Western Cape-South Africa
There are many small towns in the countryside an hour or two's drive from Cape Town.
Most of them had humble beginnings and then someone discovered the beauty and tranquility of the surroundings and the town became an instant hit with people wanting to escape the rat race.
Greyton is one such town.
Before the village was established it was inhabited by a tribe of Khoi known as the “Hessequas”,
The Hessequas traded with the Dutch East India Company and supplied cattle for their ships en route to the East.
In 1738 the Moravians established the first mission station which they named Genadendal to the west of the valley,
Then in 1791, a young Dutch farmer named Marthinus Theunissen was granted a loan farm in the valley which he called “Weltevreden” (well satisfied).
He built a house on the farm, and after a few years sold it to Hendrik Cloete who was also owner of the famous Groot Constantia Estate in Constantia near Cape Town.
Cloete used the farm for horse breeding and also farmed fruit, grapes for wine, vegetables and cattle.
In 1854 Herbert Vigne the son of a London merchant who had fled South Africa, purchased the Weltevreden farm and subdivided it into long narrow plots which all had access to irrigation channels.
This was the beginning of the modern town of Greyton.
In 1910 the town was proclaimed a Municipality and remained as one until 2000 when it lost its autonomy when the Theewaterskloof Municipality was established and Greyton was incorporated into it.
Over the years living conditions were difficult and water created many problems.
Irrigation channels were one of the main sources of household water and in 1933 after an outbreak of typhoid a proper water system was built and taken into use in the town.
In 1964 the water system was upgraded and all residents were supplied with filtered drinking water.
There were no modern conveniences until 1970 when electricity was eventually supplied to the town.
Over the years some of the town's original old buildings have been restored to their original glory.
The Post House was one of them and it housed Greyton's first Post office.
In 1918 the Dutch Reformed Church was erected and stands behind the Post House.
Greyton has retained some of its old traditions and today you will still find the irrigation channels in operation between the houses.
The elements have also taken their toll on the town.
In 1962 a flash flood occurred which caused a great deal of damage and changed the course of the river.
Today Greyton has a 2220 hectare reserve, which is the third largest in the Cape, and contains plants that have not been seen elsewhere since they were first identified by Burchell in 1812.
The peace and tranquility of the town attracts newcomers to Greyton.
The land is arable which is not often the case in South Africa.
Farming methods in the town originate in the history of the town and visitors will see horses and oxen drawing ploughs, seed being sown by hand, and lively donkey carts trotting along the streets of the town.
In most towns cows are kept behind fences but not in Greyton.
The cows are free to roam and often cause damage when they find their way into the local's gardens.
Nobody complains as they expect this when living in the country.
For visitors to Greyton there are well laid-out walks which are marked with distinctive coloured footprints.
The walks vary in length from a 30-minute ramble to a three-hour climb to a viewpoint where you can see all the way to the sea .
Greyton is at the start of the Boesmanskloof trail that crosses the Sonderend Mountains to McGregor.
To use this overnight trail visitors require a permit which can be obtained from the Cape Nature office at Bredasdorp.
The Gobos river which runs through the town has a pleasant picnic area on its banks.
As the locals like eating out the town has a number of eating-houses where you can enjoy a meal.
Most of the original inhabitants of the town were forced out of the main part of town and now stay in Heuwelkroon where their small houses are built.
Many a local would like to swop with them as they have got the best view of the Sonderend Mountains which surround the town.
Greyton has become one of the sought after areas in the Overberg with property prices shooting up.
Why not visit Greyton the next time you drive the N2 near Caledon and see what all the fuss is about.
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