Category Archives: Wild Flowers

Green Point Urban Park Cape Town

I have just completed my second walk around Green Point Park, which is situated right next to the new Cape Town Stadium.

One of the many types of simple exercise apparatus available for all to use

Natural grassland at the entrance to the park

This place is well worth a visit. Not only are there 3 well laid out paths to follow but there are also some well thought out themes.

As you enter the west gate near the light house, (entrance is free!) the area on the right is left as natural grass land with the grass at this time starting to go to seed. This area is home to small rodents and birds, who obviously enjoy feeding off the grass seed. On the left of this is an area with many simply exercise  machine suitable for the whole family.

Travel further along the path and you arrive at a building housing really spacious  public conveniences at one side, and a future restaurant or shop at the other.

Two children’s play areas are currently being completed, one for the younger folk and one for the older children, resplendent with very natural looking play equipment. The ground around the swings and climbing apparatus has been paved with a kind of cork silicone mixture in the interests of safety.

Older children's play ground

Soon to be completed children's play centre

In the centre of the park adjoining the golf course is wonderful stretch of water that brings back a bit of Cape Town history.  In the 1800s, there was a large lake covering a wide area which was eventually filled in for health and sanitary reasons. Around the rim of which are areas subdivided into: a biodiversity area, a natural food area, and a natural plant medicine area. Also on show is a area illustrating how nature is being destroyed by farming, housing and fires.

All the plants are very well marked and details of their uses are giving, very educational in a friendly and informative way.

I particularly liked the metal statues depicting various animals to be found naturally.

Metal tortoise

In the lake were Canada Geese and Coots both with very young chicks, they obviously feel safe in these surroundings as there are plenty of reeds for them to nest in.

Canada Goose and family in the very large pond

Walking further towards the City, one crosses the Stepping Stone Bridge. On the left hand side is a big metal water wheel which works when a pump is switched on by an electronic timer.

An auditorium with grass seating is situated at the top end of the park, complete with stage lighting. Presumably concerts will be arranged there, in a similar way to those held at Kirstenbosch.

The whole park has been very well planned and laid out and should become a valuable asset to the residents of Green Point and Cape Town.

An ideal place to come and relax in the sun or to jog around the many paths.

Security appears to be good, the park closes at 7pm and all the gates are locked so no vagrants will make their home there!

I hope the folk in Cape Town treasure their park and avoid any vandalism or littering.

Well done to Cape Town City Council making good use of some of the revenue they received from the Football World Cup.

More images from the park

Colour in the park

Colour In the park


Destruction of natural lands by farming


Well laid out signage

Beaded fish

Information by way of signage  

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Filed under Cape Town, Commentary, Places to visit, Wild Flowers

Cape Town Observatory

Last week my neighbour, who happens to be the chairman of the Western Province Astronomical  Society invited me to accompany him on a visit to the Cape Town Observatory where he was helping to supervise the repairs to the dome of one of the observatories in preparation of a visit by several astronomers from around the world.

The Mclear Telescope with the shutters removed

I can only remember going there many years ago and the visit came as a pleasant surprise.

The complex now serves as the headquarters for the astronomers working at SALT (Southern Africa Large Telescope) at Sutherland.

However the main aim of the Society was to repair the observatory with a view to bringing school children to visit the observatory hopefully encouraging them to take more of an interest in science and technology.

The first impression you get on entering the complex is the well laid out gardens and the many buildings dotted around the site.

The Maclear Observatory so named after the benefactor Frank Mclear of Rusthall Kent in England (the astronomer at the time being a Mr David Gill) is the main attention of our visit this time. Unfortunately the dome and the shutter to the telescope has been leaking for some time and the building has started to fall  into disrepair.

Plaque on the side of the observatory

The main operation we wanted to watch was the dismantling of the huge steel shutters to take them to the steelworkers for repair and repainting. The two of them are so big that they had to be cut into smaller sections for transportation. The rust will be repaired and the steelwork repainted in cold galvanising.

A the building housing the telescope, which was originally called the Victory telescope and later changed to the the Mclear telescope was built in 1896. It is hardly surprising that the dome is in need of maintenance.

What was astonishing  was the material for the main dome is a type of hardboard covered in a rubberised waterproof membrane presumably added at a later date.

Once inside the dome the telescope is indeed an impressive site as is the building itself unlike other observatories where  astronomer has to climb a ladder to look through the telescope in this building the floor surrounding the telescope actually rises to enable the astronomer to comfortable work at the telescope, all this in the 1890s!

The inner workings of the observatory

The history of the site goes further, not only was it the first observatory in South Africa, but in a small building next to the Mclear Observatory.After observing a new meteor the first attempts at astronomical photography in the world were undertaken and proved that photography could indeed become an integral part of astronomy.

In the numerous buildings lots of different discoveries were to take place. In the grounds there is even a flowering plant found nowhere else. Also in the grounds set in one of the lawns there is a monument with a a brass plaque set in the side, this is the exact line of GMT ( Greenwich mean time meridian)

If you are in the area it would be a good idea to pay the observatory a visit.

Lifting one half of the telescope shutter

Set in the lawn the GMT plaque

The inner workings of the observatory

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Wild Flowers

It is now nearing the time to start thinking about visiting areas in the Cape well-known for their wild flowers.

The season can start a early as the end of July and go right through until     the end of August, depending, of course on the weather conditions. The       flowers like plenty of rain during the winter but warm sunshine in          spring.

If you are planning to visit the flowers please bear in mind that they do not open during overcast or wet weather. The best times for visiting are generally after 4 pm in the afternoon when it is warm. Try to approach the flowers with the sun behind you as the flowers always point towards the sun. You will see the colours much better.

Close up of flowers

My recommendation is that you spend at least two days in the area in case the weather is not perfect, that gives you a better chance of see the blooms in all their splendour. If possible try to arrange a private tour or drive yourself, so much better than in a crowd on a bus.

If you are contemplating taken photographs of the flowers take a wide-angle and a telephoto lens along with a good tripod.  You can get some amazing shots with a 200 or 300 mm lens, focusing on one flower and letting the background blur. Also don’t be afraid to get down on your hands and knees for low down flower level shots.

Some of the best places to visit are:

For one day trips all along the west coast, particularly the West Coast National Park, and the Darling and Hopefield area. The flowers can be good but possible not as go as further north, and it can become very crowded over a weekend.

Yellow flowers and sheep on the West Coast

For longer tours Calnwilliam can be the starting point. The area around Clanwilliam Dam are often covered with a carpet of white flowers. It is not unknown to have white flowers in the valleys and white snow on the mountains.

As you go further east past Clanwilliam, off the Wuppertal road you come to a turnoff to the Bidouw valley, it is possibly best to drive this road in a 4X4 although a bakkie with a high ground clearance is also suitable. A very careful driver in a car can also manage it but very slowly.

Further north along the N7 you will eventually arrive at Kamiskroon, this is the start of the spectacular flower area, particularly around the Skilpad flower reserve. There is also a small hotel at Kamiskroon, but you have to be very quick to make a booking because it soon fills up with visitors over this period. As a diversion from the flowers you can also visit Leliefontain a missionary village surrounded by farmlands which also boast flowers and windmills, always a good combination photography wise.

Flowers at Skilpad

Going further up the N7 to Springbok, the flowers grow into the centre of this town, the Goegap National park also boasts truly wonderful flowers in the right season.

Purple flowers

Before you embark on any trip it is worthwhile enquiring about the conditions and flowers a good place to start is flowers

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