Simonstown - Cape Town
Simonstown nestling on the edge of Simons Bay
Simonstown village is situated on the west coast of False Bay
starting with its southern end at the Boulders ending near
Glencairn in the north.
Our visit to Simonstown starts at the Boulders where there is a beach with a number of large granite boulders.
On the slopes above the beach are a number of houses and nearby is a golf course. There is also a nice restaurant and these days we have the Boulders penguin colony as well.
The Boulders is a lovely safe beach and good for swimming.
Some penguins from the colony
It is at this beach in 1983 that two penguins came ashore at
Foxy beach between the boulders and decided to stay.
They started nesting on the beach and in 1985 laid there first eggs.
Since then the penguin colony has grown quickly and increases
by 60% per annum. By the end of 1997 there were 2350 adult
birds in the colony.
As the colony grew the birds spread out into the residential area nearby and caused
damage to people’s gardens and also made a lot of noise.
After numerous complaints by residents it was decided to build a walkway and to fence the penguins off
on the sea side of it. The reason for the concern over the birds is that it was the first land based colony of penguins on the South African coastline.
With the birds fenced off they were also being protected from dogs and cats that attacked them and it gave them an area where they could breed without being disturbed.
Today this colony has become a major tourist attraction with thousands
of people visiting them on a daily basis. Because there are wooden boardwalks into the penguin reserve people can see and study them without disturbibg them and life goes on as normal in the colony.
The penguins breed from February to August.
In September they go to sea to fatten up for
the moulting season which starts in November.
Continuing northwards we drive into the Simonstown village,
which derived its name from Simons Bay.
Simons Bay received its name from Simon van der Stel
who was one of the Dutch governors of the Cape.
Building in Simonstown was started in 1687
and the town grew steadily.
In 1743 a port was established and the town and the port
were taken over by the Royal Navy in 1814 when the Dutch
were removed from power in the Cape.
The port was finally returned to South African Navy
in 1957 when the British Navy left.
Today the port has been renovated and is home to
a number of navy ships including submarines.
St Georges Street Simonstown
St Georges Street, the main street through the town
has twenty-one buildings which are over 150 years old.
Today there many small shops and pubs
to explore along it’s entire length.
A museum displaying the history of the town opens daily
and can be found in the main street.
On Jubilee Square there is a statue of Just Nuisance
a Great Dane who befriended the sailors stationed at
Simonstown during the war years.
Somehow he recognized the uniforms of the sailors
and was every sailor's friend. He did not care much
for other service people.
Just Nuisance was a very clever dog and caught the train
to Cape Town each day and accompanied the drunken sailors home
after a night out on the town.
He knew each station between Cape Town and Simonstown
and was often thrown off the train by railway personnel.
This did not phase him and he would either wait for
the next train or walk to the next station
and board the next train there.
The railways took exception to this and threatened to
have him destroyed if his owner a Mr Chaney did not control him.
After many letters of complaint to his owner
and no solution to the problem the Navy decided to
adopt him. He was enlisted as Able Seaman “AB Just Nuisance”
on the 25th August 1939 and with this enlistment came all
the perks that normal sailors got including a train ticket.
Just Nuisance often went AWOL and found his way to
Wingfield AirBase near Goodwood about 40 kilometres
from Simonstown where he was smuggled onto planes
by pilots flying patrols in search of enemy submarines.
During 1944 Just Nuisance started to go lame from a
thrombosis caused by a motor accident. It was decided
to have him put to sleep and this was done on his
7th birthday the 1st of April 1944.
He was buried on the 2nd of April with
full military honours including a firing party
and a lone bugler.
He is buried in the Klawer camp at the Navy’s
signal school. His grave is marked by a granite gravestone
and can still be seen today.
Between June and November four species of whale visit
False Bay and can be seen close inshore. They are the
Southern Right, Brydes Whales, Hump back and the Orca.
The Southern Right being the most common visitor to our shores.
Simonstown is built at the base of a hill and looking
down from the top there are some fantastic views over
the harbour and town. A view not to be missed!
The hills above the town form part of the Table Mountain
mountain range and contain much of the flora and fauna that
is found all over the Cape Peninsula.
Being part of the Table mountain range which is made up of
sandstone one will find many sandstone formations near the town.
Part of the bay where the regattas are held.
During the summer months the navy arranges regattas in the bay
and pits its sailors against all comers.
The coastline along this part of the Peninsula has
many secluded beaches which are a draw card for sun lovers.
A fitting climax to a day out in Simonstown is to take
the train from Simonstown to Cape Town following in the
footprints of Just Nuisance.
The train line hugs the coastline just metres above the sea
all the way to Muizenberg. On a day when the sea is rough this
can be quite daunting as the waves roll in and send spray flying
high over the train as it passes by.
The quaint village of Simonstown is well worth a visit and is on the route of our Peninsula tours which you can enquire about below.
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Cape Town - Simonstown