Civil Aviation Day 2018

In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 7 December as International Civil Aviation Day, and urged governments, as well as national, regional, international and intergovernmental organisations, to observe it (resolution 51/33 of 6 December).

The Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations specialised agency, declared the day in 1992  to highlight and advance the benefits of international civil aviation. Observation of the Day started on 7 December 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which established the ICAO.

Knysna history – European settlement

The first Europeans arrived in the area in 1760, and the farm Melkhoutkraal (literally translating from Afrikaans as ‘milk wood kraal’) was established on the eastern shore of the Knysna Lagoon. Stephanus Terblans, the first European farmer to settle in the area, was given a loan permit to farm here in 1770.

Upon moving to Knysna George Rex, a British-born entrepreneur credited as being the founder of Knysna, acquired the loan rights to Melkhoutkraal in 1804 and later, in 1816, to the farm Welbedacht, which he renamed Eastford. He gave 80 acres (32 ha) of Eastford to the Colonial Government, on which the Royal Navy established the township of Melville. Rex’s properties were sold when he died in 1839.

In April 1817, the transport brig Emu, belonging to the Cape Town Dockyard, was the first European vessel to enter the Knysna heads. She struck a rock, now known as Emu Rock, and was holed. Her crew ran Emu ashore to prevent her sinking. In late April HMS Podargus arrived to render assistance. After surveying the area, Podargus sailed safely into the Knysna and retrieved Emu’s cargo.

The next major settler in Knysna was Captain Thomas Henry Duthie, who married Caroline, George Rex’s daughter, and bought a portion of the Uitzigt farm from his father-in-law which Rex had named Belvidere. The construction of a small Norman-style church was commissioned by Duthie on his property, and was consecrated in 1855. The settlement’s population grew slowly, and Englishmen such as Henry Barrington and Lt. Col. John Sutherland, who established the settlement of Newhaven on a portion of purchased land, settled in the area. At the time, Knysna was a field cornetcy of Plettenberg Bay within the Magisterial Division of George. In 1858, Knysna became a separate Magisterial Division, new stores and accommodation facilities were opened, and Knysna became the new commercial centre of the region.

On their way to New Zealand, the Thesen family who were travelling from Norway fancied the little hamlet of Knysna so much that they decided to stay, bringing with them their knowledge of commerce and sailing. Soon, timber was being exported to the Cape from the vast areas of forest surrounding Knysna, and a steam sawmill and small shipyard were established. Later, these were relocated to Paarden Island, later known as Thesen’s Island.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Belvedere and Brenton

An attractive drive along the western bank of Knysna’s lagoon, winding down the hillside, brings you to the charming little Holy Trinity Church at Belvedere, a perfect example in miniature of the Norman churches built in England during the 11th and 12th centuries. The church was erected here in the mid-19th century by Thomas Henry Duthie.

Duthie, a captain in the 72nd Highland Regiment, was stationed at the Cape and went on a hunting trip to the Knysna area, where he met his future wife Caroline, the daughter of George Rex. After living for a while in England they returned to Knysna and Duthie bought from his father-in-law the estate of Belvedere (beautiful to be hold) – a splendid tract of land here on the western banks of the lagoon. With the help of his neighbours he then set about building this little church. The work took five years, and a great many difficulties and obstacles had to be overcome. The bell that now hangs above the main door was cast in England and was lost overboard in the lagoon, being recovered only several months later.

Continuing coastward, the road climbs steadily, offering grand vistas over the lagoon, and after cresting the hills and passing a side road to the lagoon again at Brenton, drops to the resort of Brenton-on-Sea, an assortment of smart holiday houses sprinkled over the coastal hillsides. The road ends at a small hotel, where a short path will take you down to a wide stretch of golden beach reaching away to Walker Point in the distance. About a kilometre east of here is another beach, more gently sloping and preferred as a bathing beach by locals and regular visitors, but getting to and from it involves a considerable hike.

Millwood

In the late 1870’s alluvial gold was found in the forest streams west of the Knysna River. It took a while to assess the value of the find but by 1887 the rush was on. Where once there had stood only a small water-powered sawmill in the forests, suddenly there appeared a town with six hotels, three competing newspapers, over twenty shops and banks, and a population estimated at more than 700 fortune-seekers.

There was gold, both alluvial and reef gold, but not very much of it. After a few exciting years the mines began to close, the diggers moved on to the Witwatersrand and the site of the short-lived boom town returned to nature. Today it is almost impossible to believe that a town once existed here. What was once its main street is just another track through the forest.

To explore the old goldfields, take the Rheenendal road and immediately after passing through the village turn right onto a gravel road signposted Bibby’s Hoek. This brings you to the shady picnic site of Krisjan-se-nek in the heart of the indigenous forest. Driving on from here, keep left where the road divides, and at the second fork go left again. This road leads down into Jubilee Creek, an attractive picnic and braai area and one of the streams where alluvial gold was found. A footpath leads upstream along the right bank, bringing you eventually to several old mine openings and a small pool at the foot of a waterfall.

