Nestling at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains, George finds itself at the centre of natures “Garden Route” in the Cape Wildflower Floral Kingdom. Situated approximately 430 kilometres from the Mother City of Cape Town, George is widely regarded as the hub of the Southern Cape Region. It is therefore the ideal base from which to explore the Southern Cape and Little Karoo. George is highly accessible. A good road network and the George airport link the Southern Cape and Little Karoo hinterland to the major centres of South Africa.
It is the business hub of the region and offers a variety of conference facilities, restaurants and tourist attractions and activities.
George’s mild Mediterranean type climate makes it possible to participate in outdoor activities throughout the year. Summer temperatures average 26˚C and winter temperatures average 14˚C in the daytime.
The town of George was established as a result of the growing demand for timber and the wood used in building, transport and furniture. In 1776 the Dutch East India Company established an outpost for the provision of timber; its location is thought to be near the western end of York Street. The Timber Post had its own Poshouer (manager), some 12 woodcutters, a blacksmith, wagon maker and 200 oxen plus families.
After 1795 and the British occupation of the Cape, a caretaker of the forests in the area was appointed. After the second British occupation in 1806, it was decided that the Swellendam magistracy was too large and needed to be sub-divided. George was chosen because of the availability of good water. In 1811 George was declared a separate district and Adriaan Geysbertus van Kervel was appointed the first Landrost (magistrate) and the town was proclaimed by the Earl of Caledon, governor of the Cape Colony on St George’s Day, 23 April 1811, and named after the reigning British monarch, King George III. One of Van Kervel’s first acts as Landrost (Mayor), was to dig a furrow to supply the first thirty six plots in George with water. An 1819 map shows the original furrows and storage dam where they remain to this day in the Garden Route Botanical Gardens. The first Furrow originated from the Rooirivier (Red river) and later a diversionary weir was built at the Camphersdrift River. George gained municipal status in 1837.
Due to its rich history, there are a few historical attractions to visit:
- The Slave Tree, an ancient English Oak planted by Landdrost (magistrate) van Kervel, known as the Slave Tree because of the very large chain and lock embedded in the trunk, has been declared a national monument.
- The King Edward VII Library building, said to be the best example of Edwardian architecture in George.
- The Outeniqua Transport Museum houses a large collection of steam locomotives and carriages.
- The Garden Route Botanical Gardens
Many of these museums were developed within some of the historical buildings in the town, but there are others, such as the Shirley Buildings, the Munrohoek Cottages and many others which may be visited. One of the most popular attractions is the Post Office, which is estimated to be more than 800 years old and has been declared a National Monument. It is underneath this milkwood tree where Pedro d’Ataide left a letter in 1500 in a seamans boot for passing ships. Letters are still posted there today in a seaman’s boot!
Annually the town of George plays host to several local, national and international events:
- George Old Car Show
- George Cheese Festival
- George NBM Sevens Premier League
- The George Agricultural Show
George has numerous world-class Golf courses, some designed by famous golfers. Amongst these are Oubaai and Le Grande George. The most well-known is Fancourt Golf Estate, which hosted the Presidents Cup in 2003 and is often the host to high-profile golf tournaments.
Other attractions on offer:
- Ten Pin Bowling
- Camping and Hiking
- Mountain Biking trips
- Quad Biking
- Outdoor adventure tours, as well as teambuilding activities
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