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Beguiling Barrydale – A small town with a big heart!

Text and Photos: Leslie Howard. Article from the Experience Overberg Issue 4.

All roads lead to Barrydale, or so it seems. You can choose Thomas Bain’s scenic Tradouw Pass, or Route 62. No matter which, at the end of the rainbow you’ll find the beguiling town of Barrydale, small but bursting with energy, history and creativity, not to mention its quirky characters.

Anthony Chidrawi in the garden at The Hub

The town is surrounded by historic orchards and vineyards, sheep and dairy farms. But it’s thanks to Adolph van Coller, a farmer who settled here in the mid-1800s, that we owe the establishment of the town. Adolph granted half his land for the establishment of a village and the building of a church, which was completed in 1877. It is the lovely old Moreson property, now beautifully restored by Brendan and Stephanie Botha.

Barrydale today is also inhabited by a remarkable number of lively creative people. In fact, it is abuzz with ideas and projects. Take Hildegard Crous for example, a world famous orchid grower, who propagates magnificent disas from the seed she collects high up on mountain seeps. Her laboratory is situated at her nursery, called Whitsend Arboretum, where she also propagates and sells other indigenous plants. Hildegard staged her Rare Plant Fair in September which has become an annual event.

Barbara and her indigenous garden. Hildegard's glorious disas. When it comes to gardens and plants, remember to look out for the annual Barrydale in Bloom Show, which features stunning gardens and a market each October. It is the brain child of the indomitable Barbara Bridge. And local gardener Raymond Claasens grows roses from cuttings and grafts on his small plot on the road to Smitsville where he sells them at affordable prices. He proudly tells me he learnt these crafts from his father.

Eve and Clive MacDonald are the lively owners of Merton Olives, their farm is situated just on the edge of town. Clive is a retired vet and is well known for his crazy sense of humour, as well as the juicy olives that he produces almost single-handedly. Charming Eve, his smiling wife, helps with the pressing of virgin oil and is the producer of the tasty olives, pastes and other delicacies that sell under the label Merton Olives.

Clive and Eve McDonald with their olive products. Jackie at her loom.Energetic entrepreneur Carol Morris has brought her weaving business to Barrydale, and in an old house on Route 62, Swazi weaver Themba Gwebu and his team craft wonderful hand-woven products, from rugs to jackets, scarves and towels. Carol also owns MUD, an eco-friendly building that houses the famous restaurant owned by award-winning restauranteur Mike Clarke. Mike’s awards are too numerous to list, but include Top Ten Klein Karoo Citation d’honneur Chaine des Rotisseurs in 2013. Alongside you’ll find two other unique enterprises: Dennis and Kelly Weinand have brought their hand-dyeing and tailoring skills to Barrydale to their Two Swords shop, where you can purchase exquisitely tailored and designed garments ranging from T-shirts, crisp cotton blouses and dresses to personally-tailored jackets. This is another of Barrydale’s proud home industries. And on the other side of the MUD building, Heather Arter exhibits and sells her beautiful hand-made Inkaroo jewellery. Heather’s designs are unusual and eye-catching, and she employs semi-precious stones and found objects such as acacia thorns and shells in her work. She and husband Danny are well-known characters around town.

Maverick John Sachs is another quirky character who enlivens Barrydale with his highly original ideas. His business is crafting terracotta pots made from local clays. Some of them are compostable – you plant your seedling in a small pot and then plant the pot in the ground. Elements in the pot will nurture the seedling until it matures and the pot decomposes. No wonder John’s pots are in demand by big-name home stores! And of course providing employment for local people is always a plus factor.

Horses graze below the Moreson churchYou cannot miss the gallery of the famous Magpie Art Collective on Van Riebeeck Street. Shane Petzer, Sean Daniel, Richard Panaino and Scott Hart first launched their innovative business in Observatory, Cape Town in 1996 and 11 years ago brought it to Barrydale to establish a manufacturing base. The Gallery is a popular tourist attraction for viewing their functional art often using recycled materials. Two of the Collective’s grand chandeliers hang in the White House in the USA!  All the design work is done by the team themselves and it is marketed world-wide. A popular annual event is the installation of the Collective’s Christmas Tree followed by the annual parade and pageant. The team works closely with the world famous Handspring Puppet Company in staging this event that draws an audience of hundreds. The event also provides an opportunity for local brass bands to strut their stuff.

Magpie Art Collective & Maeve. Barrydale's brass band

Also part of this venture is the Net vir Pret organisation, a children’s NGO in the village, enabling youngsters to benefit all year round from the after-school programmes, creative projects and holiday programmes offered by the team of Donna Kouter, Peter Takelo, Angelo Endley and Herman Witbooi. Derek Joubert liaises with international donors.

Don’t miss the studios of well-known artists Joan Peeters and Nigel Hewitt, both of whom have exhibited widely and have an international client base. Both Joan and Nigel are inspired by the Karoo landscape. There are other artists and potters in town, who will be only too happy to chat and show you some of their work.

