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I set off to find antiques and great deals in the Overberg, and discovered the only thing I didn’t bargain for is how many unexpected gems there are on this route.

 

The Overberg is full of gorgeous little country roads to explore. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

The Overberg is full of gorgeous little country roads to explore.


My first memory of an antique was when I accompanied my mother to a neighbouring farm for an auction. We came home with a clock that still ticks time away on her mantelpiece. It’s a beautifully crafted object, but it also has a story. Recently, I set off in search of similar storied treasures on a route from Cape Town into the Overberg. My first stop was Elgin and Grabouw.

While I didn’t find any antique stores there, the coffee and cake at the Koffiekraal Café in a 1908 building on the main road in Grabouw is a treasure in itself. There’s also Winters Drift Tasting Station in the original train station in Elgin. The occasional train still passes through, making it a stylish way to indulge in trainspotting – with a glass of good wine.

 

Dassiesfontein, on the N2, is an interesting stop and a delight for treasure hunters. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

Dassiesfontein, on the N2, is an interesting stop and a delight for treasure hunters.


Continuing on the N2, there’s a treasure-hunter’s paradise at Dassiesfontein farm store. Giant butternuts nestle in tin bathtubs, bokkoms hang from the door and the rooms inside burst at the seams with vintage items, leather goods, toys and collectables. Tuck into vetkoek and jam under the chandeliers and try not to trip over a scale on the way out.

A slow drive past golden wheat fields along the R406 took me to Greyton, which was established in 1854 and still makes use of the original leiwater system (a network of shallow canals that channels water through town). The village gets busy on weekends, so plan a visit during the week to experience the area’s country-slow life. There are antiques at Searle’s Trading Post, but the real reason to pop in here is to see Norma and Martin Muscroft’s doll houses, including a miniature antique store. The attention to detail is mesmerising, right down to tiny pianos, sleeping dogs and smoking maids.

 

Retro items can be found at Quirky Country in Greyton. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

Retro items can be found at Quirky Country in Greyton.


Muishuis has antique furniture, Afraid of Mice and Vintage & Vogue both have vintage clothing and Quirky Country Gallery Art & Collectables has a few retro items on its shelves. Finish off your village soirée with a meal at The Post House and watch life go by, including cows and horses, on the main road.

Back on the R406, doe-eyed Jersey cows nonchalantly chewed cud as cars whizzed by. It’s about 34 kilometres of dirt road to Riviersonderend, but it’s doable in any car and you’ll pop out at the N2 just before town. Here you’ll find Antiques Sonder End where I stumbled upon a pair of whale eardrums on sale! (If they’re still there, you can get them for R1000 for the pair).

It’s about 57 kilometres of comfortable tar from Riviersonderend to Swellendam and Schoone Oordt Country House is a welcome stop for tea when you arrive in town. Look out for the collection of love letters from 1944 that owner, Richard Walker, discovered down the side of an antique couch. The letters expose an intriguing and slightly scandalous love triangle!

 

Details at Drostdy Antiques. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

Details at Drostdy Antiques.


Drostdy Antiques is a top spot for antique furniture and according to owner, Francois de Kock, the kist at the entrance belonged to the father of author Edmund H Burrows who wrote Overberg Odyssey. On the quirky side, Christo Pretorius, owner of the Drostdy Restaurant, has been collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia, including dinky cars, clocks and bottles, for 25 years and this collection is on display in the restaurant. It’s also the perfect spot to watch the sun go down over the Langeberg Mountains.

 

The Drostdy restaurant, in Swellendam, houses a collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

The Drostdy restaurant, in Swellendam, houses a collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia.


Then it’s over hill and down dale along the R324 to Malgas, where bakkies fly down the road leaving clouds of dust in their wake. Between the dust clouds are beautiful stretches of farmland dotted with blue cranes. In Malgas, the last hand-drawn pont in South Africa pulls all manner of vehicles across the Breede River. It’s been operating since the 1800s, from sunrise to sundown every day of the year.

 

The last hand-drawn pont in the country crosses the Breede River. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

The last hand-drawn pont in the country crosses the Breede River.