When you drive back from Jubilee Creek turn left at the first fork. After about 4 kilometres you reach the site of Millwood, passing on your right a road to the old town cemetery, and then reaching a fork. The road leading left here, merely a forest track now, was once Millwood’s main street. If you take the road leading right, and at the next fork go right again, you will eventually reach the boiler of an old steam engine in a clearing on your left; this was the site of the stamp battery for the old Bendigo mine.

A sign her points downhill to the opening of the main Bendigo tunnel, which you can reach most easily by driving back the way you came and taking the first turn to your left. The tunnel reaches 200 metres into the hillside but is too dangerous to explore.

Goukamma Nature Reserve and Buffalo Bay

The new tarred access road to Buffalo Bay undulates for several kilometres through the brilliant green valley of the Goukamma River, crosses several lines of scrub-covered sand dunes, and then runs in a south-easterly direction along the coast past two beautiful golden strands. The first is the long beach at the mouth of the Goukamma, the second is the attractive curved and gently sloping beach of Walker’s Bay. Eventually you reach the little village of Buffalo Bay, a tight cluster of holiday homes set on the narrow promontory of Walker Point.

Here visitors enjoy a surfeit of fine sandy beaches. In addition to those at Walker’s Bay and the Goukamma, a lovely beach sweeps eastwards from Walker Point along the entire coast to Brenton-on-Sea and the back of Knysna’s western head. This is a popular beach for both swimmers and surfers, and is particularly scenic also, forming a great curving ribbon of gold, backed by the green hills of Brenton.

Walker Point itself is rocky, with numerous fascinating rock pools to be explored at low tide. On its eastern side, where Buffalo Bay’s beach meets the first stretch of stony shore, there is a particularly gentle bay and a slipway for powerboat fishermen. On its western side ridges of rock run toughly parallel to the shore creating deep-water gullies and offering many vantage points to anglers fishing from the rocks. Several hundred metres to the west, from the smaller rocky promontory that forms the western limit of Walker’s Bay, there is a striking view along the coast past Gericke’s Point to the distant bulk of the Outeniqua Mountains.

Buffalo Bay village abuts directly on the eastern end of the Goukamma Nature Reserve, which incorporates the lagoon at the mouth of the Goukamma River and the entire coastal strip stretching westwards to Groenvlei. The eastern ban of the pretty lagoon has been developed as an attractively lawned picnic area with stone tables and seats, braai places, drinking water and toilets. From the northern end of this picnic area you can walk across a long suspension footbridge over the dark water of the river, then take any of a variety of footpaths leading through the western section of the reserve. The principal hiking trail through the reserve leads to a stretch of coast known as Oesterbank: an area of surf-battered rocks that is home to the indigenous oyster Crassostrea Margaritacea.

The reserve contains a wild region of scrub-covered sand dunes, the whole of Groenvlei, and many kilometres of unspoilt coastline. It is noted particularly for the variety of bird species that can be spotted here – roughly 150, including the African fish eagle and the marsh harrier.

Brenton-on-Sea houses and stands

Should you fancy an upmarket modern house on the shores of South Africa, Brenton-on-Sea offers spectacular sea views and beautiful sceneries. To buy a house or stand, contact Sophie Joubert today!

How George Rex became the uncrowned King of Knysna

The romantic, enigmatic and forceful personality of George Rex is part of the folk-lore of Southern Africa. He arrived in the Cape in 1797, at the time of the first British occupation. A man of distinguished bearing, he was well-educated and obviously well-connected.

In Cape Town he was appointed marshal of the vice-admiralty court, notary public to the governor, and advocate for the Crown. He met Johanna, the beautiful young widow of a well-to-do merchant, and settled down with her and her four children.

When the British occupation ended he remained in the Cape and in 1804, at the age of 39, he purchased the farm Melkhoutkraal, on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon.

To reach this farm, Rex made a coach journey on a grand scale. His wife and her children rode with him in a coach bearing a coat of arms and drawn by six horses. Riding alongside the coach was a retinue of friends.

To the awed locals thee journey resembled a royal procession – and the name of the man, George Res, conjured up images of royalty travelling incognito.

Stories spread that Rex was the son of George III of England and Hannah Lightfoot, daughter of a Wapping shoemaker.  Modern research does not confirm this belief, and there is no record of Rex ever having made any such claim. But his life-style and grand manner convinced the residents of the Cape, and especially of Knysna, that the man in their midst was indeed of royal descent.

Rex rebuilt the homestead of Melkhoutkraal, which had been destroyed in a Xhosa raid, and created a beautiful, rambling home for his family – now there were eight children. The farm was expanded. There was a watermill, blacksmith’s shop and spinnery producing silkworms fed on thee leaves of groves of mulberries. The lagoon occupied the full attention of Rex. He started a fishery, built boats from the timber of the forest and persuaded the British admiralty to develop Knysna as a port.

