HASA to hold its annual symposium in Swellendam this year

by | Sep 5, 2021

After the disappointment of having to cancel the annual symposium last year because of COVID-19, The Heritage Association of South Africa is pleased to announce it will be holding its symposium from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 October 2021 in the beautiful and historic town of Swellendam. HASA will be hosted by The Swellendam Heritage Association (SHA) which has been in existence for 40 years this year. The theme chosen for the symposium is titled: Overberg Potjie; reflecting the various communities coming together.

Swellendam is situated in the Overberg region of the Western Cape Province and is a typical farming community type town. It is the oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town and Stellenbosch and boasts some beautifully maintained historical buildings and tree-lined streets.

Owing to the town’s popularity as a tourist destination, it has many fine choices of accommodation and restaurants. October is a good time to be visiting this region as spring is a lovely time in the Overberg and visitors should still get to see some of the late-flowering varieties of Canola in the fields.

The symposium will commence on Thursday morning the 14th with HASA’s AGM. There will be time afterwards to walk about the old Drostdy Complex and Conservation building with pre-dinner drinks and socialising followed by a sit-down dinner.

Friday the 15th commences at the respectable hour of 09h00 with registration, coffee, rusks and a Welcome by Swellendam’s Mayor, Nicholas  Myburgh. Thereafter, in line with the theme, SHA has secured various top speakers to present a variety of interesting subjects, while the speakers themselves, importantly, reflect the diversity of the Overberg peoples, thus altogether a genuine Overberg Potjie.

After lunch delegates will meet in the Drostdy carpark where they will be taken on a guided tour of Mayville House rose garden designed by Gwen Fagan, the NG Church, and its old cemetery where the early Afrikaner residents lie alongside their English neighbours. Also, a visit to Schoone Oord, the home of an earlier mayor of Swellendam as well as Morganzon the residence of the secretary to the landrost, ending with a visit to the Auld House, once the home of Joseph Barry the architect of the once Barry empire in the Overberg. The day will be rounded off with the annual Gold Medal Dinner which is to be held in the gracious NG Kerk Hall.

Saturday’s programme commences with a visit to the VOC’s (DEIC) cattle outpost Rietvallei (aan de Buffeljagsrivier leggend) established as far as can be ascertained, circa 1729. It is still a working farm today. There will be a chance to talk to an aged farm labourer whose family have been engaged on the farm for generations. Then on to the old mission village of Zuurbraak and a local art gallery. From there, on to Joseph Barry’s Farm, Lismore, which is still farmed by the descendants of the family. And then on to the ruins of the so-called “Sugar Bridge” a nine Span Bridge constructed by the Higgo Brothers to the Design of  Charles Michell, Surveyor-General and Engineer of the Cape Colony in 1852.

Lunch will be at the farm Rotterdam which was originally owned by Swellendam landrost Anthonie Faure in the 18th century. Delegates will then visit what is left of the Art Deco design Swellendam Station to visit Railton and its community particularly the Bloemfontein huisie where Oupa Bloemfontein built and raised his 8 children in this minute one-roomed Cape Dutch styled house in 1922.

Thereafter, delegates will participate in the handing over of a plaque commemorating the Swellendam Showgrounds, home to the oldest, continuously held agricultural show in the country, if not the world. This year, but for COVID, would have been the 188th agricultural show held.

From there, delegates will have tea at the beautiful and historic Klipperivier just outside Swellendam described by Hans Fransen as “the finest house in the Overberg”. The symposium will then be concluded at an informal dinner.

Those delegates who stay for Sunday the 17th will be able to visit Bontebok Park and the site of “Lang Elsie’s Kraal” a female Khoe Khoen “kaptein” at the time of the VOC where the Bontebok species is being preserved as a pure breed, or Stormsvlei a hamlet on their return to Cape Town.

Click here to download the symposium flyer: Swellendam Heritage Symposium_small

Click here to download the booking form: Swellendam Heritage Booking Form

Draft programme (subject to change):

VENUE Drostdy Court Room in the Drostdy, 18 Swellengrebel Street
10h30 Tea/ coffee/ registration
11h00 Welcome, Alf Hunter, Chair of Swellendam Heritage Association & Jacques Stoltz, Chair of Heritage Association of South Africa
11h15 HASA AGM
13h00 Light finger lunch at Aan de Eike, 13 Swellengrebel Street
14h00 HASA AGM
14h00 A presentation and workshop on “Colour your life ” will be presented for partners/spouses by Margie Walker
16h00 Guided tour of the museum complex by Johan Kriek to include:
  The Drostdy, the Old Goal, the Ambergswerf, Mayville and the Gwen Fagan Rose Garden
18h30 Meet at the OLD GOAL by the OLD MILL, 243 Voortrek Street for drinks and a traditional dinner
  Philip Bromley to introduce the “Family Crest” project
  Wynand Olivier will talk about the ‘Onderdorp’, the end of town where craftspeople had their workshops.
VENUE NG Kerk Hall, 5 Voortrek Street
09h00 Tea/ coffee/ registration
  Welcome, by the new Executive Mayor Francois du Rand & HASA Chair, Jacques Stoltz
09h20 Housekeeping, Carol Podd
  Presentations introduced by Jacques Stoltz – time will be allocated for questions
09h25 The invisible Khoekhoen of the Overberg  – Prof Andrew Smith
10h15 Overberg furniture – Len Raymond
11h05 Tea/coffee/ book sale
  Presentations – working with Provincial Heritage Authorities
11h15 Urban heritage in Stellenbosch – Lauren Buchanan
12h05 Problems with heritage legislation in rural Karoo Towns – Dr Judy Maguire



