Tulbagh's main street with the Winterhoek Mountains beyond
|• Total||3.81 km2 (1.47 sq mi)|
|Elevation||180 m (590 ft)|
|• Density||2,400/km2 (6,100/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||22.7%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||6820|
Tulbagh, named after Dutch Cape Colony Governor Ryk Tulbagh, is a town located in a spectacularly beautiful mountain basin, the "Land van Waveren" (i.e. Land of Waveren or Tulbagh basin), in the western Witzenberg Local Municipality of the Winelands of the Western Cape, South Africa. The basin is fringed on three sides by mountains, and is drained by the Klein Berg river and its tributaries. The nearest towns are Ons Rust and Gouda beyond the Nuwekloof Pass, Wolseley some 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the south inside the basin, and Ceres and Prince Alfred Hamlet beyond Michell's Pass in the Warm Bokkeveld.
A Valley of Abundance
Discover the rural village of Tulbagh nestling in its bowl of magnificent mountains and a serene, unspoiled valley. In itself a desirable destination for all seasons and many reasons, the historic town also provides an excellent base from which to explore the Cape Winelands and surrounding areas. Only a 90-minute scenic drive from Cape Town.
Tulbagh welcomes spring with drifts of arum lilies and a myriad of fynbos flowers. In high summer the bounty of harvest fills its cornucopia to overflowing while autumn brings shades of russet and gold to the vineyards; in winter greenery and quiet mists blanket the surrounding countryside and the mountains are tipped with snow. It has been captured in the work of many artists who have found inspiration here due to its unique combination of sublime natural beauty and historical ambience.
The basin has been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous Bushmen and Khoi peoples. It was about 300 years ago when, after a land grant by the Dutch Colonial Government to a more or less equal number of Dutch and Huguenot settlers to settle the area, that the town of Tulbagh was founded. The region Land van Waveren (13.4.1711, C. 28) was named in 1699 by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in honour of the Oetgens van Waveren family, from which his mother was descended. Before this date, but also subsequent to it, the region had also been known as Roodezand (Roodesand, 1.6.1698, C. 23) [red sand]. The region corresponds to the present Tulbagh district, named after Governor Ryk Tulbagh. The town developed slowly and over time and in the period many notable examples of Cape Dutch architecture, Victorian and Edwardian houses and other buildings such as the Oude Kerk (1743) and the Oude Drosdy (the original colonial Magistrate's complex) were built. Many of these lovely buildings were destroyed in an earthquake in 1969 but quite a number survived the catastrophe. Church Street in Tulbagh is now graced by possibly the largest number of Cape-Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian provincial heritage sites in one street in South Africa and remains a major tourist attraction of the town to the present day.
Steeped in history and characteristically Cape-Dutch, Tulbagh yet offers all the modern-day comforts the discerning traveler might wish for. Nature enthusiasts, adrenalin junkies, wine lovers, families and those simply seeking peace and tranquility are all catered for. Accommodation includes self-catering and bed and breakfast facilities in the surrounding mountains, on working farms and family wine estates as well as a range of lodgings in the village clustered around historic Church Street. Numerous restaurants cater to every pocket and taste.
In addition Tulbagh has become a sought-after wedding destination. Coupled with the valley's stupendous natural beauty, its quaint, old-world village charm and warmly hospitable ambience combine to create an unforgettable setting for romantic and memorable weddings.
Activities such as bird watching, horse riding, hiking, mountain biking, wild flowers and scenic drives are only a few of the pleasures awaiting nature lovers. In the surrounding area you can also experience a zipslide adventure, visit a Big 5 private game reserve or go paragliding. Equally enticing alternatives are browsing art & craft galleries, exploring the museums or attending a show at the delightful Saronsberg theatre - and of course a visit to our local shoe factory is a must. Taste dried fruit and handcrafted Belgian chocolates; sample a variety of olives and virgin oils; pick cherries and figs in due season or buy home-made preserves and rusks at the tuisnywerheid...
