They call it Groot (Big) Marico, but that would seem to be in keeping with the ironic brand of humour that pervades this North West hamlet, since author Herman Charles Bosman made it the setting for the comical incidents that affected the life of his central character, Oom Schalk Lourens.
The name, Groot Marico, in fact comes from the Groot Marico River, a tributary of the Limpopo River. The town, 500 metres from the N4 between Swartruggens and Zeerust, is one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” spots.
Founded in the 1820s, its five streets are lined with bluegum trees and host some historical constructions, such as the wall that surrounds the local Information Centre, which was built by Italian prisoners of war. Groot Marico remains famous as one of the few places in the country where a manual telephone exchange still serves outlying farms.
A steady stream of Bosman fans looking to soak up ”Bosman country” visit the town each year. Their first stop is generally the multi-faceted Information Centre, where staff point them to guesthouse and farm-style accommodation,
Mampoer-producing farms (the local moonshine made from fruit) and attractions in the wider Groot Marico district, which stretches up to the Botswana border. The centre is also instrumental in organising the annual Bosman weekend in October, featuring live performances, good food, music and workshops.
Inland divers come to town to check out the Eye of Marico, a dolomite hole in the ground and the source of the Groot Marico River. The water is crystal clear and offers visibility many metres deep.
Located in the Molema region of the province, Groot Marico’s local economy is based on agriculture, mining and tourism. Cattle, maize, citrus fruit and tobacco are farmed, while pit quarries yield marble and slate.
Look out for
Visit a mampoer farm, have the distilling process explained to you, and sample the tipple with caution as most products have a very high alcohol content.
Take a brisk walk on a number of hiking trails on nearby farms or, if you have the right vehicle, tackle one of the 4 x 4 trails in the area.
Spend some time at The Art Factory in the Information Centre, which is filled with crafts made by locals.
Book one of the Information Centre’s Day Package Tours, which include tobacco, traditional village and mampoer tours.
There are a number of Anglo-Boer War sites to see outside town, and San rock paintings.
The Marico-Bosveld Dam is used for watersports such as fishing and sailing. It has a caravan and camping park adjoining it.
Stop at the HC Bosman Living Museum, which resembles a school Bosman taught at in the 1920s.