WC Branch, led by Yvonne Viljoen and Pat Kramer
Fri, 18/10/2024 - 08:00 to Sun, 27/10/2024 - 17:00
Western Cape
Dear ArchSoc Members,


LED BY YVONNE VILJOEN, former Chairperson of the Western Cape Branch, AND PAT KRAMER of the Vernacular
Architecture Society of South Africa (VASSA)

We are arranging a repetition of our 2019 West Coast excursion, by popular request. Herewith, an outline itinerary. We have made provisional hotel/guest house bookings in Velddrif, Lambert’s Bay and Clanwilliam, spending 3 nights at each venue. Your interest will make it happen!

The West Coast is a unique place in South Africa. Hunter-gatherers (San/Bushmen) used and occupied its coastal plains at least two thousand years ago as evidenced by extensive archaeological research. The story of post-colonial occupation since the mid-17 th century can be read in the still existing land-and shore-scapes of farmhouses, fisheries and related structures. Commercial farming and fishing activities have developed into industries that continue today. The sea and the Berg River have significantly moulded the character of local society in all its variety. You will encounter their descendants on this trip.

This will be a self-drive excursion. We will be on tar and good gravel roads. Travelling distances between venues and site visits are short. We suggest a minimum number of cars, and the sharing of lifts and travel costs to and from Cape Town and for site visits. Please note that the order in which places are visited may be subject to changes to fit in with the availability of our archaeologists and hosts.

  • 18 places are available.
  • A deposit of R2000 per person is required within 10 days, in order to secure our hotel and guesthouse bookings. Please contact Yvonne Viljoen if you would like to participate in this excursion ( ).
  • Note that should cancellation of accommodation be necessary and requested before mid-September there will be a 100% refund.
  • At the Riviera Hotel in Velddrif breakfast is included. Thereafter we will be self-catering our breakfasts and packed lunches. All three towns have adequate grocery and other shops nearby to meet our daily needs.
  • We have booked our first evening meal at the Riviera Hotel in Velddrif where we will be staying for 3 nights.
  • For other evening meals, we will recommend good local venues.
  • We will be out-and-about from our bases every day.

Meet at Weskus Padstal on the R27 (crossroads with Yserfontein and Darling roads) at 09:30 for a breakfast/coffee gathering. Consider a take-away for lunchtime. We will make a short detour down the Yserfontein road for a quick talk by Pat Kramer at the historic Lime Kiln. Travel towards Velddrif – 40 mins from Padstal. Before reaching the town, we will visit “Die Vishoekie” – safe parking at the venue - to witness the preparation of traditional “bokkoms” (salted and dried pilchards). Lunch break and a local coffee thereafter. In the afternoon we will familiarise ourselves with Velddrif and Laaiplek (the Harbour) starting with a guided visit to the Fisheries Museum – an education of note! Pat will tell us about recommendations under discussion for the development of the Bokkomlaan area and the management of tourism. After checking in to the Riviera Hotel at 15:00, we suggest sundowners in the vicinity of the chalets overlooking the Berg River and its bird life. Evening: We have reserved places in the dining room for our group - own account.

Drive to Hopefield to the popular weekly local “foodie” market, which is open from 10:00 to 13:00. You can stock up with West Coast specialities for future lunch-in-the-field picnics. There are some ancillary stalls. We will visit an historic “hartebeeshuis” in the village and the excellent small Museum. Village domestic architecture and an impressive church can be seen on a walk-about. In the afternoon, led by Pat – and possibly some farm owners - we will visit some Vredenburg Peninsula and riverside farms - their houses, outbuildings, family graveyards. These have been identified and fully recorded by members of VASSA. Details of the farms and their owners will be provided in advance or en route. Evening: Port Owen Marina – a restaurant booking will be made for the group. Optional – own account.

In the morning, we continue visits to historic family farms along the Dwarskersbos road – St. Helenafontein and Brakfontein. Lunch: At ‘Soverby’ Restaurant on the Dwarskerbos Road or a picnic on the beach. Dinner: Own arrangement.

