The Red Bridge of Knysna

This large red steel structural design is often where you still find a fisherman dangling his fishing rod from the side while sitting in the shade of a cross beam or some youngsters jumping into the river from its red structural beams, with the sound of bubbling laughter drifting over the otherwise quiet river. It’s here that locals splash around in summer away from the crowded beaches, and enjoy the coolness of the mountain born river

This was the third bridge built over the Knysna River before it became the lone red structure waiting patiently for a visitor. 1916 the low water bridge that crossed the Knysna river was washed away due to floods in region and in 1923 the beautiful Red Bridge with its 46m spans was opened.

The design of its time was forward thinking, completely different to previous designs and positioned upstream on better founding conditions and most probably the reason it’s still standing. But unfortunately, the demand of progress stepped in and it was succeeded in 1955 by the new and wider, concrete bridge, fondly known to us as the White Bridge, which was situated further downstream again. The Red Bridge remained in use by local traffic until 1973 then became a forgotten icon until the initiative was taken to completely refurbished it in 2014.

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Belvidere the Vista Manor

The story begins way back, I mean really way back! When Knysna was still a farm area, with hunting opportunities, forestry was thriving and bush pigs, leopards and elephants roamed and ruled the area. On one visit a young man by the name of Captain Thomas Henry Duthie who originated from Scotland changed the face and the future of the piece of land called Belvidere…

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It is during the early morning that I arrived at Belvidere, I stopped in the small parking lot under a huge oak tree and strolled down to the water’s edge. The calm waters of the estuary was covered in a soft blanket of mist and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Heron doing his balancing act on a lonely skiff, his reflection as still as him. It is in this stillness that I took a deep breath and slowly let the calmness of this tranquil place soak into my soul. It’s truly beautiful.

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My destination this morning is Belvidere Manor, the original home of Captain Thomas Henry Duthie, described by many as an intellectual and a gentle individual. In the little that I know about him, I have discovered that this young Scottish soldier was eagerly invited by Mr George Rex to visit his farm in Knysna on one of his excursions along the coastline to the Eastern Frontier. This eligible bachelor eventually came to Melkhout Kraal much to George Rex’s delight and the young Duthie adventured, hunted and fell in love, not only with the area but with George Rex’s daughter, Caroline.

It’s not hard to see why the area was so appealing, it was a wild piece of utopia back then, but the beauty has not dissipated. The name Belvidere derived from the Italian word “Bella” which means beauty and “Videre” which translates “to see” and it makes perfect sense.

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The golden morning light fell softly on the huge Manor porch as I walked up the stairs, it was set for breakfast and the warm sunlight filtered its way charmingly into each corner of the place, as I step onto the wooden floors of this age old building I can almost feel the history in it, my eyes rest on the  yellow wood inserts everywhere and the creak under my step assures me it has been there for a while. these were spaces that were created over time.

I peer into every room and take in the moments, wondering what it was like to live here almost 200 years ago. It is with a great inquisitiveness that I stare at the historical faces on the wall, each from within its picture frame, from young to old, with edged character lines that only time can shape.

I met up with Mike and Sue for an early coffee, the owners of the Belvidere Manor business which they bought over 20 years ago, it is an interesting story of growth and potential here on the edge of the estuary, and as Sue and I walked, chatted and explored the property together it was inevitable why it was such a popular place to visit. All the cottages on the property are designed in such a manner that you can enjoy the environment to its fullest and appreciate the historical facets of the area all while you can still enjoy the flair of modern in each cottage. They are designed for self-catering so if you truly feel like escaping the normal B&B aspect, but still have the luxury of being lazy and prefer to a enjoy a breakfast on the sun filled porch overlooking the water, you can.

Not only does Belvidere boast with a great breakfast but it has a little pub called “The Bell” This little eating spot has built up a reputation of its own in the area and is normally filled with locals and visitors alike, it has a variety of mouth-watering dishes with an added English Pub flair. The original building was thought to be a hunting lodge in the 1800’s and later became the home of Thomas, Caroline and their growing little family before the Manor was built and completed in 1849. It is here you can sit in the fresh air while enjoying a cool bottle of wine and feasting on a light meal or where you huddle up inside on a cool evening for a cosy pub meal of hot-pot pie and a tall Ale. You choose…

Knysna is not without its legends and the Manor has a few of its own mysteries. Sue was casually sharing her story of the pipe smoking Vicar that would appear every now in then in the upstairs room of the Manor, it seems to be that the Duthie’s had a love for the calling of the cloth and it might be one of them still looking out over the vista of Belvidere and not wanting to leave, just yet.

