About Velddrif, Cape West Coast – South Africa

by Kojo Pocu
Velddrif

The Berg River, fisherman, bokkoms, and lovely beaches come to mind when you think about Velddrif. One of the ‘lost’ West Coast settlements, Velddrif is a little fishing community where visitors are welcomed by silence, freedom to roam, and an uncanny sense of time slowing down. This region of South Africa is one of the few in the world where you can almost instantly sense the draw of a bygone era when only the sea, the wind, and the surroundings had any impact on you.

It’s hardly unexpected to learn that the West Coast Gallery in Velddrif exhibits artwork compiled from more than 100 local artists, including contributions from fishermen. Whether in words or on canvas, the town and its surroundings beg to be represented. A few kilometres separate Velddrif from St Helena Bay, where the Berg River empties into the ocean. Elands Bay is the next town to the north and may be reached by exiting the N7 at either Morreesburg or Piketberg.

When a local farmer drove his livestock across the river to locate a place to graze, they had to travel through a drift in the veld in order to get to their destination. This is how the town got its name. The Sandveld wheat crop was also carried at Laaiplek (laai means to load in Afrikaans) into smaller boats before travelling down the Berg River and through the sand banks to larger ships bound for Cape Town.

Dwarskersbos, a charming little beach village of classic West Coast homes, is located right on the shoreline, a bit further north of Laaiplek. The occasional two-storey has already made its way here. The richness of the bird life, plant life, and sea reveal their true natures, and the fynbos works their charm on everyone who comes here, dispelling the notion that the area is windswept and barren.

Table of Contents

History Of Velddrif

Velddrif

When farmer Theunis Smit carried his animals over a veld drift to locate grazing across the river, the name Velddrif was born. Animals frequently had to swim across rivers. After a pont was constructed in 1899, there was no other way to cross the Berg River.

The Sandveld wheat crop was transported down the Berg River to a storage location close to the river mouth about a century ago. The wheat was then put onto smaller boats and transported across sand banks to larger ships that were waiting farther away and were travelling to Cape Town. Eventually, the “loading place” transformed into Laaiplek, which is close to Velddrif. The fishing harbour at Laaiplek was finished in 1968 when engineers blasted a passage connecting the river with St Helena Bay.
Visitors can choose from a variety of hotels, campgrounds, and guest homes in and near Velddrif through Velddrif Accommodation. Some of them are located along rivers and provide breathtaking views of the sea and the river mouth.

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