Staying home for the holidays gives you time to explore your own town and region. Think like a tourist and learn more about the places you would normally only acknowledge with a quick glance through the car window as you glide by to another destination.
Each of the following places in George - the sixth oldest city in South Africa - tells its own story.
• The Outeniqua Transport Museum - 2 Mission Road. A variety of steam locomotives, the impressive GL Garrett, carriages such as a coach from the Royal Train of 1947 and Paul Kruger’s coach and private saloons can be viewed, as well as a model train room and a private vintage car collection.
• The George Arts Theatre - 125 York Street. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Apart from the wonderful shows, the building itself is one of George’s gems. The building dates from 1905 when it was used as a school for girls. In the 50s the building’s main hall was used as a movie theatre. The old film reel projector still lives in the foyer. The building was bought by the George Society of Arts in 1968, and converted into a 217-seat theatre.
• The George Museum - 9 Courtenay Street. It preserves the history of the town with a special focus on the timber industry. It also houses an art collection. The museum was started by Charles Sayers, in 1967, in a single room in Courtenay Street.
• The Garden Route Botanical Garden - Caledon Street. The garden borders the Outeniqua Nature Reserve and focuses on plants native to the Southern Cape. Enjoy a picnic or walk your dog (on a leash) while you treasure the beauty of George.
• St Mark’s Cathedral - corner of Cathedral and York streets. A beautiful stone building, the cathedral was designed by Sophia Grey, the wife of a bishop, and contains beautiful stained glass windows. The St Mark’s Cathedral affords George its city status.
• The Pacaltsdorp Stone Church is the oldest church in George, built in the Norman style. It was originally built from stone, yellowwood, glass and clay. The church forms the focus point of Pacaltsdorp and was built in 1825. The stone used for the thick walls was quarried from the Outeniqua mountains with the help of Khoekhoen labourers.
•Walk from Brenton-on-Sea to Buffalo Bay. One-way the breathtakingly beautiful
walk is 4,5km, so catch a lift back to Brenton if you don't feel like walking
• When last did you visit Noetzie Beach? It is about 100 steps down to the secluded beach.
• Take the family to the East Head View Point in Knysna. Drive down to Coney Glen Beach - definitely worth it.
• The Old Gaol was the first building erected by the Colonial Government in Knysna in 1859. It now houses the Knysna Museum and Library, along with a heap of other exhibitions.
• Grab something to eat at Thesen Harbour Town and while you're there, visit the Alex Blaikie Museum.
• Get a permit from Cape Nature and go fishing! The Robberg peninsula offers the most breathtaking rock and surf angling opportunities.
• The area provides some of the best cycling terrain with waterfront views and off-road tracks and offers the opportunity to create your own personal sight-seeing tour, while getting some exercise at the same time. Hop on the popular N2 route, stretching from Plett to Enrico’s Ristorante in Keurboomstrand. Then there is the Petrus-se-Brand mountain bike trail - a one-way trail that can be done from either the Diepwalle forest station or Garden of Eden. The Harkerville Forest MTB and the Cairnbrogie MTB Trail Park also offer mountain bikers several off-road options.
• Visit the Harry Giddey Park in the centre of Mossel Bay for a lovely day in the outdoors. It is open from 08:00 to 18:00 daily and entrance is free. The park boasts a wide variety of exotic birds and other animals and is a popular venue for young children.
• Attend the feeding of the penguins, twice daily, at the Seabird and Penguin Rehab Centre (Saprec) in Mossdustria. Only small groups are allowed and booking is a must. The centre rehabilitates seabirds, particularly the highly endangered African penguin, a very costly exercise. The centre has been operating for 13 years and is run by Carol Walton and a team of volunteers. Saprec operates from Still Bay to Herold’s Bay and is totally dependent on public donations.
• No museum like this one... The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex in Mossel Bay includes the Shell Museum housing South Africa’s largest shell collection, an indigenous ethno-Botanical garden.
• The Old Jail in Riversdale was built in 1838. It was used
as trading store, and after the state purchased it, turned into a jail where a
gallows is still housed. The present owner turned the cells into art and
antique shops, while an open-air restaurant in the courtyard offers the best
carrot cake in town. l Hiking in Heidelberg includes the Bosbok hiking trail, a
circular route that starts in the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve which
consists of more than 250ha of forest.
• Tuinplaas nursery and coffee shop offers indigenous and waterwise plants, a large variety of pots and mouldings, a museum housing a collection of antique tractors and the world’s largest handknitted jersey. It also houses the tourism office.
