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The original population of the Cape Winelands was made up of people descendent from the San hunter gatherers and the Khoi herders. The dispersion of humans to the area dates back as far as 1 million years ago and the San were the first known indigenous inhabitants. The San occupied the area from around 21 000 years ago and lived off plants, herds of game and marine life. Zebra, wildebeest and eland were among the main species hunted. The extinction of these game species led to significant changes in the environment and human activities (Indigenous Vegetation Consultancy et al, 2003).

The practice of herding only became established with the spread of the Khoi herders or KhoeKhoen people about 2 000 years ago. The Khoi led a nomadic lifestyle, living of resources of the environment and moving around after better grazing for their sheep and cattle. The introduction of domestic stock had a very different ecological influence of the plant communities compared with local wild herbivores. The nomadic lifestyle of the Khoi and their stock-keeping practice pushed the San into habitats that were more marginal and their occupation of the mountainous areas became permanent.

Stock-keeping also constraint the Khoi to areas of sufficient grazing and so each clan occupied their own territorial grazing area. The proposed biosphere reserve was inhabited by three clans, namely the Cochoqua, Chainoqua, Hawequas.

The Cochoqua or „Saldanhars‟ occupied the West Coast and consisted of a southern and northern group. The southern group lived in the vicinity of the Paarde Berg at the Mosselbank River (the northern part of the proposed Biosphere Reserve) under chief Oedasoa and were considered one of the richest and strongest Khoi Tribes. The Hawequas occupied the area of the Du Toits Kloof Mountains (the eastern portion of the proposed Biosphere Reserve), while the remainder of the area was occupied by the Chainoqua („Soeswas‟). The grazing area of the Soeswas stretched from the Eerste River, across the Hottentots Holland Mountains, and inland towards the Riviersonderend River and
the Breede River.

The many artefacts found throughout the proposed Biosphere Reserve, especially in and around the Bain‟s Kloof Mountains and the hills surrounding Wellington and Wemmershoek, are evidence of the existence of historic communities and their use of the natural environment.


In 1672 an outpost was established near the present-day Somerset West for the cultivation of wheat. When Simon van der Stel arrived at the Cape on 12 October 1679, the annual food production was too small to feed the existing community and the settlers of the Cape Colony began to think that there was no future for them in the area (Stellenbosch Three Centuries, 1979).

Van der Stel subsequently explored the area surrounding the Cape Peninsula and after visiting the Eerste River Valley which was suitable for agriculture (present day „Stellenbosch‟) announced that all who so desired could obtain full ownership of land in this area. In 1683 the farming community expanded into the Jonkershoek Valley with the granting of a farm to Jan Andriessen, nicknamed Jan de Jonker, who named his farm Jan de Jonker‟s Hoek. By 1685 the settlement of Stellenbosch and Jonkershoek produced excellent crops and rendered the Cape Colony self-sufficient.

Van der Stel wanted to expand the agriculture sector but could not find willing participants to farm the unknown areas surrounding the Stellenbosch settlement. In 1687 the French Huguenots (Protestant families fleeing religious persecution in France) took up the Dutch East Indian Company‟s offer of land and 23 farms along the Berg River (Little Drakenstein and Great Drakenstein) were allocated. The intermittent immigration of the Huguenots and free Burghers into the Limiet and La Motte Valleys started and continued for about a decade (Erasmus, 2004).

The French Huguenots brought centuries-old viticulture skills, which they applied locally with immediate success. By the end of the 19th century, farmers in the area have achieved more than Simon van der Stel may have envisaged. Deciduous fruit and wine where soon produced for local consumption and for export to the then known world.


It is generally accepted that during the Iron Age (approximately 200 to 1000 AD) and up to the fifteenth century, black African people from central Africa moved southwards into modern-day South Africa where they settled. These tribes include the Nguni (i.e. Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele) who occupied the presentday KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, the Sotho (i.e. North and South Sothos) and Tswana who populated the central regions, and the Venda, Lemba and Shangaan-Tsonga who remained in the northern regions.

