Sleep on “The Train” as it is known by locals situated next to Santos Beach,…
The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex was officially opened on 3 February 1989, however its can be traced back to the 1960s when the museum was first opened. The museum later became known as the Post Tree museum complex before being renamed again in 1989.
On our way to Mossel Bay, Karen had read about a museum complex, the heart of which was a maritime museum dedicated to the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. In 1486 King John II of Portugal commissioned Dias to undertake an expedition around the Southern tip of Africa. The small fleet left Lisbon in or around July 1487. 0n 8 December 1487 he arrived at the Golfo da Conceicão, modern-day Cape Cross north of Walvis Bay, Namibia. We visited the site of this landing during our tour through Namibia. On 4 February 1488, after 30 days on the open ocean, they reached the continent’s southern cape and entered what would later become known as Mossel Bay. Dias perished in May 1500 when captaining a ship near the Cape of Good Hope: four ships, including Dias’s, encountered a huge storm off the cape and were lost on 29 May.
The first thing we visited at the museum complex was the ‘Post-Office’ tree. Pedro D’Ataide’s ship, part of Pedro Alvares Cabral’s third fleet, became separated from the other ships along the East African coast in 1500. D’Ataide landed at the “watering place of São Brás” (present-day Mossel Bay). He left a letter in a Portuguese sailor’s shoe tied to a tree here, which became the ‘Post-Office’ tree. The fourth Portuguese Fleet to India found D’Ataide’s letter in July 1501. It contained information that was useful to them about the hostility towards the Portuguese at Calicut, present-day known as Kozhikode and warned of rough waters “to the East”.
The captain of this fleet, in turn, left an inscription on the stone which was found in 1850. A replica of this postal stone can be seen inside the Maritime Museum. It was declared a provincial heritage site. In 1963, the local tourism organisation placed a large postbox, shaped like a sailor’s boot, next to the tree where visitors can post letters and postcards. A special frank is used on all outgoing mail to commemorate the fact that South Africa’s first post office was a tree.
After exploring the grounds of the museum complex, we headed inside the Dias Maritime Museum building. This building, dating from 1901, served as a wheat mill and a sawmill before it was converted into the Maritime Museum in 1987. There are exhibits inside that follow the European expansion into Southern Africa, the highlight of which is a full-sized replica of the caravel used by Bartolomeu Dias to round the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, which you can climb aboard and explore. The ship was built for the 1988 500-year commemoration of Dias’s voyage around the southern tip of Africa, and in 1988 a crew undertook a 3-month voyage from Porto, in Portugal to Mossel Bay.
ABOUT THE BARTHOLOMEU DIAS MUSEUM COMPLEX
The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex was officially opened on 3 February 1989, however, the Mossel Bay museum industry can be traced back to the 1960s when the Mossel Bay museum was first opened. The museum later became known as the Post Tree museum complex before being renamed again in 1989.
The Dias Museum Complex is situated near the beach, shops, restaurants, banks and the tourist information center. Inside the Maritime Museum is a shop where postcards, stamps, books, souvenirs and small gifts can be bought. On the grounds of the Dias Museum Complex are mountain tortoises, ducks and museum cats. In the Granary there are conference facilities available for 48 people or if used in cinema style, seating for up to 100 people. Catering can be arranged. Mail from the shoe is collected twice a day (once a day out of season) by the Post Office. Whales can be observed from the museum grounds from June to November.
|Address:||1 Market St, Mossel Bay Central, Mossel Bay, 6500, South Africa|
|Telephone:||+27 (0)44 691 1067|
Best time to visit Mossel Bay
According to the Guinness Book of Records, this `Karoo-by-the-sea` town has the second most moderate climate in the world and has the only north-facing beach in South Africa. The sea temperature in the summertime is 20 to 22 degrees C and in the winter 14 to 16 degrees C. The average temperature for September – May is 21 to 28 degrees C, and from May to Sept is 16 to 21 degrees C.
Where to stay in Mossel Bay
1. THE SANTOS EXPRESS
Located on Santos Beach in Mossel Bay, Santos Express offers unique accommodations in train carriages. Free WiFi access is available in the public areas. Guests can socialize in the shared lounge or relax in the garden.
The rooms in the carriages are simply furnished and have access to a shared bathroom. Most of the rooms have sea view.
Boasting views over the bay, The Fork and Train Restaurant and Pub serves International cuisine. There are also BBQ facilities available.
Other facilities offered at the Santos include a tour desk, a conference room and free parking. Santos Express is able to assist with arranging a variety of tours and activities
2. BAY LODGE ON THE BEACH
Offering direct access to the beach, Bay Lodge is located in Bay View. The guest house offers indoor BBQ area and free WiFi is available in the public areas.
The spacious and contemporary furnished rooms offer air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV and a private bathroom. Each is equipped with a bar fridge, microwave, toaster and tea-and-coffee-making facilities.
3. TRAVELLERS REST
Boasting a garden, a shared lounge, and a terrace, Traveller’s Rest, Reebok features accommodation in Mossel Bay with free WiFi and mountain views. Featuring a balcony, the bed and breakfast is in an area where guests can engage in activities such as fishing, snorkelling and cycling.
The bed and breakfast features a satellite flat-screen TV. Towels and bed linen are available in the bed and breakfast.