die-sandveldhuisie-citrusdal-roadside-attractions-western-cape

Quirky Roadside Attractions Across the Western Cape

What do a pumpkin farm stall, an old windmill and the biggest red chair in Africa have in common, you may ask? Absolutely nothing – except for their inherent quirkiness! In this post, I round up the quirkiest roadside attractions for you to discover across the Western Cape.

Best of all, every single one can be enjoyed and spotted from the comfort of your car. (Although exploring is optional!)

The Western Cape: Where Quirky is Cute

house-of-rooibos-clanwilliam

The Western Cape is known and loved for its beautiful scenery, pretty small towns and rich history. But one of my favourite things about our province is its playful, yet charming quirkiness.

A drive in and around any Western Cape town or city (yes, even Cape Town) reveals a host of eyecatching landmarks, charming farm stalls and stately old churches.

Over the years, I have relished road trips across the Cape because there is always something hidden around the next corner. πŸ™‚

Road Trip Ready

In my travels, I have unearthed some well-known and more obscure roadside attractions. Each of these are visible and safely enjoyed from your car.

Though many of these attractions can be visited, too. Some for a cup of coffee and a light meal; padkos (roadtrip snacks) provisions; or even a humbling history lesson.

Without further ado, here are several quirky roadside attractions to discover in the Western Cape:

Route 62 and R60 Roadside Attractions

1) Old English Fort and Cogmanskloof Tunnel

old-english-fort-montagu-quirky-roadside-attractions-western-cape

What:

Situated in the uniquely beautiful Cogmanskloof Pass, the natural connector between small towns, Ashton and Montagu, you can find the Old English Fort perched atop the even more memorable tunnel.

Growing up, these were the sights that enhanced my childhood road trips but even today, I can’t help admire the uniqueness of this rocky duo every time I pass underneath them.

In 1999, this Old English Fort was declared a national monument – but it dates back as far as October 1899.

Built during the Second Boer War by William Robertson, this tumbled old fort is a stark reminder of the bloody Anglo-Boer battles once waged across South Africa.

Although the Old English Fort is technically above the road more than alongside, it is nevertheless a worthy roadside attraction.

Providing Safe Passage

cogmanskloof-tunnel-route-62-montagu

Cogmanskloof, meanwhile, is a mountain pass/poort that runs through the majestic LangebergΒ  mountains, positioned between Ashton and Montagu.

Named after a Khoi cheftain, Cogmans, who roamed the region in the 18th century – this pass was, like so many across the Western Cape, built by the masterful Thomas Bain.

Hugging the Kingna River on one side and imposing ochre cliffs and jagged crags on the other, Cogmanskloof is a fiercely beautiful link between places.

However, due to the proximity of the mighty Kingna, the pass is often closed due to extreme flooding.

Aside from its mountainous beauty and the popular rockclimbing over at Legoland – another of the pass’s most iconic aspects is the short tunnel that runs through it. (This is precisely underneath where the Old English Fort is nestled.)

Passing through this unique little tunnel is a fun road trip highlight for young and old – making it a roadside attraction in its own right! πŸ™‚

Fun fact:

When there are no stop-go systems in place due to roadworks, you can park near the tunnel and take a short walk or hike up to see the Old English Fort for yourself.

Where:

Between Ashton and Montagu, Western Cape.

How to find it:

Simply drive along the main Route 62 road and keep an eye out for these two unmissable sights as you pass through Cogmanskloof Pass.

They are both essentially located halfway between Ashton and Montagu.

 

2) NG Kerk Montagu

montagu-ng-kerk-roadside-attractions-western-cape

What:

While Montagu’s stately, pure white NG Kerk is undoubtedly more a town feature than a roadside attraction, it is still something easily enjoyed from your car.

Whether you are religious or not, this church is one of the most beautiful you will see anywhere and is a well-loved Montagu monument of sorts.

Ever since it was first erected, it has been a standout attraction in the centre of town.