Long winding roads and magical scenery. Raymond Claassen's nursery.
Where to eat

The Karoo Moon Motel shares its home with Diesel & Crème, a vintage diner that offers a unique dining experience. Each room is beautifully decorated, with old charms that might make some nostalgic. The rooms have queen-size or twin beds and spacious bathrooms with fluffy towels. There is a communal lounge with sofas that are full of character. The on-site diner is always abuzz with live music acts or bikers stopping over for the legendary burger

The historic Barrydale Karoo Hotel serves hearty local cuisine all day, and features a music gig most week-ends in its famous bar. It’s on Van Riebeeck Street. +27 (0)28 572 1226

The Blue Cow is the coffee shop on the edge of town, run by Hannette Cooke on the farm of the founding Cooke family. Hannette is full of ideas and serves the most mouthwatering cakes and pastries, and generous breakfasts and light lunches. She also provides employment and training for local young women.

Blue Cow team Bernadette, Theresa, Hannette and Sue-Ellen. Art work by Joan Peeters

Clarke of the Karoo, for gourmet lunches, breakfasts daily, and dinner on Wednesdays.

+27 (0)28 572 1017

Well-known Country Pumpkin serves hearty breakfasts and lunches daily. The restaurant is on Route 62.

+27(0)28 572 1019

Deli Alfresco at Joubert-Tradauw, 12 km west of Barrydale on Route 62 features Klein Karoo tapas and their own world-class wines.

+27 (0)82 304 9000

Diesel & Crème is a theme venue which will relocate you to an American diner. The young set love it!

+27 (0)28 572 1008

Diesel and Crème Very Berry Milkshake....Yes you really do need such a big straw! Jam Tart's Terri Williams.

The Jam Tarts is situated on Route 62 and provides breakfasts, lunches and tapas daily. Open on Monday nights for pizzas and hearty local bredies Terri Williams, chef, and Joan Peeters, artist, are the Jam Tarts in question, but they do serve the real thing too! They also stock the tastiest local preserves.

+27 (0)28 5721173

A delight not to be missed is dinner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays or lunch on Sundays at Mez, a charming small restaurant that serves Mediterranean and local fare with a difference. Michelle Berry is the owner and foodie, and also the artist whose works adorn the walls of her small gem.

+27 (0)82 077 5980

A Place in Time provides a range of potjies, venison, seafood and chicken dishes. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

+27 (0)28 572 1393

And don’t forget the Rooi Kombuis, opposite the famous Dutch Reformed Church. Their cakes are to die for. They serve home-made breads with their traditional fare at lunch. The owners are award-winning chefs of Kokkedoor fame.

+27 (0)83 386 6144

Where to stay

The Barrydale Karoo Hotel

+27 (0)28 572 1226

Dorpsplein Country Cottage – charming self-catering cottage set in a beautiful garden. 

+27 (0)28 572 1596

Inkaroo Cottage – self-catering on the edge of the village.

+27 (0)76 6144 318

Lentelus – offers farmhouse-style B&B just opposite the Joubert-Tradouw winery, and is run by Helena Joubert, mother of winemaker Meyer. The luxurious cottage is set in a pear orchard.

+27 (0)28 572 1636

Tradouw Guesthouse – this historic venue is a great meeting place with a friendly bar packed with memorabilia. The veranda offers views of the surrounding cottages and gardens.

+27 (0)28 572 1434

Play time

The Barrydale Hiking Trail up the Langeberg to the waterfall will take the best part of the day. If you want to extend your hike right over the Langeberg to the Groofvadersbosch Nature Reserve, you will need to stay overnight, or leave a car on the other side. For this more strenuous hike you will need a permit from Cape Nature.

+27 (0)28 722 2412

Book lovers will be spoilt for choice at Anton MacGruder’s Book House on Van Riebeeck Street, which houses a vast collection of Africana and other books.

For brandy and wine tasting, visit the Barrydale Cellars

+27 (0)28 572 1012 and Joubert-Tradouw Winery +27 (0)28 572 1619

Flora Cameron offers guided shorter hikes on the ridge above the village, which can include the Boer War fort or the botanical delights of our fynbos.

+27 (0)82 852 6452

For historical walks around Barrydale, contact author Leslie Howard on +27 (0)82 452 5159. There are interesting Victorian homes and Karoo cottages and gardens to be seen The Hub on Van Riebeeck Street not only offers an internet café, (serving coffee, breakfast and light lunches), but also a supply of plants from the nursery out back and an art gallery featuring works by renowned artist Peter Clarke, and other local artists. +27 (0)28 572 1277

A drive down, or walk in, the Tradouw Pass (pictured below) is a scenic treat not to be missed. Admire our endemic fynbos, enjoy the baboon antics, Bain’s famous walls and the centuries-old rock formations.

Tradouw Pass

Barrydale Book towns/infa/12/barrydale

Win Leslie Howard’s books Barrydale Unplugged or Under the Moon. SMS book, your name and a surname to +27(0)83 6525489.

Closing date for entries 30 January 2015 | * Standard mobile rates apply.

More info on the town of Barrydale More info on the Klein Karoo area

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