Leeu Gamka began as a pleasant outspan on the Karoo plains where travellers paused to rest and refresh. It was a favoured spot because there was drinkable water. First been named Bitter Water by road builders Thomas and Andrew Geddes Bain, because the underground water is hydrogenous (brack), it soon became the choice stop of adventurers, explorers, missionaries, settlers, "trekboere" (migrant farmers) and even outlaws. They all camped near a grove of indigenous sweet thorn trees where the Leeu and Gamka rivers meet. It was cool and there was grazing.
With the rail came stone station buildings, railway single quarters and a hotel. The final shift in naming came in 1950 when Leeu Gamka was adopted. These are the names of the rivers, and both mean "lion". Early travellers often wrote of lions here. The discovery of diamonds at Hopetown in 1867 and at Kimberley in 1868, benefited Leeu Gamka as traffic on the road increased vastly. Hoards of fortune hunters camped at Bitter Water as diamond fever gripped locals and foreigners. The discovery of gold in the Transvaal in 1886 brought a fresh rush of fortune hunters to Leeu Gamka's small railway station.
In 1880, a telegraph line was laid alongside the railway line and communications with the outside world improved. When the Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899, troop trains and wounded soldiers almost im/mediately began passing through Leeu Gamka. The hotel and the railwaymen's single quarters, the picturesque little stone cottages still standing next to the railway line, were used as a hospital and convalescent wing.
In 1901, the British forces built a blockhouse on the banks of the Leeu River. Its purpose was to guard the railway line and the bridge over the river. The ruins of this stone blockhouse can still be seen.
Places of interest in LeeuGamka, besides the old Anglo Boer War Grave and the blockhouse is one of South Africas last, still fully functional telephone operator offices, a museum in the making!
Please contact the Beaufort West Tourism Office for more details and information.