Posts Tagged With: cape whale coast




Baardscheerdersbos, die bakermat van Strandveld se tradisionele liedjies, het talle begaafde musikante opgelewer. Baie van hulle het op ’n besondere instrumente op een of ander tyd in die kalklig gekom.

Wyle Ben Benade het in sy boek : Die Baardscheersbos orkes: 10 jaar, skryf onderhoudend van daardie toeka se dae. Die musiek en die ontstaan van geliefde Afrikaanse liedjies, wat deesdae  nie deur baie onthou word nie, wat nog gesê gesing word.

Oom Hendrik Groenewal (later bekend as Oom Snoekies) het in daardie laat 1920s en 1930s bekend geraak vir sy konsertina-spel. Hy het ’n eie besondere ritme-aanslag gehad. Sy komposisies kon ’n man se voete dit eenvoudig net nie hou nie – jy moes dans.

Oom Snoekies se dogter het in daardie dae bekendheid verwerf deur ’n rol te speel in een van sy bekendste liedjies :  Bokkie.

Hier volg die storie van Tanie Doll Groenewald van Huis Lettie Theron, woonstel 25. Sy is op Baardskeerdersbos gebore en het later op Gansbaai gewoon .

Susanna Magdalena Maria (“Doll”) Groenewald, is gebore in die vroeë lente van 1928. Haar moeder het haar “Dollie” genoem wat later Doll geword het.

Op 4 of 5 jarige ouderdom het sy saam met die familie gereeld by Uilenkraalsmond gaan uitkamp. In die kwaai Desember-winde en met seewater en sand, het Doll se hare wat pal deurmekaar was, haar min gepla. Haar kam het tuis vergete gebly.

Wanneer haar pa, oom Snoekies Groenewald en oom Smallie musiek maak, het sy nader getrippel om te luister. Toe laasgenoemde Doll se deurmekaar hare sien, sing hy ewe spontaan, ‘Nee, ek vry nie met ’n loskop dol nie. Hy het dit gereeld herhaal en algaande nuwe woorde bygevoeg wat onder andere ‘die trane die rol oor jou bokkie’ ingesluit net.

Eers was sy baie kwaad omrede haar deurmekaar hare so gruwelik misbruik is, maar die wysie en woorde het inslag gevind en ’n paar jaar later het almal in die Strandveld dit gesing. Doll was later baie trots daarop dat sy dié Dolla van dié liedjie was!

Dit dan is die verhaal van ’n werklike Dolla uit die “loskop Dolla” van e “Bokkie”. As kinders het hulle dit baie gesing. Die woordjie “vry” moes hulle vir die groot mense se onthalwe na “lol” verander. Dit het egter nie verhoed dat hulle, wanneer die geleentheid hom voordoen, die woorde “loskop tolla” in die plek van “loskop Dolla” gesing het nie.

Dat dié liedjie vinnig en wyd en syd versprei het, was geensins iets buitengewoons nie. Mense het van heinde en verre Uilenskraalmond as seebadsplek besoek – vakansiegangers uit al vier provinsies van die destydse Unie van Suid-Afrika.

Hier volg die amptelike woorde van die liedjie:


Die trane die rol oor jou Bokkie  (2x)

Dis daar waar die son en die maan ondergaan

Bokka ons moet nou huis toe gaan.

Nee, nee, nee my Dolla nee

Nee my Dolla Nee

Nee, my Dolla Nee

Nee, nee, nee my Dolla nee

Ek lol nie met ’n loskop Dolla nie.




Geskryf deur : Esje du Toit

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Windsor Lodge Hotel formerly The Sanatorium


The Hoffmans who had the Sanatorium came from a strangely eccentric family.  Their father farmed at Speelmansrivier, Caledon.   Around 1875 the Hoffman family made a pact to leave all their possessions to the church until the end of the world.  It included the father Dirk Wouter, his wife, a sister and the nine children.  Together the family who was described as reclusive and religiously fervent also decided that none of the children would marry and that they would all be buried in a  sealed mausoleum on the farm to share their final resting place.

