Montagu and Barrydale are close enough to each other to enjoy a day trip between the two, but they are both towns worth spending some time in.
Rachel Robinson started her Route 62 travels with these two towns and found some things that you can do here.
Montagu is a popular and town with visitors, with many places well-established as part of the beaten track. Here are a some things to do that you may not know about.
1. Flying Feet Cycle Tours
Contact: Tel 0768913623, email [email protected]
Explore Montagu on an art bicycle where you have to backpedal to brake? I was a little wary in the beginning with not having normal bicycle brakes, but Marchelle Van Zyl is so patient and encouraging that before long I was zipping along the roads without a care in the world. It was good to be back on a bike! Each of the Dutch-style bicycles has been creatively painted by a local artist and once you’ve decided on your favourite, you can embark on either a town tour, an art tour, a combination of both, or just explore on your own. Michelle is full of interesting stories about the history of the town and its residents, so it’s worth doing a tour. You can also be guided on foot if you feel a bit nervous about biking it.
2. Route 62 Brewing Company and Waffle House
Contact: Tel 0663652717, route62brewingcompany.co.za
The brewery may only be a year old, the building it’s housed in was built in 1888 and was the first post office in the town. During the Anglo Boer War it was the operational headquarters of the British troops, who would probably be quite delighted that it’s a beerhouse serving craft beer and waffles today! Grab a pint of craft beer, do a tasting or a brewery tour and tuck into a sweet or savoury Belgian waffle from Thursday to Sunday.
3. Montagu Country Hotel
Contact: Tel 0236143125, montagucountryhotel.co.za
This historic art deco hotel holds many fascinating treasures from the era, along with beautiful gardens filled with birdlife, a swimming pool and cosy bedrooms. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are served, accompanied by a piano player in the evenings and roast for Sunday lunch. You can also indulge in a spa treatment or go for a chauffeured drive in a classic car! Surprisingly, they are also pet-friendly with small to medium sized dogs being most welcome to stay with you and join you for meals. It’s an old world hotel that still retains old world class and it’s worth a stay, or at least a visit for a meal.
Many people stop in at Barrydale to stretch their legs and have a double-thick-delicious milkshake at Diesel & Creme, but there’s plenty more to see and do in this town if you spend a night or two.
1. The Karoo Saloon
Contact: Tel 072 250 9055, karoosaloon.com
This watering hole and live music venue, 15km before Barrydale from the Montagu side, has long been a favourite of mine. Their beers are cold and their venison pot pies are absolutely delicious! They regularly hold music events and now have various accommodation options available, including camping and their lapa area with braai and swimming pool is perfect for those hot Karoo days. You won’t notice it when you arrive, but pop out the front and turn around – that eagle is a sight to behold!
2. Karoo Art Hotel
Contact: Tel 0285721226, karooarthotel.co.za
Dressing up for dinner takes on a whole new meaning here with a wonderful selection of flamboyant outfits in the reception area that you are encouraged to borrow for dinner. This beautifully restored hotel has a long history of interesting people, swearing parrots and bar antics so it seems only fitting that they keep up the tradition. However, today it really is a rather lavish and classy affair (with a bit of cheeky fun thrown in) including luxiourius rooms with fine linen, roaring fireplaces in the bar and dining area, chaise lounges with puffy cushions, chandeliers and antique furniture, along with interesting local artworks everywhere. Have a gin and tonic at the bar, followed by dinner, which includes delicious Karoo-inspired dishes prepared by a world-class chef. Food is also art here and it’s not surprising that the restaurant has won the coveted Klein Karoo Gourmand Award for two years running. You can choose to stay (breakfast included), or simply book for a meal and an experience like none other. My friend put it perfectly when she exclimed, “Oh my, this place is so Versace!”. That it is…
Also read: 6 South African art hotels worth visiting
3. Magpie Art Collective
Contact: Tel 0285721768, magpieartcollective.com
Chandeliers made from dog food cans, lights created using plastic bottles and throne chairs with ostrich feathers… these are just a few of the things you can expect to find at the Magpie Collective, a company that has been making exquisite items from recycled goods since 1998. However, it’s not all about fashioning bespoke items for hotels and overseas companies, they also believe that they cannot produce items for wealthy people in a town that has so much poverty, one has to get involved. They are very involved, including several NGO’s and every year they build a Christmas Tree for the village in the adjoining meadow. This is accompanied by much fanfare, including a parade with puppets from the Handspring Puppet Company. This year the parade takes place on the weekend of 15-17 December and will include a Barrydale Art Meander. In the meantime, look out for their famous Peace Dove, made from recycled milk bottles, that may pop up anywhere from New Zealand to Germany.
