The division of Oudtshoorn was originally part of the District of George, and was proclaimed a separate division in about 1858. The local economy was based primarily upon tobacco and ostrich farming, although fruit and grain were also produced in large quantities.
The following census figures are available for the division:
1865 census: 12,077 residents, of whom 3,583 were literate
1875 census: 15,181 residents, of whom 4,756 were literate
1891 census: 23,870 residents, of whom 7,553 were literate
1904 census: 30,398 residents, of whom 11,262 were literate.
The Village of Oudtshoorn was originally laid out in 1847 on the farm Hartebeestrivier, and was established by the Dutch Reformed Church as a kerkplaats (church farm) in 1853. It was named after Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn who came to South Africa in 1741 and was appointed Governor of the Cape in 1772. He died aboard ship while returning to the Cape in 1773.
The 1865 census indicated that Oudtshoorn had a population of 1,145. In 1875 this number had risen to 1,837, and in 1891 it was 4,386. By 1904 it stood at 8,849, of whom 3,865 were literate. On 25 August 1901 Boer forces under Commandant Gideon Scheepers were sighted near Oudtshoorn. However the town was strongly defended and they moved on.(Prepared by Franco Frescura.)
The Greater Oudtshoorn area is nestled at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains in the heart of the Little Karoo region, Western Cape, South Africa. It is defined as a semi-desert area with a unique and sensitive natural environment. It was once the indigenous Home of the Koi-San people and the rock paintings on the walls of the Caves in the surrounding Area sends a message that survival in this area requires respect for the natural environment. It has many Tourist attractions like: The Swartberg Pass, which is a very scenic drive. The Cango Caves, Cango Wildlife Ranch or various Ostrich Shows. Also found in Outdshoorn is the C.P. Nel Museum, the ArtKaroo Art Gallery, Mooi Art Gallery or the Le Roux Townhouse.
The Ostrich Farming is renowned to this Area. Visitors get to see eggs, incubators and chicks as well as grown ostriches. You can receive a ‘neck massage’ from ostriches, and have a cuddle with the friendly on-site female ostrich, 'Betsie'. Visitors can feed the ostriches as well as learn about the history, industry and farming of ostriches.