• A visit to Gouritsmond must include a trip to Gourikwa Nature reserve some 10km out of town. Gourikwa’s interesting history of how the veld and sea returned to its former glory while the land belonged to the state, the lovely seamen’s cottages, luxury restaurant and educational centre are well worth a visit.
• Tuin op die Brak (garden on communal land) is a unique fynbos park in Stilbaai boasting more than 240 fynbos species, 13 of which are endangered. The garden is wheelchair-friendly and plant markers in braille make it enjoyable for the visually impaired.
Indien jy reeds Oudtshoorn se groot vyf - Kangogrotte,
volstruisplase, wynkelders, wildsplase en meerkatte - gedoen het, is daar ‘n
hele aantal bekostigbare alternatiewe om die wintervakansie by die huis
interessant te maak.
• Verken die dorp se kultuur en geskiedenis te voet. Begin by die CP Nel museum in Baron van Reedestraat, stap drie blokke verder tot by die Le Roux dorpshuis in Hoogstraat. Volg dan Kerkstraat, oor die historiese hangbrug tot in Van Riebeeckstraat en loer in by CJ Langenhoven se huis, Arbeidsgenot.
• Oudtshoorn het ‘n hele aantal historiese sandsteenkerkgeboue binne loopafstand van mekaar in Kerkstraat, Baron van Reedestraat en St Saviourstraat asook kerke by Volmoed en De Hoop op die Calitzdorppad.
• Doen ‘n sober ‘pub-crawl’ en proe die dorp se verskeidenheid koffies by die talle koffiekroeë in Langenhoven. Die Joodse sinagoge in Baron van Reedestraat Die CP Nel Museum Die Le Roux dorpshuis in Hoogstraat weg, Baron van Reedestraat, Hoogstraat, St Johnstraat en by die Queen’s mall.
• Wat van ‘n bietjie gemeenskapswerk saam met die gesin en vriende? Gryp ‘n paar handskoene en swartsakke en takel die Grobbelaarsrivier of die gewilde wandelpaadjie agter Oudtshoorn-Noord teen die kop uit.
• Pak ‘n fles met koffie, of ‘n lekseltjie sjerrie of port, soek die hoogste punt in Oudtshoorn en geniet die sonsondergang.
There are a myriad attractions in Graaff-Reinet and surrounds and locals are fortunate to live in this gem of the Karoo. So why leave Graaff-Reinet for an expensive and exhausting holiday this winter? The area has plenty to keep you and your kids happily occupied.
• Many of the guest farms in the area offer children the opportunity to participate in daily farming activities, or to just run free. Inquisitive young minds may want to explore the first South African doll collection housed at Reinet House in Graaff-Reinet, weaponry from the Anglo Boer War, and walks in the wild, while budding palaeontologists can search for dinosaur footprints.
• Journey back in time by visiting the Ganora Fossil Museum and the Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre in Nieu-Bethesda, as well as the fossil collection at the Wellwood Fossil Museum, the pride and joy of the farm Wellwood outside Graaff-Reinet.
• The Hester Rupert Art Museum collection in Church Street in Graaff-Reinet comprises 126 works by 106 artists. Most of the collection is devoted to works produced by artists working in the 1960s.
• The Valley of Desolation is a short 14km drive from the town. Sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of dolerite rise 120m from the valley floor. Any visitor to the Camdeboo National Park will be surprised to discover the diversity of fauna and flora. There are over 220 recorded species of birdlife, 336 plants and 43 mammals. Be sure to take your camera!
• Make a day trip to Nieu-Bethesda. Visit the world famous Owl House and if you want to keep the kids entertained while you wander in the galleries and shops of the village or enjoy a laid-back lunch or cuppa, a donkey cart tour is just the thing. Jacob will bring the village to life with his 20-minute donkey cart ride around town. While you’re there, visit the touch farm at De Toren near Nieu-Bethesda with lots of farm animals to see.
For a comprehensive list and details of all the activities visit www.graaffreinet.co.za.
