The Valley of Plenty | 280km
...lies in a secluded valley that was originally named Het Land van Waveren by Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel after the influential Van Waveren family of Amsterdam. The town was proclaimed in 1804, and was named after the former Dutch Governor, Ryk Tulbagh. Enclosed by mountains on three sides, the valley is a mosaic of orchards, vineyards, wheat fields and fynbos-clad mountain slopes. The town is famous for the many magnificent Cape Dutch and Victorian buildings lining Church Street, which stretches between the old Dutch Reformed Church and its parsonage.
On the night of 29 September 1969, Tulbagh was struck by an earthquake measuring 6,4 on the Richter scale. As a result of the quake, 23 buildings had to be completely restored. The Old Dutch Reformed Church, built in1743 to a cruciform design, is the focal point of the Oude Kerk Volksmuseum. The church, along with three annexes in Church Street, has displays of old furniture and porcelain, as well as material on the 1969 earthquake and local geology. Other noteworthy buildings include the old Drostdy (1806), Mon Bijou (1812), the Dutch Reformed Parsonage (1769) and Ballotina, with its unusual gable.
...is situated on the west side of Tulbagh's Church Street, against the backdrop of mountains. A verdant lawn leads up to a Cape Dutch building dating back to 1809, when it was built as a residence. In 1821 it became one of the the country's first tap-houses (a combination of bar and retail outlet for wine), a purpose it served until such establishments were prohibited due to the disturbances created by drunken soldiers and sailors. After careful restoration, Paddagang was opened in 1974 as a restaurant and wine house.
The name means 'frog passage', and is said to refer to an early irrigation canal much favoured by frogs. In the restaurant, visitors on a South African holiday can enjoy traditional Cape fare such as waterblommetjie bredie, venison pie and sweet potatoes, accompanied by local wines. A fine range of wines with innovative frog themes is produced under the Paddagang label.
The Tulbagh area is especially suited to white cultivars such as weisser riesling, cape riesling, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. The Tulbagh wine route comprises nine wineries, with the Drostdy Winesr and Twee Jonge Gezellen, Theuniskraal and Lemberg estates among the best-known names.
The name of this small town immediately brings to mind the famous Dutch cheese, but the name is in fact of Khoikhoi origin, and is variously said to mean 'antelope', 'honey path' or 'honey defile'. Originally known as Porterville Road, Gouda served as a railhead for Porterville until the branch line from Hermon was built in 1929.
VoŽlvlei Dam, 6 km to the south, plays an important role in the supply of water to Cape Town and in controlling and augmenting the flow of the Berg River. Built in 1952, the dam has a capacity of 16 million m3, and behind the 17,7-m-high dam wall lies an 8-km-long lake.
...at the foot of the Olifants River Mountains, is an agricultural centre for the surrounding farms, which concentrate on wheat and wine. Wine production is focused mainly on white varietals such as chardonnay, colombard, sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc, and the town falls within the Swartland wine region.
Porterville was laid out on the farm Pomona, which was subdivided into plots in 1863. Its name honours William Porter, the popular Attorney-General of the Cape Colony from 1839 to 1866. The scenic Dasklip Pass, linking the Swartland with the plateau below the Groot Winterhoek mountains, is a popular hang-gliding site for visitors on a South African holiday.
The formidable barrier presented by the Olifants River Mountains, originally known as the Groote Clooff (Large Kloof), was first crossed on 7 December 1660 by a Dutch soldier, Jan Danckaert. In 1675, a band of Khoikhoi raiders escaped across the mountains because the pursuing commandos were weighed down by their heavy pikes.
Following a report to the Council of Policy in 1739, a military post was set up to defend Swartland farmers against Khoisan attacks and the name Piekenierskloof (piekenier means a guard armed with a pike) became established. It was not until 1857 that Thomas Bain began building a road through the pass.
Completed the following year, it was named Grey's Pass, after the British Governor, Sir George Grey. When the new pass was built higher up the mountain slopes, it was given its original name.