One of the sons, Sebastian SB Hoffman broke the pact, moving to the Transvaal to marry.  Until 2000 his grandson Pieter leased the former family farm  from the NG Sendingkerk, which inherited the estate.

Dr Josua Hoffman, the second youngest son also married.  His bride was Maria Smuts, sister of General Smuts.  They had no children.  In 1896 Dr Joshua and his brother Willem built the Sanatorium on Marine Drive.

The health-giving qualities of Hermanus are fully recognised by the medical fraternity who have always recommended patients requiring health-recuperating holidays to stay in Hermanus.   Not only patients who came for the healthy air visited the Sanatorium, but Dr Joshua also encouraged dominees and missionaries to come for a rest.  The well-known Dr Andrew Murray once stayed there for a time of rest.  Some of the local teachers also made it their home.

Both Dr Joshua and his wife Maria died in 1923 and were laid to rest in the family vault on the farm.  The next owners were Parker & Kruger (1919), Margaretha Steyn (1920), followed by David Allengensky (1931) – one of these probably changed the name to Windsor Hotel and made improvements.  Alex Luyt bought it in 1940.

In 1958 Bill Record bought the Windsor and he decided to get the support of the local community when other hotels closed their doors during the quiet season.  There were few restaurants then and the Windsor became the place to dine out.  AA Rand for a rump was Bill’s eye-catching advert in the Hermanus news – and that rump steak was delicious.   Basil Clark-Brown became owner in 1980’s and much later his son Garth Clark-Brown when the establishment became the Windsor Lodge Hotel.

Information and copyright:  S.J. du Toit                  Photos: Old Harbour Museum and Windsor Hotel

The Windsor Hotel today (2010)

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Boogie with the Right Whales


Boogie with the Right Whales: South Africa’s only Whale Watching and Enviro-Arts Festival begins 28 September

The Hermanus Whale Festival – Africa’s only whale watching and envrio-arts festival, where revellers can dance into the night against the remarkable backdrop of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Right Whales – takes place in South Africa from 28 September to 1 October:

Hermanus – home to the world’s only ‘Whale Crier’- is considered the best land-based location for whale-watching anywhere in the world.  Located along the southern coast of South Africa’s unspoilt Western Cape, Hermanus provides a unique opportunity to watch the Southern Right Whales as they migrate from the Antarctic to calve in the shelter of Walker Bay.

The Hermanus Whale Festival coincides with peak-viewing season when visitors can see these astonishing animals just offshore.  A record-breaking 172 whale sightings have been recorded in one day. The Town’s Whale Crier blows a huge horn to mark the sighting of a whale.

The Hermanus Whale Festival celebrates its 21st birthday this year and has an unprecedented range of events and performances taking place over the four days, including live music, story telling events, food and wine tasting and an endurance swim. An Eco Tent running throughout the Festival will help visitors improve their knowledge of whales.

Whale-watching and other marine activities are some of South Africa’s best-known and unique offerings. While Hermanus is the most famous place to spot whales, Port Elizabeth, east along the Garden Route, is the focal point for witnessing another natural phenomenon: the Great Sardine Run. Between May and July shoals as great as 7km long, 1.5km wide, 30m deep and containing literally billions of fish, gather offshore in a seasonal reproductive migration.  This natural spectacle brings thousands of visitors to watch. For something with a bit more bite, a 40 min journey west from Hermanus to Gansbaai brings those after a real adventure up close and personal with another marine giant with a range of companies offering the chance to cage dive with sharks.

As well as land-based whale watching, visitors can catch sight of the Cape’s famous creatures by air (micro-light tours are a popular option) and sea (both boat cruises and by sea kayak). For those wanting to get away from the crowds there is also the possibility that you may catch a private viewing of whales off shore from horseback as you trot along the deserted Grotto beach 10 mins from the city centre.

– END –

Issued by Kallaway on behalf of South African Tourism

For further information contact:


2 Portland Road Holland Park London W11 4LA

My photo was used by Kallaway on behalf of SA Tourism – great!

Dear Jeanette,

There is a copy of the press release which we have issued for the Hermanus Whale Festival.