Once on the other side, I met Oom Nicolaas Hendrika, owner of the Malagas Algemene Handelaar. His store has a wonderful old-world feel to it and reminded me of my childhood, buying gobstoppers stocked in giant sweetie jars on the counter. For the famished, the Malagas Hotel serves light meals and drinks with a river view and there’s also a lovely walk to the church that was built using stones that were transported by ox-wagon in 1856.

 

The Malagas Algemene Handelaar has a wonderful old-world feel. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

The Malagas Algemene Handelaar has a wonderful old-world feel.


More dust and fluffy-bottomed sheep later, I arrived in Bredasdorp, where sadly the large antique store has closed down. However, there are a few antiques dispersed among second-hand bric-a-brac in The Corner Shop, or at Meelmuis. Further along on the R316, Napier has loads of places in which to snoop. There’s vintage clothing at the Red Windmill Farmstall and My Skat has quirky collectables, vintage items and furniture. Napier Antiques has been in the business for 20 years and sells mostly restored antique furniture. Above the main road is Blue Door Country Store where vintage items lurk in the general clutter. If you are a Boer War enthusiast, then make sure you pay Greta’s Place a visit – she has a collection of framed photos and prints, including General Louis Botha and General Christiaan de Wet. For fun, Duane on Main has a few retro and vintage items for sale and you can have your hair done at the same time (vintage styles included).

 

Fluffy sheep dot the landscape of the Overberg. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

Fluffy sheep dot the landscape of the Overberg.


Next, I wound my way down to Stanford where Irene Tomlinson at Sir Robert Stanford Home of Antiques and Collectables was happy to tell me about the town’s history. Along Queen Victoria Street, Stanford Trading Store, TAT Antiques & Vintage Decor and The New Junk Shop (with an interesting selection of authentic postcards from the 1950s) are lined with antiques and retrobilia. If you’re there over a weekend, also look out for Lionel of Stanford Upcycle who peddles his rusty wares opposite the Spar.

 
Also read: free-range living in Stanford
 

From Stanford, I hit the R43 to Hermanus and spent a few hours at Romantiques – 13 themed rooms filled to the brim with an overwhelming collection of vintage paraphernalia, retro goods and antiques. It also has a small cinema where vintage movies are screened – think Casablanca. Chilli Pepper Lifestyle is another popular antique shop, but leave some time to browse through the labyrinth of rare books at Hemingway’s of Hermanus. Finally, I headed back to Cape Town via Harbour Road in Kleinmond where there are plenty of places to eat and a few vintage clothes and retro items at Anew. Cruising between mountains and the ocean on Clarence Drive, I couldn’t help but think about the wagons and ships that brought these small treasures to the Overberg, each with their own fascinating story – some known and some a mystery. Ah, if only antiques could talk…

 

Antique shops and vintage goods in the Overberg

Greyton

  • Muishuis and Afraid of Mice:
    49 Ds Botha Street.
    Tel 0787691079
  • Quirky Country Gallery Art & Collectables:
    49 Ds Botha Street.
    Tel 0828792274
  • Searle’s Trading Post:
    36 Hoof Street.
    Tel 0282549550
  • Vintage & Vogue:
    Corner of Ds Botha/ Vigne Streets.
    Tel 0720550450

 

Riviersonderend

  • Antiques Sonder End:
    15 Main Road.
    Tel 0282611504

 

Swellendam

  • Drostdy Antiques:
    171 Voortrek Street.
    Tel 0285141910
  • Schoone Oordt Country House:
    1 Swellengrebel Street.
    Tel 0285141248

 

Bredasdorp

  • The Corner Shop:
    12 Independent Street.
    Tel 0284252133
  • Meelmuis:
    Van As Building, Van Riebeeck Street.
    Tel 0766894469

 

Napier

  • Blue Door Country Store:
    Hoog Street.
    Tel 0721229593
  • Duane on Main:
    Sarel Cilliers Street (by the bottle store).
    Tel 0846271926
  • Greta’s Place:
    103 Sarel Cilliers Street.
    Tel 0284233025
  • My Skat:
    35 Sarel Cilliers Street.
    Tel 0284233370
  • Napier Antiques:
    100 Sarel Cilliers Street.
    Tel 0284233314
  • Red Windmill Farmstall:
    R316 (between Bredasdorp and Napier).
    Tel 0284233576

 

