The GREEN Route
Velddrif is an interesting stop, as it is so authentically West Coast that you literally smell the salt before you see the salt pans or realise that you are close to the ocean. Dominated by the salt marsh or salt pan on one side and the Berg River on the other, you cannot be held liable for thinking that you have done a bit of time travel. The town is largely dependent on the fishing industry and the passing tourists who love the laidback lifestyle in the dorpie (small town). Port Owen Marina is a completely different kettle of fish (ahem) and is a testament to what can be done with good planning and vision. The Sea Fisheries found a home in Laaiplek in 2009, after being in various other places including Hout Bay. Bokkomlaan is a short gravel road with a really big personality of the most authentic kind.
Dried Protein and Salty Fish
Bokkomlaan, named after the dried salted fish hanging off the drying racks down this lane, is one of those places that remain etched in one's memory. The production of this (extremely salty) delicacy is a completely natural process, which is left to nature after the harders (or mullet) is threaded with string, packed in layers of the abundant salt of the area and left to dry on the hanging racks for 14 to 21 days.
A predominantly Afrikaans speaking area, you will find the signs on the shopfronts down this lane rather humorous, if not quirky. This lends an unusual and welcome charm to this beautiful part of the Berg River.
Do not be surprised if you see a pelican or cormorant walking up to you as if to have a conversation!
BERG RIVER ESTUARY
Industry based on salt production.
Named after a passage of livestock that was herded through a drift in the fields, a pont was built in 1899 to cross the river.
Located 145 kilometres North of Cape Town on the R27 road, it is located near the point where the Berg River flows into the Atlantic Ocean at St. Helena Bay. This is an estuary and there are about 80 endemic bird species, and a total of 350 different bird species - sea, river and marine - can be seen in the area.
Fishing and salt production are the main industries in this area. Two large salt works producing the bulk of the salt in the Western Cape are in this area.
A River Runs into It
The first deep-sea residential marina developed in South Africa, where the waterways are controlled by the Port Owen Marine Authority. Shallow-draught boats can be navigated for 56 km along this river, the Berg River, which surrounds the marina.
The largest bay on the West Coast of South Africa, St. Helena Bay, is only one kilometre from the harbour mouth! More than 350 different species of birds are found in this marina that is surrounded by a salt marsh.
Due to the Harbour Centre and the attractions of Charlie's Brewery and the restaurant, this place is always filled with a buzz of activity.
Named after the developer Owen Wiggins, who also designed nearby Langebaan Country Club, Port Owen is unique for the 1 million cubic metres of sand and rock that was dredged to build the intricate infrastructure of jetties and roads.
The Berg River has its origin in the mountains of Franschhoek and winds its way for 264km into this marina and into the Atlantic Ocean. The annual Berg River canoe marathon culminates in this area, and one can often see the local fishermen casting off into the river.
How Fishing Made History
The Sea Fisheries Museum exhibits the colourful history of this coastline from the days of whaling to the lobster and bokkom fishing of today. You will learn the history of the fishermen and the culture of the West Coast. Net fishing is still the preferred method of fishing today and there is a rich history in the making of the nets and casting them out to sea.
The West Coast is synonymous with the call of the ocean and hauling in the bounty of the sea. The people of Cape Town will not go for long without having at least one seafood dish, and here on the West Coast is where that culture comes alive.
In 1952 two jetties were built to protect the fishermen coming into the harbour, but this was not an answer to the treacherous winds and stormy winters in this area of the West Coast. A solution was found in opening the mouth of the Berg River and a new harbour to be built. The new harbour was inaugurated on 25 October 1968.
This was when the fishermen declared that "a better future is created for us" and to this day the fishing industry celebrates the building of this new river mouth as the single most important event in Laaiplek.