George, according to novelist Anthony Trollope, is ‘the prettiest village on the face of the earth’. Nestled below the Outeniqua Mountains, the town is situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth along South Africa’s Garden Route. Distances from these two major cities are roughly 420km and 330km respectively.
The sixth oldest town in South Africa, George was originally a woodcutters post for the Dutch East India Company, used to administrate the felling of trees in the forests around the Outeniqua. During the British occupation of the Cape, the name was changed in honour of the monarch of the time, King George III.
Of historical interest is an old oak tree known as the Slave Tree – it was to this tree that slaves were chained before they were auctioned to the highest bidder. There is an ancient length of chain and padlock still embedded in its trunk. Also of interest are the many museums in George for the visitor to explore. The largest collection of steam trains can be found at the Railway Museum, while the Church of St Peter and St Paul is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in South Africa. Other places of interest include the Anglican Church of St Mark with its many stained-glass windows, and the George Museum (opened in 1968) with its central theme being indigenous timber and its many uses.
George has a Mediterranean maritime climate, with moderately hot summers and mild to chilly winters. It has a high rainfall pattern, occurring mainly in the winter months, brought by the humid sea winds from the Indian Ocean.
While in George you can, go game viewing, visit a wine estate and a brewery, relax on Victoria Bay’s stunning beach, shop at the Farmer’s Market, go strawberry picking and play golf. The Links golf course at Fancourt is well known, as it hosted the 2003 Presidents Cup, where world-class golfers Tiger Woods and Ernie Els came head-to-head for the singles matches. More recently, the course was the venue for the inaugural Women’s World Cup of Golf. But that’s not all the sporty visitor can do; paragliding, hang-gliding, canoeing and sailing are just some of the exciting alternatives.
Did you know? George is the only district in the country that grows hops and supplies most of the country’s beer-brewing needs.