The Wellington wanderer

Posted on 20 January 2021

Journalist and Swartlander Peter Frost has been tracking the changes in Wellington for over a decade. Renault’s latest Duster took him back to chronicle the next chapter.

Chasing the Cape sugarbird can lead where angels fear to tread; Renault’s Duster was luckily up to the task of getting distracted twitchers out of sticky situations up Bainskloof Pass.

The essence of a dorp is not to be found at the One-Stop outside town. Nor is it at 
the too-carefully curated 
museum, nor even at the pub after midnight. To understand the nature of a place, head first to the old age home and then the junk shop. Both are story reservoirs and wellsprings.

Steam and Sarah Moon: Ou Kaya

Covid put paid to an ouetehuis visit, but Wellington is awash in junk shops. Opposite the Railway Hotel on Distillery Street is Ou Kaya. It’s a favourite Swartland retreat, hidden from the tourist trekkers eager in their Polo Vivos, intent on their TripAdvisor 
trilogy of Bainskloof Pass, glass of Doolhof shiraz and Bosjes Chapel. Out the back, the cacti are two storeys high or as big as your thumb, a secret garden of some of the most intriguing succulents in the region. The lamb and wildsvleis pies would bring tears to an 18th century Cornish miner’s eyes 
and the junk-shop miscellany is that delightful chaos of dubious garage art, unloved Japanese crockery, Bles Bridges, Oom Sarel’s collection of screwdrivers and an ubiquitous, faded Sarah Moon peeking out from behind a basketfull of 1970s tennis racquets.

Juliene Basson and Braam van Zyl have been running Ou Kaya for years, Braam the succulent guy, Juliene the queen of everything else. Recently they’ve joined forces with Coenie van Heerden, who now occupies rooms three and four of the old, converted 
onderdorp house with his coffee house, complete with shiny new espresso machine. Over Coenie’s lattes, Braam and Juliene explain the town.
 ‘Wellington sits somewhere between Stellies and Malmesbury. The student population keeps it energised and the heat in summer keeps the Euro 
swallows away, mostly. That means it’s one of the few Cape satellite towns that has a larger local population than uitlanders. Less money maybe, but cheaper for us to live in.’ Turns out cacti growing is 
a cut-throat industry. ‘We have to lock up the special ones in the chicken coop now, they come with their handbags and backpacks and steal seeds. We even had a guy come back and tell us his plants are doing very well.’ @oukayapadstal

The tractor slept with the Morris:

Toeka Stoor

Toeka Stoor is out of Wellington towards Paardeberg, off the R44 on the Vryguns Road, a nice run for Renault’s latest Duster. The stoor is part of the larger Domaine Brahms winery and events venue, a creative canvas for Johan and Gesie van Deventer. Johan’s 
obsession is tractors, Gesie, well, if collecting was an Olympic sport, gold would go to South Africa every time. Sitting atop his impeccably restored John Deere 730, the one-time corporate leviathan 
resembles nothing so much as a delighted school boy. He starts up the American icon, a pfut, pfut, crackle, pop of paraffin and petrol and marvels at the 
machine’s ability to idle seemingly at one revolution every few seconds. ‘I bought it on auction just as Covid was hitting. The groot manne weren’t there and I got it for a steal. Now I’m getting all these mails from the American collectors, offering me silly money. And the locals: angry!’

The Van Deventer’s Toeka Stoor is as much about the art of collecting as it is about tractors and the best chicken strips in the Winelands.

He’s clearly delighted at his cunning. Proud, too – the rare John Deere is the first exhibit in a custom-made tractor museum, and as we talk, a phalanx of farting machines enter. Inside yet another barn, Gesie is arranging a massive collection of jerrycans. It’s an Aladdin’s cave in there, so much to see that you hardly notice the restaurant, tables scattered between the vintage cars and tractors. Gesie is all go. ‘I’ve taken leave and am getting stuck in. The new museum, we have a new chef, it’s all go.’ Leave? I ask about the other job. ‘I’m the executive mayor of Stellenbosch.’ Well there you go. Somebody has to be, and why not a collector of arcane Africana on the outskirts of Wellington? @toekastoordomainebrahms

A gecko up a boulder:

Bainskloof Pass

Bainskloof Pass is looking a little tired these days, worryingly toothy gaps in the barrier dentures, fluttering municipal tape all that stands between safety and a watery death. Even so, few stretches of road on Earth can compare for sheer drama. The Duster outdoes itself on the way up from Wellington and just before the hamlet of Bain’s Kloof itself, a picnic spot down a rocky track looks tempting. Halfway down, 
I remember that this particular Duster is the 4×2, not the 4×4. Too late. Running start? No way. Another route? Nothing doing. A short prayer to the mountain gods and here we go. There’s a scramble for traction as the front wheels try to clamber over the river stones, a horrible moment of ‘absolutely no way’ and then a bite, then another and another. A gecko up a boulder. Those mountain gods. And that Duster.

