tankwa Padstal
** Thanks to Wally Lange for the photos of original Tankwa Padstal and after the fire