Tulbagh's wine route boasts several gracious family-owned estates, dating back many generations to the commencement of winemaking in the Cape, that are institutions in the wine industry. These are interspersed with state-of-the-art contemporary cellars as well as a handful of boutique wineries. The accolades earned by winemakers in the valley bear testimony to Tulbagh's fine terroir and superior viticulture.
Tulbagh also hosts various events every year. In June, the village is festooned with holly, bells, lights and tinsel as it invites visitors to celebrate Christmas in Winter; in September the Tulbagh Spring Arts Festival showcases a variety of visual and performing arts; and the valley proudly displays two of its most prized assets during the annual Tulbagh Horse & Wildflower Show. Purchase handmade gifts at the Drostdy-Hof Christmas market in November or patronise one of the country markets where local produce is regularly offered for sale.
The bowl is surrounded by imposing mountain ranges, the Obiqua Mountains to the west, Winterhoek Mountain to the north and the Witsenberg range to the east, with peaks that rise to over 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). The basin experiences a mediterranean-type climate. The southern side is open to cooling south-east winds during the hot summer months. Accordingly Tulbagh enjoys some of the most diverse and attractive conditions for viticulture in the Cape, and the differences in terroir available to wine makers allow for a wide diversity of distinctive wines of excellence, attributes which have attracted many new producers to the valley.
Mountains and Waterfalls
The Groot Winterhoek mountains are part of the Cape Fold Belt. They rise to a maximum height of 2077m just north of the town of Tulbagh as Groot Winterhoek peak. The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, operated by CapeNature, comprises a conservation area of 30608ha, and contains waterfalls, swimming holes, pristine rivers and mountain wilderness.
Flora and Fauna
Many animals, such as baboons, bat-eared foxes, lynxes, and smaller species of antelope, live in the unspoilt parts of the valley, and it is known that leopards still occur in the mountains. Baboons are a common sight on the pass. The Witzenberg Valley is home to a wide variety of birds and is the ideal location for anyone interested in Bird Watching. From the Cape Sugarbird to The magnificent black eagle (correctly known as Verreaux’s eagle) which nests in the mountains, but is often spotted on the outskirts of Tulbagh. At night, you may be pleasantly surprised by the sound of Verreaux's (Giant) Eagle-Owl, or any of the other Cape Owls.
The most conspicuous components of the flora are evergreen sclerophyllous plants, many with ericoid leaves and gracile habit, as opposed to timber forest. Several plant families are conspicuous in fynbos; the Proteaceae are prominent, with genera such as Protea, Leucospermum (the "pincushions"), and Leucadendron (the silver tree and "cone bushes"). Proteas are represented by many species and are prominent in the landscape, generally with large striking flowers, many of which are pollinated by birds, and others by small mammals.
Wine has been produced for many years in the basin on a commercial scale, but only recently have large advances been made. There are now numerous and some world famous wine estates producing award winning wines.
The importance of this industry for the vicinity is unquestionably substantial, so much so that many of the producers are now part of the Tulbagh Wine Route and this is attracting increasing numbers of tourists to Tulbagh who are eager to sample the wines produced by the members.
Many new vineyards have been planted and more private cellars are either being planned or built to cope with the expected production volumes of quality wines.
Contrary to popular belief regarding small-town conservatism, Tulbagh is probably the most Gay Friendly destination outside of Cape Town. Tulbagh proudly boasts a variety of Gay Owned establishments, businesses and accommodation venues and LGBT people always feel welcome everywhere in Tulbagh's Valley of Abundance.
- "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)". pp. xlv–lii.
- "Main Place Tulbagh". Census 2011.
- James, Wilmot G. and Mary Simons (ed.) (9 January 2009). Class, Caste and Color: A Social and Economic History of the South African Western Cape. Transaction Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 1412808650.
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