Residents say that the Eastern Cape town of Bathurst is so much more than just the home of the world’s largest artificial pineapple.
The Pineapple Museum, whose building is shaped like a 17m pineapple, is arguably the best-known feature of this tranquil village, but residents will tell you that the sense of community is the area’s real attraction.
Tanya Schenk has lived in the town, which is about 12km inland from Port Alfred, on and off for the past seven years. She says the sense of community is what keeps her coming back. “If anyone has a need, no matter how big or small, the entire village rallies together to help,” she says.
Tanya says she finds the frankness and honesty of the residents “mindblowing” – what you see is what you get.
“There’s no room for airs and graces. Everyone is down to earth.”
Tanya found Bathurst “by mistake” with her sister more than seven years ago. “We weren’t even meant to go to the village. We proceeded to spend one of the happiest and most fun evenings of our lives and met so many locals in such a short space of time. After leaving the village the following morning, we both decided we wanted to live there.”
She says the village is extremely safe. “Where else can a woman go to a pub on her own? In Bathurst, I have absolutely no qualms about popping into one of our local spots for a drink and a meal because there’s guaranteed to be someone there I know.”
This safety aspect also extends to the local animals. “It’s an incredibly animal-friendly town. We have a database of everyone’s pets in case a stray is found. We also have a WhatsApp group where we share stories about our pets and give advice to one another where needed.
“If someone’s horses are out, it’s posted on the forum and the entire village helps to get them back to safety. A stray dog is never astray for long as a local will pick it up and network with the village until its owner is found.
“We also rally together and assist with vet fees where one of the villagers may need some financial help.”
While residents say being part of a special community is great, tourists are drawn by the history of the town and its quaintness.
“I think history is one of our main attractions – our beautiful old buildings and the history that goes with them. Also, The Historic Pig and Whistle Inn is a huge attraction,” says Tanya.
She says Bathurst has some interesting little galleries and shops to browse through too. The village also has several annual festivals and events that draw visitors from all over the province.
“Whenever you walk into one of the local pubs, everyone rushes up to say hello and greet you and they genuinely want to know how you are.”
Media asking prices for a typical property such as a four-bedroom house are in the range of R1.9-million.
There are very few flats or complexes in the village, with 93% of the residential stock in housing.
- Bradshaws Mill: this was built by the British settler, Samuel Bradshaw, in 1821. He intended to use it to manufacture blankets and kersey cloth.
- The Powder Magazine: built by the military before the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, this is the oldest building in Bathurst.
- The Toposcope: this viewing area sits on top of a hill and indicates in which direction nearby towns and landmarks lie.
- Bathurst Agricultural Museum: this gives an interesting insight into the area’s agricultural heritage and history. Bathurst is also conveniently close to Port Alfred and the Kowie River offering fun outdoor pursuits like canoeing.
TANYA’S FAVOURITE PLACES
- The Commonage: “We take our dogs here for runs. We picnic and walk this area often – it’s a huge attraction for us as we have five dogs!”
- The pubs: “It’s where all the locals meet and we always have a great time.”
- The stoep at The Pig: “It’s right in the centre of the village, so when sitting there sipping coffee in the morning everyone who walks past knows you and invariably pops onto the stoep to say hi and join you.”
WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT THE VILLAGE
- There’s a highly rated country restaurant and guest farm called Kingston Farm on Shaw Park Road just outside town. Owners Fred and Carla Bright also breed Appaloosa horses.
- There’s a working water wheel at the Bradshaws Mill.