Arniston Spa Hotel

THE HIDDEN GEM OF THE OVERBERG : TESSELAARSDAL

As jy vining en glad op n teerpad ry snel die lewe soms te vining verby, ry jy egter stadig op n grondpad of stap selfs te voet ontmoet jy elke boom, fynbos, geroep van die kraanvoel, miershoop, plaaspad en die ware mens.

Expect this and much more in the quaint unpolluted village of Tesselaarsdal;

settled in the heart of the Overberg (South Africa) between picturesque mountains indigenous fynbos and lots of trees as a backdrop. Being only 21 km from Caledon and the N2, 38 km from Stanford, 45 km from Hermanus and 150 km from Cape Town, it is ideally situated to be a holiday destination within easy reach from every part of the Western Cape.

Tesselaarsdal’s potential tourism credentials are boosted by its colourful history.

Tesselaarsdal is named after Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar (1748-1810), son of a German immigrant who was the first land baron after WA van der Stel rewarded him with 50,000 hectares (two farms near Hartebeesrivier, south of Caledon) for his work in the cavalry. He owned slaves, had a wagon maker, horses and developed agriculture. In a report done by the Tesselaarsdal Action Group (2009) it was explained that Hartbeesrivier was named Tesselaarsdal farm 811 to avoid confusion by the Post Office as there were two with this name and it included everyone on farm 811 and adjoining small farms that have been traditionally part of the Hartbeesrivier settlement.

When Tesselaar died he bequeathed to his wife Aaltje van der Heide 38 slaves, 150 horses and other movable goods, the couple were childless. His wife continued the farm for 22 years and died in 1832. She died 2 years before slavery was abolished in the colony, bequeathed land to her slaves and those under the age of 15 were to be educated.

In a South African context this simple act makes Tesselaarsdal one of the most politically correct settlements in the country.

It was way ahead of its time, with people of mixed race owning and working their land since the early 1800s, co-existing in the area. Though full legal title to the land only came in the early 1990s, the way of life in Tesselaarsdal remained largely unchanged, with the descendants of Tesselaar’s freed slaves and inheritors quietly getting on with life as history passed them by. So much has happened since the Mail & Guardian (9th Apr 2010) wrote” It’s easy to see the attraction of Tesselaarsdal. The gently sloping hills are dotted with ancient farmhouses and outbuildings. Most have been around since Tesselaar’s time, making the village a veritable living museum”

Tesselaarsdal population has grown to approximately 2000 people (excluding surrounding farms).

Foreigners and locals alike are increasingly drawn to this little village. More and more small self-sustainable farms have emerged.  Amongst them you will find academics, entrepreneurs, potters, craftsmen, distilleries, wedding venues, guesthouses, country cuisine and much more hidden gems.

As the 79-year-old and living legend of the village Me Alida Smal Tesselaarsdal explained: you will find a privately own bakery, builders, woodworkers, mechanics, teachers, nurses, etc.…. all inhabitants which made Tesselaarsdal so unique and self -sustainable. She highlights the fact that there are several small historical grave-yards which are more than 100 years old.

Nie alleen raak Tesselaarsdal die ideale wegbreek plek vir stedelinge om asem te skep, (letterlik en figuurlik) maar al hoe meer “kuiergaste” maak dit nou hulle permanente tuiste. Tesselaarsdal inspireer stadsjapies om die seisoene, kultuur- respek, veilige rustige omgewing en verskeidenheid fauna en flora te beleef. Hier kan jy stap en bergfiets ry, jou ideale trou lokaal kom kies, die warm en gulhartige gashere van verskeie gastehuise ontmoet en stop vir n lafenis.

Tesselaarsdal folks’ offerings stretch ever further:

a nursery, free-range eggs, several crafts (e.g.: Decorative house ware, hiking sticks & doorstops, art from recycled items hand-made soaps, jams & preserves, metal work) to proteas, exquisite aromatic oils, creams & soaps, barley spirit, bakery, in season vegetables and several guesthouses and conference and wedding venues! Wine tasting is also a very popular excursion in this area.

Visit the SteamPunk Distillery of Pietersarel de Bruin at Goedgegewe which is home to Overberg Single Malt Barley Spirit. He also distills rare aromatic oils for cosmetics and soaps.

Brendan and Sonia from the local country kitchen explains that they took a leap in faith and followed their dream. To them living in the country, means choosing a slower pace of life. This doesn’t mean that country folks don’t have a lot to do. It just means they don’t let the hustle and bustle of the rat race bog them down. Country folks relax a little more and aren’t afraid to slow down. It is worth your while to taste their country kitchen’s cuisine in their 1891 Restaurant “De Postkantoor”. At their unique restaurant you will not just experience warm hospitality but superb food…fresh from the garden.  In the words from Brendan “here you chill…don’t be in a rush…. enjoy the ducks crossing the street”.

In Tesselaarsdal, which can be reach via a scenic gravel road you will find the soul of the country.

The peace and quiet of country living isn’t just about what you can’t hear, it’s also about what you can hear – the rain hitting your roof at night, the calling of the blue crane, bleating of sheep out in the pasture or early morning rooster crowing. These are the kinds of sounds that play a natural soundtrack to the peaceful, country life of Tesselaarsdal. Meet your caring neighbours; get those calls for a little bit of flour or a couple of eggs, and you don’t mind one bit because you know your neighbours will do the same for you. Roll up the tar road, experience ducks crossing the gravel road, bring your mountain bike, binoculars, sleep over, hear the roosters early morning…feed your soul, drink fresh air and restore your energy!!

In Tesselaarsdal, life is lived at a gentler pace, we take time to chat to strangers and we grow our own vegetables. You may see us out on an early morning horse ride. Explore the fauna and flora; enjoy the farmlands and interesting characters.

During winter and early spring expect awe-striking views over rolling farmlands to wide vistas of wheat and canola fields. During summer expect clear blue skies with yellow farmlands and sheep wandering. Gather inspiration and celebrate memorable moments.