Archive for October, 2009

Paternoster

Paternoster, meaning Our Father, is thought to have been given it’s name by a group of shipwrecked sailors in thanks for the sparing of their lives. Although Paternoster is still closely associated with fishing and the sea it has now also become a must visit destination for overseas travellers to South Africa.

The easiest way to reach Paternoster is via Vredenburg.
The easiest way to reach Paternoster is via Vredenburg.

I was honestly shocked at what I saw as I drove into what used to be a little fishing village. The first time I went to Paternoster was nearly 40 years ago and all there was then the hotel, the fishermen’s cottages and 2 houses. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who had access to one of those houses and a group of us spent a few long week-ends fishing, braaing and consuming many crayfish which we could buy from the locals for next to nothing..

I had been back again about 20 years later and  a row of about 10 or 12 houses had been built along the beach front. Today there must be well over a hundreds  houses  both north and south with new developments everywhere. I found it all quite sad as the Paternoster I knew had basically vanished, still beautiful but completely different.

One thing that has not changed much is the small Paternoster Hotel. The original building was built in 1863 and in 1940 was bought by the Tollman family and turned into an hotel. There used to be only 6 rooms but that was increased by an additional 4 with sea view and balcony. There is also now a fabulous restaurant area in the front and recently The  Shell Shop was added to the hotel. It is also famous (infamous?) for The Panty Bar which at one stage served as the local jail before the conversion to an hotel.

Open air restaurant at front of hotel.
Open air restaurant at front of hotel.
A bit of history of the hotel.
A bit of history and info of the hotel.
One of the stranger items for sale from the Shell Shop.
One of the stranger items for sale from the Shell Shop. I think it is called a Blaasoppie fish?
The main beach just in front of the hotel.
The main beach near the hotel.

One of the fishing boats ready to take to the sea.
One of the fishing boats ready to take to the sea.

Development on the north side.
Development on the north side.

Development to the south.

Development to the south.

An original fishermans cottage which has been done up and apperently still belongs to one of the local fishermen.
An original fisherman’s cottage which has been done up and I believe still belongs to one of the local fishermen.

Anew development also on the northern side of the village.
A new development on the northern side of the village.
There are quite a number of guest hoses one them being the Paternoster Lodge.
There are quite a number of guest houses one them being the Paternoster Lodge which also has a restaurant and pub.
A fairly new addition, just in front of the hotel are trading stalls for the locals
A fairly new addition, just in front of the hotel, are trading stalls for the locals.
Just loved this item that was on sale at one of the stalls.
I just loved this item that was on sale at one of the stalls.
As with many of the villages there are always some creative people living and working there.
As with many of the towns and villages there are always some creative people living and working there.
Paternoster Clothing and Patchworks.
Paternoster Clothing and Patchworks.

All in all I still love Paternoster, even with all the changes, and would recommend that if you can’t go for a weekend then go for a day. It is close enough to Cape Town and, if you include Tietiesbaai and Cape Columbine, is well worth the trip. Make sure you include a seafood lunch at one of the local restaurants.

Tietiesbaai & Columbine Reserve.

A few km’s south of Paternoster, in the Cape Columbine Nature reserve which covers an area of 263ha along the rocky coast and was declared a nature reserve in December 1973,  is the famous Tietiesbaai. I have no idea where the name originates from and nobody I spoke to could enlighten me. One thing I do know is that it is a truly beautiful place to visit and spend time just relaxing and communicating with nature. It is also a camping and caravan location (I hesitate  to use the word caravan park) with no electricity and a very  limited supply of  solar heated hot water for showering. The hot water supply is fairly new and for many years you could only have cold showers.

Tietiesbaai beach.

Tietiesbaai beach.

The bay is incredibly well sheltered and on the day I was there is was blowing quite hard and the sea outside the bay extremely rough and yet the water  in the bay was clear and calm.

Campers on the otherside of the bay.

Campers on the other side of the bay.

The are no demarcated official sites and it is first come first served. Find a spot you fancy and set up camp.

xx

In spite of the fairly bad dirt road to Tietiesbaai there were quite a few caravans.

I noticed that at least one of the caravanners had brought along a generator which must have been pretty noisy for all their neighbours.

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Most were staying in tents.

I believe that during the December and Easter holiday season the place is packed.

The ablution block.
The ablution block.

The ablution blocks were pretty rudimentary and it was only recently that solar heated water was installed. Judging from the size of the tanks on the roof not to many people would have hot showers.

One last shot looking back at the beach from the main camping area.
One last shot looking back at the beach from the main camping area.

I have to make an admission here and say that I did not go to the next place I am going to show as it was only after I had left the area that I heard about The Beach Camp also situated in the Cape Columbine reserve.