The story goes that in 1854, the presbytery of Swellendam gave permission for a new congregation to be formed in Agter Cogmans Kloof.

So, in 1851, Mr D.S. van der Merwe sold the first erven of his Uitvlugt farm and donated a site for the church’s erection.

ng-kerk-montagu

The foundation stone was laid in November 1858 and thereafter, in May 1862, the church was consecrated.

Today, the Montagu NG Kerk remains a key part of the town, where many of the local congregation celebrate special occasions, such as weddings – or hold more sombre affairs, like memorials and funerals.

For those keen to simply see the inside of the church, this is possible. However, you will need to contact the Montagu Tourism Bureau to arrange a visit.

Fun fact:

NG stands for ‘Nederduitse Gereformeerde’, which loosely means Dutch Reformed.

Hence why many people say ‘Dutch Reformed Church’ instead of NG Kerk.

Where:

Montagu, Western Cape.

How to find it:

Head to the T-junction of Church and Bath Street in Montagu.

 

3) Ashton Steam Locomotive

ashton-steam-locomotive

What:

Situated between Robertson and Montagu along the R60, the Route 62 town of Ashton is famous for its fruit, wine and factories.

Yet this administrative hub, nestled at the foot of the impressive Langeberg mountains, also has a rich railway history.

With the completion of the railway line between Worcester and the costal regions in 1887, the trading post, Roodewal, turned into a station.

Shortly thereafter, it was renamed to Ashton, after Job Ashton, a railway engineer and New Cape Central Railways (Ltd) director.

For a time, Ashton was primarily a railway station with a few other buildings and houses – until it found a new lease of life with the opening of the Langeberg Co-operative in 1939 to 1940.

So it comes as no surprise to see a beautifully maintained old steam locomotive perched along the main road.

Steamy Encounter

This locomotive, otherwise called the Ashton steam train, is an iconic roadside attraction in this little town.

While it is fenced off, you can park nearby and admire it up close.

This locomotive was designed and built by Montreal Locomotive Works (Canada). It is one of the Class 14 CRB locomotives built between 1910 and 1922, according to the specifications of South African Railways’ chief mechanical engineer, Mr D.A. Hendrie.

When you are done admiring the Ashton steam train, why not pop into another of Ashton’s popular tourist attractions, Platform 62? They sell wine, good food, gifts and other assorted items.

Fun fact:

Today, Ashton remains an administrative and industrial town in the Klein Karoo.

Though it is now surrounded by scenic wine farms, race horse studfarms and rose nurseries.

Where:

Ashton, Western Cape.

How to find it:

Pass through Ashton and keep an eye out for this impressive steam train. It is found along Ashton’s main road, close to Platform 62.

 

4) Affie Plaas Farm Stall

Photo credit: Marinus Van Den Berg via Instagram.

What:

Affie Plaas Farm Stall is a gorgeous roadside attraction found a stone’s throw from Robertson.

This lemon yellow farm stall is famous for its eyecatching straw family, with their bubble eyes and colourful clothes.

Aside from that, it is also a winner thanks to its excellent goodies, snacks and treats and other produce available inside.

True to its name ‘affie plaas’ (‘from the farm’ in English), this charming farmstall offers plenty of locally sourced, farm-harvested produce – everything from waterblommetjies (edible water lilies) to preserves.

What originally began as an apricot stall on the side of the road some 30 years or so ago has blossomed into a local institution along the R60.

Visitors rave about the stall’s beautiful look, warm service and delicious goodies – especially the coffee and milktart!

Although I have not personally been inside Affie Plaas yet, it is one place I have always known must be good. Especially as it has stood the test of time and has been around for as long as I can remember.

It’s definitely on my must-visit list… Until then, it is one farm stall that you have to see for yourself!

Fun fact:

During COVID-19, even the straw family are now donning their own cloth masks… So you really have no excuse not to wear one!

