Barrydale lies in a fertile valley between the Langeberg mountains and the Karoo. Once a sleepy little town, today it’s well worth staying over for a couple of days to ease into the slower pace of life here and then to experience some of the many things to do in Barrydale on Route 62 in the Karoo.
Barrydale has nearly 20 restaurants and coffee shops – a huge number for such a small village. Don’t wait until you’re driving out of Barrydale towards Ladismith to discover a fabulous restaurant called Clarke of the Karoo.
The quality was superb. We had a roasted veggie roti with drizzle of yoghurt and basil pesto and a side salad, and a gourmet bacon-and-blue-cheese burger. Both were freshly prepared, delicious and well presented. A table of three foreigners near us ordered liver pâté with melba toast for starters and calamari as a main, and they were soon smacking their lips and raving about the food.
A completely different experience that’s as much about the vibe and décor is the relatively new Diesel & Crème vintage diner on the other side of town.
We were already full after lunch one day when we decided to follow the signs pointing to the Blue Cow ‘on the Barrydale Waterfront’ simply because the sign was so intriguing.
Also recommended by lovers of Barrydale are the deli/tapas at Joubert-Tradauw Winery and the thin-based pizzas at Jam Tarts.
2. Stay at the Barrydale Karoo Hotel
3. Get arty and crafty
If you enjoy browsing and buying arts and crafts, you’ll love mooching around Barrydale. Visit Barrydale Hand Weavers, a skills and job creation project, to marvel at the hand-woven rugs, tableware and fabrics and maybe even watch the looms in action.
Drop in at the Magpie Art Collective to see functional art like light shades and lamp shades, often using recycled materials. If you buy one, you’ll be in good company; two of their chandeliers hang in the White House in the USA.
Drive, cycle or walk up and down the streets to look at the church, old houses and new houses, pretty gardens and neglected gardens. Take note of the drystone walls around some properties, a fence decorated with a rattle of enamel plates and mugs, a wall of different-coloured glass bottles that catch the sunlight. At first light and late in the afternoon, when the shadows are long and the light soft, there are many Barrydale scenes begging to be photographed.
Tradouw Pass, completed in 1873, was built by Thomas Bain (who also built the Swartberg Pass near Prince Albert) and you can still see lots of the old stonework. Stop along the way to discover waterfalls and caves and get great views over the Tradouw River and the pass itself. Five kilometres beyond the pass is the tiny village of Suurbraak, which is one of the oldest mission stations in the country. Old buildings around the village square have been restored, and you’ll see a long ribbon of small houses along the sides of the road, which runs parallel to the river.
You might even want to check out the ads in the estate agent’s window and dream of dropping out of the fast lane to live here yourself.
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