Villiersdorp - Pearl of the Overberg - the North Western gateway.
Graced by oak trees, it nestles in the Elands Valley surrounded by the Stettynsberg and Riviersonderend mountains, lush fruit and wine farmlands, and the magnificent man-made Theewaterskloof Dam. Villiersdorp is known as the Pearl of the Overberg because of its particularly beautiful and tranquil setting.
The original village was established by Field-Cornet Pieter de Villiers, owner of the farm Radyn. Some of his descendants became prominent not only locally but in national affairs. One of them, Sir David de Villiers Graaff was Mayor of Cape Town in 1891 and served as a cabinet minister in both the Cape and Union Parliaments. He founded the well-known De Villiers Graaff High School in 1907. His son, De Villiers Graaff, became the leader of the Opposition in Parliament in 1957.
The Wild Flower Garden and Nature Reserve borders the edge of the town on the slopes of Aasvoël Mountain and Blokkop Peak. There are a number of easy and pleasant walks through an exceptional variety of fynbos, along a tumbling stream to a waterfall. About 70 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve, the most frequently seen are the Cape Sugarbirds, various sunbirds, Cape Robin, Karoo Prinia, Bokmakierie, Cape White-eye and Guinea Fowl. There are two circular trails from the reserve, one crosses the Kommissiekraal River and the other goes to the beacon at the top of Blokkop.
There are a number of excellent 4 x 4 trails in the area, as well as a tractor-drawn tour with a congenial farmer as guide. The Stettyn 4 x 4 trail on the historic wine farm is 16 km long (one way) and has a difficulty rating of 2-3.
The Theewaterskloof Sports Club is a favourite spot for all types of water sports - sailing, skiing and black bass and trout fishing. The sports club hosts regular regattas and sailing events on the dam. The Theewaterskloof Country Club boasts a beautiful 9 hole golf course that runs along the banks of the dam. There is a wonderful drive to the Elandskoof Dam that takes you through apple orchards and fynbos.
Villiersdorp is dotted with intriguing buildings: Oude Radyn, situated in Church Street was built in 1844 and is possibly the only building in the Cape with original Batavian gutters; St Augustine's Church is built of stone and has a burial vault; and the De Villiers Graaf schools that are over 125 years old. The Dagbreek Museum is a "living" museum housed in one of the original homesteads built in about 1830. It operates as a restaurant and has a traditional kitchen and garden.
The Overberg Fruit & Wine Expo is held here in October. A variety of events take place focussing on the rich agricultural heritage on which the area relies. Cattle judging, horse riding, a beer garden, home craft competitions and sideshows provide lots of fun for all.
The Villiersdorp Wine Cellar was founded in 1922 and is one of the oldest cellars in the country. It has a wide range of top export wines and its members produce about 11 000 tons of grapes a year. Kelkiewyn, a farm stall on the banks of the Elands River, offers light meals and coffee, dried fruits and handicrafts, as well as tasting of the wines made by the Villiersdorp Co-Op.
Well known artists and craftspeople have made Villersdorp their home. The tourism bureau will organise visits to their studios. The town offers several annual events.
Photographs courtesy of Trevor Wilkins Photography 2014 Mirror Nationals South Africa