If Simon’s Town were just one of the many beautiful seaside holiday towns, it would be easy to borrow superlatives from the professionally written holiday brochures and wax lyrical about the views, sea and sand. But what gives Simon’s Town its all year round appeal comes from the fact that this isn’t a town that just springs to life in summer – it has real people living and working here.
As the home of the SA Navy, it has a true rainbow nation effect with not just our own people but ships and sailors arriving from visiting nations, all mixing in and treating the locals to details about their homes in Brazil, India and further a field. We have research vessels, submarines, ships that need help or protection or repairs. And then we have the yachts, the kayaks, the surfers and the swimmers – the common theme is the sea.
The sea is the reason Simon’s Town is what it is today. There is a very English heritage evident here, no doubt due to the fact that it was, until 1957, a Royal Naval Base. There are many historic buildings and little backstreets reminiscent of the streets in the City of London.
And it’s not just the human visitors that have influenced our tiny town. The Penguin Colony between Boulders and Foxy Beach is a unique feature – for many children, swimming with penguins is a memory they hold into adulthood. And every year the whales come to bless us with their presence. The sight of whales giving birth and the antics of the adult whales are all special pictures etched not just into our memory but into our souls. As a kayaker it is the sea that anchors me here. The rough, turbulent, dark salty water that tomorrow is gentle, calm and embracing – a lady of many moods, to be enjoyed and respected in equal measure.
As the last town before Cape Point many people stop here to lunch or take a break, only to come back for longer and longer stays as the nature of the place takes hold. Make sure you take a trip to our little town – but be prepared to stay a few days to really discover its hidden depths.
Written by Margaret Silk, Simon’s Town
Photos by Phil Smuts
Peter Clarke, renowned artist from Ocean View, formerly of Simon’s Town
While speaking to Peter Clarke, world-renowned artist from Ocean View, we discussed the inspiration for his paintings Coming from the Creche and Waar is julle nou? and this led to a discussion of Ocean View and the forced removals from Simon’s Town brought about by the Group Areas Act of 1966.
The Submarine Museum, SAS Assegaai, Simon’s Town – a must-do experience.
A childhood holiday near a coastal city was never complete without a visit to the harbour. Many happy hours were spent clambering around the the decks and the myriad nooks and crannies of splendid castle-like ocean liners and the confined spaces of the occasional submarine – all a veritable feast for the imagination.
A visit to the Submarine Museum in Simon’s Town is an experience that will thrill young and old. And with yachts and subs and seals and sea, delightful interactive museums, cosy coffee shops and inspiring art galleries it will be an outing long remembered.
THE SIMON’S TOWN CIVIC ASSOCIATION
The objectives of the STCA are to promote the welfare of the community and support the economically sustainable and environmentally sound development of greater Simon’s Town. This includes protecting rights of property owners, taking an active interest in the work of the City Council, monitoring the efficiency of municipal administration, and providing support and information to our Ward Councillor. One of the STCA’s main functions is to facilitate effective and constructive communication with local government and community organizations around issues of concern to Simon’s Town residents and ratepayers.
All residents and property owners living in Simon’s Town, Glencairn, Murdoch Valley and adjacent areas are encouraged to join the Simon’s Town Civic Association. Membership is R50 per year, per family.
Members of the STCA receive a monthly newsletter (February to December) which keeps them informed about future events, developments, challenges, and opportunities in Simon’s Town. There are two general meetings a year, one in August and the AGM in February. Most of the work of the STCA is done by an elected Executive Committee of volunteers who currently focus on the following portfolios: Property and Development Planning, Safety and Security, the Red Hill informal settlement, Environment and Amenities, Urban Conservation, and Communication. In addition, recent and current projects carried out under the auspices of the STCA include negotiating for better management of baboon/human interactions, providing support for the Simon’s Town School, and liaising with the City about the 2009 General Valuation. Please email Lesley Shackleton (firstname.lastname@example.org) or sign up in the STADCO Parking Office on Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town. Volunteers to serve on the STCA Executive are always welcome.
