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Friday, January 22, 2010

Geelbek Restaurant








How fortunate that our visitors from Melbourne, Australia are nature lovers. So, instead of turning south towards the city, we drive in a northerly direction along the West Coast on a 20 minute drive. Soon we enter the West Coast National Park, pass the well-known ostrich treesome on the way and stop at Geelbek Restaurant on the Langebaan lagoon.

As with most National Monuments in the Cape, the homestead stands out sharply white and symmetrical. This building was the original homestead of the farm Geelbekkenfontein, named for the yellow-billed duck. In the Van Riebeeck days a lot of food was needed for the population as well as the hundreds of passing sea-going vessels. Several plots formed an outpost called Oude Post. Farmers had to plant wheat, farm cattle and catch fish. There was also a lookout post from where both Table Bay and Saldanha Bay could be guarded (against the French ). This was during the English rule of the Cape!

Geelbek has a rich history. It was once gutted by fire but now fully restored. It was also the scene of lavish entertainment in the early nineteen-twenties as Governor-General Henry de Villiers Steytler stocked vast amounts of wine in what was known as the biggest cellar in the country. He dredged the lagoon to allow ships to enter right up to the house. You can see the gate to the lagoon in the white wall in my painting! Parties could last for weeks and Cecil John Rhodes was also once a guest there.

Today the restaurant offers fresh line fish, and many favourite local dishes are also on the menu. Be sure to read the plaque that warns visitors that we do not hurry our food on the West Coast! This means that you may leave the table and explore a little to get an idea of the lie of the land. Next time I am here, I want to go through the gate and visit the ruins of the old castle and also go on the bird hideout overlooking the lagoon.

11 comments:

  1. The painting is a wonderful compliment to your informative post and awesome photos. I also love "Tweede Nuwejaar". You lead the viewers eye so nicely up to the horizon. I always love learning new things about your beautiful country.

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  2. Lovely painting and lovely info Marie! I also just love to have a really leisurely meal. Like the lay-out of your blog - your side menu looks great!

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  3. Sheila and Maree, thank you for these comments."Side menu", Maree, I will call it so from now on! Sheila, I loved doing the little crowd on their way to the picnic, knowing full well that it is not the type of painting with selling points to it!

    It is Saturday and a somewhat neglegted garden is waiting. No painting, no blogging,no West Coast drives,no peeking at my number of blog visitors! As the Monopoly game says: Don't pass Go, don't collect R200, go straight to (the garden). Your friendly remarks will sustain me out there as I try to plant yet another type of geranium next to the windy salty sea air and see whether it can survive.5 years in trying will not let me give up now!

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  4. What a fabulous bit of history, Marie! I love the painting and your words help to bring it alive. I find myself wondering what the place looks like inside, wanting to see the lagoon coming right to the door, wondering if they fish for their menu items right from the edge of their land...I love learning about your home country; I don't recall learning too much in the history classes growing up!

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  5. Marie, I feel I was with you and your visitors on your road trip. How charming!

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  6. Marie, love the way you write about your area - so wild, yet peaceful.

    Thanks for continuing to check in on my blog. I value your comments very much.

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  7. Someday - Maybe I will be able to visit your country!! Hope so. I'll look you up.

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  8. This is terrific Maree - I think I need a week wandering round that area, not just one or two days which we are planning just after Easter.

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  9. every now and its history will tell us whether
    something !!

    kiss

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  10. What fascinating history, and a wonderful painting to go with it. I want to live in an area where they tell you to relax and enjoy! Good luck with the gardening.

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  11. Your painting took me straight back to a 'homestead' style building we stayed in on visiting the Cederberg Mountains. Thanks so much for the Geelbek history. Must have been a wonderful trip for your visitors.

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