About The Town
The town is situated about 240 kms from Cape Town, on the banks of the Olifants River and foot of the Cederberg mountains. The Cederberg takes it's name from the Clanwilliam Cedar that grows there. - and is now highly threatend. The name is an amalgamation of the english "Cedarberg" and dutch "Sederberg"
Clanwilliam started off on some dudes farm in the 1700's. The Farmer was Jan Dissels so that was what Clanwilliam was known as until 1st Jan 1814 when General Sir John Cradock, just before he was sacked as governor of the Cape, decided to name it "Clanwilliam" supposedly after his wifes oldman, John Meade, who had the title Earl of Clanwilliam in Ireland. Doesn't make much sense to me since the guy had already been dead for 14 years by then. Remember in those days Titles didn't mean Jack! Either your family had one bestowed on you by the English, or you were peasant scum. More likely he was trying to find favour with his current inlaws - notably his brother-in-law Richard Mead - he too was the Earl of Clanwilliam of course since title was hereditary.
Cradock got his own title before he died - Baron Howdon
There is another river that joins near Clanwilliam which is still called Jan Dissels River and from where the town draws it's potable water.
The town became a municipality in 1901.
Take a good look at the main road - more importantly, the surface. You will notice mainly cement with only specs of tar remaining.
Let me tell you why: It is because all the rest of the tar has melted off!!!! Not a word of a lie! The average temperature in this place is at least 40 degrees C in summer! If it was not for the beautiful dam down the road this place would be hell on earth quite literally!! I kid you not - it is filthy stinking hot.
We all sit around moaning and complaining about it, but it forces you to relax and unwind. It's not that bad if all you need to achieve is getup to fetch beer and a slow walk down to your boat. Of course we all feel terribly sorry for the poor buggar who's turn it is to get boat petrol....
WARNING: If you are here to relax and get away from the hustle & bustle of the city, do NOT venture anywhere near the Spar on a Saturday morning! That'll put your stress levels right into the red!
Also don't be like James and Tim: rock-up strait from the airport without money. Although the 4 Major banks have a presence here, you will battle to get foreign exchange. (ATM's often don't work / hate foreign credit cards)
Formally Ramskop (Above)
This place has changed hands a couple of times over the years. It's quite a big supermarket now. Very convenient for campers as it is just down the road from the campsite - the 1st set of shops you get to.
The Farmers co-op is right next door but set back - you won't see it unless you know it's there.
I don't know what it's called now but ask for Ramskop - everyone knows what you're talking about.
There is also a famous shoe factory in the same road - no one's ever been in since it's always closed during the holidays. They make cool Velskoene I'm told. They have leather soles - an obvious advantage to the locals as they won't stick to the road like conventional rubber soled shoes.......!
Olifantshuis Restaurant (above)
A Great (only) place for Pizza sitting outside on those HOT nights. Service is so-so, but who cares when you're on leave. Uncle Phil currently has it up for sale so don't know how much longer it will be around.
Many places incorporate "olifant" (elephant) in their names taking on what the Dam is also commonly known as - olifantsdam. Because the Olifants river feeds it ...Duh!
|This building on the
right is facing you as you drive down main road It also has some historical
significance. I think it was the old jail, but none of us have been in their
either. Very bad. Must find out sometime. It is now a museum but once again
it is always closed.
I would find out what is open and when if anyone reading this is going here for the touristy thing.
|There is a second currency in
this town unknown to the SA Reserve Bank.
If you have it you are a rich man and can sell it at an extortionate price. (Like the Hotel offsales bottle store!). Trust me, after 9am there is no place in the whole town that has any!!!!
© copywrite Ivor Kruger 2006. All Rights Reserved