Overview, and way forward – Dr Antonia Malan
13h45 Lunch – Grace & Merci. Kerk plein, 8A Voortrek Street
14h30 Town Walk to the famous eclectic NG Kerk where organ music will be played, 11 Voortrek Street
  On to the cemetery and its stories with hosts Hennie & Annemie Steyn
15h30 Walk to Oefeningshuis  – present a blue plaque, 36 Voortrek Street
16h30 Visit to Schoone Oordt, a Georgian house with Victorian cast iron verandah, 1 Swellengrebel Street
  Alison Walker will tell us about the building and provide tea in the garden
18h30 Sherry at The Auld House once the home of Joseph Barry, the leading mercantile trader and founder of “Barry and nephews”, 4 Voortrek Street
  During the latter half of the 20th century, the house was restored by Rupert & Alida Erskine and will be described by Len Raymond
19h00 Delegates and guests will attend a Gala Gold Award Dinner at the NG Kerk Hall, 7 Voortrek Street
  A bus will be provided with local tour guides and seating will be COVID-19 compliant. Delegates may use their own transport.
08h45 Meet in the Drostdy carpark, 18 Swellengrebel Street
09h00 Depart
09h30 Suurbraak, one of the oldest Mission stations in the country where the Attaqua and free slaves have settled and built homes dating back to the early 1800s (Suurbraak is located just east of Swellendam along the N2 highway and the R324, at the southern end of the Tradouw Pass).
  The Mission buildings in the Braak were restored by the Swellendam Heritage Association, known then as the Swellendam Trust
  Local artist Donovan Julies will talk about the village and the motivation for his work
10h20 Visit Lismore (The Barry farm) at the foot of the Tradouw Pass and still worked by members of the family. Jonathan Barry will tell the story of the farm and provide tea. R324, Suurbraak.
11h00 Next a visit to the VOC’s (DEIC) cattle outpost, Rietvallei (aan de Buffeljagsrivier leggend) established as far as can be ascertained, circa 1729. It is still a working farm today
  There will be a chance to talk to an aged farm labourer whose family have been engaged on the farm for generations.
12h00 Sugar Bridge (bus stop) is Swellendam’s most famous endangered heritage site – constructed by the Higgo Brothers to the Design of Charles Michell in 1852.
  Weather permitting we will cross the Bufflesjags river by the drift between the train bridge and the piers of the original engineer’s bridge which have stood idly for nearly 100 years, awaiting a new roadway.
  Many and various plans have been mooted and Etienne Zeeman will up-date you with the latest plan.
12h30 Rotterdam, a farm owned by the landdrost, Anthonie Faure, in the late 1700s, and was farmed very successfully.

Over years it fell into disrepair and was restored by the Fraser-Jones family including the farmhouse and enlarged werf.

Andrew Fraser-Jones will describe his farm.

  A light lunch of farm bread & cheeses will be provided.
13h30 Returning to town the route will go across the railway tracks to visit Railton described by Basil May.

There will be a stop at the train station once a delightful Art Deco building and we will pass the Bloemfontein huisie,

the oldest building in Railton.


Back in Swellendam, we will reach the Agricultural Show ground, home to the oldest continually held show in the World.

2021 would have been 188 years but for the COVID pandemic – it still deserves recognition and a  blue plaque will be presented.

16h00 The tour will finish at Klippe Rivier described by Hans Fransen as “certainly the finest house in the “Overberg”.

The land has been farmed since 1725 and for many generations by the Steyn family.

The current owners  Michael &  Hanneke Dippenaar will show you their house and give one of their famous teas.

18h30 Closure with an informal spit braai at the Swellendam Bowls Club. 40 Drostdy Street.
  OPTION 1: Stormsvlei
  OPTION 2: Bontebok National Park
  OPTION 3: Bonnievale Wine Route
  OPTION 4: Tradouw Pass to Route 62
  Accommodation options and a Booking form available on request 
  Lifts from Cape Town Airport are available
  Contact: carolannpodd@gmail.com