8km’s south of where I am staying at the moment, Strandfontein, lies the little fishing village of Doringbaai or as it was originally know Thornbay. Dooringbaai is well know as an area for whale watching. Southern Right whales enter the bay to calve from May to November and can be seen breaching and swimming with their calves in the protected waters. There are also wonderful hiking trails on both sides of the village offering excellent whale viewing opportunities. Unfortunately for the 2 days I was in Dooringbaai there was a massive sea running and no chance of any whale spotting.
There is not really a whole lot to write about Doringbaai so hopefully the photographs and captions will give you an idea of the village.
Central to Dooringbaai is the Light House and Harbour area so I spent quite a lot of time there having fun looking for different things to photograph.
- The harbour and lighthouse.
- The lighthouse was established in 1963.
As mentioned there was a massive sea running while I was there so took these to try and illustrate.
- The noise when the waves smashed into the rocks was like thunder.
- I would hate to have been hit by one of the waves.
- As the wave dissipated it left this fine mist.
- Would not have liked to be on the old jetty.
- How that building was still standing I have no idea.
- In amongst all the mayhem of crashing waves I found this near the lighthouse.
- Staying with the nautical theme is the local sea food restaurant and pub.
As I was wandering around I met up with Peter and Michelle who run the very interesting looking self catering establishment called Thornbay Accommodation. Peter is an ex diamond diver who also ran and managed the local concessions. He and Shirley arrived in the area from Durban about 30 years ago and were first based in a caravan at a place called Die Punt just on the north side of he Olifants River. He knows my friend George from McDougalls Bay and in fact it was in Dooringbaai that George started as a diamond diver. What a small world.
Welcome to Thornbay!!The octopus was created by Lachlan, also an ex diamond diver, from Lamberts Bay.
I had a look round inside and was very impressed with all that was offered to make one’s stay comfortable and enjoyable . Just loved some of the pieces hanging on the wall.
- Anyone for crayfish?
All in all I really enjoyed Dooringbaai even though the weather was not great. As it is only about 350 km’s from Cape Town it would be a great spot to just get away from all the hustle and bustle of of city life and just relax. The area boasts many activities such as swimming, fishing, quad bike and 4×4 trails, wineries and restaurants.
While in Springbok I heard a lot of talk about the wonderful Verbé caravan park in Kamieskroon and was told I must stay there. There are 2 caravan parks in Kamieskroon but was told by everyone I must go to the Verbé as it was great. By the way the other park is called the Kamieskroon Hotel and Caravan Park and when I had a quick scout round it looked fine to me.
- Entrance to Verbé Caravan Park.
When I arrived at the park I was actually disappointed as it did not look like anything special, in fact the stands and ground were pretty awful as they were uneven and not a blade of grass in site.
Some of the sites.
That building on the left is a Lapa but I did not see anyone using it.
I also found out when I tried to hammer some pegs into the ground that it was incredibly hard. It took me 3 times longer than normal to set up and my hands were really sore at the end of it.
- My set-up. I kid you not that ground is like rock.
It was only after I had taken a stroll, quite a long stroll actually, up to the ablution block that I understood why everyone had spoken so highly of Verbé. I have been on and on about the terrible, sometimes shocking, ablution blocks I have had to use and how caravan park owners/managers just have no idea how important good, clean ablutions are to caravanner’s.
- The ablution block.
- Inside the gents section. Spotless!
Just goes to show that even an average park will get really good revues if the ablutions are half way decent.
Dina the park manager.
Another reason why people like coming here is the very helpful and charming Dina the manager at the front office. What a nice lady! Nothing was too much trouble and she made sure that all ran smoothly.
Saw this old bell holder at the top of the park.
The park and surrounds from the old bell holder.
The building on the right, with the mast, is the police station. We had a black out for a few hours the one night and they run a massive, very noisy generator, for the duration.