Under the Apartheid regime, the Cape Province was considered a primarily White and Coloured „preference area‟ which limited the migration of Black Africans to the Cape and the Cape Winelands. Since the 1980s and early 1990s (in particular, since the scrapping of the Apartheid laws) large-scale migration into the Cape Winelands took place. The main reasons were the favourable employment and living opportunities existing in this area. Today, all the settlements in the proposed Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve have Black settlements (for example Kayamandi in Stellenbosch, Mbekweni in Paarl, etc.). The Black people of the proposed Biosphere Reserve fulfil a mayor role in its economy and the cultural diversity.


Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Table Bay in 1652. His objectives included the growing of vegetables and fruit, barter for livestock with the Khoi tribes, construction of a hospital, and the creation of a sanctuary for the repair of ships1. Labourers where needed to achieve the construction objectives. The Khoi tribes were not willing to exchange their nomadic lifestyle for that of a labourer and the Dutch East India Company were not in favour of using foreign seamen of the merchant ships as labourers (Van Aswegen, 1991). Slavery was however a common and accepted practice during the 17th and 18th centuries and Jan van Riebeeck requested slaves to solve the labourer problem.

Although a few slaves were already present in the Cape, 1658 marked the start of the influx of slaves and slave trading to the Cape. On 28 March 1658, a ship with the name, Amersfoort, arrived at Cape Town with 170 Angolese slaves of which 130 were kept. The remainder was shipped of to Batavia. Slaves, imported from Africa and especially the East (India, Malabar and Bengal), Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Japan, became the labour force that transformed a small refreshment station of the Cape into a significant agricultural colony.

Slaves fulfilled an immensely important role in the economic and social life of the Cape and its hinterland (Van Aswegen, 1991) (refer to Chapter for the unique culture and traditions of the slave community). In 1807 the trading in slaves was banned. It was accepted that slaves could still be sold within the Cape Colony, but imports were stopped. Slaves removed from visiting ships were „apprenticed‟ for a number of years to approved employers. The 1820 British settlers were not permitted to own slaves and slavery was formally abolished on 1 December 1834.


The settlement of Pniel is the only mission station in the proposed Biosphere Reserve. In 1843, Reverend G.W. Stegman and Dr Adamson of the Apostolic Union, a non-denominational protestant group, established a mission station for emancipated slaves, called Pniel, referring to the biblical town meaning the „face of God‟. It was run by a (presumed) relative of the Reverend, called John Frederick Stegman, who was only about 20 years old. The mission‟s primary objective was religious instruction in the Apostolic faith to better the spiritual welfare of these ex-slaves and Khoi people (Lucas, 2006).


Afrikaans is Dutch for African, i.e. the African form of the Dutch language. Afrikaans is an indigenous language of Dutch origin and structure similar to Flemish, and was influenced by English, Khoi, Portuguese, German, French, Bantu, Malagasy and Malay languages. In 1925, Afrikaans was declared an official tongue of South Africa beside English, which makes it the youngest natural language in the world in all facets, including speech evolution, ortography, grammar, and vocabulary (Axis Translations, 2007)4. A few English words are of Afrikaans origin such as aardvark, veld, trek, spoor, etc.

As stated previously, Paarl has played a decisive role in the growth of the Afrikaans language. The Genootskap vir Regte Afrikaners („Fellowship of True Afrikaners‟) was formed on 14 August 1875 by Arnoldus Pannevis (Dutch teacher of classical languages), Gideon Malherbe, SJ du Toit and CP Hoogenhout to promote Afrikaans as a written language instead of Dutch by, in the first place, Afrikaners themselves. After numerous discussions and meetings held at Westfalen the first issue of the first Afrikaans newspaper, Die Afrikaanse Patriot, was published on 15 January 1876, initially as a monthly, and later as a weekly paper. It was printed at Westfalen (which is a museum today), and the weekly publication was succeeded by the Paarl Post, the town‟s current newspaper, in 1905 (Bulpin, 1991).

