One third of the whole of South Africa is composed of the Karoo - the Bushman's dry and dusty plain. The Little Karoo runs along a narrow valley between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains. The Great Karoo - home to the charming town of Prince Albert - lies to the north of the Swartberg, a vast region of of far-flung towns and sunlit spaces, laying claim to the world's largest unbroken fossil record and treasure trove of minerals.
The interior is mainly semi-arid or arid in nature, with scrubby plant life adapted to over-doses of sunshine and not enough rain. Yet it supports millions of sheep, ostriches and goats, yielding the best in mutton, wool and feathers.
In 1845 it was suggested the village be called, Albertsberg, after Queen Victoria's consort, His Royal Highness, Prince Albert. In July that year, the approval was granted and the village became known as, Prince Albert.
During the late 1850's and 60's, a lot of building and construction began, and this was when Carel Lotz created is beautiful Prince Albert Gables, which are now well-known tourist attractions of the town. In 1881, construction of the Swartberg Pass began, but never as earnestly as in 1883 when Thomas Baine took over the project. In 1886 the pass was open to the public, although the official opening was on the 10th January 1888, and it saw its first motor car crossing in 1904.
In 1891, a shepherd found a gold nugget, and the Prince Albert gold rush began. Although spirits soared and expectations rose, only 504 ounces of gold were found, and that was the end of that.
At the breakout of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899, a British Garrison was formed in the little village, and saw a few skirmishes between commando's and troops in the area. The commandant, Gideon Scheepers, was taken captive and later executed in Graaff-Reinet.