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Excellent Museums in Mossel Bay, Garden Route

Mossel Bay is not only the site of what is now believed to be the oldest human habitation ever found, but was also one of the first places that Europeans made a “stake” in South Africa by establishing the famous Post Office Tree.

Although archaeologists are busy uncovering human settlements of approximately 164,000 years ago in the Pinnacle Point caves, it will still take some time for the artefacts to be revealed to the general public. Until then, the Mossel Bay Museum Complex has so much really interesting history on display. And if it’s culture you’re after – whose culture? Portuguese? Khoi-san? African? Afrikaans? English? Black? White? Brown?… Mossel Bay has always been a cultural meeting point – and, appropriately, it leads the way in culturally sensitive tourism.

The Dias Museum Complex (The Maritime Museum)

Open All year round except Christmas & Good Friday: Hours: Monday to Friday 09h00 – 16h45: Weekends and Public Holidays 09h00 – 15h45.

Full size replica of Barthomew Diaz Boat - The CaravelBartolomeu Dias was the first European to set foot on South African soil at Mossel Bay. The museum grounds are situated at the very site where he came ashore and made contact with the indigenous people. The Dias Museum complex encompasses a wealth of places of historical interest. The most famous is the Old Post Office Tree. The complex consists of three buildings: the granary that serves as reception and info centre, the maritime museum and the Shell museum & aquarium.

A life size replica of Dias’s ship is on display together with all aspects of the maritime history of the early Portuguese, Dutch and English navigators. On the upper level is a cultural display which focuses on the heritage of Mossel Bay – the district and its people, from pre-historic times until today.

1 Market Street, CBD, Mossel Bay: Phone: +27 (0)44 691 1067: EmailWebsite.

Shell Museum & Aquarium

Shell Museum, Dias Museum Complex, Mossel BayThe Shell Museum, in the Dias Museum Complex, is believed to be the largest collection in Africa. The museum houses imaginative shell exhibitions and portrays, for instance, the history of the use of shell by man. Live animals are displayed in their natural habitat in aquaria. The touch tank gives the visitors an opportunity to touch live sea animals.

1 Market Street, CBD, Mossel Bay: Phone: +27 (0)44 691 1067: EmailWebsite.

The Old Post Office Tree

Post Office Tree, Maritime Musuem, Mossel BayIn 1500 Pedro de Ataide, on his return journey from the east, left a letter in a shoe or iron pot under a large tree. In the letter he warned of troubles he had encountered near Calcutta. In 1501 this letter was found by Joao da Nova, en route to India. In this way the first Post Office in South Africa was founded. The large tree, a Milkwood, has been declared a provincial heritage site and is generally known as the Post Office Tree. Any mail posted in the shoe under the tree gets the special post office tree frank. Da Nova was so grateful for de Ataide’s timely warning that he erected a small stone hermitage to be used for religious purposes. This was the first religious building erected in South Africa. The wooden cross stands where it is thought the chapel or hermitage was built.

1 Market Street, CBD, Mossel Bay: Phone: +27 (0)44 691 1067: EmailWebsite.

Ethno Botanical Garden & Braille Trail

This collection of plants occur naturally in the Mossel Bay area and were used by the Khoi, San, Coloured, Xhosa and European settlers for shelter, food and medicine as well as for magic and superstitious beliefs. The Braille Trail makes it accessible for sight-impaired people to feel and smell the wonderful collection.

1 Market Street, CBD, Mossel Bay: Phone: +27 (0)44 691 1067: Email: Website.

Hartenbos Museum

The main theme of the Hartenbos Museum is the Great Trek of 1838 – when the boers, dissatisfied with British rule, left the Cape Colony en mass. The Museum also explores the symbolic Ox Wagon Trek of 1838 (a re-enactment and centenary celebration of the original event), and the history of Hartenbos. The Museum is stocked with Ox wagons, ethnic weaponry, antique fire-arms and other historic artefacts. The ten halls depict every aspect of life on the trek.

Contact: Majuba Avenue, Hartenbos: Tel: +2744-695 2183: E-mailWebsite.

Great Brak River Museum

Another of the great historic museums in Mossel Bay the Great Brak River Museum, which showcases the history of Great Brak River village established in 1859 and the Searle family founders. Many interesting photographs from 1881 to the present. Military and other interesting artefacts. Visit the restored 1924 hydropower station on request. Great Brak River has many historic houses built of local sun baked brick.

Contact: 2 Amy Searle Street, Great Brak River: Phone: +27 (0)44 620 3338 (check on visiting hours – Hours: Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri 09.00 – 16.00: Wed 9-12:30: Sat: Closed): Email: Website.

More info on the town of Mossel Bay More info on the Garden Route area



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