15-16 June The Wedge Shootout surfing competition @ The Wedge Beach in Plett
21-30 June Knysna Oyster Festival
21-23 June King of the Knysna Jungle Festival (music) at Crossfit Knysna
21-23 June Knysna Cycle Tour including Spur Children’s Tour and the road race on 23rd
28-29 June Knysna Wine Festival @ Premier Hotel on George Rex Drive
22-28 June Plett Arts Festival l 29 June, Knysna Forest half and full marathon
14-17 Junie Silver Mountain Musiekfees, Grootvadersbosch, Heidelberg
15 Junie Oom Karolus en Lente, Melkhoutfontein-gemeenskapsaal
16 Junie Oom Karolus en Lente, Melkhoutfontein NG Kerksaal
17 Junie Oom Karolus en Lente, Stilbaaigemeenskapsaal
17-21 Junie Koningskindersweek, Stilbaai Baptistekerk
1-6 Julie Winter in July, Voortrekker Rd, Stilbaai
6 Julie Grootvadersbosch Trail Challenge, 07:00, Heidelberg
15 June Encaustic workshop, studio in Dana Bay, 10:00 to 15:00
18 June Scraper-board workshop, Dias Museum, 09:30 to 12:30
19 June Printing workshop, studio in Dana Bay, 10:00 to 15:00
22 June Sculpture workshop, studio in Dana Bay, 10:00 to 15:00
27 June Paper mâché workshop, studio in Dana Bay, 10:00 to 15:00, 072 716 6419 or 044 698 2030
Mini Movie Festival Monroe Theatre - movies in a vintage atmosphere with a fireplace and delicious eats
June: 15 - Death on the Nile; 17 - Frida; 18 - Wait Until Dark; 19 - An Affair to Remember; 20: An American in Paris; 22 - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; 24 - Irma la Douce; 25 - The Dressmaker; 26 - Footsteps in the Fog; 27 - Guys and Dolls
July: 1 - The Fortune Cookie; 2 - Calamity Jane; 3 - The Out-of-Towners; 4 - Amelie; 5 - Meet me in St Louis; 8 - Destry Rides Again; 9 - Charade; 10 - Thoroughly Modern Milly; 11 - Breakfast at Tiffany's; 12 - Sylvia; 13 - La Vie En Rose; 16 - Seraphine; 16 - Cover Girl.
21 June Comedy cabaret, Vonk l 6 July, Vintage high tea and movie, Tea with Mussolini
12 July Great for kids: Bugsy Malone, a fun- filled look at the life of a mobster
Every Saturday 08:00, Mountain Drive parkrun
Every Saturday 09:00 to 14:00, Graaff-Reinet Community Market @ Angel Park gardens
5-15 June Little Shop of Horrors, George Arts Theatre, Bronwyn Stammer - 044 874 3142
12-16 June A man cave experience around Father's Day, Mugg & Bean court, Garden Route Mall
21 June holiday fun sessions, live music plus onsite competition with vouchers, Garden Route Mall 22 June, Lollos show, free, ideal for ages 2-12, Garden Route Mall
24-28 June George Arts Theatre holiday club, drama workshop for kids 8 to 18 years, Bronwyn Stammer - 044 874 3142
28 June free movie with Captain Otto, 300 kids club members get free movie and combo, joining fee R50, Ster Kinekor, Garden Route Mall
1-5 July George Arts Theatre holiday club, drama workshop for kids 8 to 18 years. Bronwyn Stammer - 044 874 3142
5 July Moonlight Maze, Redberry Farm, entry times @ 18:00, 19:00 and 20:00
Until 26 July Juanette Menderoi solo art exhibition, John van Reenen Gallery, Calitzdorp, 084 476 0841
14 June Winter Festival Community Chest dinner, Calitzdorp railway station, tourism@ calitzdorp.org.za
15-16 June Calitzdorp Winter Festival, De Krans Wines, email@example.com
17 June an evening with Jannie Moolman and Kevin Leo, 20:00, The Showroom Theatre, Prince Alfred
22 June James Marais and Monique Cassells with their Old School Country Legends, 20:00, The Showroom Theatre, Prince Alfred
7-11 August Klein Karoo Klassique, Oudtshoorn, www.klassique.co.za
The Southern Cape has some of the most beautiful beaches on the South African coastline - a fabulous outing even in winter - but these days there are fewer and fewer places where your best friend is also welcome. Luckily there are still some beaches where you can enjoy the ocean breeze with your dog in tow - literally speaking, as in most cases the rules stipulate that Rexie must be on a leash.
GEORGE The SANParks controlled part of Wilderness beach is the only completely dog-friendly beach in the George area. Beaches under the control of the George Municipality, which include Herold's Bay, Gwaiing River Mouth, Victoria Bay and Leentjiesklip, do not allow dogs. Leashed dogs are however allowed on the sidewalks of the beach areas. SANParks-zoned areas of Wilderness beaches are divided into three categories: green zones where dogs are welcome, orange zones where leashed dogs can be on the beach and red zones where no dogs are allowed. Just east of Leentjiesklip is a 1km stretch where you can walk your dog if it's on a leash. Behind Die Duin; at Kleinkrantz; and to the east of Kleinkrantz are areas ranging between 1 and 3km where Rexie can roam free.