Today, Paarl boasts the Language Route that centers around Dal Josaphat (settlement outside Paarl), where a number of surrounding farms and buildings are found in which many events relating to the struggle for recognition of Afrikaans and the First Afrikaans Language Movement took place.


According to heritage legislation, all sites of cultural and heritage value are considered heritage sites.

a) Afrikaans Language Monument

Situated on Paarl Mountain near Paarl; this is the world‟s only language monument which is a tribute to the  diverse origin of this unique language. It was erected in 1975, and consists of three linked columns symbolising the contribution of the Western world to Afrikaans; three rounded shapes representing the contribution of Africa, and a wall standing for the contribution of the Malaysian people.

b) Huguenots Memorial, Franschhoek

Unveiled on 17 April 1948, the Huguenots Memorial near Franschhoek is a monument that commemorates the contribution made by the French settlers to the development of the country, especially the viticulture industry. The three 12m arches symbolise the Holy Trinity and the central arch is surmounted by the „sun of righteousness‟ which extends into a pinnacle with a cross. The central figure is that of a women standing on a globe with her feet on France. The Bible in her right hand and a broken chain around her left ankle signify freedom of conscience and religion.

c) Freedom Monument, Pniel

The Freedom Monument was launched in 1993 to commemorate the slaves that settled in this town, together with the 150 year history of Pniel near Stellenbosch. On 24 September 2006, a belfry tower was launched near the Freedom Monument. The belfry was built to commemorate the slave bell that hung from a tree in Pniel, which dates back to the establishment of the settlement.

d) Anglo-Boer War Monument, Paarl

This monument was built in 2005 and focuses mainly on the plight for freedom and rights of the Cape Afrikaners and colonialists who were actively involved in the Anglo-Boer War. It is situated on Laborie Wine Estate near Franschhoek.


Important centres for learning and academic advancement are located in the area. Most of these are more than a century old and have a proud and rich academic, social and sports history.

The University of Stellenbosch is known as one of the world‟s best universities and is the second oldest university in the country. It was opened in 1866, and grew from the Stellenbosch Gymnasium and Victoria College that was founded in 1881. The Ou Hoofgebou (Old Main Building) of Victoria College is still in use and was proclaimed a national monument in 1973. A large number of prominent political, business, music, prime ministers and science leaders in South Africa were trained here. The university‟s impressive Coetzenburg Athletics Stadium and surrounding sports fields produced several world records and more Springbok rugby players than any other ground, and even today it supports the biggest rugby sports club in the world.

Stellenbosch is also the location of top high schools such as the bilingual and allboys Paul Roos Gymnasium (established in 1866 and named after the first South African Springbok rugby captain), Rhenish Girls High (the first girls‟ school in the country that was established in 1860 and lessons were given in German and English) and Bloemhof Girls High (a prominent Afrikaans girl school established in 1874).

Furthermore, various other educational institutions that offers a variety of courses are also located in Stellenbosch and include, amongst others:

• Stellenbosch Computer Academy
• Stellenbosch Boland College Campus
• Institute of Culinary Arts at Spier Wine Estate
• Isa Carstens Health and Skin Care Academy
• Stellenbosch Institute of Photography and Multimedia Studies
• Cape Wine Academy
• Cape Institute for Agricultural Training at Elsenburg

In 1844 Dr Andrew Murray founded the Huguenot Seminary in Wellington. This was the first institution of its kind for girls in South Africa. The Huguenot Seminary was an important centre of education and gave rise to a succession of educational institutions where girls and women were accommodated. In 1896, a Training College for teachers was established, in 1899 the Huguenot College (from 1920 until 1950, Huguenot University College), and in 1899 the Huguenot Girls‟ High School. The Teachers‟ Training College now goes by name of the Boland College of Education. The Huguenot Girls‟ High School merged with the Boy‟s School in 1954 and is now known as the prestigious Huguenot High School (Erasmus, 2004).

