Like most towns in South Africa, Albertinia was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1908 a big diamond was discovered at nearby Aasvoëlberg—literally Vulture Mountain—but no further finds were recorded. The town became known for its ochre and kaolin mines and is also the centre of the aloe products industry. Most of the country’s roof thatching material comes from the Albertinia district. Albertinia is the home of a well-known hotel, where locals and tourists alike can enjoy a lavish Sunday lunch, while just outside the town one passes the famous Freyja Welsh pony stud.
The town was named after the reverend J.R. Albertyn of Riversdale, who planned the establishment of a separate church community. On the 10th of September 1898 the church council of Riversdale bought the farm Grootfontein from a Mrs H. Lourens. A rectory was built by the congregation of Riversdale, and on 17th February 1900 a minister, the reverend D.J. Malan was ordained. Albertinia was proclaimed a town on 18 November 1904.
The map reference for Albertinia is 34.11° South and 21.35° East. Annual rainfall is approximately between 200 and 250 millimetres, with a winter average of 150mm. Vegetation is evergreen bush and shrubs and scanty grassland, with certain areas fynbos and protea, and Aloe ferox in abundance. There also are large deposits of kaolin and ochre (red and yellow).
Agriculture plays the major role with the cultivation of grain (wheat and oats), dairy farming, sheep and cattle farming.
The mining of red and yellow ochre started in 1925 by W.R. van As, although first noticed as far back as 1797 by Sir John Barrow. Today it is the principal source of ochre in South Africa. Exports are world wide. The natural earth colour is used in the manufacture of paints and to colour linoleum and cement.
Aloe ferox is today a major export product of this area. The leaves are collected during the winter and drained of their bitter-tasting sap, then boiled to form a concentrated product. This area is one of the two principal sources of aloe sap concentrate, the other being the West Indies. The sap of the Aloe ferox is an important ingredient of several medicinal products, many of which are also manufactured at Albertinia.
Another product in abundance and harvested is thatching grass—Poaceae, specifically Thammocortis insignus, and Restionaceae.
The population is in the vicinity of 4500 to 5000. Religion is mostly that of the Dutch Reformed Church and the minority of the population represents other religions.
Most activities are over weekends and consist of golf, rugby and football.
There is a local hotel which is famous for its Sunday luncheon, especially amongst the peoples of the region.
According to sources obtained the only building of architectural value is situated a few kilometres past Albertinia, en route to Mossel Bay, on the farm Boplaas. It is an L-type homestead with a gable and end-gables.
The town is dependant on the farming community and is an affordable retirement village.Written by IWG Sadler