The Garden Route & Route 62, South Africa

Rod & I were up at 6.30 & watched a beautiful sunrise then walked for half an hour west along Robberg Beach.

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The beach is about 4km long & we were amazed by how many shells there were, all of the same type like large pippie shells… masses of them on the sand. We were talking to our hostess later commenting on this & she showed us a large abalone shell with the beautiful mother of pearl which apparently wash up frequently on Lookout Beach. Then she showed me the pansy shells which were incredible. They are round but have a flower pattern on the top. They feel like cuttlefish & are extremely brittle.

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We had a wonderful breakfast on the deck sitting in the sun looking out over the bay.. a beautiful  view & the hostess had even put an Australian flag on our table so we felt at home!

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Plettenberg Bay or “Plett” as it’s known to the locals, is a lovely town with massive very plush houses, many of which are holiday houses for Capetonians and Europeans. A lot of Germans come here to holiday.

As we were departing I couldn’t help but notice a large pine from the car. On closer inspection we discovered it was an attempt to hide a phone tower! There are many ugly parts of South Africa & seriously a phone tower is probably the least of them

We were off at 10 and stopped at Knysna Heads to appreciate the view back over the lagoon and the entrance through the heads.

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Whilst the scenery we are experiencing is stunning, it is so sad to see the settlements on the outskirts of the towns. Those we saw coming into Knysna were the worst we’ve seen to date.. literally tin shacks.  So much of South Africa is so similar to Australia with regards to the landscape & flora… however! We are finding it hard coming to terms with the disparity between how the majority of the population live & the minority (white) and this was made so evident when we crossed over to Thessen Island. The island was originally a mill site but has been redeveloped into a housing community for the wealthy along with very ‘glam’ shops, restaurants, marinas etc. This all just a km or so away from the settlement we passed on the way in. Other obvious examples of the discrepancy in living standards are the numbers of black people walking along side the road. Many of the blacks living in the settlements don’t have cars & the jobs are in town. There is no infrastructure so they walk &/or hitch rides. It’s not uncommon to see people riding in the back of utes. Safety laws? There are none. When they’re not working they just seem to sit around socialising. We at first felt a bit threatened but as we go on it gets so normal.

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We enjoyed the drive westwards through Wildnerness with its beautiful beach and then onto George where we stopped and had lunch at a pizza restaurant. Whilst I don’t need alot of food, I have discovered that my children get very HANGRY if they don’t have 3 solid meals a day!!!

Unfortunately because we had given the boys time to sleep in this morning we didn’t have time to take the 7 passes route between Knysna and George which gives you views back over the ocean where apparently the landscape shows an outline of the map of Africa.

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From George we took the road north to Oudtshoorn which is the ostrich capital of the world & it wasn’t long before we realised why. There are farms after farms with hundreds of ostriches. The geography in this area is totally different. It is the karoo and much more arid. Our accommodation was at Swartberg Country Manor. I knew it was out of town but I didn’t realise how far out. We found it a little difficult finding it but were very impressed when we did. Except for Josh who felt a bit put off by the fact that we were so far out in the “boonies” or “bum f(*)in nowhere”!. This was made worse by the fact that Megan (our guide back at Hillsnek) had told us about the crimes that are being committed against white farmers all over the country in “remote” areas. Let’s say Josh went to bed with a knife under his pillow that night lol!

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The original house on the farm was built in 1720 as was the barn where the shepherds used to keep their flocks & sleep with them protecting them from the wild animals. Apparently there are still leopards in the mountains. The next oldest building was the old bakehouse which is now used as the honeymoon suite (so the baking continues lol). The building that had the restaurant was originally used as both a barn and where they would sort the tobacco as this is great country for growing tobacco. In fact on the way in we saw them harvesting it.

We were the only guests staying there so had the large house all to ourselves. It was quite funny as they gave Rod & I the main bedroom which was beautiful and the boys had a twin room way down the other end of the house! We had a walk around the property then grabbed a drink & sat & played cards on the beautiful verandah until the cold wind got the better of us. Dinner which was served in the reception area was terrific. Rod & I enjoyed the ostrich steaks while Andrew had a beef steak & Josh had chicken. This was after we all had an entrée then of course we had to have dessert. I seriously think I’ve put on about 5 kg since this trip started.

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Back in the main house we sat in the lounge & played Scrabble which Andrew won. They also had a pianola there & Andrew was very impressed when I started playing so well. He didn’t remember the one from Oberon where we used to go for family holidays so it was gold!

Following Day

Another sleep in.. I’m so enjoying this holiday lol! Then after ANOTHER hot breakfast we were on the road again. The accommodation was located at the base of the Swartberg Pass so I had planned to take the pass out to a little town called Prince Albert. This was a spectacular drive. We climbed so high & the mountains had the most amazing rock formations. At one point it looked as though the rock had had been folded over and earth then formed over it. I swapped seats with Andrew so I could sit in the back as the dirt road was very narrow (read “drifting”), there were no sides or protective barriers & it was a long drop off to the side. Needless to say, Rod did a magnificent job of driving this very difficult road.

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We took some great photos then it was down into Prince Albert, a lovely little town with beautiful little c1700-1800 cottages & all so well kept. There looked to be some lovely shops but alas with two young men aboard I was outvoted & we didn’t stop to look.

We drove for another hour or so past more ostrich farms & through gorges & past Rocky mountain ranges & soaring sandstone cliffs. We stopped for a quick bite in De Rust then it was off to Montagu.

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Here are some photos taken from the car showing typical road side going’s on & the newer style settlements that are replacing the tin shed style.

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We had a “pit stop” at “Ronnie’s Sex Shop”.  This is a funny pub pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Ronnie (who reminded me of Willie Nelson) originally painted the words “Ronnie’s Shop” on the side of the building when he established a farm stall. His mates thought it would be funny to add “sex” to the name & Ronnie decided to leave it like that. It has now become a real tourist attraction & a pub. There are hundreds of visitor’s “stamps” including bras and undies, currency notes from various countries, police badges from all around the world.. definitely an interesting and amusing stop.

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We arrived at Montagu, which is a small and historic town on the outer reaches of the winelands. There happened to be a motorcycle rally on the weekend we were there which explained why we had seen so many bikes on the road. Our B&B was absolutely gorgeous. Our hostess met us & showed us to our rooms & gave us some good choices for dinner. We unloaded then it was off for a walk to find a restaurant. We decided on one in a hotel in town. It was an art deco building and we enjoyed the fires & piano player while we had a great meal. A little “posh” but a bit of fun.

2 thoughts on “The Garden Route & Route 62, South Africa

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    1. Thank you.. I’m stuck on editing my photos & still have Cape Town & Kruger to come! Life also sent me a curve ball.. my Dad also just passed away so I know exactly what you went through (& still going through) Amanda. I’m missing your travel tales but hope you are settling in at home.

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