The first education facilities in Franschhoek were established in 1847 when F.C.M. Voigt was appointed as reader by the church council. A second school was established in 1857 at La Motte. By 1872, Franschhoek had three schools – second-class public school, third class school at La Motte, and a Mission School. In July 1897, the public school was upgraded to first-class and when the new school building was inaugurated in August 1899 it attained high school status. Today the well-known schools in Franschhoek are Franschhoek High and Groendal High.

As mentioned above, Paarl played a decisive role in the growth of the Afrikaans language (refer to Section, and is also well-known for its high quality schools and colleges. High schools such as the co-educational Paarl Gymnasium (1858) and Paarl Boys High (1868) are some of the oldest and greatest schools in South Africa. Besides offering excellent academic schooling, they are powerhouses in the South African rugby scene. Other well-known academic and sports schools are La Rochelle Girls High that was established in 1860 and Paarl Girls High, which was established in 1876.

The respected Paarl College opened its doors in 1979, and today it is known as the Paarl Boland College Campus that offers courses in education, art and financial services. One of the most accomplished training institutions of the South African Police Services (the SAPS Management and Leadership Development Institute) is located in Paarl. Other institutions include Damelin College that offer courses in computers, financial management, etc. and other local-based enterprises that offer courses in computers, cooking etc.

Other well-known schools in the proposed biosphere reserve are Goudini High, Rawsonville and De Villiers Graaff High in Villiersdorp. Recently established private schools such as Bridge House (outside Franschhoek) offer innovative, creative and dynamic educational programs in a rural setting.


The architectural vernacular of the Cape Winelands portrays changes in lifestyle, fashion and technology over more than three centuries. Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Wellington are dominated by a rich diversity of historical buildings some of which were altered over the years to conform to the vogue of time. Others were restored to the original Cape Dutch, Georgian or Victorian styles by owners who appreciate the cultural and investment value of historical architecture.

Main architectural styles and modes found in the Cape Winelands:

  • Early Cape Vernacular
  • Cape Dutch
  • Georgian
  • Victorian
  • Edwardian
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Art Deco
  • Cape Dutch Revival


Paarl Mountain
The Pearl mountain or „Paarl Rock‟ overlooking Paarl town is a unique natural landmark. This huge granite rock comprises three rounded outcrops, namely Paarl Rock on the eastern side that overlooks the town, and two western outcrops Gordon Rock and Bretagne Rock. The Khoikhoi used to call it „Tortoise mountain‟ because of its domed, oval summit which resembles a tortoise shell (Bulpin, 1991). In 1657, the first European, Abraham Gabemma, saw the mountain just after a rainstorm, at which stage it glistered like a wet pearl or diamant, hence the name „Pearl Mountain‟. It was formed approximately 530 million years ago, and after million years of erosion the visible granite pluton today is 14 km long, six km wide and has a maximum height of 729 m above sea level. In the 19th century it was regarded as a paradise for botanists and zoologists, and even the world-famous Charles Darwin made a special visit in 1836 to Paarl Mountain to explore its flora and fauna (Oberholster, 1972). Paarl Mountain is one the few natural national monuments declared in South Africa, and falls under the protection of the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve (Erasmus, 2004, Viljoen and Reimhold, 1999).


As described previously, the Cape Winelands has a rich history left by prehistoric and historic inhabitants. In 1899, Dr Louis Peringuey, the then Director of the South African Museum, made the discovery that the stone implements found in the nearby vineyards prove the historic existence of „human, or human-like creatures in the area‟. This assemblage of implements date from the South African Earlier Stone Age, a period that lasted from about 1.2 million years until 200 000 years ago. A sandstone monument commemorating the Stellenbosch Stone Age culture had been erected at Papegaaiberg in Stellenbosch.


