In the beginning of the ostrich industry ostriches were farmed for their feathers only – ostrich feathers were very popular fashion items for the ladies in Europe and North America. Ladies liked to wear the ostrich feathers in their hats and also loved the boa’s for their dresses and garments. The Oudtshoorn farmers became so rich from the export of the ostrich feathers to Europe and beyond that they could afford to built huge beautiful mansions which was then called Ostrich Feather Palaces. These exquisite “homes” were a way for the ostrich farmers to show off their wealth and we have a perfect example of one of these magnificent homesteads at Safari Ostrich Farm.
This particular one was build in 1910 by the first owner of the farm Mr Olivier. He called his farm Welgeluk, which is Dutch for Good Luck. But Mr Olivier actually did not have good luck, four years after he build this house, the feather industry collapsed and he lost a lot of money. With the start of the First World War and the invention of the automobile, the feathers almost overnight went out of fashion. As a result, most of the farmers went bankrupt, including Mr Olivier.
Before he went bankrupt, he did spend a lot of money on his house. The roof-tiles were all imported from Belgium; the stained glass windows and doors from Holland; the collums from Greece; the woodwork between them from India; marble-tiles inside from Italy; and fireplaces from England. The only thing from here is the Sandstone.
He also built a tower on his house; at that time, if you had a tower on your house it meant that you were rich. So it was a status symbol. You can not get into the tower – it is completely closed in – there are no stairs to the top.
A few years after Mr Olivier went bankrupt, a Mr Lipshitz bought the farm. He then started farming for meat and leather.
They have 18 rooms inside the house, 3 of which are bathrooms. In one of the bathrooms they have a giant bath which can hold 1500 litres of water. So about 5 people can fit in that bath