Situated along the upper reaches of the Olifants River Valley, Citrusdal is bounded in the west by the Olifants River mountains and by the Cedarberg range to the east. The area was first explored in 1660 by the Dutch soldier Jan Danckaert and farmers began settling in the fertile valley in 1725. Citrusdal is the centre of the country's third-largest citrus-producing area, and accounts for about 14 per cent of the total crop. It is especially noted for its navel and Valencia oranges, grown by about 200 farmers in the area.
The valley also has a tradition of winemaking going back more than two centuries, and produces a wide range of red and white wines, as well as dessert wines and wine for brandy. Citrusdal is also known for its hot springs, The Baths, located 18 km south of the town. A military post was established at the hot spring in 1739, and thatched bathing huts were built for visitors. The water emerging at the surface has a temperature of 43 įC and contains potassium, sodium, chloride and magnesium.
Accommodation ranges from fully equipped chalets and flats to campsites, while amenities include hot and cold swimming pools, spa baths and a range of recreational activities. In recent years, Citrusdal has become popular with skydivers and outdoor enthusiasts.
...between the Skurweberg and Gydoberg, was built in 1848 by Andrew Geddes Bain to link the Cold and the Warm Bokkeveld. 'Gydo' is of Khoikhoi origin and is said to mean 'steep pass', or 'milkbush poort' after a species of euphorbia. From the summit, travellers can enjoy fine views of the Hex River Mountains and the Warm Bokkeveld.
Prince Alfred Hamlet
...at the foot of the Gydo Pass, is the centre of an important deciduous fruit farming area. Established in 1861 as a fruit-packing centre on the farm Wagensboomrivier, it was named after Queen Victoria's son, Alfred, first Duke of Edinburgh, who visited the Cape in 1867.
Following the completion of Michell's Pass, the site for a village was laid out at the eastern entrance of the pass, and the first 20 plots were sold by public auction on 21 July 1849. Situated in a fertile basin on the banks of the Dwars River and surrounded by the Skurweberg mountains, the settlement was named after the Roman goddess of agriculture in recognition of the fertility of the land. Farmers initially concentrated on wheat production, but gradually began switching to fruit farming.
The completion of the railway line between Ceres and Wolseley in 1912 provided a tremendous boost to the fruit industry, and Ceres is today one of the biggest deciduous fruit-producing districts in the country. The area is especially known for its pears, but also produces large quantities of other fruits such as apples, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries. Given the abundance of fruit, it is not surprising that about 80 per cent of South Africa's fruit juices are packed in Ceres.
In recent years, the district has also become a major producer of potatoes, and accounts for 40 per cent of the total production in South Africa. In winter, snow often falls in Ceres, attracting large numbers of visitors on their South African holiday.
When the explorer Henry Lichtenstein travelled along the first road through the Skurweberg ravine in 1803, he described it as 'one of the worst and most dangerous roads in the Colony'. Construction of the new pass was begun in 1846 by 200 convicts under the direction of Andrew Geddes Bain, and the 9-km road was officially opened on 1 December 1848. It was named after Major Charles Michell, the Surveyor-General at the time.
A tollhouse was built and passing wagons were charged a toll of three pence a wheel. Following the discovery of diamonds near Kimberley in 1870, Ceres became an important stop-over on the northward route to the diamond fields, and heavily laden wagons made their way across the pass.
Lying in a beautiful valley of the Breede River, Wolseley is surrounded by the Waaihoek, Witsen and Watervals mountains. The town was established in 1875 and named in 1910 after Sir Garnet Wolseley, the British Governor of Natal. Fruit, vegetable, wheat, dairy and stock farming are practised in the area.
Of historical interest are two blockhouses built during the South African War to protect the bridges along the railway line south of the town. The Jan Danckaert Museum, named after the early Dutch explorer, depicts the town's history through photographic displays and other museum pieces.