Idas Valley, situated in the rural area of the Stellenbosch district is an example of the broader regional cultural landscape and has been protected as a heritage site since 1976 (Pistorius and Todeschini, 2002). Significant features of the valley include:

a) Magnificent natural settings with associated diverse fynbos flora and fauna.
b) Evidence of human landscape modifications and patterns of land use over a long period, including stone artefacts from about 700 000 years, evidence of Khoi pastorialist since 500 AD and a colonial landscape. Changes in the valley landscape are associated with many of the historical factors that have affected productive agriculture in the Cape, such as the slave-labour based expansion of agriculture, the freeing of the slaves in 1834 and their assimilation into society as an exploited labour force, etc.
c) Remnants of the pioneer transport and communications network. The earliest road between the emerging villages of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek ran through the valley and is today known as the Helshoogte  Pass.
d) Significant Cape Dutch farmsteads, the oldest of which are Ida’s Valley (settled in 1684), Rustenburg (settled in 1699) and Schoongezicht (dated to 1814).
e) A significant, layered sequence of networks for the capture and distribution of water associated with the development of colonial settlement and agricultural production, and natural resource use and technological advances through time.
f) Dwellings and farmsteads of the 19th and 20th centuries (Schoongezicht cottage, Glenbawn, Glenelly, Kelsey, and other cluster of smallholdings known as the „Wedges‟).


The Lady Loch steel bridge in Wellington was the first steel bridge in the country and was constructed in 1853, the same year as Bain‟s Kloof Pass was opened. It was named after the Governor of the Cape‟s wife at the time it was built, and it is still in use today (Erasmus, 2004).

The building of the Franschhoek Pass in 1823 let to the construction of the Jan Joubert‟s Gat (gat means „hole‟) bridge. It is named after a certain Jan Joubert that drowned at this spot. This bridge with one arch of five meters high, and a span of 5.5 m, is not only one of the most beautiful stone bridges but of the oldest bridges in South Africa. This declared national monument is still in use today.

The first wagon road (at the time known as „Wagenweg na de Caab‟) from Cape Town crossed the Plankenbrug River at Stellenbosch. Although, the original wooden bridge has been replaced with a modern concrete bridge (i.e. Adam Tas bridge), the location of the current bridge is the same where the first crossing was. In 1685, the northern part of the old wagon road was reconstructed and named Dorp Street, the famous historical street of Stellenbosch (Smuts, 1979).


a) ‘Fruit Route’ Passes

Crossing the Hottentots-Holland Mountain began in earnest from about 1707, and it was done by using the steep and dangerous Gantouw Pass, the Khoi-khoi meaning of which is „Pass of the Elands‟. This pass is located close to the Sir Lowry‟s Pass in the southern extremity of the proposed Biosphere Reserve.

Deep scratch marks are visible in the sandstone left by the ox wagons that crossed over the years and the two original cannons that were used to guard the pass and that were fired to notify inland traders of approaching merchant ships. This is a declared national monument (Oberholster, 1972).

The famous „Fruit Route‟ or „Four Passes Route‟ is a circular scenic drive of 230 km from Cape Town, and comprises of the Helshoogte, Franschhoek, Viljoen‟s and Sir Lowry‟s Pass. This route provides unique panoramic views of the proposed Biosphere Reserve.

Sir Lowry‟s Pass, the busiest of the Four Passes, takes the visitor into the Grabouw Valley (the heart of the apple-growing industry of South Africa) and the Overberg. It was opened in 1830 by the own initiative of Sir Lowry Cole because the existing Gantouw Pass was ineffective. The summit view at 402 m covers the entire False Bay, Cape Peninsula, and the fertile farming areas of Somerset West, the Eerste River Valley and the Cape Flats (Bulpin, 1990). Sir Lowry‟s Pass forms part of the boundary between the proposed Cape Winelands Bioshere Reserve and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.

Viljoen‟s Pass crosses the Groenkloof Mountains between the Grabouw Valley and the Vyeboom / Villiersdorp Valley. It was named after Sir Antonie Viljoen, one of the leaders in the farming and political spheres of the Elgin community following the Anglo-Boer War. From its summit at 525 m, there is fine view of the basin in the mountains where the Riviersonderend River has its headwaters, the Theewaterskloof dam, and the fruit farms around the rural hamlet of Vyeboom. The pass is an important communications link during harvest season to transport fruits to the Elgin pack houses (Bulpin, 1990).