Where:

Just outside Robertson (if approaching from Worcester side), Western Cape.

How to find it:

Simply head outside Robertson on the R60 and keep an eye out for this colourful local landmark and popular pitstop at the town’s entrance (when approaching from Worcester).

It’s virtually impossible to miss during the day.

 

5) Big Red Chair at Rooiberg Winery

red-chair-rooiberg-winery-roadside-attractions-western-cape

What:

At Rooiberg Winery, you can find the biggest red chair in Africa. Not only is this fire-engine red chair ginormous (I should know – I have been to the top of it!) – but it is also pretty eyecatching and hard to miss as far as roadside attractions go.

rooiberg-winery-red-chair

Although climbing to the top, where a dainty wrought-iron table and chairs await, is not for the faint-hearted (especially not with gale-force winds… but what’s travel without a little adventure, right?) – this chair, erected in 2012, is a great sight to see even from the road.

If you have time though, a visit to Rooiberg Winery is always a good idea.

Here you can find their tastefully decked out tasting room and a lovely eatery in Bodega de Vinho (which will reopen in end March 2021 after upgrades).

rooiberg-winery-restaurant

Stock up on wines or grab a bite to eat at Bodega de Vinho – and hey, if you are brave enough, climb up the giant red chair and enjoy the glorious views of the surrounding mountains and farmlands!

Fun fact:

The giant chair was launched with Rooiberg’s Red Chair wine range.

You can purchase this range from the winery’s online store or on-site from their tasting room.

Where:

Rooiberg Winery, R60, Western Cape.

How to find it:

Drive along the R60 to Rooiberg Winery. It is about midway between Robertson (though slightly closer to Robertson) and Worcester.

 

6) Die Pampoenstalletjie/Pampoen Padstal

Photo credit: Naomi, World in Pixels Photography via Instagram.

What:

Arguably one of the most stunning, brightly coloured farm stalls – and roadside attractions – on this list is the rather iconic Pampoen Padstal.

Situated a short distance outside Worcester, this charming little farm is a vibrant burst of pumpkin-induced colour… Because there are pumpkins of all shapes and sizes to be found everywhere outside. Clustered around the old tree. Sitting in a vintage pickup truck. Hanging from the guttering.

This farm stall has been in the same family for over 30 years now – and is certainly a Route 62 landmark attraction.

A drive by or visit to Die Pampoenstalletjie is like stepping into a world of organic orange goodness.

Best of all, the pumpkins – which are produced on the farm – are available for purchase. For decoration or feasting – you choose.

In addition to their numerous pumpkins, the farm stall also sells a range of seasonally-inspired farm goods.

Everything from jams (they make a wide range – including green fig, peach, quince and wild melon) to wicker baskets, pumpkin fudge and old-fashioned sweets, wire goods and more.

If you have time to do more than admire it from the road, it sounds like a worthwhile pitstop for all ages to enjoy.

Fun fact:

Ever since I was six years old, I have never once passed this farmstall and not seen a plethora of pumpkins scattered around it.

It is good to know that some things faithfully stay the same in this crazy world.

I have not personally visited it (yet) – but it has added cheery colour to many of my road trips over the years.

Where:

A short distance outside Worcester.

How to find it:

Drive along the R60 and watch for it outside Worcester (if you are heading towards or from the direction of Robertson).

 

Witzenberg Wonder

7) Die Tolhuis

 

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A post shared by Leeroy Simpson (@leeroylolla)

Photo credit: Lee-Roy Simpson via Instagram.

What:

Back in the 1800s, travelling to Ceres usually involved a detour of some 150 km via Hex River Pass.

To solve this problem and forge out a new path, Andrew Geddes Bain built a new road.

Constructed from 1846 to 1848, this ground-breaking new road – a marvel then as much as it is today – came into existence and became known as Mitchell’s Pass. It was named after Colonel C. Mitchell.

As foods were transported over this beautiful pass, the decision to charge a toll was eventually made. As such, a little toll house was built and the rest is history.