Saw this beautiful flower at the entrance to the park. (Specially for Michael)
The town of Kamieskroon is situated 67km south of Springbok and is set in the granite rock formations of the Kamiesberg range. The towns origins lie in the 1860’s, 7km north of the towns present location and was called Bowesville (later Bowesdorp). But in 1924, because there was no room to expand, the church council decided to demolish the church and rebuild it at its present site in Kamieskroon.
The Kamieskroon Church
Commemorating the fallen in the Anglo Boer War of 1899 - 1902.
Kamieskroon is essentially a town that services the surrounding farming community. There are quite a few B&B’s that come into their own in the flower season and there are also some wonderful hiking trails. In fact you can hire a guide steeped in Namakwa knowledge who offers hikes along uncharted trails, but, Kamieskroon is synonymous with spring flowers and extends the season with brilliant shows of Bulbinella latifolia and many other species.
To be honest I wish I could have spent a few days in this quaint little fishing village. The people are so friendly and willing to chat that I got caught up, and ended up not having enough time to meet half the characters I wanted to.
On going into the village itself the first person I met was one of the local constabulary standing in a very pretty garden in front of his neat house. What a nice guy. He told me about which roads I should take and which to avoid when he heard that I wanted to visit Koingnaas on my my back to Kamieskroon.
A colourful flower bush in the policeman's garden. The bee loved it!
About a hundred meters from the policeman’s house I came to the little harbour which has been used for many different purposes over the years – shipping copper ore, as a base for the diamond diving boats and for the fishing and crayfishing boats.
The harbour area
The fish and chips shop right at the edge of the beach.
The four in picture placing their orders, all residents of Hondeklipbaai, were very friendly and invited me to sit down and have lunch with them. The guy on left of picture and his wife, 3rd from left, have had a plot in Hondeklipbaai for 10 years and over time built a house and moved in permanently just over 9 months ago. The guy 2nd from the left, Stanley Cierenberg, is an artist and also runs a small art gallery from his home.
The Cierenberg Gallery.
Inside the gallery.
Stanley sitting at his favourite spot for tea and breakfast.
One of the artists on display at the gallery is local photographer “Roberto”. Roberto and his wife Dawn also run a restaurant, and offer tented self-catering accommodation called Skulpieskrall.
Sheltered tented accommodation.
Skulpieskraal tented camp comprises six comfortable tents with two single beds and bedding in each. The tents are pitched on timber decks under A–frame structures which are covered with shade netting where one can relax and enjoy a late afternoon sundowner.
Die Rooi Spinnekop Restaurant run by Roberto & wife Dawn.
This sail boat is used as a serving table.
Unfortunately Roberto was not available to have a chat so my friendly guide, Stanley and I moved on as I was a bit worried about what I still wanted to see and do and it was getting late.
The Outside Gallery run by Villain.
A wreck in the harbour area.
While I was sitting at the Fish and Chips shop having a bite to eat I spotted this wreck on the other side of the bay. I have no idea what, how or when but thought it looked quite dramatic and I also wanted to a view shot of Hondeklipbaai from the same angle.
View of Hondeklipbaai across the bay.
It was getting quite late, and I still had a long way to drive, so I reluctantly left and started the rest of my journey for the day. I also wanted to make sure that I did not have to drive on the gravel roads in the dark.
Entrance to Koingnaas.
I should probably have stayed longer in Hondeklip than try and rush through to Koingnaas as there was just not enough time to get signed in at security and get to have a look round the town. So once again I was on my way and hoping to see flowers on my way to Soebatsfontein. I don’t know if it was to late in the day but I saw very little in the way of flowers. What I did get was the worst road I have travelled on so far in my journey and thought the old Pajero was going to get shaken to pieces.
Soebatsfontein rugby field.
I did find something interesting at Soebatsfontein and that was the Wallabies (Australian Rugby Team) having a secret scrummaging practice in preparation for the rest of the Tri Nations Rugby Competition.
All in all a good day but I do wish I could have spent a least 3 or 4 days exploring Hondeklipbaai and its interesting, friendly inhabitants. There is such a great attmosphere there and all seem to live in peace and harmony.
