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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
- Muishuis and Afraid of Mice:
49 Ds Botha Street.
- Quirky Country Gallery Art & Collectables:
49 Ds Botha Street.
- Searle’s Trading Post:
36 Hoof Street.
- Vintage & Vogue:
Corner of Ds Botha/ Vigne Streets.
- Antiques Sonder End:
15 Main Road.
- Drostdy Antiques:
171 Voortrek Street.
- Schoone Oordt Country House:
1 Swellengrebel Street.
- The Corner Shop:
12 Independent Street.
Van As Building, Van Riebeeck Street.
- Blue Door Country Store:
- Duane on Main:
Sarel Cilliers Street (by the bottle store).
- Greta’s Place:
103 Sarel Cilliers Street.
- My Skat:
35 Sarel Cilliers Street.
- Napier Antiques:
100 Sarel Cilliers Street.
- Red Windmill Farmstall:
R316 (between Bredasdorp and Napier).
- The New Junk Shop:
9 Queen Victoria Street.
- Sir Robert Stanford’s Home of Antiques and Collectables:
14 Church Street.
- Stanford Trading Store:
Queen Victoria Road.
- TAT Antiques & Vintage Decor:
9 Queen Victoria Street.
- Chilli Pepper Lifestyle:
10 Mitchell Street.
- Hemingway’s of Hermanus:
Warrington Place, Harbour Road.
14 Aberdeen Street.
31 The Yard, Harbour Road.
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.
Where to eat in the Overberg
- The Orchard Farmstall, Grabouw: serves Earlybird Breakfast for R29 and is open until 10pm on Thursdays. Tel 0218592448.
- Peregrine Farmstall, Elgin Valley: reasonably priced meals with breakfast served all day. Tel 02184890118.
- Houw Hoek Farm Stall, Elgin: famous for its pies and rightly so. Tel 0212849015.
- Dassiesfontein, Bot River/Caledon: serves breakfast and lunch. Tel 0282141475.
- 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.
- Drostdy Restaurant, Swellendam: great for sundowners and lovely mountain views. Tel 0794465218.
- 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.
- 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.
- Julian’s, Bredasdorp: open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can enjoy delicious food and beautiful ceramics all under one roof. Tel 0284251201.
- 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.
- 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.
- Anya’s Mum Cafe, Hermanus: home-made bakes and light meals served in a bright and cheerful space. The quiche is divine! Tel 0283123407.
- 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.
All prices were correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.