Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome to Struisbaai
Struisbaai is a coastal village boasting the longest continuous stretch of white sand coastline in the Southern Hemisphere. Struisbaai, together with its neighbouring communities of Hotagterklip and Molshoop makes up a sizeable collection of holiday homes spread along the sandy shore north-east of Cape Aghulhas.
There is some debate as to the origin of the name Struisbaai. Some authorities believe that it means 'strawbay' and it earned this name by the fishermen's cottages that were originally built of straw. Others claim the name Struisbaai is derived from the Dutch vogelstruijs or 'ostrich'. The low shrub-covered terrain bordering the sandy coast is certainly ostrich country and you will still see a good number of these giant birds sharing the land with dairy cattle and Marino sheep. According to legend, Struisbaai is named for the size of its beach - an old Nederland word for "huge".
The fishermen's cottages at Hotagterklip (left rear stone) have been declared national monuments. They are often featured in the paintings of many South African artists. The unusual name of this little place comes from the days of the first wagon track, when a stone out crop imposed a sharp detour upon all travellers. Most of the old cottages were allowed to fall into ruin, until recently when the original cottages have been expertly restored.
A tarmac road continues along the coast beyond Struisbaai for 8 km and then ends at the village, holiday resort and lighthouse at the most southerly point of Africa …L' Aghulhas.
* I was last in Struisbaai exactly 3 years ago this month. I was travelling the Southern Cape coast for a travel article I was writing for a national leisure magazine. It was one of my first freelance travel journalism opportunities after leaving PR, advertising and my city life (and moving to Waterval Boven and plunging back into journalism). At the time the trip was a disaster. Only in retrospect was I able to see, and enjoy the inherent lessons. They were exceptionally painful and alienating at the time.

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