Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jetty Street

People arriving in Port Elizabeth by ship in the old days disembarked at the old jetty and had to travel up Jetty Street into the town.  The statue of Queen Victoria was positioned in front of the Public Library to look down Jetty Street and welcome visitors to the town.  In the 1970's when the Settlers Freeway was constructed it literally cut the harbour off from the town centre area and Jetty Street was closed up when the bus station was built. The municipality is currently busy with a project developing a precinct between Strand Street and the Donkin Reserve which will include several art pieces.  Part of the project was opening up a section of the covered area above the old Jetty Street and building steps up to Market Square and although Jetty Street as such would never exist again, it will always be remembered as such.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking up at City Hall

The Port Elizabeth City Hall on Market Square in the city centre must be one of the most beautiful buildings in Port Elizabeth.  Constructed between 1858 and 1862 with the clock tower being added on in 1883, the building just received a paint job and is looking stunning. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

South End Wild Fig Tree

The South End Wild Fig Tree stands about 100 meters from the South End Museum. The tree stands next to the then Chase Street.  In the days of the old South End before the Groups Areas Act meant the removal of the people from the area the kids used to climb the tree while the older people sat in it's shade.  When the people were removed and the buildings in the area demolished, the fear was that the tree would also be chopped down or pushed over by a bulldoser.  Luckily this didn't happen.  It is thought that the tree is over 100 years old.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Baakens River

The Baakens River flowing through Settlers Park. The picture was taken from the park's How Avenue parking area. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Full house

Full house at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for the EP Kings' last game of the season a couple of weeks ago.  It was the second leg promotion / relegation game against the Pumas and unfortunately the Kings didn't win which means another year in the first division.  On the up side. Most of the teams in the premier division can't garner this type of support for key matches, so its a feather in the supporters' hats. EP Rugby is on the rise.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Addo elephant

One of my favorite parts of being a tourist guide used to be sitting in Addo Elephant National Park and watching the elephants do whatever... Coming down to the water, eating, walking along, standing around, ripping a bush apart, little ones playing, big ones stamping out there authority, whatever... At one stage I used to go to Addo up to 5 or 6 times a week and I never got tired of seeing these huge animals. Pity I didn't have a digital camera in those days, otherwise I would have had tons of awesome pictures to post on here. I think its time to visit my pachyderm friends again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Museum parking

The South End Museum has struggled with parking space at the museum since they opened.  They recently secured funding to have a parking area developed on the corner between the museum and the busy Beach Road / Walmer Boulevard intersection.  The centre piece of the parking area is a granite "soccer ball" which was one of the legacy projects that was part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fig Tree roots

In and around St Georges Park there are several old Wild Fig Trees that has bees been around for more than 100 years.  This specific one in the park has a spectacular root system. I, for one, am glad that it doesn't stand next to my house.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Manganese ore dumps

One of the major eyesores and talking points along the Port Elizabeth beachfront is the Manganese ore terminal between Kings Beach and the Port Elizabeth Harbour.  Not just does it look ugly, but the dust of the ore gets blown over the Humewood area when the wind blows from the north east.  There are hopes that the ore terminal along with the tank farm next to it will be moved to the Coega Industrial Port.  The manganese gets mined in the Northern Cape and transported by train to Port Elizabeth from where it gets exported.  The bulk facility storage bins on the harbour has a capacity of 350,000 tonnes of manganese ore.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunny day on Kings Beach

A sunny day on Kings Beach

After the kind of weather we have had this week there can be no doubt anymore that summer has slipped in the door and shoo'd winter away.  Another one of the signs is that when I slip down to the beachfront during lunch time the beaches aren't all empty anymore. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Marina Salt

There are several salt pans on the eastern side of Port Elizabeth around the Swartkops and Chatty Rivers.  It is thought that during prehistoric times the sea pushed up to the these salt pans via the Swartkops and Chatty Rivers at high tide and left the seawater behind at low tide.  This water evaporated and left behind salt crystals on the bottom of the pan. The local Khoisan inhabitants of this area used to gather the salt in these pans during the period 1799 under the guidance of British missionaries, Drs. Philip and Van der Kemp.  Today a lot of these salt pans are still worked to produce Marina Sea Salt.  This sight can be seen next to the Swartkops Road between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walmer Town Hall gate

The sprawling suburb of Walmer had  it's origins as a farm that was later sub-divided.  Initially called ‘Muller town’, it was renamed to Walmer after the Duke of Wellington, who died at Walmer Castle in Kent.  Walmer used to be a separate town from Port Elizabeth and had its own municipality, but with the growth of PE Walmer got included in the Port Elizabeth Municipality on 1 January 1967.  Walmer is generally referred to as the garden or leafy suburb with many beautiful parks, large gardens and tree lined streets.  Aside from this it has a commercial area where the library, police station, a number of businesses and the old Walmer Town Hall is situated.  On the corner of Main Road and 8th Avenue the original gate to the Walmer Town Hall can be found.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Walmer War Memorial