4. Barrydale Walking Tour
Contact: Bookings through the Karoo Art Hotel, tel 0285721226
The best way to get to know about a town is to take a walking tour and Leslie Howard will keep you very entertained for well over an hour. You’ll hear all about the frivolous Fullard daughters who ran the original Karoo Art Hotel, learn how to spot a famous Karoo brakdak house, visit a quince hedge that dates back to 1877 and enjoy local tales, including one about the alcoholic barber who would nip over to the hotel bar for a drink to steady his hands in the middle of shaving a client. She’ll also show you a gorgeous mission church from 1880 where you can get married and she even has the odd ghost story or two. You’ll never look at Barrydale in the same light again after this tour! History buffs can also purchase her book (R220), which took three years of intensive research to produce and includes all the stories you’ll hear and more.
5. Barrydale Karoo Lodge
Contact: Tel 0285721020, barrydalekaroolodge.com
With a restaurant serving coffee, breakfasts and light meals, a bar with excellent drinks specials and quirky accommodation, this is your one-stop-spot in Barrydale. It seems everyone here (including the housekeeper) is a barrista and my friend, who is very particular about her coffee, can attest to a great cappucino! If you are a gin fan, The Workshop bar (open from 10:00 daily) is the only place in town that stocks Nature’s Own gin range and for only R20 a tot. If you are feeling peckish their Windpomp Restaurant has the best burgers in town, along with toasties, light meals, breakfasts and salads. Their affordable rooms (breakfast included) are all individually decorated, and include the Pheasant Room filled with metal guinnea fowls with linen to match and The Rose Room (my favourite) with an old rusted vintage car above your head. You will definitely feel that you are on Route 62 in that room!
6. Joubert Tradouw Private Cellar
Contact: Tel 0281250086, joubert-tradauw.com
There’s a certain charm in the fact that this third-generation grape farming family are all very hands-on and still use old technology to produce their very quaffable wines. They are also famous for their R62 platter that has all sorts of traditional specialities, including bobotie, spicy chicken wings, local cheeses, ostrich liver patè, figs, maketaan, spanakopita, tapenade, pesto and hummus served with home-made ciabbata and molasse bread. platters These platters are popular with those in the know that it’s best to book a spot to sit under their vine covered veranda during the summer months.
7. The Maker’s Brew
Contact: Tel 0836266121, themakersbrew.co.za
The Maker’s are so called because they literally “make” everything, from their craft beer to the labels and the tables. They’ve been producing their beer since February 2018 and you can enjoy a tasting platter or pint at their spot along Route 62 from Wednesday to Sunday. Apart from beer, they also serve a good cup of coffee, along with wine and craft gins. If you are feeling peckish, they have platters, sandwiches and nibbles. Next door you’ll find beautifully crafted ceramic candleholders, bowls and vessels by local artist, Helen Vaughen, which are worth taking a look at – and taking home with a few bottles of The Maker’s brown ale, porter or shiraz.
8. Klassikaroo Gallery and Restaurant
Contact: Tel 028 572 1017, or follow them on Facebook
Also new on the block in Barrydale and right on Route 62 is Klassikaroo, where you can grab a good cup of coffee at Klassikoffie to fortify you for the road, or you can stop in, stretch your legs and enjoy a well-priced light meal, including homemade pies, sandwiches, scones, muffins and cakes. If you are in Barrydale overnight, their restaurant is a cosy spot that serves steaks, seafood dishes, pastas, curries and bangers & mash, along with a selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. There’s local art adorning the walls, a roaring fireplace for winter nights and a courtyard for summer evenings.
Also read: Things to do in Montagu