Although the pass was reconstructed in 1992 – today, this charming toll house and parts of Bain’s original walls remain and Mitchell’s Pass is one of the most beautiful mountain passes around.

mitchells-pass-quirky-roadside-attractions-western-cape

With sweeping valleys, scenic viewing points, a touch of history and sharp twists and turns, Mitchell’s Pass is a great way to travel towards Ceres.

It serves an important role as it connects it with Tulbagh, Worcester and the Breede River Valley.

One of the things I love most about the pass is the toll house. It was, until recently, also a cosy bistro – but sadly, the bistro has now shut its doors.

I hope that this adorable, historic toll house will find a new lease of life – much as it did in the past.

Until then, it’s still a perfectly charming roadside attraction and one of my personal favourites on this list! πŸ™‚

Fun fact:

Another nearby attraction is the beautiful Mitchell’s Pass, itself worth admiring as you drive.

Or, if you prefer, get out at one of the roadside picnic/sightseeing spots.

Where:

South-west of Ceres.

How to find it

Keep an eye out for it if you are travelling along the R46, via Mitchell’s Pass and approaching Ceres from the south-west.

West Coast and Cederberg Wilderness Gems

8) Evita se Perron

Photo credit: Mel Woodhead via Instagram.

What:

This colourful roadside attraction, housed at the old railway station, is like tripping into Alice’s Wonderland, South African-style… at least if all the photos of it are to be believed!

Hidden away in the underrated little West Coast town of Darling, Evita se Perron is, above all else, the physical, quirky representation of Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout. Who is, of course, the sassy alter-ego of renowned South African satirist, social activist, author and performer, Pieter-Dirk Uys.

But this cheerful Darling gem also serves as a fascinating cabernet-style theatre and restaurant.

With tongue-in-cheek humour dotted all about Evita se Perron – including names like Boerassic Park (‘boer‘ is Afrikaans for farmer) – this local institution is well-worth exploring when you are in the West Coast.

I have only driven past this charming spot – but I definitely have plans to explore it properly in time.

Fun fact:

On-site facilities include the theatre, a restaurant and deli, a coffee shop and museum and a new, water-wise garden too.

Where:

8 Arcadia Street, Darling.

How to find it:

Head to Arcadia Street and keep an eye out for its instantly apparent vibrancy!

It brightens up the town even on the most overcast of days.

 

9) Die Sandveldhuisie

die-sandveldhuisie-citrusdal-roadside-attractions-western-cape

What:

This is perhaps one of the quirkiest looking roadside attractions on this list (I mean, there is a lot going on here!) – and it is also one of my personal favourites.

Located in Citrusdal, Die Sandveldhuisie is a popular little art and coffee shop. They run community arts and crafts projects, while also selling little trinkets and other gifts.

As for the coffee shop side of things, rumour has it that it serves the best coffee in this small town – so it is worth popping into!

Sadly, on the Sunday we spent exploring the Cederberg Wilderness Area, this local spot was closed but we loved seeing it from our vehicle all the same. πŸ™‚

Fun fact:

According to their Facebook page, “The contents of this stone building, originally a church, shed light on both the first San inhabitants and the area’s early colonists.”

Where:

At the corner of Church and Muller Street, Citrusdal, Cederberg Wilderness Area, Western Cape.

How to find it:

Head to the corner of Church and Muller Street in Citrusdal.

 

Stellenbosch Surprise

10) Mooiberge Scarecrows

Photo credit: Jatin Chavda via Instagram.

What:

Where can you find the friendliest, most diverse and creative scarecrows around? In Stellenbosch – that’s where!

Located at Mooiberge Farmstall, these world-famous scarecrows have caught the attention and cameras of tourists and visitors from across the world. And yes, you guessed it, they are certainly visible from the road!

While the Zetler family farm is certainly famous for its fun scarecrows, it also invites guests to enjoy some strawberry picking during the season.

