Posts Tagged ‘friendly people’

Alexander Bay to Elands Bay – The Highs

Overall I enjoyed my 2 month journey from the Richtersveld through Namaqualand and down the West Coast and although there were some lows there were  many more highs. The highs include places, sights and people that I met along the way. Overall it was the people that I met and chatted to that really made the trip worth while for me.

Koos and Letia
Koos and Lieta Prince

Met up with Koos and Lieta at Brandkaros and I am sure that it was the 2 days that we shared that spurred me on to continue my journey in spite of all the set backs  I had suffered. They have been caravanning around SA for years and taught me a lot. Wonderful couple.

Pieter van Wyk
Pieter van Wyk.

Meeting up with and spending a morning with this young man was definitely one of the highlights of my journey. I am not going to try and recap all about this remarkable 21 year old so if you want to read more about him go to this link. I hope that one day, soon, he will have his book published, be awarded a bursary and given the opportunity to further his education at University.

Annemarie and Saome Reck.
Annemarie and Saome Reck.

I spent a wonderful morning with this mother and daughter team who manage a B&B right on the banks of the Orange River. Talk about making the most of very little.

Alta
Alta Kotze.

I enjoyed Port Nolloth and also received one of my biggest surprises in a long time when the lady above broke into song so that I could hear her voice and one of her own compositions. Truly amazing. I hope she gets the opportunity to further her ambitions and become a full time singer/composer.

George Moyses.
George Moyses.

Although I was not too happy with the caravan park at McDougalls Bay I did love the setting and also got to meet a real character who lives there in diamond diver George.

Dragline at Kleinzee.
Dragline at Kleinzee.
Ship wreck just south of Kleinzee.
Ship wreck just south of Kleinzee.

The 2 photographs above represent one of the the most pleasant days of my journey and I have to thank Gert Klopper of De Beers for showing me round Kleinzee and Dudley Wessels for taking me on the 4×4 trail along the coast. I thought Kleinzee was great and was amazed at what is being done there to make sure that the town does not go the way of places such as Alexander Bay. I see a big future for Kleinzee and if I had some spare cash I would buy property in the area as an investment or as a retirement option.

I enjoyed Springbok,  the Springbok Caravan Park and exploring places like Nababeep and Okiep as I had travelled there 40 years ago and it was interesting to see how much things had changed –  for the good and  the bad.

Fields of flowers at Skilpad.
Fields of flowers at Skilpad.

Kamieskroon, because of the good caravan park was great and I also enjoyed my visit to Skilpad in the Namaqua Park where I spent a day looking at the beautiful Spring flowers.

Hondeklip Baai

Hondeklip Baai

Friendly people.

Friendly people.

Loved Hondeklip Baai and the people. If you love the sea I think it would be a great place to have a holiday house or even to retire.

Strandfontein

My set-up at Strandfontein

Although I found Strandfontein a bit of a strange place I did enjoy my caravan site with its private ablution block.

Doring Baai and the power of the sea.

Doringbaai and the power of the sea.

The last part of my journey included Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay. Lamberts Bay was interesting and I enjoyed exploring and meeting some of the locals. To be honest the best thing about Elands Bay was that it was only 5 km’s from my final caravan park call Vensterklip.

Set-up at Vensterklip.

Set-up at Vensterklip with Verlorenvlei in the background.

Vensterklip was great as, again, I had a private ablution block and it was really quiet and peaceful. It also provided me with an opportunity to try my hand at photographing birds.

On the wing?

On the wing?

If you read my previous post you will see that the highs far out way the lows of my journey.  As to the question will I carry on with my voyage of discovery the answer is YES. There are still so many more interesting places to see and people to meet that, God willing, I would like to carry on until I have covered the whole of the South African coast line.

Visit to Namaqua National Park.

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.
Pannekoek Paleis – Pancake Palace.
Granny Ragel chief cook
Ouma Ragel – chief cook and what a gal.

Ragel, Olene and Anna.

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.

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

Field of Namaqualand daisies - the contrasts of colour are beautiful.

Love it!!

Love it!!

Did some close ups of various plants and have no idea of names so just enjoy.

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The Skilpad Padstal Restaurant

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.

Mike Downie.

Mike Downie.

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.

My model was a bit shy and would not give me his/her name.

Port Nolloth Museum

Popped into the Port Nolloth Museum yesterday morning and spent a few hours looking at some  interesting displays. Janine Olivier, who has been working at the museum for just over a year, was very helpful and passed on some  enlightening  information. I am not going to try and give a history lesson so hopefully the pictures will do the talking.

Port Nolloth Museum.

Port Nolloth Museum.

The building that houses the museum is a bit of history itself in that it was built in 1880.

The Port Nolloth Museum was opened over ten years ago and  presents the history of Port Nolloth for approximately 2000 years. It also displays the history of diamond diving in the area, as well as geology and natural history.

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Display about early inhabitants of the area.

History of Port Nolloth

History of Port Nolloth

Information about the old copper train and building of the jety.

Information about the old copper train and building of the jety.

Great display about diamond diving.

Great display about diamond diving.

The west coast is known for all the ships that have been wrecked over the years.

The west coast is notorious for all the ships that have been wrecked over the years.

A display of products in their original packaging.

A display of products in their original packaging.

While I had been wondering round and taking photographs I was drawn to the portrait below.  The photograph was clearly not that old so I was wondering what it was doing hanging in the museum and asked Janine what the story was. (To be honest she also reminded me of an ex girl friend from way back when.)

