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It took tough and determined individuals to cross the sheer barrier of mountains along the Western Cape but when they did, they discovered a warm fertile valley, shielded from the wind by the surrounding mountains and well-watered by the House River, ideal for fruit crops. Over a century later, a town was established in the valley and named Barrydale after a well-known businessman, James Barry.
Barrydale lies on the world’s longest wine route and apart from its superb wines, is renowned for the award-winning brandy produced here, the unique wild flowers, quality commercial fruit and quaint country restaurants.
A small town is often judged by the exchanges that occur between visitor and resident and in Barrydale, the townspeople greet their guests with a slow smile and have a generosity of spirit that touches the heart and leaves one with a desire to return.
Top 6 reasons to visit Barrydale
1. Barrydale is wine and brandy country, stop in at the Southern Cape Vineyards for a tasting of their famed fortified wines and pot-still brandy and the family run Joubert-Tradauw wine farm to enjoy the R62 blended merlot-cabernet wine, oak matured in the traditional French way.
2. Travel the spectacular Tradouw Pass that crosses the Langeberg Mountains, take photos at the lookout points of the many waterfalls and magnificent natural scenes. Check out the old wooden bridge along the original pass which was built in 1873 by road engineer Thomas Bain and a workforce of 300 convicts.
3. The Barrydale Heritage Garden created by a local botanist is a tranquil space to sit and appreciate life. The garden contains splashes of colour throughout the year and is worth visiting to get a sense of inner peace.
4. The stand-out feature in the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve is the 250ha of virgin forest. The reserve has a network of hiking routes and a punishing mountain bike trail of 58km in length. The forest is home to 2 very unique creatures, a species of ghost frog and forest emperor butterfly.
5. Visit the Warmwaterberg Spa, a somewhat rustic resort housing hot and cold pools fed by natural hot springs. Most travellers do a double-take when they see Ronnie’s sex shop along the open road to the spa. The name was a prank played on the owner by friends, the shop is in fact a friendly a welcoming pub.
6. The Cape Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Lemoenshoek cares for orphaned and injured animals with a view to returning them to the wild. Visit the centre to find out more about their holistic approach to animal rehabilitation and see the baboons, owls, genets and other species under care. Interesting labyrinth on the premises.
Barrydale can be reached either from the Cape Town International Airport, 240km away, or the George Domestic Airport, 195km away. Car rental agencies are located in Cape Town, Swellendam and at the airports, otherwise order a rental online and collect at a convenient location. There are no trains and bus services into and out of Barrydale, however, local tour operators offer shuttle services.
Did you know?
James Barry, after whom Barrydale is named, was a pioneering empire builder who operated a shipping service between nearby Swellendam and Cape Town in the mid-1800s. Aside from his profitable business, Barry served in many other official capacities, including military commander of a local garrison. Obviously a man of many talents…
The scenic pass alongside Barrydale and the valley in which the town lies is named Tradouw, Khoi-Khoi words meaning women (tra) and path (daos). Over the years, female villagers forged a particular path over the mountains to collect water and edible roots and plants. The path was later used by roadbuilders as a guide to construct a formal route.