In addition to this, Mooiberge Farmstall also sells a wide array of food and goods – everything from dried fruit and nuts to special gifts.

I have not visited Mooiberge Farmstall – only admired the scarecrows a few times as I have driven by – but I know people who have.

Plus, the strawberry picking looks so much fun too!

Fun fact:

Another local attraction on this scenic Stellenbosch strawberry farm is The Thirsty Scarecrow.

Here, you can enjoy a wide range of craft beers on tap, great food and special views out across the Winelands.

Where:

Mooiberge Farmstall, Stellenbosch.

How to find them:

Drive along the R44 in search of Mooiberge Farmstall.

You will know it when you see the scarecrows from the road!

 

Cape Town’s Very Own

11) Green Point Lighthouse

green-point-lighthouse-roadside-attractions-western-cape

What:

This candy-striped red-and-white lighthouse, found just across the road from the popular Green Point Urban Park, is both an iconic city landmark and lovely roadside attraction.

Designed by German architect Herman Shutte and first lit in 1824, the lighthouse soon became the first solid lighthouse structure on the South African coast.

green-point-lighthouse-cape-town

Additionally, it is also the oldest operational lighthouse in the country.

This national heritage site, which was extended to its current height in 1965, can be visited by the public for a small fee.

I have walked outside and find it a great local attraction that is easily visible and adds a splash of colour to the area.

Oh and the surrounding ocean views don’t hurt either.

sea-point-promenade

Fun fact:

Green Point Lighthouse is often mistakenly called Mouille Point Lighthouse.

Also, it has been said that it may even be haunted by a one-legged ghost.

Where:

100 Beach Road, Cape Town.

How to find it:

Drive along Beach Road or walk on the Promenade until you see it.

 

12) Mostert’s Mill

 

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A post shared by Elaine Mears (@elainemears)

Photo credit: Elaine Mears via Instagram.

 

Important Update:

Tragically, most of the Mostert’s Mill was ravaged by the Cape Town/Rhodes Memorial fire on 18 April 2021.

I hope in time, this beautiful little windmill can be restored – but sadly, after the fire, there is nothing really left to see.

What:

Last but certainly not least, we have one of the roadside attractions that I look for any excuse to see when heading out of the CBD: Mostert’s Mill.

This adorably quaint windmill, situated on De Waal Drive, is apparently the only working windmill in Africa, south of the Sahara.

Built in 1796, this farm windmill survives as one of the earliest original windmills in the Cape.

Mostert’s Mill is a truncated tower mill with a revolving cap (namely, the thatch roof). This feature allows the sails to be turned to the wind.

It is easy to miss this windmill from the road but keep it eye out for it as you curl around De Waal Drive.

Fun fact:

In Dutch, this type of mill is known as a Grond Zeile.

This points to how the sails are serviced from the ground.

Where:

Along De Waal Drive, Cape Town.

How to find it:

Keep an eye open for it if you are heading along De Waal Drive towards or from Mowbray. Blink and you miss it!

 

In Closing

These are just twelve of the quirkest roadside attractions found across the Cape.

Drop me a comment or mail if you know of any others that I should find and add to the list!

Finally, a huge thank you to all those who kindly allowed me to use their photos from Instagram.

These guest photos have all been credited and linked accordingly.

(All other photos used in this post are otherwise my own.)

COVID-19 DISCLAIMER:

Please remember that COVID-19 rules and regulations may affect opening times and availability of restaurants, coffee shops, stores and even on-site activities related to attractions mentioned in this post.

As such, I can assume no responsibility for any closures or limited services.

For the latest provincial and national COVID-19 restrictions and levels, please visit an official government portal or contact them directly.

Please also remember that, even when outdoors, you are advised to:

  • Wear a mask in public (fineable by law).
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Sanitise frequently.Β 
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – Travel Writing and Photography, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. Despite having a national diploma in Journalism and working as a content writer by day, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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