Swellendam is nestled in a valley where the Koringlandsrivier (Wheatfield River) briskly runs down the Langeberg Mountain. This was the last town visited by the Dutch explorers from the Cape on their way to the East. The handful of settlers that decided to make this beautiful place their permanent home undoubtedly found its surrounds just as attractive as the Hessekwa-Hottentots that lived here before them. But for other reasons.
They saw that Swellendam was more than a lively hunting field – they saw its immense potential for farming. In 1743 Swellendam became a sub-wine husbandry for the Cape Colony, and two years later it gained its full rights as independent colony.
Swellendam is named after the Cape Governor, Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife, Helena van Damme. Even though Swellendam was still small then, and given the odds still today even, it gained importance as the capital of the Overberg. This passage of independence lead to the proclamation of Swellendam as a republic in 1795.
Sadly, this newly gained freedom was shortly lived, because when the British landed and colonised the Cape about four months later, the people of Swellendam were forced to pledge loyalty to King George the third – an unforeseen happening that would surely change the face of Swellendam forever.
Today Swellendam is probably best known for its youngberries and tumbling wheat fields and canola stretches that are visible from the N2 for miles upon approaching the town. The town lives in harmony with its past by continuing to offer travelers the services they require for rest and relaxation on their way towards other great sights in the area.
Swellendam offers accommodation, restaurants and coffee shops in great abundance and variety. It truly lives up to its reputation as a foremost replenishing station. So whatever you do, don’t drive past this gem of a place, as it will most certainly revitalise your energies as well as evoke a tremendous sense of well-being.