Grazia de Beer.

Grazia de Beer.

Well it turns out that I am standing in the Port Nolloth museum  as a result of all the work that this woman did in Port Nolloth over a period of  20 years.

Grazia de Beer was born in Italy and later came to Cape Town where she went to school at Springfield Convent and Ellersley in Sea Point. She graduated from UCT with a BA, was a singer in a leading jazz band, played guitar, composed songs and worked at the Italian Consulate as an interpretor. She married Coen de Beer, a diamond diver, and moved to Port Nolloth in the late 1980’s.

She ran a restaurant, established the Bedrock Lodge and opened the Port Nolloth Museum. She held a black belt in karate and started the Port Nolloth Dojo.

The Bedrock Lodge.

The Bedrock Lodge.

She was fearless in her convictions and brought up many cultural and environmental issues of the area. She put a stop to the slaughter of seals, and began marketing Port Nolloth as a special place to visit.

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Grazia de Beer Beach Front.

Unfortunately Grazia de Beer passed away on the 25th of December 2007.

Grazia was so well liked and respected by the community, that they decided to name the new beach front development after her in honour of all that she had done  for Port Nolloth and it’s inhabitants.

Port Nolloth Biodiversity Centre

On my first day of walking round Port Nolloth I found the Information Centre which is also part of the Biodiversity Centre in that one woman runs both from the same building. Her name is Alta Kotze and her official title(s) are Tourism Information Officer/Manager Biodiversity Centre. I also found out that she is a singer, composer and song writer trying to make a break into the world of music.

Port Nolloth Biodivrsity Centre

Port Nolloth Biodiversity Centre

I had been in a bit of a rush so made an appointment to have a look round the centre at a later date to take a few photographs of some of the exhibits. I nearly fell over backwards when I arrived back there yesterday and was told that she wanted to sing one of her songs for me using a backing track on her computer.

Alta Kotze the singer.

Alta Kotze the singer.

I think it took an awful lot of guts to do what she did (no ways could I have done that) and to be honest I was really impressed with both her voice and her own composition. I hope that somewhere along the line she gets a break and has a chance to make it doing something she is passionate about.

Alta the Tourism Information Officer.

Alta the Tourism Information Officer.

Skeleton of a Piolet whale

Skeleton of a Pilot whale

Exhibit

Exhibit

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Exhibit

Exhibit

Exhibit

Quite a few of the normal exhibits that use live animals – snakes, chameleons and lizards – are no longer functioning as they have  died. Pity really as the setting for the centre is great but one should really have more displays.

Although not part of the museum I did find this exhibit round the back  in the harbour area.

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The Port Nolloth Locomotive.

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The Port Nolloth Locomotive

Final word – If there is anyone in, or knows someone in, the music industry who might be interested in hearing a demo- tape of Alta  you can contact her on 072-1941947.

A look arournd McDougalls Bay.

I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning walking round and talking to some folk in McDougalls Bay. Again everyone was friendly and prepared to go out of their way to help me. One guy even offered to give me some 4×4 driving lessons when I told him there are certain places I don’t take the Pajero as I don’t know much about 4×4. Think I might just take him up on that!!

Plots in McDougalls Bay, belonging to mine managers in the area, date back to 1855 and it is believed to have been the holiday resort of the rich. In 1960 there was renewed interest in the bay and plots could be hired from the municipality but only removable structures could be erected. This changed in 1986 when the bay was resurveyed and tenants could get ownership of their plots.

A guy called Jack Carstens found the first local diamond at a place called Oubeep just south of McDougalls Bay 0n 25 August 1925 but it was only in the 1970’s that the mining of diamonds from the sea started.

McDougall Bay taken from the North side.
McDougall Bay taken from the North side.

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Apart from the rough beauty of the place 2 things really struck me – one was the number of houses and plots  on the market and two some of the unusual architecture. It seemed as if every third or fourth  house is on the market and when I popped in at the local Seeff Office and spoke to Beverly Jackson I was given a list of all the properties and sites that are for sale.  I count 44 plots and about 27 houses listed by Seeff alone. There are also quite lot of B&B’s and Guest Houses in the area.

The price of houses range from about R450,000 to just over R2,500,000. One that caught my eye was this one below.

House for sale.
House for sale.

It is listed as being newly built but here is also a sign above the front door that reads 1894.

The Koi pool area.

The Koi pool area.

This house is on the market for R1,800,000 and consists of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 garages, a Koi pool, is also fully furnished  and  has a bachelor flat attached. Wonder what that would go for in say Yzerfontein?

Yesterday evening on my walk I met one of the real local characters, George who is/was a diamond diver, and I want to do a full post on him. Even his house is fascinating so thought I would start here with some of the unusual architectural  aspects of McDougall Bay.

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The house that George built.
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Ben’s Den

I have seen something similar near Hangklip.

Bigger is better?
Bigger is better?

This one is on the market for R1,530,000 and has 4 bedrooms and 31/2 bathrooms.

Colourful hey?
Colourful hey?

No ja well fine!
No ja well fine!

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On the market for R1,200,000

Netting harders.
Netting harders.

Spotted these 2 bobbing around in the bay netting harders. They were out the whole morning and I saw them pull in quite a few. I have been told that the fishing in the bay is very poor but I aim to try and disprove that in the near future. If there are harders around there must be other fish in the water.