Driving from Graaff-Reinet
Nieu-Bethesda is accessed by a tarred road from the N9. The road is 27km north of Graaff-Reinet at Wellwood Farm.
Wellwood farm, the home of the Rubidge family since 1838, is famous for it’s Merino stud and century old orange trees and houses the largest private fossil collection in the world. The late Dr SH Rubidge collected the fossils of the mammal-like reptiles the inhabited the area some 200 000 000 years ago from the extensive shale beds in the surrounding area.
NOTE: this private home is not open to the public.
In Rubidge Kloof, there are some interesting rock formations. On reaching the plateau, the towering Compassberg dominate the northern skyline. At 2502m, this peak is the highest in the Sneeuberge and is often regarded as the highest point in the Eastern Cape, although the mountains around Rhodes are higher.
Formerly known as Spitskop, Compassberg was so named by Colonel Jacob Gordan and Governor van Plettenberg because the surrounding country could be surveyed from there. The climb from Compassberg Farm, in the Northwest, is not difficult , although very exposed and a scramble towards the top. The precipitous southern faces are only accessible by experienced climbers.
NOTE: The mountain is on private land and permission from the owners to climb can be arranged at Outsiders.
Further along the road traversing the plateau is a section of woven wire mesh fencing, dating from the 1930’s.
Descending the plateau there is a beautiful view of De Toren and Aasvoelkrans in the Gats River valley, a tributary of the Sundays River.
The road entering Nieu-Bethesda blends into the Martin Street, the main street of the village. The lower section of Martin Street is lined by pear trees, making an impressive spectacle when in bloom. Quince hedges edge many of the plots.
Evidenced by the clear streams flowing in the furrows, water is abundant in Nieu-Bethesda and the reason why this site was chosen for the village. There are many agricultural plots and large gardens, many with old rose varieties.