Woke up to a beautiful day on Saturday 15th – sun shinning and no wind – so decided that this was the day to take a drive down to the coast and visit Hondeklipbaai.
The road from Kamieskroon to Hondeklip, about 85km’s, is gravel and you travel over 2 small passes. All in all it was not too bad but there were a few really bad patches so one had to concentrate all the way or risk some major damage to the vehicle. No way would I tow a normal caravan on that road.
On arrival at Hondeklipbaai I got the feeling that it was going to be a special place and that’s the way it turned out for me.
Entrance to Hondeklipbaai.
This little village was once the main harbour from which the copper ore of Namaqualand was exported in the 1800’s. It is now a settlement of about 750 people and for the 4×4 enthusiast it offers a vast, unspoilt, coastline to explore. One of the major attractions is the wreck of the Aristea that ran aground in 1945 and is situated about 5 km’s south of the village.
Info about the Aristea.
The wreck of the Aristea.
Amazing to think that this wreck has been lying exposed to the element s for over 64 years.
Braai (barbecue) set-up.
Obviously a popular spot as they have braai facilities at the site.
Also met up here with 4 students from Cape Town who are studying at the African Film and Drama Academy. They were in the area for the weekend location scouting for a student film. Two of them were very lucky to have escaped virtually unscathed after rolling their car on the road to Hondeklipbaai.
Spotted this guy sunning himself on the rocks.
I was not really a flower photographing person, before this trip, but now love the challenge to show them off as best I can, so took these pix right at the beach.
Taken in amongst the rocks at the shoreline.
Info on The Dog Stone.
The Dog Stone.
Info on crayfish/rock lobster.
This old structure, in the harbour, was used in the old days for unloading and processing the crayfish.
Hondeklipbaai is renowned for it’s crayfish but the income from crayfish can be very erratic as it is seasonal and sometimes the weather does not play ball. They have now started a pilot abalone mariculture project that is looking very positive. Unfortunately it being a Saturday I could not get in to have a look around.
Abalone pilot project.
I was originally going to cover Hondeklipbaai in 1 post but it would really be too much as I have not even started on the people and the village itself so – to be continued.
Yesterday after a freezing start to the morning it turned into a hot windless day and ideal to go and look at the Namaqualand flowers. Many of the locals say that because of the early start the best of the flowers for this year are just about over and people that have booked to come up in September are going to be disappointed. To be honest apart from a few displays that I have seen I don’t think this year was a particularly good flower year.
Namaqua National Park or should I say the section I was going to called Skilpad is 21km west of Kamieskroon and is accessible via a not too bad gravel road.
About 4km from Skilpad I happened upon 3 ladies who had set up a business at the side the road so stopped to have a chat.
- Pannekoek Paleis – Pancake Palace.
- Ouma Ragel – chief cook and what a gal.
Ragel, Olene and Anna.
What stunning ladies! They have been doing this for 15 years and started off in a tent, then to a caravan, and now this little stone room. While I was there quite a few people stopped for pancakes and when I passed by on my way back to Kamiekroon it was still busy. They also insisted I had to try one and it was delicious.
Welcome to Namaqua National Park.
The Park is situated in the heart of the Succulent Karoo and the biome is divided into 134 vegetation types and about 40% of the plant species are endemic and occur nowhere else on earth. It is no wonder that the Succulent Karoo was declared one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots on the planet of which it is the only purely arid one.
I took quite a few photographs and because I am no expert on flowers will let the pictures do the talking.
Field of Namaqualand daisies - the contrasts of colour are beautiful.
Did some close ups of various plants and have no idea of names so just enjoy.
The Skilpad Padstal Restaurant.
It was while having a cup of tea and a sandwich that I met well known videographer Mike Downie who is working on a secret project in the Namaqualand area. In fact it was so secret that if he told me what it was he would have had to kill me.
I can remember when I worked as a photographer at the Cape Times and Argus that they would send out some sucker and a model to go and take pictures of the Namaqualand flowers. I think my model below is much better.
My model was a bit shy and would not give me his/her name.