Back to basics


Set in the stark Sandveld landscape that defies easy explanations, Graafwater exemplifies resilience.

This is a place lost to bright lights and fancy amenities. But what Graafwater lacks in lushness, it more than makes up for in the sunny-side-up attitude of its inhabitants. A cliché that rings true here is genuine country hospitality. Mind you, don’t expect a quick chit-chat – you’ll be regaled for many an hour with priceless stories and wicked West Coast humour.

Infrastructure for the 2 261 residents includes a church, hotel, library, police station, clinic, pizza take-away, café, general dealer, plus a primary and century-old secondary school. Established as a railway junction in 1910 to transport agricultural products from Clanwilliam and seafood from Lambert’s Bay, the village subsequently was developed further by the Leipoldtville Dutch Reformed Church. Ten years later, the community proudly inaugurated their own church.

With an agriculturally-based economy rooted in potatoes (producing an annual turnover of some R400 million and employing more than 3 200 people), rooibos, sheep and bees, the area is heaven on earth for botanists, birdwatchers, hikers, bikers, cyclists and 4×4 enthusiasts. In fact, the Boegoeberg 4×4 trail on the farm Lambertshoek is one of Drive Out’s top 10-rated experiences (ph 083 6322634).

Beyond the town, huge expanses of veld are filled with spectacular fynbos, dense stands of indigenous vegetation, hardy bushes, reeds, and, in spring, a wild flower jamboree. In particular, there are numerous rosin bushes (Euryops) that are impressive when in flower. It’s also home to some 58 rare and threatened plant species of which at least 30 are endemic. One of these is the rare Leucadendron brunioides var. flumen lupinum (a single population of about 100 plants thrives at Jakkals River nearby).

Life gets back to fundamentals quickly in the bowels of Graafwater: an uncomplicated world with a good dose of hardiness, jocularity and solid bonds.