GLENCAIRN ACTION GROUP
The Glencairn Action Group was formed in 2005 to fight the proposal by the charity organisation Gordons and a consortium of planners and engineers to develop a large housing estate to the west of Glencairn Heights on land designated in the approved Simon’s Town structure plan as a nature area. With the backing of the immediate community and local civic bodies, GAG remains committed to preventing this ill-advised attempt to further develop the southern Peninsula and their brief now extends to the whole of the Glencairn Valley. An environmental impact report on Erf 60 has been prepared into which GAG made a significant contribution. This report has been sent to the province for a decision – expected in 2009. Should the province give the Gordons syndicate the go-ahead, gag will institute legal proceedings. With this in mind, GAG has secured funding of up to R100,000 from the Table Mountain Fund in addition to its own pledged funds of over R30,000.
By Geoff Neden at email@example.com
New neighbourhood Watch
The Greater Glencairn Valley Neighbourhood Watch (GGVNW) is an umbrella organisation comprising 6 local Watches in the Glencairn Valley. Contact person is Aliet Pelt . email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel : 021 781 0028
Impressions of the South – from a true KwaZulu-Natalian
Baboons play on our stoep under swinging bead mobiles and eat my newly-planted butternuts. They play in my kitchen and throw eggs on the floor. They play on the car, hanging from the side mirror to see their funny faces and they squeeze through tiny gaps in the burglar bars to sample the Spar sliced bread.
It wasn’t like this in the Karkloof. We had horses there. A white horse and a black horse and some brown horses flicked their tails at flies in a nearby paddock of tufty grass. In the Karkloof we had fire and had to run for our lives. We also had floods and thought our cottage would float on the water to another valley. But here in the South we have baboons and squirrels, fynbos and whales, the sea for swimming and the mountains for climbing. And we have the southeaster!
I never thought I would get over my passion for the rolling grasslands of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains or the forested cliffs of the Karkloof. I thought I would pine for our cottage on the plot and all the green grass and eucalyptus forests. I thought my three cats would never get over my swopping that huge wild open space for urban slopes and cars at night.
I do still pine and the cats are still depressed. In the KwaZulu-Natal midlands we had a country lifestyle, muddy roads and long walks. We swam in a waterfall and listened to the guineafowl at dawn and dusk.
But here we have the baboons. We are happy in the South! When Jordan and I arrived in Simonstown in March 2008 to start our new lives, he was 4 months old and I was a new mother. We absorbed the pleasure of the waterfall from our house on the hill and watched the navy boats coming and going. I planted aloes and fynbos and herbs in pots.
And I walked those hills flat to get Jordan out. I found guineafowls and long walks. But I could not find the daily summer thunderstorms on a KwaZulu-Natal afternoon. Now I have the southeaster!
It chops up the waves on the sea and rockets kite surfers to dangerous rocks. It whips sand onto the train tracks and creates new dunes on the pavements. It rocks the lampposts and unsettles my psyche.
And I have noticed that the sea is overwhelming here. It is bluer than aqua and colder than ice in summer. When the full moon rises above the ocean and the air is rich with the stench of kelp, I am happy. The full moon and the smell of the sea do it for me here in the South.
Jordan is two now. We live in Welcome Glen and walk or drive to the beach. We swim in the waves and hike the paths on the mountains around us. We play down the road at the park and stroke the horses in the stables a block away. We sip wine on the stoep in summer and throw logs on the fire in winter. We grow indigenous trees, fynbos and herbs for the kitchen in our garden and we play ball on our sand dune lawns.
Sometimes at night it comes to me: the soft rolling grasslands of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains and the forested cliffs of the Karkloof. I see blue views and horses and I cry in my heart. Tears wet my cheeks and I imagine Jordan running through paddocks with the wind for a friend. But then the baboons come to visit and I marvel at their antics and I think to myself: I am happy in the South!
Written by Janis Theron
14 December 2009
See it Simon’s Town: http://capepointroute.co.za/seeit-simonstown.php