If anything goes to print we will accredit your photos to you.

All the best,



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Robey Leibbrandt, the “spy” lived in Hermanus after his release (1948)

Sixty-five years ago, a famous Afrikaner sportsman turned Nazi after attending the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  Heavyweight boxer, Robey Leibbrandt, met and became mesmerized by Adolf Hitler, and the triumphant rise of Hitler’s National Socialists completely took in the young Afrikaner.   Hitler’s aides began to seduce Leibbrandt into acting on their behalf in South Africa.

Strangely enough, both central figures in  the ensuing dramatic events that almost changed the course of South African history, lived in Hermanus for brief periods.  General Jan Smuts, famous statesman and war-time prime minister of South Africa  loved to spend short resting holidays in the village, and the man who almost assassinated him, Robey Leibbrandt, lived here for a short time after his release from prison in 1948.

Leibbrandt was extensively trained in sabotage and espionage, and also underwent rigorous training as a Stormtrooper in Germany.  After the outbreak of war, he was appointed to spearhead Operation Weissdorn – the overthrow of Jan Smut’s coalition government and the establishment of a National Socialist republic in South Africa.  He was secretly landed from a French yacht on the West Coast from where he made his way inland to begin his task.

Leibbrandt tried to assume control of the Ossewa Brandwag and planned the assassination of General Smuts.  When the authorities learned of his plans, top-policeman Jan Taillard was appointed to flush out Leibbrandt.  He was trapped in a daring action and received the death sentence at the ensuing court hearing.  But Robey Leibbrandt did not die on the gallows.  Two days before Christmas he was informed that the Smuts Government had commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.  “How can I hang the son of such a courageous Boer warrior?”  Smuts had asked.    In gaol he often resisted authority. Once he had to be removed from his cell by being incapacitated by tear gas.  When Dr Malan’s party won the 1948 election, Leibbrandt was released.

He lived in Hermanus not long after his release, staying in Magnolia street – several residents knew him in those years.  He helped Kaiser de Kock with boxing lessons.  Boetie de Villiers told me how Robey liked to visit them and enjoyed his mother’s fresh home baked bread.  Douglas McFarlane of Fynbos Park knew Leibbrandt well socially and while they trained as policemen in Pretoria.  He remembers that Robey was a health fanatic and used to sleep on the floor.

Not much was heard of the Rebel leader afterwards.  He tried his hand at business ventures in various small towns, failing to gain significant support for an Anti-Communist Front.  He died in obscurity at Ladybrand of a heart attack in 1966.

Story and copyright: S.J. du Toit

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Who built and repaired boats in those early years?

Hermanus Fishing boatsWho built and repaired boats in those early years in Hermanus?  You may also ask this question.  John Louis built the harbour house (today the Burgundy Restaurant) and set up boat-building business in the latter part of 1870’s.  John came from Sweden and jumped ship, from a  “Windjammer” where he was employed as shipswright.  He soon became part of the small fishing community and met up with young widow Martha Wessels.  Unfortunately they could not marry as her husband who deserted her years before could not be confirmed dead.

John became known as Sweed Wessels.  He built a second house where Martha and her three daughters lived.  They were happy and her children accepted him as father and the grandchildren called him Oupa.  Coena Haman of Cafe Royal was one of Louis’s grandchildren.

In 1902 a friend, Mr Overbeek presented Sweed with a small cypress tree and the six year old Coenie helped to plant the tree.  It was the same cypress tree that gave the name to the Cypress Tree Tea Garden and when Ethel Rubery bought the cottage in 1928 and turned it into a restaurant.

John was also a keen fishermen and owned two boats – Morning Star and Mabel.  He served in the town council but died at an early age of fifty three.  According to Coena Haman, his son Hennie Wessels carried on building and  mending boats at harbour house but later moved to Westdene.  Martha  moved in with her daughter, married to Lewies Poppies Swart, in the house where the library stands.

The monument left by Sweed Wessels is now the Burgundy, formerly known as The Cypress Tree Tea Garden, and is also a National Monument.