Belvidere definitely has a soulful environment with a certain serenity. Visit, sit back, breathe in the fresh air and just enjoy this tranquil place with its immense bird life, gardens and views

For more information visit their website www.belvidere.co.za

A Soul filled with Dirt, Sweat and Gears

 

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The huge collection of motorbikes in the Motorcycle Room, each with its own memory and story

 

It is not often I come across something that was developed completely from passion, but today was one of those days, today I met Colin Stunden …

 

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The story of Jon Jon Abelhem and his racing bike, neither walk away from this accident

 

It was a while ago that I saw the first indication of the www.themotorcycleroom.co.za in Knysna, and with peaked curiosity, I stepped into this warehouse today filled with motorbikes, a dream destination for the enthusiastic rider, collector and petrol head dueller. But when I started chatting to Colin the real passion came forth. This is not just a simple collection of motorbikes, part motorbikes, yes part motorbikes, and other paraphernalia. This is a place filled with stories, memories and nostalgia, almost like a cartoon movie of iron and engines.

 

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Found in a barn in Sutherland on the outskirts of town, this old 1958 Triumph was recaptured and gently brought back to life. 

 

As he introduced me to each “member” of his family, so to speak, there was a story, and each story was unique. There is not chance that you visit this place and not feel attached in some way to one of these beautiful machines. They might not be your million dollar prize collection, but in Colin’s eyes, they are! From the one he saved in a backyard barn in the middle of a desolated town, to the one that almost became scrap metal, he is attached to each.  And the history! There are bikes here that were built in the days when time was still valued and craftsmanship still a precious skill, this all near forgotten until founded by Colin. In the caring hands of him and his team, the true beauty of each creation came to life again.

 

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Bringing back some memories of the 1980’s and my Kawasaki love affair

 

This is such a unique concept in the true sense of the word and home for the lost and the forgotten, where each machine can still glow in his glory and be admired by those who appreciate them the most.

 

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Another fond memory of times gone by was this little number, Yamaha 250 XT

 

So, if you are an admirer of man and machine, this is definitely a place to visit. Reminisce of times gone by and that time when you raced around on your little 50 cc Suzuki motorbike and dodge a cop or two, or the time you saw the first Ducati or the time you bought your first road bike and hit the road, there are so many memories ……

Visit their Facebook Page The Motor Cycle Room

 

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Colin’s Legacy 

 

Diary of a Road Tripper

Spending time on the road in South Africa is probably one of the most rewarding ways to travel. But head for the Garden Route and Klein Karoo, where the traffic is easily managed and the roads pretty open, and you will discover what it’s like to travel with ease. Here the hustle and bustle of the city does not exist, so open your window, breathe in the fresh air and drive.

There are a few routes here that are an absolute “must-do”, with en-route stop over’s, viewpoints and iconic sites to visit as you wend your way through the Southern Cape.

Looking back at the second chamber of the Cango Caves.

Karoo Bliss:
Head along the R 62 to Oudtshoorn, South Africa’s heartbeat of the Klein Karoo. Visit the splendid Cango Caves and stand in awe as you admire the  illuminated dark caverns. Get tickled by some ostrich interaction and indulge in a good old-fashioned “padstal” along the way. Then wind your way to Mosselbay via the R 328 Robinson Pass which is set in the curves of the Outeniqua Mountain Range. Stop at the summit of the pass and take in the spectacular view of these Mountains before winding your way down to the coast.

Looking down on the entrance to the Pinnacle Point Caves.

A Day in the Bay:

  1. Mosselbay the Point of Human Origin, is a place of seafarers, with history  entrenched in its very being. A trip to Pinnacle Point to explore the forgotten caves and experience 90 million-year-old ancestry is essential.  Head to town and explore the Diaz Museum to learn about ocean history, and then make your way to a harbour restaurant to treat yourself to some fresh fish. Adventure in the Garden Route starts here; find an interesting activity to do before leaving for George. Drive the R102 along the coast prior to joining the N2 to travel to the next coastal town, as many a whale has been spotted along this road.
The old train bridge over the Kaaiman’s River

Heading for Eden:
Wilderness. As you drive through the Kaaimans River Pass the Eden stretch of your journey starts, most probably the prettiest drive along the Garden Route as it has so much to offer. First, stop at Dolphins point; this overlooks the old train bridge and the mouth of the Kaaiman’s river, take in the scenery here and then head to the Touw River for a paddle and a short hike along the Kingfisher Trail to visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area.

There is no shortage of restaurants in the region, but a stop at Timberlake village along the N2 is a real treat with a variety of places to eat and shop. The next spot to visit along the N2 is Gericke’s Point at Swartvlei Beach. Also known as the Sphinx of the Garden Route, this fossilised dune formation is quite a sight to see and lies half immersed in the ocean.

