The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa


Afrikaans name: Bethulie

Bethulie across the Orange River

Bethulie with the Orange River in the foreground

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Free State

Bethulie is a small town on the edge of Gariep Dam where the Orange River feeds the dam. Gariep Dam was formerly known as Hendrik Verwoerd Dam.

In the 1820's the London Missionary Society set up a mission station the site. It was handed over to the French Missionary Society in 1833. The French missionaries named the area Bethulie which means "chosen by God".

Bethulie has been through a number of name changes. It started off as Moordenaarspoort because a number of Bushmen and Griquas were killed in the area by the Basotho people. It has also been called Caledon, Heidelberg and Verhuellpolis. When the town was proclaimed on 4th March 1863 it was called Heidelberg.

A lot of sheep and cattle farming takes place in the surrounding area.

Visitors to Bethulie will find a lot to do in the area including various water sports, hiking, rock art, mountain biking and 4x4 trails. There are three nature reserves nearby. These are Gariep Nature Reserve, Tussen-die-Riviere Game Reserve and Oviston Nature Reserve.

In and around the town are various historic sites including Pellissier House museum, the Dutch Reformed Church building completed in 1887, the Concentration Camp graveyard, the Louw Wepener monument and the Monument in Honour of the Horse.

The DH Steyn bridge crosses the Orange River nearby. At 1.2 km in lenth it is the longest bridge in South Africa.

Share your thoughts about Bethulie

Bethulie shop

Above - Shop in Bethulie

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Bethulie shop

Above - Bethulie shop

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Old building in Bethulie

Above - Building in Bethulie

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Reformed Church

Above - Reformed Church in Bethulie

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Bridge over the Orange River

Above -The DH Steyn bridge over the Orange River

Photo © Johan van Zyl

References and further reading

Things ewe never knewe about South African place names - Author: Ann Gadd - Published: 2015 - Page: 25

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Published: 1987 - Page: 58

Road Tripping South Africa - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2014 - Page: 16

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 227

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 327

Getaway - Vol 33 No 10 - Author: - Published: 2022 - Page: 84

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 266

On Route - Explore South Africa region by region - 3rd edition - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 2014 - Page: 381

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 288

Road Tripping South Africa - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2014 - Page: 15


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