Story and information:  S.J. du Toit                   Photos:  Jeanette du Toit and the Old Harbour Museum

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Women clean fish

The pioneers of Hermanuspietersfontein were experienced fishermen who understood and respected the sea.  Six days of the week they laboured from early dawn and when they returned from the sea with boats laden with fish, their wives and children were waiting to do the cleaning and curing.

The fishing culture comprises much of interest.  The Afrikaans word “ses-riem” is a boat with six rowers.  The afrikaans word “riem”  is an oar.

On the side of a boat one finds  little iron triangles for the oars to rest on.  When letting a boat in and out of water, they had a ritual with a rhythmic in afrikaans “eena-tweena nou, eena-tweena nou, hy loop … eena-tweena nou” translated = one – two, one – two there he go.

They dried fish on bokkomstands (scaffolds)  in the fishbay and in their backyards.  In most cases the children also became fishermen.  It was a true fishermen’s village.

Information:  S.J. du Toit           Photo: Old Harbour Museum

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Fisherman from the old days in Hermanus – Henry Minnaar

Fisherman from the old days in Hermanus – Henry Minnaar

Henry Minnaar was born in Hermanus in1906.  Like his grandfather and father, he became a fisherman at a young age and experienced all the joys and hardships of those years.  There were no boat engines or echofinders and when there was no wind, they had to row 20 km to the fishing waters and 20 km back.  Dangers abounded.  Whales chased them at times.  They had to use their own acumen to know where to find fish.  According to Henry there was a Agreen@ smell in the water when sardines ran.  It was fantastic to see a school of sardines around the boat, big fish swimming with sardines in their mouths.  But that was the era of fish in abundance in the bay.

Boats weighed between one and one and a half tons and had to be manhandled.  Sixteen men had to carry a boat up the hard.  Henry was reputed to have said that a fisherman’s life was slavery and that the hard work cost many their lives.  Henry stuck to fishing for fourteen years, but then found work in the local telephone exchange.  He still went to sea in his time free and at times he only slept two hours a night.

In his career Henry was skipper on three boats.  One  belonged to Peter McFarlane, Voorspoed, which he bought from a Malay in the Strand.  The Malay warned him not to take the boat to sea on a Friday, the Malay’s holy day.  The two other boats were Britannia of Oom Lewies (Poppies) Swart and Princess May of Koos Groenewald.

Henry married Helma Nolte from Wellington.  Their three children are Melvyn, a well-known journalist, Andre working in Hermanus and Karen-Ann.  They lived in Marine Drive, near the Ocean View, for many years.  When Henry died in 1980, aged 72, one of the colourful characters was lost to the Hermanus fishing community.   Helma still lives in Fynbos Park Retirement Village.

Blogger: Jeanette du Toit      Information S.J. du Toit      Photo: Old Harbour Museum

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The old Royal Hotel in Hermanus

Royal HotelOld Hotels in Hermanus – The Royal Hotel,

built by Allengenski family in 1900 in Main Road, opposite Market Square. There were several owners over the years: the Silkes, Abrahams and others –  The Royal was a happy meeting place of the fishermen and sportsmen, and hosted parties for various occasions. In the De Wets Huis Photographic Museum is a photo of a Jewish wedding that took place in 1904.  The wedding guests and the bridal group were photographed in front of the Royal Hotel.  This old landmark went up in flames in 1981.

Kentucky Fried Chicken and the adjacent parking lot occupy those premises.

Photo:  Hermanus Old Harbour Museum

Information:  S.J. du Toit

in front of Royal Hotel

Fish Preparations on the old market square with the Royal Hotel in the back.

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Southern Right Whale behaviour patterns: Logging


Southern Right – Logging

This is when the whale is merely lying in the water, with its tail hanging down. Part of the head and back are exposed.

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Southern Right Whale behaviour patterns – Lob tailing

Lob tailingSouthern Right Whale – Lob tailing

This is an activity in which the animal sticks its tail out of the water, swings it around and then slaps it onto the water’s surface causing a shower of spray. This produces a loud sound which is believed to be a means of communication between whales or a warning of rival whales, sharks, annoyance or mild threat. This may be done repeatedly over long periods.

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