Melkbosstrand

Melkbosstrand (Afrikaans for “Milkwood beach”) is a coastal village and beach located on the South West Coast of South Africa, 35 km north ofCape Town.

Named after the species of Euphorbiaceae bushes which grow on the dunes and give off a milky latex like substance, it is commonly referred to simply as Melkbos. The town and its 7 km stretch of white sand beach is situated on the Atlantic coast with the Blouberg mountain to the east. The beach is popular with surfers. It is notable for being one of the landing points for the South Africa-Far East and South Atlantic/West Africasubmarine cable systems.

Melkbosstrand now falls under the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality, and its nearest neighbouring towns are Bloubergstrand andAtlantis.

For many years Melkbosstrand has been called the “rich man’s town” by its neighboring suburbs and towns, such as Atlantis and Table View. This labeling remark is probably due to the fact that Melkbosstrand is home to a host of South African celebrities (retired rugby players, actors, writers, visiting members of the House of Lords), and some higher class citizens, which is mainly due to its location and its beautiful view of Table Mountain. International best-selling novelist Deon Meyer was a long time resident of Melkbosstrand as well as South-African French philosopherPhilippe-Joseph Salazar. It also boasts the upmarket Atlantic Beach Golf Estate and Golf Club. For more information on how to buy property on the magnificent Atlantic Beach Estate call Morris Pieterse on 021 553 3122, or email morris@atlanticbeach.co.za

It owes much of its present day infrastructure to two significant South African apartheid government developments in the late seventies. The first,Koeberg nuclear power station, constructed with the help of the British and French some 6 km north of Melkbosstrand, necessitated the creation of high quality housing for the foreign contractors. The second, the government subsidized creation of Atlantis Diesel Engines (ADE), a joint venture between the British Perkins-Elmer and famous brand German Daimler AG, to bypass international sanctions imposed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 418. Although ADE was in the industrial park of Atlantis, some 50 km north of Cape Town, subsidized housing was established in Melkbosstrand to help attract and retain the many German, British, and even South African, engineers, managers, and technicians. These houses, both for Koeberg and ADE, have long since been sold off to the public and form an interesting housing development with paved lanes, quaint housing, a club and a library, not un-reminiscent of the famed British series The Prisoner.

In 1961, Melkbosstrand became the end point for the SAT-1 Copper cable between South Africa and Sesimbra, Portugal. In 1992, the cable was replaced by the SAT-2 fiber optic cable. Today, Melkbosstrand is still the landing point for the SAT-3/WASS undersea cable system.

block3  morris- atlantic beach

Historically speaking Melkbosstrand is the site of the famous Battle of Blaauwberg (1806) whereby the Cape ceased to be occupied by French-Batavian troops and became a Colony of the British Crown. The French had occupied the Cape from 1781-1783, after a fleet under the flag of celebrated admiral Bailli de Suffren anchored just north of Melkbosstrand.[3] A cannon set on Melkbostrand foreshore commemorates the battle itself. Numerous shipwrecks, some dating back to the Portuguese Discoverers of the Early Renaissance, are strewn along the coast of Melkbosstrand.[4] Ancient Khoi-San middens are also to be found in the dunes. In terms of Dutch vernacular architecture, the area boasts several fine examples. The farmhouse Melkbosch, the first established by the Dutch East India Company outside Cape Town, is still extant albeit in a rather poor condition following a fire. On Melkbos bay itself, much favored by the surfing community for it good swell and warmer currents, stands the Damhuis cottage, a late 18th-century fisherman house and the last one of its kind in the area (apart from Ons Huisie, at Blouberg Beach, some five kilometers away).[5]

Close to the resort the keen tourist will find the West Coast National Park together with a major historical manor house, Geelbek (named after a local wild duck species[6]) and once upon a time a playground for the Johannesburg mining aristocracy of the 1900s, and as well the Victorian village of Philadelphia, now an artists’ retreat. Not very far, in a quiet vale, lie the beautifully preserved Moravian Mission of Mamre, established in 1806 and still serving the local community.

The village is surrounded by a Nature Conservation Area. It is a favourite spot for whale watching, when the gracious cetaceans, on their way round the Cape, repair in the sound that separate the village from Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for some time. Swimming across the sound is a sporting challenge taken up regularly by local enthusiasts. Only ten kilometers away newly developed vineyards (in the Philadelphia area) are becoming a feature of the hinterland of Melkbosstrand.

Both the “Cape to Namibia” scenic highway 7 and the West Coast Route 27 start off at Melkbosstrand [1].

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Councillors Online”. City of Cape Town. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  2. a b c d “Main Place Melkbosstrand”Census 2001.
  3. ^ Andrew Smith, The French Period at the Cape, 1781-1783, Military History Journal Vol 5 No 3, June 1981
  4. ^ See Lawrence G. Green, the great raconteur of the Cape: So Few Are Free, Cape Town: Howard B. Timmins, 1946, I, 4.
  5. ^ http://www.blaauwberg.net/history/historical_sights.php
  6. ^ On “melkbos” and “geelbek” in Cape lore, see Lawrence G. GreenSouth African Beachcomber, Howard B. Timmins, 1958, chapter 2.