Stanford

  • The New Junk Shop:
    9 Queen Victoria Street.
    Tel 0283410797
  • Sir Robert Stanford’s Home of Antiques and Collectables:
    14 Church Street.
    Tel 0283410048
  • Stanford Trading Store:
    Queen Victoria Road.
    Tel 0283410449
  • TAT Antiques & Vintage Decor:
    9 Queen Victoria Street.
    Tel 0726716789

 

Hermanus

  • Chilli Pepper Lifestyle:
    10 Mitchell Street.
    Tel 0283131285
  • Hemingway’s of Hermanus:
    Warrington Place, Harbour Road.
    Tel 0283122739
  • Romantiques:
    14 Aberdeen Street.
    Tel 0283124226

 

Kleinmond

  • Anew:
    31 The Yard, Harbour Road.
    Tel 0824432292

 

Walk in the footsteps of history and sleep in a four-poster bed at Grabouw's Houw Hoek Inn. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

Walk in the footsteps of history and sleep in a four-poster bed at Grabouw’s Houw Hoek Inn.

 

Where to stay in the Overberg

1. Houw Hoek Inn, Grabouw

The Houw Hoek Inn has a groove in the wooden floor which bears testament to the countless footsteps that have passed through this historical establishment since the 18th century. From R337.50 per person.

 

2. Moolmanshof, Swellendam

Moolmanshof, a beautifully restored bed and breakfast has plush rooms in the main house (built in 1798), with self-catering cottages set in lush gardens. From R350 per person.

 

3. The Coach House, Bredasdorp

Sleep where wagons and horses were once housed in The Coach House, a charming century-old thatched cottage. Accommodates five people with three single beds in the loft. Tea, milk and rusks provided on arrival. From R270 per person. Tel 0284253004.

 

4. Galashiels Lodge, Stanford

Set in extensive and beautiful gardens with tinkling fountains and waddling ducks, Galashiels Lodge comes complete with a whisky bar. It’s cosy and comfortable and you’ll feel at home. From R225 per person.

 

The Post House, in Greyton, is a well-known spot for a meal and a view of the main road. Photo by Rachel Robinson.

The Post House, in Greyton, is a well-known spot for a meal and a view of the main road.

 

Where to eat in the Overberg

  1. The Orchard Farmstall, Grabouw: serves Earlybird Breakfast for R29 and is open until 10pm on Thursdays. Tel 0218592448.
  2. Peregrine Farmstall, Elgin Valley: reasonably priced meals with breakfast served all day. Tel 02184890118.
  3. Houw Hoek Farm Stall, Elgin: famous for its pies and rightly so. Tel 0212849015.
  4. Dassiesfontein, Bot River/Caledon: serves breakfast and lunch. Tel 0282141475.
  5. The Post House, Greyton: originally established in 1860 as the town’s post office, this Greyton landmark has a beautiful dining room and outside areas, along with a small bar. Tel0282549995.
  6. Drostdy Restaurant, Swellendam: great for sundowners and lovely mountain views. Tel 0794465218.
  7. Old Gaol on Church Square, Swellendam: sit under old oak trees and tuck into its boerepan or roosterkoek. The portions are huge and prices extremely reasonable. Tel 0285143847.
  8. Malagas Hotel, Malgas: have a drink in the cosy Moxies Pub (named after Moxie Dunn who manned the pont for many years) or have a bite to eat on the deck or in the Glasshouse. Tel 0285421049.
  9. Julian’s, Bredasdorp: open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can enjoy delicious food and beautiful ceramics all under one roof. Tel 0284251201.
  10. The Suntouched Inn, Napier: the best pizza in town with a fun and vibey bar area that’s popular with locals. It also serve breakfasts and light meals. Tel 0284233131.
  11. The Vine, Stanford: a pub and restaurant in a casual, friendly environment where you’ll be made very welcome by owners, Karl and Santie. Tel 0829232610.
  12. Anya’s Mum Cafe, Hermanus: home-made bakes and light meals served in a bright and cheerful space. The quiche is divine! Tel 0283123407.
  13. Fisherman’s Take Aways, Kleinmond: grab a takeaway for the road, or eat in with fish and chips served on a tin plate at a table outside. Tel 0282713961.

 
 

This article first appeared in the July 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

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All prices were correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.