The Hottentot Chieftain Klaas Lucas, who gave his first name to the island in the Orange River which is now the centre of the Augrabies Falls National Park, started life as a river pirate and then became devoutly religious.
In 1870 he asked for a missionary to be sent to his people, and this was the beginning of great change in this part of the Orange River. The missionary who answered the call of Klaas Lucas was Christiaan Schroder.
In 1895 he recommended that a settlement of poor people should be made at Kakamas, and this was founded in 1898. Led by Schroder and the Dutch Reformed Church, settlers arrived at Kakamas.
Canals were dug, farms were laid out and the town of Kakamas was established as the centre for what became a highly successful community producing fruit, sultanas, cotton and lucerne.
The fertility of the area where rainfall was scanty and erratic was ensured by the water and the rich mud brought down by the Orange River. With irrigation, crops flourished in the warmth. Dates grew excellently and yellow peaches, long escaped from cultivation, grew wild.
In 1933 on the banks of the river near Kakamas, A. D .Collins, a teacher of agriculture, found the remarkable peach known as the Kakamas, or Collins peach. The fruit of this peach was large, with a beautiful golden colour, firm flesh and a delicious flavour. It was ideal for canning. The tree was also a prolific bearer and very hardy. Within 5 years of discovery at Kakamas, this peach transformed the South African canned-fuit industry, increasing the total volume of canning two-and-a-half times.
A variety of semi-precious stones can be found in the river near Kakamas. The umbrella-like kameeldoring grows in this locality. Waterwheels can still be seen in the irrigation channels and in Voortrekker Street, while in a cemetery outside the town is a memorial to German soldiers killed in a battle with South African troops in February 1915.
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