Cape Town Trip: Uniondale

Uniondale is a small farming village just in the Western Cape on the R62 Road. Uniondale is the start of the Route 62 tourist route. The road into uniondale from the langkloof winds down into the town which is in a green valley where predominantly sheep, goat, seed and apple farming occur.

History of Uniondale (Courtesy of http://www.uniondale.co.za/)

Originally laid out as a township in 1856 by the land surveyors Garcia and Melville, the area eastwards from the Court House was named Hopedale, and the upper portion of the township, westwards from that point, was called Lyon.  The first Dutch Reformed and Mission churches were erected about the year 1856.
Industries such as wagon and cart building and furniture making were largely carried on in the village of Uniondale in the 1870’s.  Many new wagons and carts were sent out, and many loads of furniture and produce such as wheat, mealies, beans, potatoes, dried fruits of various kinds and tobacco were sent into the interior and sold or bartered for cattle and for reeding and slaughter stock.  Great numbers of stock, small and large were imported into the district and sold in the village and district at a a good profit.  This kind of trade was carried on for many years.  Farmers in the Lang Kloof area of the district had to travel long distances to find a market for their produce, owing to the absence of railway facilities.

During the 1880’s ostriches and the building of houses in the village of Uniondale and district were the chief ventures.   The Divisional Council was established in 1889 as part of George district, and the few roads in the Uniondale area were kept in repair by he George Divisional Council.   The main roads were those between Knysna and  Willowmore, Outshoorn to Willowmore, George and Humansdorp, Uniondale to George along the Kamanassie Valley.  The road from Uniondale, over the mountain to Avontuur and onwards to Knysna, was built in 1865.  The new road between Uniondale and Avontuur Station, through the “Poort” was commenced in September 1925 and was complete in September 1926.

A branch of the Standard Bank was opened here in 1880, but was closed in 1886, to be reopened in 1903.  The National Bank opened a local branch in or about 1911.

The Salvation Army pioneers came to Uniondale in 1886 and the following year the Hall was put up.  The Salvation Army officers were withdrawn in 1897.

The Gaol, including Gaoler’s quarters, was erected in 1906.

Electricity came to Uniondale in 1935.  Until then paraffin lamps lit the streets from sundown to 11pm.  The last lamp lifghter was Olof Berg, whose job was to light each lamp, and make sure there was enough paraffin in each lamp to last until around 11pm.

My Experience of Uniondale

We arrived in uniondale in the late afternoon and got a little lost trying to find our accomodation at 7@Grey, this was totally due to the fact that Google maps did not see that    Grey street continued on the other side of the main street at a funny angle. We stopped outside the house and the owner was working in the very well manicured garden, when she saw us she stopped and dusted off her soil stained hands and came to greet us. “Go up the road and round the back, and I will open the gate for you to park inside” she said in a Karoo accent. We drove round to find that the property was huge and we parked on the roundabout covered in stone. We went into the room which was an old converted outside room and kitchen. The style was french and the bed was comfortable. We got our bags, one huge suitcase a vanity case and bags for shoes (I think the owner got a fright as we were only staying one night)

Traveling tip: If staying somewhere overnight pack a small overnight bag so you don’t have to haul a huge suitcase and try find where the right clothes are and then have to repack it again after one night

After putting our bags down we decided to go for a walk to discover the town, the walk was beautiful we went up to the NG Kerk which was a stunning old stone building with a clock tower and beautiful garden.

We then went down onto the main road where there were a number of old buildings that were beautiful. On the main road we came accross an antique store that was still open at 7pm and although the owner was closing up let a have a walk through the stop which was filled with old church memorabilia, regalia and paraphernalia.

We got back to the cottage in timeto hop into the car and drive up to the fort for sunset, which was beautiful but very cold and windy.

For Dinner Uniondale does not offer much and seems to go to bed rather early but we did manage to get something to eat at Uniondale lodge, even though it said that the kitchen closed at 8 and we arrived just after 8. The restaurant felt like you where sitting in someones house which was a little uncomfortable but we pushed through and ate the rather overpriced food.

We were awoken by the sun the sun the next morning due to the fact that two strategic windows only had lace curtaining but this allowed us to get on the road quickly.

I would suggest stopping over in Uniondale if it crosses your path, the place is quiet, quaint and beautiful and the people are friendly and seem to love their town, there are also numerous policemen roaming the streets and correctional services correcting offending behavior.

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