Opened in 1972, the Gariep Dam is situated on the Orange River in the Free State’s Kopanong municipality on the border between the province and the Eastern Cape. The dam wall is 88m high, the surface area 374km².
The harsh and rugged terrain in the Venterstad district often makes for striking scenes of nature, such as the nearly dried up Broekspruit River meandering between the hills flanking the road between Gariep and Bethulie.
The DH Steyn Bridge, spanning the Orange River at Bethulie, connects the Free State with the Eastern Cape. At 1,2km the combined road and rail bridge is the longest of its kind in SA.
The Bethulie Concentration Camp commemorates the largest of the camps used by the British during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The original camp was re-located to the present site when the Gariep Dam was built. The bodies of 1 737 internees who died in the camp were exhumed, moved and reburied here too.
The Oviston township is 8km north of Venterstad on the southern bank of the Gariep Dam. It was established in 1964 to house workers who built the Orange-Fish Tunnel. The name is derived from the Afrikaans ‘Oranje-Vis-Tonnel’. The 82,5km tunnel carries water from Oviston to the Fish River Valley in the Eastern Cape.