Experience Magical Grabouw, Elgin today
January 1, 1970
by Olivia J Farmer
Meet Me in Grabouw, Elgin
Grabouw, Elgin. I am most excited to be submitting my very first article about my hometown, in the country of South Africa, 68,5 kilometers outside the City of Cape Town east on the N2 highway.
I used to tell people Grabouw is a small apple farming town in the country side on other side of Sir Lowry’s Pass which connects Somerset West to the Overberg region. Little did I understand the magnitude of the surrounding farming area and still don’t know how many farms there are exactly.
Only by researching to write this blog, I learned a lot about the history and what Grabouw and the Elgin Valley is made up of, fascinated of how much I did not know, or remember most of the history of this magical place I grew up in for 20 years.
Then and Now, Experience Grabouw…
In this write up about my home town I’ll be sharing experiences about this phenomenal area in the country side that is always transforming in a good way for some and not so good for others.
What I mean with not so good for others are the inequality gap that is only getting bigger in Grabouw/Elgin because of marginalization in the past. You still see that all over the world unfortunately. On the good side, the growth of tourism in the area means more job creation and business opportunities for those going for it.
Grabouw is often referred to commonly as Elgin, even though it is a town in the Elgin Valley. Predominantly an agricultural area known for its apples and pears – although in recent years has become a well respected wine growing region, owning to the area’s specific geographical features and cooler wine growing climate.
Popular Mountain Biking Destination
I’ve always wondered how the farm owners were able to attain farms as only family members could inherit the farms. Well apparently many farmers were forced to sell, due to the apple farming crisis in the early 1990’s. I was still too young to have known about that, and is the reason why many current wine farmers were able to set up boutique wineries. So, many local business owners relocated from other parts of the country to set up restaurants, guest houses and wine farms. Now I also know.
The famous soft drink Appletiser is produced here, also well-known for its cider and became a very popular mountain biking destination.
The Khoi-khoi, early inhabitants of the Western Cape, lived in the area before the arrival of European settlers. The predominant Coloured and Afrikaans speaking population is testament to a diverse cultural heritage and as in many parts of South Africa, this cultural mix represents a history of complex relations.
So many places around the town fall under the Elgin Valley Tourism banner. This stretch of the highway N2 offers a wide selection of restaurants, wine farms, outdoor activities with also more than one roadside farm stall and generous mountain scenery.
The area is framed by the Hottentots Holland mountain range. Grabouw/Elgin is surrounded by nature reserves close by – Kogelberg Biosphere Nature Reserve contains many examples of endemic vegetation, particularly certain species of mountain fynbos.
10 Magical facts about Grabouw, Elgin
~The town was built on a farm called “Grietjiesgat” obtained by a painter in 1856.
~It was named after the German town where the painter Wilhelm Langschmidt was born in.
~Grabouw/Elgin is home to the famous soft drink Appletiser.
~The Molteno family sparked the growth of farming in Grabouw, early 20’s.
~The Valley is situated under the Hottentots Holland Nature reserve.
~The Valley is home of a number of wine farms.
~Over 40% of the apples grown in Grabouw/Elgin is exported.
~Its well-known for its flowers, especially roses and have the Elgin Open Garden Festival to experience this.
~Surrounding area offers various top-notch hiking and mountain biking trails.
~Oak-valley, is recognized as first commercial producer of deciduous fruits in the region.
When you visit Grabouw/Elgin, there is a huge variety of things to do. We already know the region has been predominantly influenced by agriculture, in particular deciduous fruit farming. Deciduous means “falling off at maturity”. Trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally and shred other parts, like fruit, when ripe. (Must admit I didn’t know the meaning of that word)
Before the beginning of its world famous apple farming industry in the early 1900’s, it was a small community built up around trading stores and ox wagon stopovers such as the historic Houw Hoek Inn. My sister’s daughter’s wedding will be here tomorrow, exciting!
Tourism is growing influence in the general Overberg region, and Elgin is now synonymous with mountain biking and other outdoor activities including hiking in the nature reserves that surrounds the town. Grabouw/Elgin hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, especially during Summer.
Go Hiking In Grabouw, Mountains!
Even though I have not lived in Grabouw/Elgin for so many years, I return numerous times throughout the year to visit family and try to enjoy a lot of the hidden gems the town and surrounds has to offer.
One or two day hiking trips are a personal favourite for when we visit Grabouw/Elgin.
The highlight of the hikes are always the swimming holes, if you’re able to find it. Takes a bit of guts to make your way through the unknown, a little bit more reassuring if you did this annually when growing up, yet still daunting. Once you reach the swimming spot, it is all worth it and then you don’t want to go home!
Discover Oak Valley, first of many…
I made it part of my business(mobile sport therapy) to take part in the outdoor activities, mainly mountain biking. Initially a goal I set for myself – now I visit Grabouw for business, family and pleasure…(being outside in nature).
Oak Valley, as its name’s suggests, is recognized as the first producer of deciduous fruit in the region – features more than 4000 majestic oaks covering 30 hectares. The farm hosts a number of events where I get involved with mountain biking, what an excuse to be outside- working while enjoying the fresh air, surrounding orchards, vineyards and just peace and calm.
Today over 18 wine farms in the valley includes a wide variety farms from large wine estates to boutique wineries that pride themselves on using traditional fermentation methods. The growth of wine farming in Elgin Valley has resulted in a unique appellation of dignified ‘cool climate’, expertly crafted wines.
So, if you would like to experience pure calm, tranquility, fine wines, endless outdoor fun and much more. Put Grabouw/ Elgin on your bucket list and contact me for unforgettable experiences!
See You On Earth!
Olivia On Earth