Striated Skies No. 49 – Where is Jan Dissels?

49. Where is Jan Dissels?Clanwilliam is a town, nestled at the foot of the Cederberg mountains, 230km north of Cape Town. The first residents arrived in approximately 1662 although the permanent settlement, Jan Disselsvalleij, was only established in 1725. Sir John Cradock renamed the town after his father-in-law, the Earl of Clanwilliam in 1814.

Clanwilliam is a picturesque town of white Cape Dutch homesteads. It is centrally situated with a variety of attractions around it to satisfy nature-lovers, adventurers, flower-viewers and watersports enthusiasts alike.  The town is the centre of the Rooibos tea industry, in the Cederberg, with factory visits and rooibos products on offer. The Clanwilliam Dam is renowned as the best in the Western Cape for water skiing and is also popular with anglers. 

At present a R2bn project is underway to increase the Full Supply Level (FSL) of the dam by raising the dam wall by 13 m, providing an additional 70 million cubic metres of water a year to downstream farmers. The dam was originally built in 1935 with the wall being raised in 1964. The project is aimed for completion in 2020. As part of the project the realigning of a portion of the N7 road is taking place as the current road will be flooded once the dams capacity is increased. Find out more information here and here.

The Dutch Reformed Church is one of the beautiful buildings that grace the streets of Clanwilliam. Others include the Jan Dissels original home, the St John’s Church, the old gaol, the magistrates court and many more. The Dutch Reformed Church depicted above was designed by Carl Otto Hager and was built in 1864, in the same gothic style as used in his Piketberg Church. The St John’s Anglican Church, shown below, was designed by Sophie Gray and was built in 1866. Sophie Gray was the wife of Bishop Robert Gray. When they arrived in the Cape in 1847 there were 10 Anglican churches and upon the Bishops death, 25 years later, there were 63. Sophie Gray designed 40 of the churches [this could be a future striated skies project 😉 ]


I need to go back to the Cederberg to stay and explore more. I would suggest that you do the same. Check out the links below for more information.




Striated Skied No. 30 – Steenbras Steal #3

Striated Skies

This is the 30th Striated Sky for the year.  2015 is already in August and this marks me living in Cape Town for one full year. This is the last of the Steenbras pictures. I felt it was important to do more than one in a row as the area was really beautiful and people are ordinarily not allowed in, something that will hopefully change.

Hope you enjoying the pictures that I am putting up and hopefully once I reach 52 I will be able to get them all printed.

Striated Skies No 29 – Steenbras Steal #2

29. Steenbras Steal #2


The Steenbras Dam Reserve is a spectacular place with rock formations and fynbos that are amazing. I am so priveledged that I got to drive around the dam and hope that the City of Cape Town are able to make access by the public available via a permit in the future. We did not venture into the garden below the wall. It looks simply beautiful and well kept.



The dam is an earth-fill dam and sits just above Gordan’s Bay. The arial photo’s below by Craig Lotter show the dam sitting above Gordan’s Bay high above the sea.












The Steenbras Dam is used to provide water for Parts of Cape Town as we as a Hydroelectric plant in order to assist with electricity in peak times. When electricity demand is low, water is pumped from the lower Koegelberg dam into the Palmiet dam then Steenbras. During peak times the water is allowed to flow back through turbines thus providing extra electricity. This has in fact helped the City of Cape Town to reduce the amount of Loadshedding that has to take place.

As I have already said, hopefully the dam can have visitors rights restored in order for the People of Cape Town to enjoy this beauty

Striated Skies

Striated Skies No. 28 – Steenbras Steal #1

Striated Skies

The Steenbras Dam, which is situated above Gordon’s Bay in the Hotentots-Holland mountains, is the subject of this weeks piece. Named after the Steenbras Fish, a critically engangered fish, the dam is not accessible to the public. So how did I get these pictures then?

This is an awesome story of if you are inquisitive and want something then it will happen. My Wife and I drove up to the water treatment plant that overlooks False bay in order to take some picture and hopefully get to see the dam (we had no idea that it is closed to the public). The drive up to the water treatment facility is amazing with a hairpin bend that is pretty much a complete circle. The Map below shows the route up the mountain and there is a Google street view if you want to take a virtual tour.

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We got to the top and walked around the treatment facility. I went up to the security guard and asked if we could go in to see the dam. Nothing ventured nothing gained, I thought. The guard told me that unfortunately it was closed to the public and we went on our way. As we were walking away a car came towards the gate to leave the facility. We were about to get into our car, and a man (who was in the car that left the facility) approached me saying he was the manager and given that we had driven so far (Our car still has Eastern Cape Plates) we could go in and have a look at the dam. We thanked him and drove into the reserve. The scenery is beautiful and it is really a shame that people cannot gain access on a permit.

When we got over the mountain and could see the dam it was rather shocking at how empty the dam is. With some Googling I found out it is currently at about 50% full. See the weekly report of dam levels, here. My wife, Lauren took the following pictures whilst we were at the dam.

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I also found a 2010 report on the Steenbras Nature Reserve, here.  There is an excerpt below.

An unused overnight facility consisting of a number of chalets and accompanying infrastructure exists near the Steenbras dam. The facility has been closed to the public for a number of years. There has been pressure placed on the City of Cape Town to re-open the facility and allow public access to this area. A variety of potential visitor use options do exist, however the impacts of these on the management of the water bodies as well as impact to the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of the area will need to be considered. Much of the infrastructure requires upgrading. The maintenance and management of such a facility and associated infrastructure as well as the management of visitors and activities to the area, would have to be well considered prior to any implementation thereof.

I will be giving some more information about Steenbras Dam when I post further Striated Skies of Steenbras in the future. I would recommend a drive up to the Water treatment facility from Gordan’s Bay.