If you’d be so inclined, come and take a walk with me through the capital of the Overberg.
In 1859 Caledon held the first agricultural show in South Africa. As the enormous silos dominate the Caledon skyline it testifies to the authenticity of being one of the foremost grains producing areas.
As I walk across the railway bridge, I think back to 1902 when the railway was completed connecting Caledon to Cape Town and establishing a thriving tourist industry, bringing visitors seeking relief and relaxation at the premier spa resort in South Africa. To be mesmerized by our fauna and flora, the atmosphere and the scenery of the Wildflower Garden was an experience like no other.
As I follow the path of the Old Wagon Road across the Jubilee Bridge built in 1897 the year of Queen Victoria’s jubilee, the cultural, historical, and irreplaceable architecture perfectly preserved simply takes my breath away as I make my way up the hill.
The Caledon Dutch Reformed parish is the 8th oldest Dutch Reformed Church congregation in South Africa. In 1812 the first church in the shape of a cross located where the present Social Development office’s stands was built, from 1876 the church served as a community hall, public school and temporary hospital in the influenza epidemic of 1818 and was unforgivably demolished in 1951.
Finding my way to the center of town I’m whirled with history all around me. From a National Monument the Holy Trinity Church build by Sophie Grey and consecrated by Bishop Grey in 1855 to Ds. Vos who was the Priest of the “Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk" in the early 1800’s and who was greatly concerned with the youth and fought for equal rights within the church walls for slaves, allowing them to join service, take part in communion and baptizing them, an action which led to the old Mission Church. The Alexandra Hotel to the Park Hotel and the iconic provincial heritage site Mill Street and the provincial monument the Bath River Bridge. The town hall built in 1910 where the first fully automatic telephone call was made in 1978. I saw how Caledon once again made history when a sample of the waters from the Caledon mineral springs was awarded a gold medal at the Chicago World Fair for its curative and mineral properties in the 1890’s and again in 1955 when the first newspaper by air in South Africa was delivered and Caledon was its destination. The Caledon Museum who holds and preserve the history and heritage of Caledon all the way to the Venster Rock formation in the Wildflower Garden where one can escape the busy city and town life and be mesmerized by the smell of a vast variety of fynbos and other flowers and the tranquil hymns of birds.
Come, come, and take a walk with me through the capital of the Overberg, and let’s reestablish bonds and relationships, learning from our past to pave a sustainable way forward so that we can once more be known as a foremost tourist attraction in South Africa and to the world.
Information Source: Our Heritage – A History of Caledon by Joy Edwards