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Port Elizabeth

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Port Elizabeth - Winds of Friendship

Port Elizabeth – Is the third largest port and the fifth largest city in South Africa and was founded in 1799 when Fort Frederick was built by the British on a site overlooking Algoa Bay. The garrison made up the first population of the future city. The fort was named after Frederick, Duke of York and has been proclaimed a historical monument.

It was under the protection of Fort Frederick that the 1820 Settlers from Britain were landed and in 1820 Sir Rufane Donkinthe acting governor of the Cape named the settlement Port Elizabeth after his wife who had died of fever in India two years previously. On what is known as the Donkin Reserve the acting governor erected a stone pyramid in memory of his wife. The pyramid is a national monument the lighthouse beside the pyramid was built in 1861.

The Mayor’s Garden is in the historic heart of the city near to the city hail having been recently restored after being burned down in 1977. In front of the city hail stands a replica of the Dias Cross, which was erected at Kwaaihoek in 1488 on the headland where the navigator Bartholomew Dias and his men first landed.

The city’s famed Horse Memorial which was dedicated to horses that perished in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 is at the intersection of Cape Road and Russell Road. The oldest private dwelling in Port Elizabeth is The Rectory on Castle Hill and was built in 1827 for the Reverend Francis McCleland. It is now a museum containing antique furniture and household appliances.

Other attractions of the city are the King George VI Art Gallery and the Settlers’ Park Nature Reserve. The reserve which lies on the banks of the Baakens River and preserves a piece of the landscape and some of the wild life as it was at the time the city was founded. The 52 meter high Memorial Campanile was built in 1923 in memory of the 1820 Settlers and stands on the site where the settlers landed.

The city has many pleasant suburbs such as Walmer noted for its trees and gardens. Humewood and King’s beaches offer safe swimming. The Swartkops River has a spacious yachting area. Along the coast on either side of Port Elizabeth are resorts such as The Willows, Swartkops, Skoenmakerskop, Sardinia Bay, Sea View and Maitland River Mouth. These resorts have fine beaches, several with gigantic sand dunes. The Sundays River reaches the coast of Algoa Bay in a setting of such vast dunes that the region resembles the Namib Desert.

Addo Elephant National Park - The Addo elephant has its home in the Addo Elephant National Park. Though belonging to the same species as the African elephant (Loxodonta africana africana), the reddish Addo elephant is smaller with more rounded ears and sometimes without tusks. The park occupies 7 735 hectares of the dense Addo bush loved by the Addo elephants. Spekboom is one of their favourite foods, and this thorny bush often discouraged hunters in the earlier years. Buffalos, hippos and black rhinos also roamed here but when settlers arrived during the 1820s the area was too small for man and beast. The elephants raided the farmlands and the man hunted the elephants.

In 1919 a professional hunter, Major Jan Pretorius, was hired by the administrator of Cape Province, Sir Frederic de Waal, to start culling the entire elephant herd. It took him a year to kill 120 then he stopped because of public outcry, and rightly so. Only 11 Addo elephants remained, Same Old, Same Old !!, and they panic-stricken, vengeful and cunning. They declared war on man and any person venturing into the Addo bush did so at his peril.

In 1931 the national park was proclaimed and a fence of tram rails and lift cables was erected as an elephant proof barricade and this prevented the elephants from marauding into the orange groves of the Sundays River Valley. In return for the Citrus Corporation delivered huge piles of waste oranges to the park. The oranges did much to tame the once annoyed elephants. The fruit was dumped near observation areas so the elephants could be viewed and herd has now increased significantly and the elephants are clearly visible to visitors without special feeding. Well done again SAN Parks !!!

Watering holes were also been created at view areas and attracted buffalo, black rhino and other game, as well as the elephants. The black rhinos were introduced in 1961, the first in the Eastern Cape for a hundred years, thanks to the 1820 settlers. Same Old, Same Old !!

Algoa Bay - The Portuguese named this bay Bahia de Lagoa (‘bay of the lagoon’) because of the small lagoon at the mouth of the Kragga Kama (‘river of the stones’), which enters the sea here. The Portuguese name became corrupted to Algoa Bay and the western arm of the bay was called Cape Receife (‘cape of the reef) and the eastern arm was named Cape Padrone (‘cape of the pedestal’).

Algoa bay has rocky islets which are much visited by sea birds and has fine, sandy beaches with little protection from the, sometimes, windy weather. This windy weather was considered very dangerous by sailing ships and back in 1902 within a few hours 59 ships were wrecked in the bay. The harbour of Port Elizabeth was been created on the shores of the bay by the building of breakwaters and the dredging-out of deep-water berths.

Humansdorp - The principal commercial centre for the Cape St. Francis area is the town of Humansdorp. It is also one of the major stations on the narrow gauge Apple Express railway from Port Elizabeth to the Langkloof and a popular stop-over for travellers along the Garden Route. Humansdorp was named after Matthys Human, on whose farm the town was founded in 1849.

Jeffrey’s Bay - Surfers have made Jeffrey’s Bay internationally famous. Within easy walking distance of the town are many renowned surfing beaches.

Long before surfers discovered the area shell-collectors had found it to be one of the most prolific sources of sea-shells on the coast of Africa. Found here are shells of the temperate southern Cape and tropical Indo Pacific species. Commercial collectors have removed the original thick carpets of shells but each high tide brings fresh specimens. Curios made from the shells are sold in the town and a museum displays rare and exquisite specimens. The bay is named after J. A. Jeffrey, who had a trading station on the shores here during the first half of the last century.

Patensie - The name Patensie is said to be from a Hottentot word meaning a resting place for cattle. Citrus fruits, tobacco and vegetables grow here. A branch of the Apple Express, the narrow gauge railway from Port Elizabeth, ends at Patensie.

St. Francis Bay - The Portuguese navigator, Manuel Pestrello, named St. Francis Bay in 1575 in honour of the patron saint of sailors. From Cape St. Francis in the west to Cape Receife in the east, the bay is 100 kiometres across with sandy beaches curving smoothly between the capes. The Gamtoos River reaches the sea in the centre of the bay. Several resorts have been created along the shores of the bay, including Jeffrey’s Bay, Sea Vista, Paradise Beach and Aston Bay. The beach slopes gently into the sea and is renowned world wide as a surfers’ paradise. Fishing is good and sea-shells prolific.

Uitenhage - General Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist was sent from Holland to take over the Cape from the British at the end of the first occupation in 1802. He visited the eastern and founded the town named after. Uitenhage today is an industrial town and the site of many motor car factories and a railway workshop. Among old buildings in Uitenhage are the Old Drostdy in Caledon Street which is now the Railway Institute and the Africana Museum. The park surrounding the King George V Coronation Memorial on Cannon Hill contains many South African cacti and plant life. Magennis Park, in Church Street, is renowned for its dahlias and aviaries. Wool from sheep and goats is produced in the area and the countryside is covered by prickly pears and aloes.