On 11 February 1817, the first vessel to enter the lagoon, the naval brig Emu, came to grief on a sunken rock and had to be run ashore to save it from sinking. For Rex and the people of Knysna watching from the shore, this was a sad spectacle, but it was not the end of the venture. The navy sent up a second vessel to salvage the first and this, the Podargus, had no difficulty in entering and leaving the lagoon in May 1817.

From then on Knysna was established as a port for medium-sized vessels.

Rex built his own 127-ton vessel, the Knysna, on the shores of the lagoon, and used the ship for trading along the coast.

Rex never returned to Britain. He died on 3 April 1839 after a full and rewarding life.

One of the best-known of his descendants is the celebrated clown Stompie.

The Old Road through the Passes

Before the modern highway was built along the coast, anyone wishing to travel between George and Knysna had to take the old inland road that led through almost impenetrable forests and had to negotiate no fewer than seven difficult river-valley passes. This old road can still be and it offers modern explorers a way to see the back country – a rural world of farms and forests, where life is lived at a far slower pace.

To get onto this old road you drive out of George on the N2 for Knysna and almost immediately turn left for Saasveld. After a few kilometres you pass the Saasveld Forestry School on your left, and then you drive through the first two passes, crossing the Kaaimans and Silver rivers. The turn-of-the-century stone bridges over the rivers are national monuments (as are the passes themselves). After crossing the Silver River you continue straight onto gravel for Knysna, then cross the Touws River on an iron-Girder bridge and come to a T-junction with a tarred road, where you turn left for Knysna.

After about 3 km a gravel track on the left leads to the Big Tree picnic site (with the convenience of braai places, picnic tables and toilets) and from here a short path crosses a wooden footbridge over a forest stream to bring you to the Woodville Big Tree – a massive Outeniqua yellowwood estimated to be roughly 800 years old. A short forest walk starts at the Big Tree and will take you through an attractive area of indigenous woodland.

Back on the main road, you continue your journey on tar for a few kilometres and immediately this ends you cross the Diep River, and thereafter the Hoogekraal, passing through a valley richly blanketed in forest. After crossing the Karatara River and then the Homtini you reach the bottom of yet another deep valley covered in a great expanse of indigenous forest. Shortly afterwards the road surface reverts to tar. (A turn-off here to Bibby’s Hoek leads to the Millwood goldfields of last century and makes a fascinating excursion, both in the historical sense and in that you are taken deep into the heart of typical Knysna forest). Soon after passing through the little country village of Rheenendal you catch your first glimpses of the Knysna Lagoon and the Knysna Heads and then reach a T-junction with the N2, where you turn left to wind down from the hills into the valley of the Knysna River. The more adventurous can reach Knysna via the steep Phantom Pass.

May is Energy Month in SA

It is true that South Africa is a land where our energy resouces are running low and the economy is pinching.

Did you know that there are things you can do to aid in saving our resources and in the same time save you a couple of rands? Below we list a few things you can try or do in and around the house and at work:

Electricity saving tips

  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Don’t fill the kettle – only boil the water that you need.
  • Keep the fridge door closed, and make sure it is properly sealed.
  • Don’t cook with a small pot on a large stove plate.
  • Dress for the season – warm in winter and light clothing in summer.
  • Switch off all appliances when they are not in use.
  • Reduce your heater or geyser temperature from hot to warm.
  • Close all windows and doors when the air conditioner or heater is on.
  • Use CFL energy saving bulbs at all times.
  • Fit one light bulb with the correct level of brightness in a room.
  • Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
  • Do all ironing at the same time.

Fuel saving tips

  • Lighten the load in your vehicle.
  • Plan your trips and minimise short trips or walk.
  • Keep a safe following distance.
  • Use air conditioner only when necessary.
  • Reduce idling time.
  • Travel early/later to avoid known traffic peaks.
  • Resolve minor and major car service issues.
  • Keep your tyres inflated to the proper pressure.
  • Join a lift club.
  • If available use public transport.
  • Use the recommended grade of motor oil for your car.
  • Change gears according to your speed.

Africa Month 2018

The month of May is recognized as Africa month – a time when the continent of Africa commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Celebrated on the 25th May since its establishment in 1963 – Africa Day as it is now known, marks the beginning of a quest for the unity of the continent and for the political and economic emancipation of its people as well as co-operation among them.

As part of the celebrations, Brand South Africa in collaboration with its stakeholders will host dialogues on Africa Day, Constitutional Awareness and the role of the creative arts in fostering democratic values throughout the country.

Follow the conversations on social media #SANationBrand for more information on the dialogues.

Some interesting facts about Africa Day:

Read more…