Situated at the foot of the Soetmuisberg in the heart of the Overberg between Caledon and Bredasdorp, the small historical town of Napier is surrounded by seemingly never-ending grain fields, dotted with sheep and cattle. Our national bird, the Blue Crane, can often be seen in large flocks.
When entering this typical Overberg farming village on the R316, one is immediately struck by the beauty of its peaceful rural setting, its litter-free streets, attractive Dutch Reformed Church, quaint cottages and well-kept gardens.
The story of how the town of Napier was established is quite an amusing one. Apparently, in 1838, neighbours Michiel van Breda and Pieter Voltelyn van der Byl could not agree where the community church should be. Michiel wanted the church sited on his farm, Langfontein, while Pieter wanted it built on his property, Klipdrift. Neither man would give way, so churches were built in both places, with the town of Bredasdorp growing around Breda’s church and the town of Napier around Van der Byl’s church. Napier was named after Sir George Napier, the then Governor of the Cape.
The sleepy town of Napier is now home to several tourist attractions including an old watermill, a monument to commemorate the Ossewa Trek of 1838, a military museum, and a sundial which is generally accepted to be the largest sundial as well as the only vertical one in the country. Napier also has an annual Wine and Patat Festival, which was unfortunately cancelled this year due to Covid-19.
A variety of restaurants, guesthouses, antique shops, farm stalls, galleries and a toy museum line the town’s main road, inviting visitors to explore what the town has to offer whilst enjoying the peaceful ambience away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Napier offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from B&Bs, guest houses and lodges to self-catering cottages in and around the town. On the rainy weekend that my partner and I visited Napier, we stayed at the picturesque Stellar Overberg Traveller’s Lodge, located on a farm with a small vineyard on the Klipdrift River.
We were greeted by the new farm manager, David Boyter and three friendly farm dogs when we arrived in the pouring rain after dark on the Friday evening. Our room for the weekend was beautifully decorated with an African theme and local Overberg touches such as furniture by Joshua Tree, wines from The Black Oystercatcher and craft beers from Fraser’s Folly.
On Saturday morning, the rain had finally let up a little and we were able to appreciate the view over a mouthwatering breakfast, which was delivered in a picnic basket filled with half a loaf of freshly-baked farm bread, homemade peanut butter, eggs from the chickens on the farm, locally sourced honey, fresh fruit, homemade muesli with berries and yoghurt, and freshly squeezed carrot and orange juice. It was all delicious and we later found out that it was mainly prepared by David, who is also a qualified chef.
Setting off to explore the village, we started at the Napier Village Market at the Coffee Café where we browsed freshly baked goods, fresh produce, homemade chilli and curry sauces, cheeses, eggs, plants and more. Popping into Blue House Books next door, a quaint second-hand bookshop which also sells collectables, we got lost inside for a while as we studied the overflowing shelves, before crossing the road to The Gallery, which is owned by local Napier artist Helen Vale Xenos.
The Gallery is filled with contemporary artworks by Helen, as well as pieces by Joshua Miles, Alex Hamilton, Liz van den Berg, Frans Mulder, Chris Jonker and ceramicist Madeleine Murray whose studio, Muddylane Ceramics we later visited.
From The Gallery we walked a short distance down the road to DeeZ (previously Gunner’s), a warm and inviting restaurant owned by Dee and Neal Robinson. Dee was unfortunately in Swellendam teaching a spice seminar, but we were lucky enough to meet Neal who treated us to some samosas and spring rolls. DeeZ sells food with an Asian influence which is as authentic as possible – they also make all their own masala and grow many of their own ingredients. On Saturday mornings DeeZ hosts a flea market where locals can come and sell their wares without having to rent a space.
Napier Antiek is one of several antique stores in Napier where vintage treasures are waiting to be discovered. After browsing to our hearts’ content, we came to our last stop for the day, the quaint Napier Farm Stall & Restaurant, where we enjoyed tea and delectable chocolate cake. Located in a cosy 150-year-old building with a vine-covered stoep, this eatery offers hearty country fare and a selection of homemade treats to take home.
For dinner that evening, David recommended Pascal’s of Napier and made a reservation for us. Owned by chef Mark Kerr, Pascal’s is recognised as one of the top restaurants in the Overberg and we were warmly welcomed at this cosy venue. Menu options range from Mark’s legendary Greek-style lamb shanks and Melanzane Parmigiana to awesome gourmet burgers, homemade pastas, seafood and vegetarian/vegan dishes. Everything is made in-house from only the freshest of locally sourced ingredients.
After a good night’s sleep in our comfortable bed back at the Stellar Overberg Traveller’s Lodge, we woke up on Sunday morning to another scrumptious breakfast before packing up our things and tracking down David, who was busy working in the vineyard. We sat down with him in the main farmhouse as he explained the plans for the farm for next few years.
“We already have about 18 chickens on the farm which we get our eggs from and we are hoping to get some beehives so that we can make our own honey to serve to the guests. We are also growing olive trees and will be making our own wine from the grapes in the vineyard.”
David’s next project will be to establish a vegetable garden and fruit orchards on the farm to help feed the local community. Being a chef, he also hopes to establish a small restaurant on the farm and to turn Stellar Overberg into a sought-after venue for events and functions. He has the full support of owners Tibor and Doris Tokai who are currently in Switzerland and who share his vision for the farm.
When you book your stay at Stellar Overberg, R100 of your accommodation fee will go towards the Stellar Tree Programme to buy seeds to plant trees, and R100 will go towards the vegetable garden. For more information visit www.stellar-sa.vacations.