Is Simon's Town in Cape Town? Though that may still be a controversial topic to tackle, it can't be doubted that the old stads have always been complementary, even co-dependent, and for at least their first three-hundred years they grew in tandem both in stature and in intrigue.
Today of course it's a lovely faux-Ventnor run by penguins and surplus dealers, but - as I never tire of repeating on other stops - the little dreadnought marina used to be the ornate skeleton-key to the entire Southern hemisphere. No single bay in the world perhaps harboured so many of the horrors and glories of high British Colonialism or had so much imperial revenue thrown at it through covert wars just to protect its sanctuary status. It's easy for us today to see the Navy and the fripperies of St George's Street as just the living reserves of mindless Victorian kitsch, but history doesn't start as tragedy and end as farce: they're always simultaneous.
Let me confess that I do adore Simon's Town, and I'm looping my Summer Circuit of 12 peninsula tours here not just because it's the logical end-point of the old Main Road, but because I desperately need a regular excuse to visit. So hopefully this can be yours too!
Every tourist guide and local history will tell you that our city sits on both the 'Cape of Storms' and 'the Fairest Cape in all the Circumference of the Earth', but a dozen generations of merchant sailors, navy men of all stripes and ages, freed slaves, marooned Kroomen, decorated pooches, Tommy emigres, VOC die-hards and forcibly-removed families will attest that Simon's Bay straddles those extremes perhaps more than any other borough on the Point.
So join me this Sunday at 14h00 in front of Admiralty House for a long, loping wandel through the human, animal, maritime, historical, architectural, ethnographical and psychogeographic litanies of the truest part of False Baai.
We'll stop at the top of the Tredree Steps after two hours and change having covered absolutely everything in-between so you'll have no rational need to ever return or learn any more about the barnacled ships or the outcast Deep Southerners...
Thus, bring your memories, your questions, your curiosities, your own factoids, your anecdotes, your snacks, your walking shoes, your donations, your appetite for hake and your joy at getting to live so close to one of the last great havens of the seas.
RSVP for places, tell your friends, make this an event, and start getting excited just as you finish reading this.
- Use a two-car system with friends or walk back to the Lighthouse Cafe with me after the tour finishes to save yourself from being marooned on Runciman Drive...
- We used to be donation-based but to secure our future we're now doing a pre-booking system whereby you can guarantee your tickets beforehand at R100pp, or you can join the tour on the day for R150pp in cash or EFT et al. Simply WhatsApp us via the button on our home page to grab your place.
- This is a consistently well-reviewed heritage-focused walking tour; which is to say that all you'll need to enjoy yourself is curiosity about Cape Town's past (and History in general) and enough stamina to walk just less than 3km in one afternoon (with stops and snacks).
- Feel absolutely free to spread the word, invite friends who've been looking for this kind of experience and badger us with every imaginable heritage query. We live for it!
Disclaimer: Any views expressed by individuals and organisations are their own and do not in any way represent the views of The Heritage Portal.