Until the early 19th century, settlers used the Olifantspad („elephants‟ path) to cross the Franschhoek Mountain between Franschhoek and Villiersdorp. As  indicated by the name, this pass followed a track made by migrating elephants. In 1819, the first proper road was built by Jan Cats, but it was abandoned because it could not handle fully laden ox-wagons, and it was susceptible to flooding. A new pass, the first properly constructed mountain road in southern Africa was completed by soldiers of the Royal African Corps in 1825 at the behest of Governor Lord Charles Somerset. This road became the new highway between Cape Town to the Eastern Cape but it fell into disrepair after Sir Lowry‟s Pass was completed. It was rebuilt in 1933 and again in 1963 (Oberholster, 1972).

The summit of Franschhoek Pass at 733m offers views over the Berg River to the west, and a dramatic descent to the east. In winter, the pass landscape is often snow-covered (Bulpin, 1990). The original road built by Jan Cats is restored, and on 7 October 2003, the „Cats se Pad’ Trail was opened, and today it forms an integral part of the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and the ecotourism centre of the Fransche Hoek Estate.

The fourth and final pass of the Fruit Route, is the Helshoogte Pass that links Stellenbosch with the Dwars River Valley and Franschhoek Valley. The earliest road between the emerging villages of Stellenbsoch and Franschhoek ran through Idas Valley over the pass known as „the Hell‟ (from the Afrikaans helling, indicating a steep gradient). The origin of this route was most likely a Khoi cattle path, and is noted for its impressive views of Simonsberg Mountain, the Drakenstein Valley and the Wemmershoek Mountains (Pistorius and Todeschini, 2002). The name Helshoogte was transferred to a new pass built in the 1890s.

b) Bains Kloof Pass

Completed in 1853, Bain‟s Kloof Pass was designed and built by temporary Wellington resident, Andrew Geddes Bain. This pass crosses the Limietberg Mountains and connects Wellington with the Tulbagh Valley. Bain achieved this remarkable feat without any formal engineering training, and then continued to build several more passes in the Western Cape.

A dry-masonry method of construction (no cement) was used, and considering the rugged and steep terrain, this was a momentous achievement (Encounter South Africa, 2007)5. Convicts were used to build the 30 km pass, and approximately 300 to 450 convicts were used at any given time. At various places along the pass, large iron rings were set into the rock to chain resting gangs. Bain‟s Kloof Pass is one of the most picturesque roads and magnificently constructed passes in South Africa. The pass is a national monument and the area through which it runs is characterized by picturesque mountain scapes and rock formations, rivers with waterfalls, and unique Fynbos flora. As such, this pass effectively runs through the „heart‟ of the proposed Biosphere Reserve.

c) Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

Du Toit‟s Kloof Pass was opened on 26 March 1949. It follows the historic „Hawequa‟ cattle track used by the Khoi to cross the mountains. Approximately 400 to 500 Italian prisoners of war helped to build the pass which is 48 km long and, in its original form, climbed to an altitude of 820 m, and included a tunnel of 240 m. Of the Italians that helped to build the pass, many settled in South Africa. In 1993, a ten meter crucifix was erected on top of the Du Toit‟s Kloof Mountains to commemorate their contributions in building the pass. Du Toit‟s Kloof Pass is a vital link in the route between the Cape and the interior of the country. The Huguenot Tunnel was therefore constructed to enhance the flow of traffic and the safety and comfort of road users. Currently about 8 500 vehicles per day use the tunnel (Nel, 2004)6.

Excavation on the main Huguenot tunnel started in 1984 and proceeded on two headings using the drill and blast method. Half a million cubic meters of rock was excavated and used for fill on the western approach road and as concrete aggregate for the tunnel lining. A margin of error of only 3 mm was achieved when the headings were holed through in 1986. On 18 March 1988, the longest tunnel in the Southern Hemipshere (3.9 km) was opened. It shortens the journey between Cape Town and Worcester by 11 km and eliminates a rise and fall of 400 m over the old Pass.

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