Permanent water diverted from the Orange River has given stability that many other rural areas lack in that the periodic devastating droughts are made less severe by the lucerne and maize that is grown and that the farmers are able to produce winter grazing for their animals. The water has also enabled them to branch out into other farming enterprises such as ostrich and vegetable farming.
It was the ostrich boom between1900 – 1914, which saw ostrich feathers sold for £50 for primes and male birds sold for £1 000, that saw the construction of irrigation weirs and furrows in the district in order to grow lucerne for the ostriches. The outbreak of the first world war and the prohibition of luxury articles on ships saw the collapse of the ostrich feather industry. We are enjoying something of a revival today due to the increasing demand for leather and low cholesterol meat.
Our prosperity is also due to the far sightedness of the Cradock council and the various sporting councils in promoting sport on a major scale. Cradock plays host to the great Hansa Powerade Fish River Canoe Marathon with over 1 000 paddlers every year, as well as prestige athletics events on a tartan track and there are also excellent cricket, rugby, golf and bowls facilities, as well as major tennis tournaments for young and old.
It also has Round Table, Rotary, Rapport Ryers and various other charitable organisations.
Cradock enjoys a healthy climate, with hot summers, bracing cold winters and a low rainfall. It is the lack of rain that provides the magnificent view of the stars at night and the glorious sun rises and sunsets one associates rather with a desert than a rich farming area.
Tourism prospers in Cradock due to :
- its historical past (among other things, the Great Trek started in this part of the Karoo)
-its awesome natural heritage
- the geographical position which makes Cradock an ideal stop over for the traveller between the major centres, and
- a variety of adventure activities.