+/- 150 km from Cape Town, on the R27, lies the twin villages of VELDDRIF & LAAIPLEK near the mouth of the Berg River. The Berg River starts in the Franschoek Mountains and eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Velddrif.
VELDDRIF was originally a fording place for vehicular traffic and cattle on the main road North. LAAIPLEK (“loading place”), closer to the mouth of the river, originated as a shipping point for wheat that is grown in the area. A Cape Town merchant, Johann Stephan, anchored an old sailing ship, called the “Nerie”, at Laaiplek to serve as warehouse, wharf and home.
During the following years he established stores, developed fisheries and shipped wheat and other products to Cape Town. He employed several communities of Italian and Portuguese fishermen, some of whose descendants, still live and fish in the area.
The fish factory inland along the Berg River was opened in 1944. In the early 1960’s the mouth of the river had silted up to such an extend that even small fishing boats could no longer reach Velddrif. After studies, the river was given a new outlet and the towns a deeper artificial harbour.
Many vessels bring their cargoes of Pilchards, Mackerel, Anchovies and Rock Lobster to the processing plants of the two towns.
The swamp that once seperated VELDDRIF and LAAIPLEK, has been developed into a residential area and a marina called PORT OWEN. Canals provide access to the river and the ocean.
The Cerebos Salt Factory, is a plant just south of Velddrif where salt is produced from the sea, for the local as well as export markets.
DWARSKERSBOS, a fishing village and a holiday resort, North of LAAIPLEK, derives it’s name from the Candle-bush (“Kersbos”) that grows profusely in the area. At this holiday destination one can indulge in relaxation.
What do these villages offer?
- white beaches situated along St Helena Bay
- excellent sailing conditions in the bay
- the coast is home to migrating whales between July & December each year
- resident dolphins can be seen throughout the year
- more than 200 species of birds on the Berg River
The Mission Church 1942, The Old Church 1908 at Waterkant Street – restored and converted into an Art Gallery,
Visitors need to spend more than a day to be able to experience the tranquility of these villages, visit the different attractions and enjoy the hospitality of it’s people….(for more information on accommodation, etc. please visit our SHOP WINDOW PAGE)