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Concervancies in the Overberg PDF Print E-mail

ImageConservancies originated in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands where they were very popular. Through co-operation between the farming community and conservation authorities, this concept developed into a national conservation movement. The Overberg has at least ten conservancies.  Groenlandberg Conservancy was the first to be established in 1998. Then followed Walker Bay Fynbos in 1999, and the Akkedisberg, Blinkwater, Dedraay,

Kleinswartberg, Kleinriviersberg, Diepgat and Onrus Mountain Conservancies in 2002.
Conservancies are established by land-owners to conserve nature on private property and especially to facilitate the eradication of alien species, but also to promote environmental consciousness and the sensible use of natural resources. A talk with Shaun Page of Cape Nature Conservation in Voëlklip has shed more light on the constitution and activities of local conservancies.  Cape Nature Conservation facilitates, advises and provides administrative support to the conservancies in its region.

Our Five cent bird, our National bird! PDF Print E-mail

ImageThe Overberg is now generally regarded as the last stronghold of our national bird, the blue crane, whose true habitat is the short grasslands in the northern and eastern parts of the RSA
The blue crane is found mainly in South Africa but unfortunately its numbers have dwindled by up to 90%. This is a matter of great concern to many people. In most cases poisoning, high voltage power lines, forestry activities and nest robbers who trade in young chicks, have been responsible for their near extinction.

The elegance and dignified beauty of the blue crane has thrilled man for many centuries. Their trumpet call and their exquisite mating dance are among the wonders of nature. The blue crane pair mate for life and raise one or two chicks per year.  However, survival rates are not very high. A pair of cranes has been coming to our farm near Stanford to make their nest at the “Sekretaarsbos”, usually raising only one chick. Year after year, we have had the pleasure of witnessing their mating dance next to the big farm dam.

Pontoons (by SJ du Toit) PDF Print E-mail

ImageHave you ever crossed a river by pontoon? Could it be that many Overbergers have never experienced  the old romanticism of bygone days? The last pontoon which is still in operation in South Africa, is in the Overberg across the Breede River at Malgas.
    Dutch travellers and expeditions came to many rivers they could not cross. They built floats and sometimes used a boat which they took with them knowing of a river ahead. Abraham de Haan built the first pontoon across the Berg River in the eighteenth century. The farm in that vicinity is called Oudepont (Old pontoon). Farmers in the area contributed to the upkeep of the pontoon which was in use for at least a century. There was a pontoon across the Little Brak River as well.
    In the Overberg there were quite a few pontoons in use, such as the one across the Palmiet River — a difficult river when in flood. In 1885, a pontoon named Fredericka, was built across the Sonderend River between Stormsvlei and Swellendam. Another across the same river, was at the farm Vrede belonging to the Humans. They now have a guest house in the old Pont House where tourists can reminisce of days gone by.

Unique Shipwreck Museum PDF Print E-mail
ImageWhile visiting Miss Mary Swart in Bredasdorp, she told me of her sister Susan and husband Jack van Rensburg who fought to save the buildings now housing the museum. In 1967, the authorities planned to demolish the old Independent Church building and hall. The community joined hands and after a large nest egg donated by Gideon Albertyn, money came in for a museum fund. The buildings, which belonged to the Anglican Church at that stage, were bought under the auspices of the municipality and declared a National Monument. 

A two-part museum was planned. In the church building an unique shipwreck museum came into being and next door in the old hall, the village museum. Shipwreck expert and author, Coenraad Potgieter helped to plan the museum. Shipwrecks along the Strandveld coast had an immense influence on the history of the region. Many survivors from shipwrecks stayed on in this far-off and isolated area, bringing their experience and skills eg. as carpenters, to life in the Overberg.
Overberg Fynbos Route PDF Print E-mail

ImageThe fynbos riches of the Overberg are world renowned and botanists and visitors have admired and studied them since the seventeenth century. Fynbos is the collective noun for plants in the winter rainfall area of the Western Cape. It includes among others, the protea and erica families and a large number of other flowers and plants. They are especially well adapted to the strong winds, wet winters, dry summers and soil types of the region. One of the plants with a useful component is the restio family of reeds used for thatched roofs. 

A group of land owners in the southern Overberg formed the Fynbos Eco-Tourism Forum in 1996, with the aim of publicising the Fynbos Route. Regular outings and workshops are organised where participants may learn more of fynbos. Development and marketing of eco-tourism are promoted as well as nature conservation and greater co-operation.

Many of the farms that belong to the forum offer hospitality to tourists. The route also includes some nature reserves as far as the Agulhas plains.

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