Last Thursday, 11 November, was Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day.  It is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War.  Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918, as the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.  Every year a parade and service takes place at the Walmer Cenotaph on the weekend after the 11th, but as I was sitting in church on Sunday morning I realised that I had totally forgotten about it.  I would have liked to show you some pictures of it, but instead will post a picture of the Walmer Cenotaph which is situated in front of the old Walmer Town Hall.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Despatch Museum

One of the things that Despatch is well known for is the amount of top sports personalities that have originated from the town.  Despatch is synonymous with names such as Danie Gerber, Adri Geldenhuys, Rudi Koertzen and Charl Matthys to name only a few.  Its for this reason that a big part of the Despatch Museum has been dedicated to the top sport men from the town and numerous sporting memorabilia has pride of places on its wall. Amongst them six rugby Springbok blazers.  The museum also boasts a mini model of the Algoasaurus, which was discovered in Despatch in 1903. The original dinosaur bones and a full size model is currently on display at Bayworld.  Alongside it are also examples of the original bricks produced in the town and transported to Port Elizabeth in the late 1800's and early 1900's for use in construction.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Van Stadens Gorge

The Van Stadens River is the western boundary of the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area.  Crossing the gorge about 35 km west of Port Elizabeth is a magnificent arch bridge that was completed in 1971.  The bridge is 125 meter high, 340 meter long and was built similtaniously from both sides.  It replaced the old bridge which can only be reached by driving through the Van Stadens Pass.  Driving down the Garden Route towards Cape Town from Port Elizabeth, this is the first of a serious of large arch bridges. The others are the Storms River Bridge, Bloukrans Bridge, Groot River Bridge and Bobbejaan River Bridge, all in the Tsitsikamma.  The Van Stadens River was named after Marthinus van Staaden who farmed in the area in the mid 1700's. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sukume Museum

The Sukume Human Dignity Centre next to the Walmer Township (Gqebera) consist of a creche, feeding scheme and hand craft project to assist people from the nearby township.  The centre recently started a small museum to help visitors understand the township and the culture of the Xhosa people.  They still have a lot of different plans for the centre and the museum, but as they do it out of their own pockets its a slow and ongoing project.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve

Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve is situated just off the N2 about 35km west of Port Elizabeth.  This 450 hectare reserve is probably the best place close to Port Elizabeth to go and marvel at the wonders of fynbos and to see flowering proteas.  The reserve covers both a large plateau area covered mostly in Fynbos as well as the slopes of the Van Stadens gorge consisting of indigenous coastal forest.  The main purpose of the reserve is to protect and propagate the unique indigenous flora.  Visitors can explore the reserve by taking one of the trails that cover the reserve.  There are also flat gravel roads along the plateau area which can be utilised by mountain bikers or, like us if you haven't got much time or the weather isn't too good, by car.  The flowers in the picture is of the many Pin Cushion Proteas that are in flower all over the reserve at the moment.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I'm sure you all know the saying "standing out like a sore finger".  One of Despatch's main landmarks literally and figuratively embodies that saying.  The Despatch Brickworks Chimney was built in 1882 as part of the area's flourishing brick making industry.  In the last 1800's a railway siding was built forking off the main railway line between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.  This siding was used to dispatch bricks from the brickworks to Port Elizabeth where most of the buildings of the time were built from bricks out of this area.  The bricks business is very much a remnant of the past and the chimney now stands there as a monument to the town's early history.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old Power Station

The old Swartkops Power Station makes for a very unusual landmark where it stands next to the Swartkops River.  The power station came into operation in 1954 and was used by the Port Elizabeth Municipality to generate power until 1996 when ESKOM (South Africa's power utility) offered them electricity at a rate that couldn't be matched by themselves.  Today the power station with its six 76 meter high chimneys stand empty and nobody really knows what the plans are with the building.  Driving along the Swartkops Road towards Despatch there are salt pans on the left and some days they are just covered in flamingos.  Its actually a bit of a strange site seeing all these magnificent birds so close to an industrial area, but the locals are so used to them being there that I think a lot of people don't even notice them anymore. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Over the weekend we went to see the very talented and awesome Centrestage band doing their Afrikaans show called "Rock Befonk".  The Centrestage entertainment company has been in existence for 14 years doing mostly rock related shows, but this was the first time they tried their hand at an Afrikaans production.  And I have to say: "It was good".  Here the show's female lead, Elsabe Rademeyer and Centrestage musical director, Wayne Kallis are doing Liani Mey and Jay (from Eden)'s "Toe stop my hart".

