Experience our Eastern Cape Info Letter – September 2021

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This issue of ECTOUR’s Experience our Eastern Cape Travel Letter

  • The oldest cake in South Africa is found in Graaff-Reinet

  • More information about Storms River Bridge

  • St Francis Bay’s Seal Point Lighthouse

  • The Diaz Cross at Kwaaihoek on Route 72

  • Learn more about the history of Hogsback

  • A Wild Coast Bucket List to plan a visit to this stunning area

  • and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Addo region with an #AmazingAddo destination video

If there is something that you would like to see featured in our monthly “travel letter” or have any suggestions, please drop us a mail at info@ectour.co.za.

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The oldest cake in South Africa

A walk around the historic centre of Graaff-Reinet doesn’t just show you old buildings, museums and the normal historical relics, but also the oldest cake in South Africa. A visit to aunty Ira’s Antique Shop next to the Graaff-Reinet Tourism info office is where you have to head if you want to catch sight of this remarkable cake. The cake is nothing spectacular till you look at the date 1902, making it a 119 years old (this being 2021), making it only four years younger than the oldest cake in the world.

The cake was baked for the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Franz Te Water and Caroline Theodora Muller who got married on 5 April 1852 with the cake being baked in 1902. The fancy decorations that was originally on the cake, as per the photo, is no more, but the cake is intact. Apparently it was found in an attic in town and is definitely part of the town’s rich heritage. It just shows that there are often so much more to discover in a place than what is in the guide books. Look around, explore and investigate. It’s always worth it.

I little research on Frans te Water and Caroline Muller and found the following: Frans Karel te Water was born on 13 August 1824 in Brussels, Belgium and died on 18 December 1913 at 89 years old in Graaff-Reinet. His first wife was Jacomina Jacoba Jansen van Rensburg, born in Graaff-Reinet on 3 December 1814. They got married on 7 December 1848, but she passed away aged 36 in 1851. He then married Carolina Theodora Muller on 5 April 1852. She was born in March 1828 in Beaufort West and passed away 1 June 1904 in Graaff-Reinet aged 76. They had 9 children:

Storms River Bridge

Storms River Bridge, previously known as the Paul Sauer Bridge, in the Tsitsikamma is probably one of the busiest rest stops on the whole Garden Route. The bridge was designed by Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, and constructed by Concor between 1953 and 1956. It spans 100 meters and sits 120 meters above the river. The main arch structure was constructed in a unique fashion. The complete arch was divided into four semi-arches which were built with climbing formwork in an essentially vertical position on opposite sides of the gorge. These were then rotated and lowered into position in pairs to meet at the center, thus forming the completed arch structure.

For those who understand the more technical side. The main span of the bridge consists of a reinforced concrete arch structure spanning between two concrete abutments located on the western and eastern sides of the river. The deck of the bridge consists of three main spans, the center span between the two abutments and the two approach spans up to the joint above the abutments. The reinforced concrete deck is supported by the arch by means of 12 sets three reinforced concrete columns or struts.

St Francis Bay’s Seal Point Lighthouse

Until 1964 the Seal Point Lighthouse in Cape St Francis was seen as the most isolated lighthouse in South Africa. The circular lighthouse structure is the tallest masonry tower on the South African coast and stands 28 meters in height with the focal plane of the light at 36 meters above sea level. It light house was originally equipped with a three wick burner and had an intensity of 15 000 candles, providing a single white flash every 20 seconds. On 17 May 1906 the flash rate was changed to one flash every 5 seconds and a petroleum vapour burner was fitted, increasing the candle power to 120 000 candelas. Today the character of the light is once every five seconds with an intensity of 2 750 000 candelas and a range of 28 sea miles.

The stone for the tower was blasted from the reefs some 200 meters east of the site and it was cut and dressed to size and shape on the spot. Joseph Flack, a civil engineer and architect who was employed by the Cape Colonial Government at the time was instrumental in building this majestic building. He was also involved in building Robben Island. Joseph Flack, who came from Maidstone in Kent died on 14 November 1876 and W.B. Hays took over on 29 November of the same year. The light was lit for the first time on 4 July 1878.

The Diaz Cross at Kwaaihoek

Kwaaihoek near Kenton-on-Sea is the furthest East that Bartolomeu Diaz reached on his journey in 1488. The spot is also referred to as False Island and is a high promontory that juts out towards the sea. On top of the headland that extends the furthest, Diaz erected a stone cross or padrao on 12th March 1488. The remains of the original cross were found in about 1938 by Eric Axelson and are now in the University of the Witwatersrand. The one at Kwaaihoek is a replica cut from the same quarry in Portugal and brought out on the replica caravel in 1988 (500th anniversary).

A minor road turns sharply off to the right from the main road that leads from Alexandria to Bushman’s and Kenton. It passes Boknes and comes to an end near the coast. About a kilometer further east from the end of the road, beyond the sand dunes, lies Kwaaihoek

The history of Hogsback

The earliest known written reference to ‘Hogsback’ was found in the journal of the painter Thomas Bain who passed the ‘Hogs Back’ while on his travels deeper inside South Africa in 1848. Besides the ‘Hogsback’, the highest peak in the area is the 1 954 m Gaika’s Kop.

The nearby Xhosa tribes called the surrounding area Qabimbola (meaning ‘red clay on the face’) as the surrounding clay was used for face painting. Gaika’s Kop was one of the Xhosa strongholds. British troops were later stationed here and a number of forts were built to guard the border with the Xhosa. One of these forts was Fort Michell, named after Colonel Michell of the Warwichshire regiment, who was at one point in charge of troops in the area. The name has since changed to Fort Mitchell. The outline of Fort Michell, and the first road from Fort Hare can still be seen.

The conflict between the British and Xhosa continued further north and a small settlement began to grow. Some of the first inhabitants of Hogsback were Summerton, Odendaal and Booysens. Thomsa Summerton, a gardener from Oxford, has a legacy that survives in the local gardens and his attempts to re-create the English countryside. This can be seen in apple orchards, avenues lined with hazelnut trees, berry fruits and the flowering plants that have spread throughout the surrounding area. European flowers, bushes and trees include rhododendrons, azaleas, fruits and berries. He named his farm Cherrie Orchard and also built a furrow – Summerton’s furrow – to carry water from a stream on Tor Doone.

In the 1880s, Collins built a small hotel, called the Hogsback Hydro, of which later became the Hogsback Inn. Hunterstoun, the private estate of David Hunter, was built in 1910. Hunter was the honorary secretary and treasurer of the Lovedale Institution and the Victoria College near Alice. Forestry began in 1883 with a survey to determine the best areas for planting and the Hogsback pass was opened in 1932. Hobbiton-on-Hogsback was started in 1946 as a holiday camp for children who could not afford to go on holidays and with the aid of several organisations and private donations, had grown to an outdoor education facility for underprivileged children. There was also a shop, the Handy Log Cabin, situated in the grounds of Arminel.

At the turn of the century, local farmers and townsfolk started to build holiday homes here and its charms became more widely known. The cottages were mostly of wattle and daub with thatched roofs. A rule was also made in regard to the size of the plots, namely that each one had to be at least two morgen.

More information on the history of Hogsback

Here are a couple of things for your Wild Coast Bucket List


Elephants, sand dunes, citrus, game, activities, river, mountain and superb hospitality

Sundays River Valley and the Greater Addo area - more than just elephants
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