Sunset on Myoli Beach

This is the Sunset stretch of the coast so make sure you are prepared for a good sundowner experience at one of the many viewpoints,  recommended viewpoints are, Cloud 9 or Myoli Beach in Sedgefield, closer to Knysna there is Brenton on Sea or the Water Front. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.

The view from the Knysna Heads

Knysna.

There are many different facets to this coastal town that originally became famous for its timber. Knysna is a combination of coast, farms and forest. Moulded into the foothold of the Outeniqua its beauty is unparalleled once you start exploring. Grab a map and visit the forest areas. Find one of the old trees and just stand and admire its majestic splendour. The oyster is another delight for which Knysna is famous, and can be found in many a restaurant in town. Then there is, of course, the view from the Heads of Knysna, an absolute must see. It is the portal of many a passing ship and one of the Garden Route’s’ iconic views.

The emerging bubbly and boutique wine estate route

Cruising to the Crags

Next stop, Plettenberg Bay and beyond. During your first visit to the area you definitely need to visit Robberg Nature Reserve and a morning hike along its sheer rock face and a beach swim should be on the cards. It is not a difficult walk and extremely scenic. Then off to The Crags for lunch at one of the budding boutique wine estates, where tapas and bubbly is highly recommended. There many soft adventure activities here and an afternoon exploring The Crags is an afternoon well spent.

End off your day by visiting Tsitsikamma Village, before journeying to your next destination.

The Hang Bridge over the Storms River mouth

You might want to try the crazy bungee jump off Storms River Bridge before leaving the Garden Route or if that is not your thing perhaps indulge in a canopy tour in the natural forest or a visit to Tsitsikamma Nature Reserve.

One thing is guaranteed, this will have been the trip of a lifetime!

“To rent a car with Around about Cars and explore this incredible region of South Africa click here: “Car Rental South Africa” 

Human on Planet Earth

I am very excited to share the following story with you. It is one of forgotten times, forgotten people, a time when the earth was a place to survive on, a time when people were faced with the raw elements and imminent change.
I was invited to spend a morning (and part of the afternoon) with Dr Peter Nilssen from the Point of Human Origins and step into their discovery of the Pinnacle point caves in Mosselbay, their archaeological finds, research and theories that have sprung from the interesting artifacts and stone found here. He, his colleague and the teams that have worked for years around the clock, in these crevices of earthly soil, to bring forth their finds in these series of 15 caves, each with its own unique shape, micro existence and geological development through the ages

It starts with his introduction to the human race and their mindset towards the planet they inhabit. The next hour or so I was completely captivated by his journey into the history of mother earth and her souls she so carefully selected to survive her growth. Of how we have become disconnected from our environment and if we can learn from our past while looking towards the future.

Peter has a very spiritual approach to his findings, a consciousness that is slowly returning to us here left on earth. It is clear that we have to relook our lives, how we live it and what we can carry over to our children. Stepping into these earth crevices with the knowledge of what has taken places here within the space of 30 – 90 million years leaves one in awe and respect of our ancestry.

As you descend towards the edge of the ocean, while looking up at the rock formations, you can not help wondering how the landscape was formed over this vast amount of time. Things we only dream to understand all while we scratch the surface of our planet. Peter talks about survival, tools, fire, food foraging and intellectual decisions made here by our stone-age descendants. You can’t help throwing yourself back in time and ponder of whether you would have survived this era.

In reality, we are only a small spec of dust, a tiny blue planet in the huge galaxy of stars and suns. In our tiny existence isn’t it time to put away our egos and look back to where we have come from and how we can harmonise with this beautiful body of energy and life.

As Peter states in Cave 13b “Welcome Home”  I urge you to take the time discover and maybe rediscover the primal heartbeat inside you. One of standing still and looking back to see exactly how far we have come.

In the Foot steps of Fishermen

Living in the Southern Cape lends to exploring some of the most intersting coastlines in South Africa. Its a combination of white beaches filled in with rocky outcrops and fossiled dunes that creates this stretch of jagged earth . As you walk or hike along these geographical formations you often wonder where and how it was all formed and it leaves you completely fasinated from the moment you lay eyes on it. One thing is for sure, just to imagine that people have lived here over thousands of years ago and managed to survive because of its tempered climate, lay of the land and fishing is quite something to grasp. Everything  that grew, lived and survived along the coast was part if their daily lives for centuries and it’s still evident today.

One of these fasinating walks that is edged into these jaggered cliffs is known as Fisherman’s Walk and has developed over the last 30 odd years into a well maintained path that is more accessible to local walkers or hikers.  It stretches along the outside of the Western head of Knysna with hidden beaches in the nooks and crannies of the cliff side.  A spectacular little tuff hike which needs an fair amount of general fitness,  but you can take it easy and stop every now and then for a breather and a breathe taking view.

 

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The long walkway to the beach down below.