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wholesome Market

On the first Saturday of every month the Wholesome Market takes place at Holmeleigh Farm out on Kragga Kamma Road.  The market started out with a bang towards the latter part of last year and seem to have now settled down into its own rhythm.  Not as big as it was in the beginning, the market still has a very nice blend of hand made items and food products catering for both young and old.  There is also activities for the kids to do while the adults sit and have something to eat while enjoying the entertainment on offer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bonsai Show

If you know the hilarious yet irritating Annoying Orange on YouTube then you may know that he refers to his friend Little Apple as Midget Apple.  Well, if that is the case then I visited a very interesting exhibit of midget trees on Saturday.  The Eastern Province Bonsai Society hosted their annual Bonsai Show in the Walmer Town Hall here in Port Elizabeth this weekend.  I find bonsai trees very interesting and for years now I've had all the good intentions in the world to take up the hobby, but never has.  I have a spekboom at home that's been sitting in a pot for about five years now waiting to go into the garden. I had a good look at it and for all intensive purposes its a bonsai tree already.  It just needs a proper pot and a bit of a trim and I will be on my way.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Grave Search #4

This is the last of the Grave Search posts that I have at the moment. I have one more grave that I'm struggling to find, but will post that as soon as I find it. The request read as follows:

"One of my wife's distant ancestors is buried in that cemetery, and I wondered how easy it would be to get a photograph of his grave. James Hancock was born on 1 May 1776 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. He married Ann Kennedy on 21 February 1808 at the Church of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury, London, England. He was one of the 1820 Settlers to South Africa, part of Hezekiah Sephton's party in the ship Aurora (344 passengers). They departed from London on 15 February 1820, and arrived at Simon's Bay on 1 May 1820. They arrived at their final destination of Algoa Bay, Cape Colony on 15 May 1820.
James Hancock was a china painter. He founded an art school in Grahamstown. James Hancock was a Wesleyan lay preacher. In 1833, he had a street named after him (Hancock Street) in Port Elizabeth. He died on 20 August 1837, in Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony. He is buried in the Old Settler Cemetery, South End, Port Elizabeth, South Africa."

It was quite interesting to go on a search of the grave belonging to one of the original 1820 British Settlers.  The Settlers played such a huge roll in the development of Port Elizabeth as well as the area to the east of the city.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bay FM

Every now and then I get the opportunity to participate in the regular tourism slot on Bay FM every Friday morning between 11 and 12.  I wanted to be a radio presenter when I was in school so I have to say that I'm really enjoying it when I get the chance to go on air.  Bay FM is a community radio station that broadcasts on 107.9 FM in and around Port Elizabeth.  Folks outside the broadcast area can listen to Bay FM via streaming audio on http://www.bayfm.co.za/.  The station's popularity has skyrocketed over the last couple of years since they started making Afrikaans music a big part of their music mix, something that the regional commercial radio station refuses to do.  Here Adore Morgan is busy with the Bay FM Brunch Show that is broadcasted on weekdays between 9am and 12 noon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Morning reflection

A couple of early morning Port Elizabeth beachfront strollers taking a break while enjoying the morning sun reflecting off the sea next to Shark Rock Pier at Hobie Beach.

Visit Skywatch for more picture of the sky (or in this case the sky reflecting somewhere)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pincushion Protea

Pincushion Proteas in full bloom at the Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve west of Port Elizabeth

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baakens River

We have had some very welcome rain in and around the city recently, although lots are still needed in the catchment areas.  The Baakens River is a very short river, originating just to the west of Port Elizabeth.  It flows through a green belt that stretches the length of Port Elizabeth before spilling out into the Port Elizabeth Harbour.  The last stretch before getting to the harbour is through Settlers Park.  I popped down to the How Avenue parking area overlooking the park and snapped this pic of the Baakens River flowing over one of the walkways through the park.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Full House

On Friday night the Eastern Province Kings played their second leg promotion relegation match against the Pumas in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.  After drawing the first match away from home, the Kings and all their supporters felt that the team had a genuine chance of making it into the Currie Cup Premier Division.  Unfortunately on the night it wasn't to be, the Kings were beaten and would have to play another year in the first division (which they won this year).  The up side of the night was that there was a sell out crowd of 43 000 people, most wearing red and black, in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.  That was more than the semi finals of the FIFA World Cup in Cape Town and Durban drew earlier in the year.  It also shows that EP can draw a full house when they are playing well and hopefully next season will be a big one for the Kings.