The heart of settler country

Bathurst is about 12 kilometers inland from Port Alfred, on the R67, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Its chief claim to fame is that it was the administrative centre for the 1820 British Settlers who were established in the district as a buffer between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa pastoralists who were migrating southwards and westwards along the coast. Bathurst is part of the Ndlambe Local Municipality in the Cacadu District of the Eastern Cape.

Many of the original settler houses and other buildings have been preserved, and there remains much of the look and feel of an English village of the early 19th Century. The Pig and Whistle, at the heart of the village, is reputedly the oldest existent pub in the country. Built in 1831 by Thomas Hartley, a blacksmith who came from Nottinghamshire with the Settlers. Later accommodation was added and it became known as the Bathurst Inn. Legend has it that it was nicknamed “The Pig & Whistle” by the men at the nearby 43 Air School in WWII.

While time has moved slowly in Bathurst, there is an increasing population of artists, academics (Rhodes University is only 40 km away), and retirees who have chosen to live in this tranquil environment. below are a list of attractions and places of interest in Bathurst:

bathurst travel and accomodation

Bathurst neighbors the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve, home to many species of animals, bird and plants. The reserve offers hiking trails, picnic spots and a remarkable viewpoint of the river and valley. The surrounding area hosts pineapple farms, game reserves and cattle and sheep ranches. It is a 10 minute drive to the beach town of Port Alfred and 45 minutes from the cultural mecca of Grahamstown.

The Horseshoe Bend and Water’s Meeting Reserve: There is an outstanding view of bush covered valleys where the Kowie River loops in a horse shoe. Another 3 km down a steep winding road you can picnic and relax under the trees at the waters edge. Canoe trails and scenic hikes available.

Bradshaw’s Mill: Built by the Settler, Samuel Bradshaw in 1821, this water-driven wool mill contains a working water wheel. By 1825 wool from the Settlers sheep was being used to make coarse cloth. In 1835 the 3rd storey was added and corn milling began. It is now restored and is a provincial heritage site.

Wesleyan Chapel: Built by Samuel Bradshaw and opened in 1832, it was besieged in the Frontier Wars. Houses Jeremiah Goldswain‘s Family Bible. Services still held every Sunday. It is a provincial heritage site and epitomizes many of the other Wesleyan churches in the rural areas

St John’s Anglican Church : Oldest unaltered Anglican church in South Africa. A sanctuary in the Frontier Wars of 1834, 1846 and 1851 for hundreds of Settlers. 1st service held on the 1st January 1838. Look for the “church mouse” on the west wall!!

Bathurst Agricultural Museum: Discover how the past has influenced the future! Over 1400 items of interest. The Toposcope: This marks the spot where the 1820 British Settlers locations were surveyed. 57 bronze plaques record details of settlements. On a clear day you can see from The Great Fish River to Kwaaihoek. The stones in the wall are taken from ruins of original Settler homes.


Farming in Bathurst

History of Farming
One day in 1865  Mr Charles Purdon entering a barber’s shop in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape was taken by some pineapples which had come from Natal. The barber, Mr Lindsay Green gave him some of the pineapple crowns (or tops) and this was the beginning of what is today one of South Africa’s and the Eastern Cape’s largest industries – pineapple growing.

It is sometimes contended that Jan van Riebeeck first introduced pineapples into the country in 1665,while others claim that the first pineapple plants came from Ceylon and were planted in Natal which is still a large pineapple producing area but the Eastern Cape (especially the Bathurst area) pineries have developed far beyond Natal in the quantity and quality of fruit produced. The Bathurst area alone delivers over 135 000 tons annually to the factory in East London.

There a two varieties of pineapples commercially grown in South Africa, the smooth leaf Cayenne and the Queen. The Cayenne is the largest crop and is the only variety suitable for canning. It is very much larger and has a lot of juice. The pineapple grows on the central stem of the plant with only one fruit borne on each plant. Every plant produces suckers and these grow in a leaf axil off the parent stem.  These suckers subsequently produce a second or “ratoon” crop of fruit.  The first and second crops normally constitute the commercial yield of a plant.
In South Africa, pineapples flower within 14 to 20 months of planting.  Summer fruit take about five months to mature and winter fruit can take up to seven months.  The first ratoon crop is usually harvested after 18 to 24 months and the two crop cycle can take up to four years. Land for pineapple farming is chosen on the basis of elevation, aspect, soil and drainage.  The amount of fertilizer needed for maximum yield is determined by regular soil and leaf analysis.

Good crop management aims to achieve maximum production of fruit per hectare in the shortest possible time without harming the environment.  The timing of the fruiting of the first crop is very important as it influences the sucker growth of the second crop.  Fruit is induced to ripen for factory demand by using a “ripening forcer” so as to ensure uniform ripening at the optimum time for canning. All farms in the area have been audited and accredited by the international “Good Agricultural Practices Act” (GAP) Quality control procedures are in place at every stage of pineapple operations from the farms where the fruit is picked, to the factory where it is processed and distributed. On the farm, quality control starts with the selection of variety, adoption of agronomic advice regarding best practices, attention to location, soil type, time of harvesting and expedient product delivery.