As it turns out, Gordon’s Bay isn’t the only small town in the Western Cape blessed with two harbours. If you have ever been to Hermanus then you’ll obviously be well aware of the Old Harbour next to Gearing’s Point, right in the heart of the town’s tourist center and which nowadays is preserved as a small museum. If you visit during whale watching season, then the New Harbour, situated to the west of the town alongside the Zwelihle township, is where you would go to hop on one of the many whale watching boats that ply their trade from that quay come season.
In the past, a lot of fishing was conducted from Hermanus, and by the 1930s the Old Harbour had become too small for the amount of fishing boats stationed there. The location for a new harbour was identified (a semi-protected strip of coast known as Still Bay), and construction of the southern breakwater was started – and then almost immediately put on hold as the Great Depression followed by the Second World War sunk its teeth into pretty much all economic activity. In 1951 the New Harbour did eventually become operational, but without a second (and recommended) east breakwater, meaning that this particular harbour occasionally suffers from rough waters – something one definitely does not want from a harbour! Unfortunately this state of affairs has led to a number of drownings and wrecks over the years, making the New Harbour one of the least safest safe harbours in the country.
Moving on. Unfortunately over-fishing from outside the Walker Bay area eventually led to the collapse of the fish stocks in Walker Bay, and so commercial fishing out of New Harbour essentially vanished – it was only once an alternative catch in the form of abalone was discovered that the harbour roared back into life again. These days, as a place of interest to visit, the New Harbour is probably most famous for the lovely Harbour Rock (and its Gecko Lounge bar), an elevated restaurant that sits perched above the harbour, affording one a lovely view over all the watery activity down below. Additionally there is Heart of Abalone, an established abalone farm that offers visitor tours, and of course you can always just stroll out along the breakwater to look at the boats and watching the local fishermen trying to catch fish from the seawall and occasionally do battle with the always competing Cape Fur seals.
So of course, after a morning of climbing up Hoy’s Koppie, staring down over the village from up on Rotary Way, walking along the Cliff Path, and before letting the girls eat their lunch on Voelklip beach, I made them accompany me for a stroll around the harbour. They did not appreciate the smell.
Obviously the place is a lot more bustling come whale season, but given that this is currently the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the less people milling about one another the better!
Related Link: Hermanus