Dig a Little Deeper ….
One of the most charming villages in the Greater Swellendam Municipality is not often given more than a passing glance by some tourists who enjoy stopping for a quick bite, but those travellers who are more curious, and who dig a little deeper, often find that their heart is stolen by the quirky and deeply original character.
Barrydale and surrounds have the ‘Marmite factor’. It’s hate it or love it – there’s no in-between. It is a challenging landscape – much of it untamed by the neat vineyards and orchards prevalent in the Western Cape. In summer the air is hot, dry and dusty, so residents work hard against the elements to create their beautiful indigenous gardens which are on display at the annual “Barrydale in Bloom” festival. Barrydale residents can feel left out and cut off from the rest of the Municipal area – sometimes, when you need a doctor or vet the appreciation of the beauty of the Pass can wane somewhat, as you negotiate its twist and turns while trying to remain calm.
This sense of isolation which some find frustrating is, however, appealing to others. The village is brimful of creative people – either drawn there by the possibility of an alternative lifestyle – or born there, growing up with the need to find creative ways to cope with the particular challenges of this small town. There are abundant artists, musicians, writers, dancers, crafters from all sides of the community – and they are all so, so talented.
Route 62 is the alternative option to the N2 carrying travellers to the Garden Route – and is undoubtedly more spectacular. Over recent years it has become a favourite route for bikers and those who prefer to ‘take the high road’. As its popularity has grown, more and more businesses have sprung up or re-created themselves. For example Barrydale Brandy and Wine Cellars, although one of the oldest businesses in town, has recently taken on new life. Sipping brandy cocktails by the river, listening to live jazz or light rock – that is definitely one way to turn a Marmite hater into a fan – especially if they are sipping Joseph Barry Brandy, which was voted best brandy in the world in 2003.
Further along the R62 one encounters some delightful restaurants such as Jam Tarts with its friendly welcome – even dogs have their very own bone shaped mosaic tiled water bowl – and Klassi Karoo, a restaurant and Art Gallery. Sister to the Karoo Saloon which is also on the R62 which rocks every weekend with both local and national bands and is host to Rocking the Karoo Festival.