MOSSEL BAY In the Mossel Bay Municipality controlled area dogs are allowed on the beaches from Glentana to the Great Brak River Mouth. No dogs are allowed on red zone beaches, such as the Point in Mossel Bay.
HESSEQUA No dogs are allowed on any swimming beach in the Hessequa area. Owners may walk dogs in public places, which include secluded beaches and footpaths, but dogs must be on a leash. No Dogs Allowed signs have been placed at all swimming beaches to make sure that those who own and walk dogs are aware of the limitations.
PLETTENBERG BAY In Plettenberg Bay and surrounds dogs are
permitted on the following beaches only, and only if on a leash:
Southwards of Robberg 5 to Robberg Beach End
Poortjies lagoon area
North of Enrico’s restaurant to Matjiesfontein, Nature’s Valley
Westward of The Waves Beach
Lookout Beach and Peninsula
KNYSNA In Knysna, dogs can be walked along Leisure Isle provided they are on a leash at all times. In Sedgefield dogs are allowed on Cola Beach for a stretch of 3km and on neighbouring Myoli Beach for a stretch of 1km as long as they are on a leash.
Westfield 4x4 routes at Witsand offers two routes of 8km
and 22km over sand dunes and through dune bush. The shorter route is easier and
leads to a picnic area with braai facilities, while the longer route will test
your driving skills.
Eden Park 4×4 Sand Route at Jongensfontein is about 6km. It offers the scenic loop, which is not too difficult, and the sandy bowl, known as Speelgat, where the driver’s skills are tested.
The 13km Ostrich Eco 4×4 Trail near Witsand include sand, rocks, water crossings, steep gradients and axle twisters. The grading is 3-4 and it takes three to five hours to complete.
A scenic drive that has much to offer is the R328 towards
Ruiterbos. Meet Percherons at Outeniqua Moon Guest Farm and feast on cheese at
Leeukloof Trading. If it's gin you're after, find your way to Harmony
Distillery. Game farms include Wolwedans, Bergsig and the Garden Route Safari
Camp. Visit Halfway Hollow and their forest tea garden. Don't miss the
historical Eight Bells Mountain Inn and the Boerqi Bistro at Ruiterbos Farm
The 40km circular Fragrance Route goes past game farms, villages and beautiful fynbos in the Friemersheim area. You can access the route from Great Brak River, Little Brak River, Reebok or Tergniet (follow the Sorgfontein Road past Leani Kwekery) and Leeukloof. www.proemb. co.za
The Vleesbaai 4x4 Dune Route is ideal for honing your sand driving skills. It is 12km of pure fun and only a stone's throw from the water's edge, although no beach driving is involved. The route grading is 3 to 4.
The Koedoeskloof 4x4 trail provides a drive to the top of the mountain with spectacular views of the Karoo landscape. The trail can be completed with a return journey following the same track in about three hours. l The Driekoppe 4x4 trail is a scenic grade 2 trail in the Camdeboo. You can follow the track past the water supply pump, to the top of Hanglip with its panoramic view of the plains, or follow the stream bed down Wolfkloof to the waterfall.
A circular trip via Victoria Bay, Wilderness and Hoekwil will keep you busy for a day and keen to go back for more. Start at Victoria Bay and make your next stop the Kaaimans Restaurant on the river. Continue to Wilderness, stopping to take in the spectacular view at Dolphin’s Point. Take another break in Wilderness and then visit the Map of Africa at Wilderness Heights. Continue to Hoekwil taking the Serpentine mountain pass, which winds through lush forest. In the Hoekwil area you will find the Tea Junction, the Hoekwil Country Cafè and the Skotteljans Farm Kitchen. You can also visit the 800-year-old Woodville Big tree on the old George-Knysna road where you can do the easy 2km forest walk and relax at the picnic site. Take the quick road back past Hoekwil, via the lakes to the N2, from where it’s smooth driving back to George.
Oudtshoorn na Prins Albert via die Swartbergpas en terug deur Klaarstroom, Meiringspoort en De Rust is 200 km met genoeg stilhouplek vir koffie, foto’s en stap. l Ry van Oudtshoorn na Calitzdorp in die rigting van die Swartbergpas, maar hou links by Kobus se Gat na Matjiesrivier en Kruisriveir met ‘n grondpad tot in Calitzdorp en terug met die R62. Ongeveer 150km. l Oudtshoorn na Mosselbaai oor die Robinsonpas en terug via George oor die Outeniqua of die meer avontuurlustige Montagupas. Daar is ‘n hele aantal padstalletjies soos Sonop, die Boerqi en Roadside Deli waar bene gerek kan word. Ongeveer 200km. l As daar dalk sneeu is, is die teerpad tot by Kobus se Gat die ideale roete vir sneeukyk. Wees egter versigtig vir die Swartbergpas as dit sneeu. Die padoppervlak is seepglad.
