The Tulbagh Valley
The valley - Pictorial and Historical
The town and the bowl of the Winterhoek mountains (looking north).
Tulbagh Town and the Saronsberg mountains (looking north/west)
The valley has of course existed for eons and had no doubt been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous San and Khoi peoples. The area was known to be verdant and in it's natural and unspoiled state, was the home to so many of Africa's wild animals living in what was their natural habitat. It was only after the Dutch Colonial era when this all changed, after modern day hunters 'discovered' the area. It is said that initially the hunters established a trading/replenishment post in the area where the present Tulbaghweg settlement and where the old railway station is now situated. There was apparently a flourishing trade in animal skins, meat and elephant tusks etc. until of course the area was denuded of most, if not all of the indigenous animals. The indigenous flora has also suffered from the onslaught of human habitation and certainly not many indigenous trees and natural fynbos exists anymore. Thankfully the flora and fauna is now protected in the areas under the administration of Cape Nature Conservation (mountain reserves).
It was only about 300 years ago when, after a land grant by the Dutch Colonial Government to a more or less equal number of Dutch and Huguenot settlers to settle the area, was the town of Tulbagh founded. The town developed slowly and over time and many notable examples of Cape Dutch, Victorian and Edwardian houses and other buildings such as Die Oude Drosdy (the original colonial Magistrate's complex) were built in the valley. Many of these lovely buildings were destroyed in an earthquake in 1969 but quite a number did survive the catastrophe. Many notable examples of the Cape Architecture of the time still exist on farms throughout the valley although in some cases they have been altered or repaired and also modernized. The authentic buildings are sadly few. In the famous Church Street however, all the houses in the street were restored to almost original condition after the earthquake.
Church Street is now graced by the largest number of original Cape- Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian National Monuments in one street in South Africa and is a major tourist attraction of the town to the present day. To take a walk down Church Street is akin to walking through a page in history.
What makes it all happen? What is the attraction? What is the magic that tourists and residents alike find so appealing? This lovely secluded valley is simply a delight to experience and especially the farms and the general countryside in all seasons! The valley is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and it is a winter rainfall area. Wine, olives, fruit, wheat, meat products, vegetables, canned fruit products, organic commodities and leather shoes are but a few of the products produced here.