The Beach Camp. (photo from the web-site)
The Beach Camp. (photo from the web-site)

The Beach Camp’s tents and wooden A-frame huts have beds and pillows so all you have to bring is your own sleeping bag or duvet. There are hot showers and cooking facilities although they can supply meals including their fabulous seafood dinners. The area is also one of the best sea-kayaking venues (weather and sea permitting) in SA with plenty of seals, dolphins, whales and spectacular bird watching opportunities.

Cape Columbine Lighthouse
Cape Columbine Lighthouse

Cape Columbine is a prominent headland 5 km’s from Paternoster. The lighthouse, the last manned lighthouse to be commissioned in South Africa and built on Castle Rock, is the first to be seen by ships coming from Europe. It was established in 1936 and derives it’s name from a British wooden ship, the Columbine, that was wrecked there in 1829. The light stands at a height of  80 meters above the sea and casts a beam that can be seen from about 50km’s away.

Info for visiting light house
Info for visiting lighthouse

I was amazed at the number of cars parked at the lighthouse and thought it must be extremely popular. It was only after wandering around for a while, and nearly helping myself to what I thought were free drinks, that I discovered that a wedding reception was about to take place and that they were waiting for the bride and groom to arrive.

The missing bride and groom having their photographs taken o the beach.

The missing bride and groom having their photographs taken o the beach.

Bumped into the happy couple on my way back to Paternoster and found out they were both from Vredenburg and the photographer ex Vredenburg and now living an working in Cape Town.

My next post is going to be from one of my favourite places , Paternoster, and I will be able to do some comparisons as I went there on quite a few occasions about 40 years ago.


Port Owen and Laaiplek

The Port Owen Marina, an upmarket retirement and holiday development, lies on the Berg River between Velddrif and Laaiplek. The marina was established on a vlei and a network of canals were built to give boats access to both river and sea. The marina also includes Admiral Island which can only be accessed over a linking bridge via a security entrance.

Many owners of the upmarket villas have their own yachts and this has ensured modern and safe moorings, a harbour and a slipway with a hoist capable of lifting boats of up to 10 tons out of the water.

One of the many large houses at Port Owen.
One of the many large houses at Port Owen.
You can step out of your house and straight on to your yacht.
You can step out of your house and straight on to your yacht or motor boat.
Spotted this friendly duck who didn't need a boat to navigate the canals.
Spotted this friendly duck who didn’t need a boat to navigate the canals.

One of the complexes at Port Owen.
One of the housing complexes at Port Owen.
This man was helping with dredging of the canals.
Working on the dredging of the canals.
The security entrance to Admiral Island.
The security entrance to Admiral Island.
Admiral Island in the midle surrounded by the Port Owen Marina.
Admiral Island in the middle surrounded by the Port Owen Marina.

Charter boat for birding trips on the river.

Charter boat for birding trips on the river.

Late afternoon there are boat trips along the river and many water birds can be seen in the reeds. The area is especially famous for its Pelicans.

Heading west out of Port Owen you soon arrive in Laaiplek. The town was bought by a Carl Stephan from Theunis Smit and was originally known as Rooibaai (Red Bay) apparently for the beautiful red hues reflected in the bay by the setting sun.

Laai is Afrikaans for load  and the town takes its name from the point on the river where boats were loaded and offloaded of their goods. It is situated where the Berg River  enters the Atlantic Ocean and it is from here that the larger fishing boats leave to trawl the ocean  and return with tonnes of fish for processing in the local fish factories.

Fishing boat at Laaiplek.
Fishing boats at Laaiplek.
If this was a house for sale they would call it a "fixer upper".
If this was a house for sale they would call it a “fixer upper”.

Restaurant right on the beach.
Restaurant right on the beach.
Gave myself a treat and bought some grilled fish here. It was delicious.
Gave myself a treat and bought some grilled fish here. It was delicious.
Fascinating shop on one of the side streets.
Fascinating shop on one of the side streets.
Entrance to Stywelyne Caravan Park in Laaiplek.
Entrance to Stywelyne Caravan Park in Laaiplek.

Went and had a look at the caravan park and it was not too bad. Still I am glad I stayed at Dwarskersbos.

This stretch of coast offers spectacular boat and land based whale watching and each spring Southern Right Whales put on a great show of breaching, lob-tailing and blowing and sometimes come in as close as 10 meters from the shore.

Velddrif.

I initially found it a bit confusing trying to work out where Velddrif started and ended as there are no boundary boards or markers. You cross the bridge over the Berg River, about 170km’s from Cape Town and you are in Velddrif, turn left and follow the road, east to west,  and within the next 2 km’s you get to Port Owen and Laaiplek. The central feature of all three places is the Berg River.

A graphic representation of the area.
A graphic representation of the area.

Just to try and give you an idea of where the 3 places are situated.
Just to try and give you an idea of where the 3 places are situated.

