Bredasdorp, known as South Africa’s first ‘dorp’, was established in 1838 on the farm Langefontein and named after a local farmer, Michiel van Breda, whose descendants still own the historic farm, Zoetendals Vallei. Van Breda was the first mayor of Cape Town and is regarded by many to have been the father of the merino sheep industry in this country. A rivalry between Van Breda and his neighbour, P.V. van der Byl, led to the establishment of two separate churches on their farms, and this again resulted in the establishment of two separate towns – Bredasdorp and Napier. Today Bredasdorp is the economic hub of the dairy, wool and wheat farming industries in the Cape Agulhas region.
Whilst in town, pay a visit to the fascinating Shipwreck Museum. The museum is filled with artefacts, collected over the centuries, from the many ships that have foundered along our treacherous Agulhas coast. Interesting too, is the Audrey Blignaut Room, that pays homage to this famous Bredasdorp-born essayist – and the nearby Dutch Reformed Church is a striking example of Cape-Gothic architecture.
At the foot of the Bredasdorp mountains lies the Heuningberg Nature Reserve where the rare red Bredasdorp lily (Cyrtanthus guthrieae) can be found, whilst at nearby Rhenosterfontein farm an ancient white milkwood tree (Sideroxylon inerme) has been given National Heritage Site status.
A remnant of the first protective fence ever to be erected (1837) to help save the endangered Bontebok from extinction, can be seen on the historic farm, Nacht Wacht, on the way to Arniston.
In October each year the Voet van Afrika Marathon takes place, with athletes taking the demanding route over the mountains from Bredasdorp to Napier. The Overberg Air Show is held biennially and stock car races at least monthly – something to get your adrenalin pumping in this otherwise laid-back town.
The De Hoop Nature Reserve has recently received a facelift, thanks to the De Hoop Collection in partnership with CapeNature. The reserve comprises 60 000 hectares of endangered fynbos. It is also home to South Africa’s largest population of Bontebok and the endangered Mountain Zebra. There are various hiking and mountain bike trails in the reserve, and Southern Right whales can be seen in numbers from June to November at Koppie Alleen and Infanta. Then, closer to Bredasdorp, you’ll find the De Mond Nature Reserve at the estuary of the Heuningnes River which offers superb angling, coastal bird watching, and a number of wonderful hiking trails. Both De Hoop and De Mond are listed South African Ramsar Wetland Sites.