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Caledon - Town of the hot springs PDF Print E-mail
Written by S.J. Du Toit   

ImageLegend has it that the earth shares its healing power with mankind by letting hot water bubble up through earth’s crust. Hot springs still give relief to many ailments today.

Thousands of years ago, the hot spring in the Overberg was used by the indigenous people living in the area. When the Dutch explorers first discovered the Overberg in 1694, they found the hot spring and its healing waters. The establishment of the town of Caledon was directly connected with the hot spring which gave much relief and healing to travellers over the following three centuries. The earliest European farmer living at the hot spring, and caring for guests was Ferdinandes Appel.

 

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Struisbaai PDF Print E-mail
Written by S J du Toit   

ImageWalking along the endless stretch of snow-white sand at Struisbaai, it is difficult to imagine its history. There is a legend that the name Struisbaai comes from a Dutch word meaning “big”. However, according to historian Jose Burman, the name Vogelstruisbaai has been in use since 1673. The bay stretches from Struis Point near Waenhuiskrans (Arniston) to Northumberland, 6 km from Agulhas. The first Dutch or Portuguese sailors who visited these shores must have encountered some ostriches.

The fishing community, whose members lived for many years at Hotagterklip, gradually became part of the town of Struisbaai. At the entrance to the town, there are some restored fisherman’s cottages that have been declared national monuments. Hotagterklip (left-hind stone) originates from the ox-wagon era. If there happened to be a stone embedded in the middle of the road, the left-hind ox had to pull very hard to get the wagon-pole to pass to the left of the stone. 

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

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.

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Our Five cent bird, our National bird! PDF Print E-mail
Written by SJ du Toit   

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.

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Unique Shipwreck Museum PDF Print E-mail
Written by SJ du Toit   
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.
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Overberg Fynbos Route PDF Print E-mail
Written by SJ du Toit   

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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Arniston / Waenhuiskrans (by SJ du Toit) PDF Print E-mail
Written by SJ du Toit   
Image(Waenhuiskrans - Wagon house cave) Driving south from Bredasdorp, the road of 24 km runs into Waenhuiskrans, originally known as “Holkranz” (hollow cave). Wagenhuiz Kranz originated from the size of the cave, where people believed a wagon and span of oxen could turn.

Eventually it evolved into Waenhuiskrans. One of the biggest shipping tragedies took place here in 1815, when the troopship Arniston carrying a large number of sick men en route from Ceylon to England, went down and 372 lives were lost. Only six men survived. The parents of four children who died in the wreck, placed a memorial stone at the scene of the tragedy. This memorial was later moved to a place near the beach and the village also became known as Arniston.

Arniston Hotel
The Arniston Hotel
The fishing hamlet on the outskirts of the village is called Kassiesbaai (kassie = wooden box). Legend has it that lots of paraffin boxes washed up on the beach in earlier years. Residents built homes from these boxes and plastered them over with clay. Roofs were made of thatch. In later years, fishermen used sandstone for building. In 1975, a group of Capetonians started the “Save Arniston” project and they helped to restore these houses. Kassiesbaai, which was declared a National Monument, is very popular with artists and photographers.

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Barrydale PDF Print E-mail
Written by SJ du Toit   

ImageWhen Barrydale was founded on the farms Tradouw’s Hoek and Moerasrivier, in 1882, a trading store and church already existed. These had been built by the Barry family for farms in the area.

Joseph Barry (1796-1865) founded a vast trading empire in Swellendam, the Overberg and Little Karoo. He not only enriched his family, but also the entire farming community. In those days, journeys to Cape Town were hazardous and time-consuming, so Joseph Barry had the bright idea to send produce by ship. He  bought a steamship, which could transport goods right up to and from Malgas on the Breede River, close to Swellendam. Later when economic and depression stress forced the Barrys to their knees, the shop doors closed. They were bankrupt and so was the whole of the Overberg.

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History of Struisbaai PDF Print E-mail
Written by Godfrey   

ImageThis popular holiday venue is developing rapidly – and is well-known for its 14km uninterrupted white beach.  Water sports are particularly popular.  Struisbaai, according to legend, is named for the size of its big beach – an old Nederland word for “huge”.

Hotagterklip cottages:  Restored fisherman’s cottages at the entrance to Struisbaai, built by early fishermen.  Some are now used as holiday homes, and all are national heritage sites.

Anglican Church:  This small restored thatched church, which is a national heritage site, is much sought after for small weddings en services.

Shell shops:  A must for the collector and browser.

Harbour:  The quaint little harbour, built in 1959, was deepened and enlarged in 1990 and is today used by both fishing and ski boats.

 

 

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