The Renault Duster entirely at home on dirt, even in 2×4 guise. Choose the 4×4 for rougher rock hopping.

The sun sets over the Cambrian landscape as the Duster descends towards Ceres. Bains is rarely 
attempted in the fading light – for good reason – but take it slow, respect the challenge and it’s a most 
marvelous place of typhonic shadows and dimension shifting, a world as old as time, frightening and compulsive all at the same time. Relief is tempered with disappointment as the Witte River gorge flattens, Calabash Bush Pub appears on the left and the world returns to normal. The Duster has passed with flying colours, SUV trekking in and around a town that seems to mirror its sense of no nonsense can-do. Cheers to both of them.

Eikehof Farm

Eikehof Farm is 
15 minutes from Worcester down the R43 Mitchell’s Pass road, towards Ceres. It’s a real find; an 18th century farmstead, lovingly and, importantly, sensitively restored. The owners have impeccable taste, the three-bedroomed, self-catering Manor House and two adjacent cottages (the two-bedroomed De Oude School and the one-bedroomed Klippenhok) are luxurious but not alienating, the dogs and goats run free, special fragrant gardens abound and the Olifantsberg in the backyard offers plenty of hiking, walks, wildlife and birding opportunities. The idea is to rent 
the entire farm, as 
the accommodation lends itself to large groups of friends or family. A magnificent farm kitchen can seat 10 and various verandas and outside stoeps encourage lazy afternoon sundowners. A converted plaasdam, now an easy-access swimming pool, sits above the main homestead.
From R12 000 per night for the farm (sleeping 12) off peak and R16 000 between 1 December and 15 January); book at Perfect Hideaways 
021 790 0972,

Braam van Zyl and Juliene Basson’s Ou Kaya padstal on Stokery Road; wildsvleis pies and collectables in the front, cactus nursery out the back.

Motoring Match-up


Renault Duster 1.5dCi TechRoad Auto

Renault’s wildly popular Duster needs little introduction; tough, comfortable, spacious, fuel-efficient and dependable, it’s a real winner. The current version adds a less agricultural interior 
(it’s still durable though), digital instrumentation and better connectivity. The TechRoad version 
we drove uses the proven 1.5 diesel engine mated
to the auto box, a combination that works well. Even with a heavy foot, the diesel Duster will take its five passengers 
1 000km before a top-up is necessary. In some comfort, too; the on-road/off-road suspension set-up is well balanced, erring on the side of soft, even as it manages the twisties with surprising confidence.
Engine: 80kW @ 4 000r/min; 260Nm @1 750r/min
Driven wheels: Front
Warranty: Five-year/
150 000km
Service plan: Three-year/
45 000km

R361 900

Chasing the Cape sugarbird can lead where angels fear to tread; Renault’s Duster was luckily up to the 
task of getting distracted twitchers 
out of sticky situations 
up Bainskloof Pass.

Contender 1

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Ambiente Auto

Ford’s mini SUV makes 
a lot of sense in town, especially with the automatic gearbox, but 
on the long road, the non-turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine battles with the car’s weight. Off the tar it also lags behind, far less of a dirt roader than either the Duster or the Jimny. But kudos to 
Ford – the point here is 
a relatively affordable automatic with a degree of lifestyle ability and they’ve certainly 
cracked that market.
Engine: 91kW @ 6 500r/min; 150Nm @ 4 000r/min
Driven wheels: front
Warranty: Four-year/
120 000km
Service plan: Four-year/60 000km

R316 300

Contender 2

Suzuki Jimny GLX AllGrip

Suzuki has hit the sweet spot with the latest Jimny, now big enough to be a viable tourer rather than 
a toy (just), astonishingly capable off-road (it is a genuine 4×4, with low range) and a real looker. Inside, the square dimensions make it cozy, instrumentation is a pleasing combination of digital and analogue and everything you need is there: connectivity, electric windows, touchscreen and crucially, cruise control. Automatic or manual? We’d choose the auto, which works extremely well in off-road situations and makes the car zippy in town and doesn’t lose too much 
to the manual on the 
open road.

Engine: 75kW @ 6 000r/min; 130Nm @ 4 000r/min
Driven wheels: all, low range
Warranty: Three-year/
100 000km
Service plan: Four-year/60 000km

R335 900

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