The Gold Rush Drive is a half-day drive that starts at the Rheenendal turn-off on the N2. At Rheenendal take the Bibby's Hoek turn-off. Go past the Goudveld Station and follow the signs to Millwood Village, the scene of the 1876 gold rush in Knysna. l The Gouna Pass connects the Gouna Forestry Village with the Old Cape Road near Simola Golf Estate. It is a spectacular drive through dense indigenous forests. Take the N2 out of Knysna, then take the Old Cape Road turnoff to Gouna/Simola, continue past Simola. As the road becomes gravel, take the Gouna turnoff to the left. Follow this road past the Gouna Forest Station to the Grootdraai Picnic site along Kom-se-pad. l The unforgiving Prince Alfred's Pass is in no way for the faint-hearted and connects Uniondale with Knysna along approximately 80km of gravel road. It's extremely narrow, with little room for two vehicles, but a beautiful drive. Along the way, stop at De Vlugt Tea Garden and Valley of Ferns.
For this wonderful green outing to the beach or a nearby river or dam, be sure to dress the kids warmly. Each child must take a bucket and spade and wear gloves. Think of a reward that the group or each individual child would love and want to play the clean-up game for.
Each kid must collect at least 10 objects that do not belong on the beach - plastic bottles, straws, bags, cigarette butts, glass and any other junk they may find. Remember to brief them not to touch any dead animals or excrement. Take a couple of black bags and keep record of how many buckets they empty into the bags. It's best to make this a team effort and the reward simple, green and healthy!
After the clean-up the little ones can relax with the dolphin dash map and recycle puzzle.
Monday to Saturday 09:00 to 17:00 and Sunday 09:00 to 14:00.
Mossel Bay Family Farmers' market outside Hartenbos.
Sunday 08:00 to 14:00.
The Mossel Bay Care Centre hosts an auction at 11:00. Take your white elephants and make some money - Delene or Jenny on 044 879 0119.
6 July 08:00 to 13:00.
Saturdays 08:00 to 14:00.
Harkerville Village Market, Hakerville.
Wednesday 10:00 to 14:00.
Plett Market on Main, Plettenberg Bay.
Every day 08:00 to 17:00.
Every day 08:00 to 17:00.
Scarab Village, Sedgefield.
Saturday 08:00 to 13:00.
Graaff-Reinet Community Market.
Saturday 09:00 to 14:00.
If you live in the Garden Route and surrounds and you haven't gone on a hike, you haven't lived. The area offers incredible trails with breathtaking views. Here are a few family-friendly hikes that will make you thank your lucky stars you live right here.
• Robberg Nature Reserve hiking trail is one of the few places on earth where you can spot great white sharks from land, especially in winter. Walk 2km to The Gap or down the Witsand dune to The Island and back - about 4km.
• The St Blaize trail is a popular 13,5km hike that follows the 30m contour along the cliffs westwards from the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse at the Point in Mossel Bay. It begins at the cave below the lighthouse and ends at Dana Bay. Takes 6 hours.
• The Glentana Beach wreck and cave walk is 35km east of Mossel Bay. It must be done at low tide. Be ready for a fair amount of rock climbing, and stay away if you are afraid of heights. It takes four hours to hike the 3,5km to Cave Bay and the same time back. The shipwreck is more than halfway to Cave Bay.
• Trails crisscross the Skulpiesbaai Nature Reserve at Stilbaai and can be started from the whale watching point near the harbour or the parking areas at Morris Point or near the fish traps.
• The 4,7km Pass to Pass trail starts at the TV antennae at the top of Outeniqua Pass. Time: 75 to 135 min. Parking at start. Arrange for pick-up at other end.
• The Camdeboo National Park in the Karoo includes the Crag Lizard Trail, a 45-minute walk along the rim of the Valley of Desolation, the Gideon Scheepers Trail (great views of Ncqueba Dam), and the Eerstefontein Trail - a day walk which starts on the fringe of Graaff-Reinet, circling Wildebeeskom in the south-western section of the park.
• A diverse range of vegetation is conserved in the Swartberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo. The trails include easy day hikes. Walk one of the two short hikes of 7,4km and 8,4km, both about 2½ hours.