History of the Keurbooms River Plettenberg Bay
Keurbooms River Mouth
The mouth has moved and Lookout beach is gone, see the photos here
Plettenberg Bay the holiday playground of the rich is situated on the coastline of one of the most beautiful bays along the southern coast of South Africa. It is here that the Keurbooms River, which flows from its source in the Langkloof, north of the main Tsitsikamma mountain range, enters the sea. During its early days of existence the river flowed 300 metres above its present level. Today after gouging its way through the mountains it flows through some fantastic gorges on its way to the sea.
The river situated about 8 kilometres east of Plettenberg Bay is named after the Western Keurboom (Virgilia oroboides) or choice tree which flowers twice a year during August and September and the again in December and January. Over the early years of the existence of the Cape Colony and its expansion along the southern coastline eastwards the Keurbooms river formed a natural barrier between east and west. It was a difficult river to cross so the task fell to the Stanleys in the early 1880's to build the first road bridge across the river.
The old Keurbooms River bridge
Unfortunately nature frowned upon the bridge and shortly after completion the bridge was swept away during a flood.
A manually operated pontoon was introduced onto the river to allow vehicles and people to cross the river.
The pontoon however required that a road be built along the eastern mountainside to allow vehicles to access the pontoon.
This necessitated cutting into a cliff face and then using the backfill method introduced into South Africa by Thomas Bain to build and stabilise the road surface.
In the construction of this short piece of road rocks were cut and packed on top of one another without any type of cement to hold them together.
Such was the workmanship that this road which is no longer used still stands today.
Outeniqua yellowwood tree on the bank of the river
Today some of the indigenous trees such as the Outeniqua yellowwoods, Cape beech, giant stinkwoods and ironwoods can still be seen standing tall and proud in the forests along the river. A number of birds live in the forests and if you are lucky you might even see the crimson flash of the Knysna Loerie, a beautiful crested bird, endemic to the Knysna area, as it flits from tree to tree.
White backed night heron
The highlight of any trip up the river will be the sighting of the very reclusive White backed night heron which also frequents the forests along the river.
As the Keurbooms is a tidal river the tide pushes in through the mouth filling the estuary and the upper reaches of the river with salt water.
Fish use this opportunity to enter the river to feed and many of them find their way to the upper extremities of the river where they are sometimes caught by anglers fishing from the banks or from boats.
The following species are found in the river.
Cob, leervis, spotted grunter, white steenbras and sardines.
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