Flying high

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Atlantic Gull. West Coast. Porterville

Zeal reigns supreme in Porterville.

It could be the powerful thermals. It could be mountains. But whatever it is, Porterville is a lure for artists and entrepreneurs. The town of close on 9 000 residents literally bursts with creatives who thrive in this scenic valley.

On the art route there are Christel Griffiths of The Mosaic House, goldsmith Monique Nienaber, water colour painter JP Meyer, plus ceramicists Caren Dorrington and Ronel Bakker. But if doing the rounds is too much exercise, the growing Saturday Farmers’ Market on Houdconstant Farm is a one-stop shop for all things edible and arty.

Laid out on the farm Pomona in 1863 at the foot of Voorberg on the Olifants River mountain slopes, Porterville became a municipality in 1903. Its namesake, Cape Colony Attorney General William Porter, certainly made his mark on Cape history. He had an innate hatred of oppression and fervently promoted equal rights and justice for all. This foundation still prevails today.

The town’s San heritage runs deep and numerous relics, thousands of years old, are found in the area – the most significant being rock art of a red galleon in the Groot Winterhoek mountains.

On the flora front, Porterville also has earned its stripes. The region is famed for the rarest of flowers, Disa Uniflora – the only place in South Africa where fields of these beauties abound. Rarer yet is the sulphur yellow Disa which occurs in one isolated colony.

As a top-rated para- and hang-gliding destination throughout the year, the town is especially flush with thrill-seekers from all over the world during December for the world cup qualifier. Add to this the magnet of the mountains and you have quite a cauldron of adventurers in one spot.

In a small town such as Porterville, you’ll find that contrary to urban myth, residents don’t exhibit a curmudgeonly gripe against the modern world. They embrace it wholeheartedly, but prefer to live in a slower lane, surrounded by wide open spaces.