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West Coast business hub Vredenburg has more going for it than meets the eye.

Despite having a name denoting peace, Vredenburg’s history is quite a laugh. The town originated when a water feud ensued over a spring serving as the boundary line for the neighbouring 18th century farms Heuningklip and Witteklip, thus becoming known as Twisfontein (fountain of strife). After legal action was taken, it was renamed Prosesfontein (lawsuit fountain)! Only once the Dutch Reformed Church built the town’s first church close to the fountain in 1875, did the dispute come to a close and the town was renamed Vredenburg in the hopes of bringing the conflict to a close once and for all.

Just 130 kilometres north of Cape Town, Vredenburg is not only a West Coast business hub, but also the springboard to coastal towns St Helena Bay, Langebaan, Paternoster and Saldanha Bay. A conglomeration of fish factories, light industries, local services such as banks, hospitals and shopping malls, the Fossil Park is its biggest tourist attraction.

World-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to the terminal Miocene/early Pliocene period about 5.2 million years ago, researchers have recreated that environment. Many now-extinct animals, such as sabre-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, mammoth elephants, giant pigs, three-toed horses, hunting hyenas and African bears, which roamed the west coast are to be seen. Believe it or not, at that time the west coast had a more subtropical climate with lush, riverine forests and open grasslands.

Surrounded by fynbos, wheat fields, dairy and sheep farms, the town’s population is 38,382. And as is the case with most of the west coast coastline, the surrounding hills and fields are a tumult of colour during spring.