Velddrif has been a popular holiday destination for many years and, as with Dwarskersbos 12kms  up the R27,  also originally belonged to the Smit family who farmed cattle in the area. However it was not cattle farming that put Velddrif on the map but the harvest from the sea that has always drawn people to the area. The first large fish factory was opened in 1944 and to this day tons of pilchards, snoek and harders are harvested from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

The Berg River from the eastern side of Velddrif.
The Berg River from the eastern side of Velddrif.

"Bokkom Lane"
“Bokkom” country.

You can’t spend time in the area without trying the local delicacy called bokkoms. It is here that large schools of harders are netted and hung out to dry in the sun and turned into fish biltong (jerky).

A fresh harder before being hung up to dry.
A fresh harder before being hung up to dry.
Bokkoms drying in the sun.
Bokkoms drying in the sun.
Spotted this Pelican waiting to feed on some of the throw aways.
Spotted this Pelican close inshore waiting to feed on some of the throw aways.

The birding at Velddrif is outstanding with over 180 bird species having been recorded there. I wanted to go on the birding boat trip which is normally R80.00 for an hour and a half  but, because I was the only customer, it was just too expensive as I would have had to pay R200.00.

The studio of Marina Clunie right at the rivers edge.
The studio of Marina Clunie right on the rivers edge. She is one of many local artists.

Wish I could paint.
Wish I could paint.
Velddrif also has salt pans and a processing factory right on the river.
Velddrif also has salt pans and a processing factory right on the river.

Cerebos salt processing plant.
Cerebos salt processing plant.

Tours to the salt factory are available on Thursdays and are by appointment only.

Moving westwards through Velddrif this is a shot taken from the bridge.
Moving westwards through Velddrif toward the sea this is a shot taken from the bridge.
There are some great restaurants and if you enjoy fish this is the place for you.
There are some great restaurants and if you enjoy fish this is the place for you.

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A good place to buy some bokkoms if you want to give them a try.
The river front craft market.
The river front Pelican Harbour.

A number of tourism related businesses operate from Pelican Harbour creating an interesting stop for those exploring the attractions of Velddrif.

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Artful Things. The wall mural on the left was a collaboration between 4 of the local artists.

Overall I enjoyed exploring Velddrif and found the people  friendly and helpful. I was originally going to include Laaiplek and Port Owen in this post but there was more than enough for Velddrif to stand on its own.

Dwarskersbos Holiday Resort.

I wanted to call this post Dwarskersbos Caravan Park but to be honest there is not one sign anywhere that says caravan park, in fact I drove past the entrance 4 times before I found out that this was the caravan park.

The entrance to the resort. There is not 1 sign that informs you as to what is behind those gates.

The entrance to the resort. There is no sign that informs you as to what is behind those gates.

Information board next to th office.

Information board next to the office.

What I don’t understand is that it says no pets and yet there were 2 dogs allowed, one being the yapping little pooch next to me. Actually I think the owners made more noise than the dog by shouting and screaming at the poor thing continuously.

Lay out of the resort.
Lay out of the resort.

There are 121 camping sites, 5 rondawels, 12 chalets and also 23 holiday type houses on 99 year lease hold. Sites 1 to 10 are closest to the sea in fact the gap between sites 2 & 3 is a gated entrance which is keep locked at night.

The security gate leading to the beach.
The security gate leading to the beach.

Security is pretty good but I think they need to sort out some method of keeping the gate locked during the day – maybe keys for people staying there –  to stop anyone from walking in from the beach.

My set-up from Monday to Thursday.
My set-up from Monday to Thursday.
My set-up from Friday to Sunday.
My set-up from Friday to Sunday.

I could not believe it when I got back to camp on Friday afternoon to find 2 tents, 4 adults, 2 young children and a very yappy little dog on site 3 right on top of me, bearing in mind there were about 90 other sites they could have chosen. It has been painful to say the least. The shouting and screaming at the poor dog, the smoke from the fire blowing into my caravan and one guy snoring  so loudly it sounded as though he was in my caravan.

One of the 99 year lease hold homes. They can only stay in them for 10 months of the year.
One of the 99 year lease hold homes. They can only stay in them for 10 months of the year.
Some of the chalets.
Some of the chalets.

The chalets don’t look to bad and range in price from R261.00 out of season week days to R450.00 in season over weekends. There are also luxury chalets which are about 50%  more expensive.

None of the sites are grassed but do have trees for shade.
None of the sites are grassed, just hard sea sand, but do have trees for shade.
One of three smallish ablution blocks.
One of three smallish ablution blocks. 2 toilets and 3 showers.
One of the showers. No lock and nails for clothe hooks but pretty clean.
One of the showers. No lock and nails for clothes hooks but pretty clean.

I was surprised to see quite a few of the people staying in the chalets, which have their own toilets and baths, making use of the campers ablution blocks and making quite a mess.

Overall I would give the caravan park a rating of 3 out of 5 but at R107.00 per site per night it is not that cheap. There is a new manager,Fritz, who has only been there 4 months and from what he has said to me I think there will be  improvements in the future.

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