Simon's Town, Southern Cape - South Africa

Most major conurbations in the world has a hinterland, valley or coast nearby, for which its residents can seek escape from modern urbane life.   For the people of Cape Town, it is the coast down south or getting into north-west into vineyards and more rural greenery.  

I had the privilege of discovering Simon Town's two months ago, a delightful enclave with a calm sky blue bay and several interesting activities to dwell in - lunching, strolling on board walks, immersing in the village atmosphere and checking out tourist moments.  False Bay provides pretty vistas and views, the Table Mountain National Park rises behind and the place says lifestyle through and through.  Houses nestle up on the hills and the hint of coming warm months expressed itself in clear blue skies.

SAN run on the way to Simon's Town.

Drawings for visitors, with the bright colours of the Rainbow Nation.

There are slopes to climb if one goes inland, but sticking to shore, we found a perfect place to stroll whilst listening to the sea nearby.  The town reminds me of a movie set from days gone by.   The unique frontages of buildings, especially along the main street, echoes of another era.  The souvenir sellers are friendly and speak English.  

There is a distinguished looking Man's Best Friend memorialised in a place of honour in 1985 in the centre of Simon's Town  -  "Just Nuisance".   A Great Dane, Just Nuisance served officially with the British Royal Navy from 1939 to 1944, during the turbulent years of World War 2.   This four legged Able Seaman was much loved by those who knew him and is buried in the hills behind Simon's Town itself.  Just Nuisance loved to rest on the gangplank and did his duty much and well for country and community.  he was actually prompted from Ordinary Seaman to Able Seaman.  The Royal Navy rescued him after there was  threat to put him down for boarding trains often and not paying the fare.  Despite the honour provided Just Nuisance, he never went to sea but accompanied sailors on shore when they returned.

Just Nuisance but what a mate!

Calm bay on the way to the African penguin colony at Boulder Beach.

Simon's Town also currently hosts the largest South African Naval (SAN) Base.  Our coach passed by a group of sailors having their daily run along the coast, with some heftily built guys of both African and European backgrounds.   Starting as a modest dock yard established by the Dutch  East India Company in  1743, the site houses training facilities for frigates and battleships, besides having all combat units.  The other large SAN base is at Durban on the Republic's Indian Ocean coast.   The base was handed over by the British Royal Navy to South Africa through eh Simonstown Agreement signed in 1955.

Before lunch time, beside a placid harbour.

A person who takes initiative and pride in doing business.

Simon's Town has a Museum which was set up in 1977, by a group of volunteers calling themselves, interestingly,  the MOTHs (the Memorable Order of Tin Hats).  It is housed in heritage building called the Residency and was used as a winter residence of former Governors of the Dutch East India Company.  The Museum clovers the periods from the Dutch East India Company, through the First and Second British Occupations and onwards to the Apartheid Era.

Euro architecture, a relaxing outlook and with a mountain hovering over the town.

Seafood and curry - what is there more for me to ask?

Forced removals of residents under the Apartheid era proved to be perhaps the darkest period for Simon Town's recent past.   This enforcement of the Group Area Act devastated the community.   There is a rich historical tapestry that the Simon's Town area has witnessed, from pre-colonial days and its African roots to the present.

The Dutch influence in design of dwellings ( above and below) in the historical centre of Simon's Town.

Simon's Town is also open the world yacht cruising map.  The nearby False Bay Marina has 220 berths.  Cafes and restaurants to consider trying include  the Saveur Restaurant, The Black Marlin, Bertha's, Salty Sea Dog's Cafe and the Boulder's Beach Restaurant.    Eco tours for shark enthusiasts like at Smitswinkel Bay nearer  Cape Point are also available.

Fishing is still carried out nearby, providing leisure and fresh catches to the residents and tourists.

Beyond the immediate vicinity of the plaza of Simon's Town near the harbour, one can also visit Martello's Tower, which was restored and historically served to ward off potential French and Dutch attacks against the Brits, who annexed the Cape province from the Dutch.  The tower has served as a navigational beacon for shipping in the especially treacherous waters around the nearby Cape of Good Hope.

Carvings, colour and captivation.

Ostrich eggs are polished and painted as attractive souvenirs.

Simon's Town is now seen as a suburb of the greater Cape Town region.  Apart from driving, one can also consider talking the train from central Cape Town city past False Bay to reach this place.  Simon's Town Railway Station is the southern terminus of the suburban rail network.  The harbour at Simon's Town has a human built breakwater, so much reminding me of Wollongong Harbour in New South Wales.  Named after Simon van der Stel, a past governor of the Cape Colony, it gave me a memorable impression of the Cape Province.  It has a rich history and will play a significant part in the future of the Republic.  Simon's Town is also one of the few north facing coastal hubs in the Republic and so provides a benign place to gather in the southern atmosphere winter.