DAY 4 – MONDAY 21 OCTOBER - ELANDS BAY AREA – an archaeological treasure trove
Check out from the Riviera Hotel at 08:3. Depart at 09:00 to meet Emeritus Professor John Parkington at Elands Bay Cave – a site he has been studying for many decades and will interpret for us. Lunch break above the Cave or down in the Elands Bay Village for a coffee.
Chopi Jerardino will join us at Steenbokfontein farm whose archaeology she has been researching for some decades. There are several sites on the property. Sadly, Steenbokfontein’s “Die Plaaskombuis” - famous for its food and its important family museum - is no longer available. It was there that we became aware of military activity in the Lambert’s Bay area during the late stages of the S.A. War (Boer War), e.g. a place called Donkieskraal, where horses and donkeys were kept safe. We will try to locate that place and the oldest remaining wooden agricultural water lock in South Africa – on the Langvlei. We will update our research in the area. Thereafter, we will drive to Lambert’s Bay to check-in to our guest house, “Albatross”. Evening: There are various venues in the area. We will make a reservation nearer the time - own account.

Morning: We will view Kreefbaai middens outside Lambert’s Bay at the town’s refuse dumps. From there we will backtrack (13 kms out of Lamberts Bay) to the shores we drove past the previous day where John Parkington and Chopi will talk about mega-middens on the beach. We will stroll between those large hills of Late Stone Age shellfish remains studied by both John and Chopi - coastal fynbos in profusion to be admired! We will investigate the little-known history of the S.A. War activity of which we became aware on our 2019 visit. Evening: Meal options will be suggested – Muisbosskerm? - own account.

Morning: We will visit the Lambert’s Bay gannet colony on CapeNature’s Bird Island Nature Reserve. There are excellent extensive informative displays as one walks among the roosting gannets and stares in awe of their endless take offs and landings.
Lunch: There are several food outlets on the waterfront. Afternoon: For a short walk, there is small Church with a pulpit in the shape of a boat; and a small Museum. Lambert’s Bay Fishing Harbour may be of interest. We will investigate accessibility.
Evening: Meal options will be considered - own account.

Depart Lambert’s Bay at 09:00. We travel to Clanwilliam via the somewhat remote yet interesting villages of Leipoldtville, Jakkalsvlei and Graafwater en route to the Heerenlogement, famous for its historical signatures of significant people dating from 1650.
Lunch snacking en route. Evening meals - own account.

We will arrive in Clanwilliam before official check-in time but there is safe parking available. Accommodation is still being finalised. Again, John Parkington will spend some time here with us. We will visit the Living Landscape Project, conceived and directed by John as a base for researchers and an education centre for local scholars and trainees for tourism services. John will speak about the rescue from the expected rising waters of the Clanwilliam Dam wall of rock art panels and an historic farm graveyard. We hope nevertheless to view several rock art sites including “Procession Shelter”.

We will visit ruins of farm buildings on the Jan Dissels River. It was the subject of 6 years excavation and subsequent research by UCT field school students. We hope to arrange a “Riel” dancing exhibition. There will be opportunities for independent discovery of this interesting town. We will make the necessary arrangements:
  • a guided walk of its older village streets (Park Road, Main Road), pausing to view buildings of historic interest and churches (DRC & Anglican) with their old churchyards;
  • a guided walk of the old mission village, Cederville, which surrounds St. Stephan’s Mission Church and has interesting examples of old houses of vernacular interest;
  • a visit to the Old Gaol Museum which depicts village history. A room is dedicated to the life of C. Louis Leipoldt, medical doctor, poet and author of three novels based on actual events and the lives of past residents. Other rooms feature old families of the town. In old cells surrounding the courtyard there are
  • displays of social and agricultural interest, and shopping!

After checking out at 10:00, we recommend a stroll through the Ramskop Reserve for Cederberg plants. It will still be “flower season” and indigenous (planted) flowers will be in bloom. From this elevated position, there are lovely land- and river-scapes to view before going on your way home.

Best wishes – Yvonne & Pat, May 2024