The town has produced numerous sporting,academic , political and scientific personalities. South Africa’s fourth-oldest town after Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Swellendam it is also well preserved, with numerous historic homes and sites, set among pretty oak, jacaranda- and cypress-lined streets.
Yet folk race through this little gem either en route to the coast or homeward bound,stopping only for a night and departing after an early breakfast.There is a lot to see and do in the area,numerous museums,and art galleries to suit all tastes,quirky little shops and eateries as well as various adventure activities.
The first stop is the viewpoint over the valley of desolation where one can view the amazing rock formations painted by Pierneef,the Pierneef museum housed the panels he originally painted for the Johannesburg station which were moved as they were getting damaged by pollution.
To the left one will also see the well known Spandaukop,if early enough you may be lucky to vie that area above the clouds- this is definitely a two visit spot!The panels have subsequently been moved to Stellenbosch where more people will be able to see them and they have better security.
A visit to nearby Nieu Bethesday is a must, Helen Martins “ Owl House “ being the prime attraction where one can view her garden with its concrete sculptures. Restaurants change but there are always a few worth visiting before returning to Graaf Reinet. In the centre of the town one will find the Dutch Reformed Church which in itself is another national monument,the architecture was inspired by Salisbury Cathedral in England.
There is so much to do and see so a two- three night visit is recommended,the town is home to more national monuments than any other in South Africa.
Things to do
- Nieu Bethesda
- Hike the Valley of Desolation – access via the Cambedoo National Park
- Reinet House Museum and the art galleries ( as well as any other museums
- The brightly coloured Karoo Cottages at Stretch’s court
- A meal at the Drosty Hotel – originally the local seat of government for the area
We owe it to ourselves to enjoy our country – get out there and travel , then share your experiences at www.allterrain.co.za