06 January, 2016

To the Kakapo on Noordhoek beach

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

We live in the middle of a wide valley that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to False Bay. Closer to False Bay which is on my blog header. 5 minutes in the car or 20 minutes walking thru the houses and gardens, then back along the Silvermine River wetland. On False Bay the sea is warmer. Much more crowded, it was heaving with people on New Year's Day!

Kakapo tiller stands proud a century later

At the weekend, for my one hundredth post, we much prefer the wide sweep and refreshingly cold water on the wilder Atlantic coast, with just enough people to be companionable. 10 minutes in the car and we park below Chapman's Peak (one of the mountains we see from home). Along the boardwalk, past the wetland where there were swimmers last time we came.

Noordhoek wetland

Long Beach at Noordhoek stretches from Chapman's Peak in the north (where I once found my signature map of Africa) to Kommetjie and its lighthouse in the South. Last time we walked the whole length of the beach in about two and a half hours. On tired, hot, or windy days it's a shorter walk. Usually we head for the landmark of the Kakapo wreck - a good two hour walk.

North to Klein Leeukoppie
South to Kommetjie

Dogs and horses, people walking and jogging, riding, some swimming and lots surfing, picnicking, building sandcastles. The kayaks stay on the calmer False Bay side.

Walking, horse-riding
swimming and surfing
at Noordhoek

West horizon of the Atlantic Ocean

The beach is also wide and deep. The most distant blue hazed mountain in the east is the Hottentots Holland with the rest of South Africa. On the nearer slopes are the open gardens we visited at Noordhoek in October.

East to the distant Hottentots Holland Mountains

On a brilliantly sunny day, as the waves pull back to the sea, each ripple casts its own shadow. A haunting whistle high overhead revealed itself as a pair of African black oystercatchers.

Sun shadows as the wave ripples back to sea

In 1900 the Kakapo (New Zealand steamer) came from England to NZ on its maiden voyage without cargo. In a North-West winter storm, with huge seas and driving rain, they mistook Chapman's Peak for Cape Point. They headed inshore at full speed, and came ashore on Noordhoek beach. No lifeboats needed as the crew simply climbed down and walked away over the sand. That rusting boiler was seen in the 1970 film Ryan's Daughter (set in Ireland). I remember the excitement of the 'first' film made in Cape Town - now we have a thriving film industry.

Kakapo wreck at Noordhoek

As we turn for home and Chapman's Peak we look to the Sentinel. The swathes of Hout Bay houses are discreetly concealed by the folds of the Table Mountain National Park.

The Sentinel at Hout Bay

The two 'occasional tidal pans' on the map vary hugely in size each time we come. Winter rain or summer drought. Extreme high tide or just a suggestion today.

Map of Noordhoek beach

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Pictures by Jurg Studer, text by Diana
of Elephant's Eye on False Bay

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  1. Thanks for a great post...your photos and descriptions always remind me of my Mum, who lived in Cape Town and loved the views you show in your photos. She often talked about the shipwrecks off the Cape, it must have been a challenge for those early sailors. I always forget just how white the sand is, really the Cape has the most wonderful scenery, every which way you look!

  2. I would prefer the wilder, more deserted beach, too. It looks like a beautiful place to be. -Jean

  3. You live in a very beautiful place Diana, it is lovely to hear you enthuse about it.

  4. what a place to live - it's paradise. Wild and uncrowded - perfect. I haven't seen Ryan's Daughter, I'll check it out.

  5. Oh, I want to go to the beach! I haven't been in a while, and your photos draw me in. It must be amazing to see the shipwreck in person. So many interesting sights there.

  6. It is so cold and gloomy here today, I really enjoyed these bright photos.

  7. Wow, those beaches are magnificent and the pictures with the ship wreckage I just love. Ryan's Daughter I remember well.

  8. What a pretty place to walk and enjoy (when not overcrowded with people)! Happy 100th post!!

  9. I love your sandy walks by the sea....amazing sights and history! Especially fascinating is seeing the wreck! A perfect post for your 100th!