Darling of the West Coast
The winter in Cape Town is often known in the tourist industry as the “secret season”. This is not just because accommodation rates are lower and restaurants offer specials but because of the many beautiful sunny and warm days that we enjoy during the winter. It was on such a Sunday in June when we had no guests coming or going at our self-catering accommodation in Cape Town that we decided to take a drive to the charming little village of Dawhich lies at the West coast from Cape Town only 75 km from the city. Darling can be reached via the N7 Cape Town/Namibia West Coast Highway, although a more pleasant and scenic drive along the R27 will take you through Blaauwberg Strand, and the pretty coastal village of Melkbosstrand along country roads lined with tall, old gumtrees.
Darling is one of those idyllic country towns lying between acres of vineyards and acres of farmland, mainly wheat. One gains a sense of peace and tranquillity as you wander the streets lined with beautifully restored Victorian homes and lush, green gardens. Like all of our small villages in South Africa the church is prominently placed and plays an important role in the community. The small Main Street offers a pleasing variety of restaurants, boutiques and other interesting shops, with such evocative names as the “marmalade cat”.
Darling is also the home of artisan beers which are becoming more and more popular with South African beer drinkers and which has carved a niche market with its flagship Darling “slow brew” which sports a catchy tortoise logo. Since the success of the slow brew, a number of other varieties have been added to the range including pale native ale. Darling, however, has become increasingly well-known for its range of wines and can now boast its own West Coast wine route, which can easily be covered in one day as there are only five cellers which include a number that have received acclaim such as Alexanderfontein, Groote Post and Darling Cellars.
One of South Africa’s best-known satirist comedians , Pieter Dirk Uys, used the alter ego tannie (Aunt) Evita Bezuidenhout to both amuse and attack the institutions both pre-and post-apartheid and chose to settle in Darling. On the site of the old station you will find Evita se Perron, (Evita’s Platform). No visit to Darling should miss this attraction. Here is a country restaurant offering traditional South African dishes as well as a pub, and a craft and handicrafts store. On display in the store are a large number of mementos, both shocking and amusing, dating back to the time of apartheid. There is also a theatre where shows are held regularly including satirical performances by Pieter Dirk Uys himself.
While a visit to Darling makes an enjoyable day outing from Cape Town, there is plenty of interesting quality accommodation available in the village where one could spend the night if you wish to stay for one of the performances. These range from charming self-catering cottages to a luxury four-star lodge. During the spring months, and August to end September, spectacular blooms of wildflowers are to be seen all around Darling and down to the coast at nearby Yzerfontein- about 20 km away. Walks in the fields to view the flowers are arranged by tour operators in the village, and the Darling wild flower show held annually since 1917 takes place during middle of September.
While not the most famous of the attractions nearby Cape Town, this little village makes a pleasant day outing.