Garden Route Tourist AttractionsPost Office Tree Shoe
Where? Bartholomeu Dias Museum Complex, 1 Market St, Mossel Bay, 6500, Garden Route
How? Call +27 (0)44 691-1067
A post office is more than a public telecoms department. It is the hub where love letters are nervously sent and eagerly received, where corporate contracts and important deals are swiftly passed from one party to another for that all-important signature, where the colourful drawings and roughly-written letters of little ones are transported to family members that do not have the privilege of being nearby, where wedding invitations lie in wait for guests to share the big day. A post office is special, holding so much potential and import in its pigeon holes and PO boxes.
At the Bartholomeu Dias Museum Complex in Mossel Bay, along the Garden Route of South Africa, the very first post office is celebrated. It is here that Pedro de Ataide (a commander of one of the ships of Pedro Cabral) stopped on his way back to the east in 1500 to leave a letter. In it, he provided an important warning about the bad state and problematic nature of Calcutta. He left it in what was likely a shoe (alternatively, an iron pot) near a large milkwood tree. The following year, Commander Joao da Nova discovered the letter on his journey to India. So grateful for the warning, da Nova erected a stone hermitage near the spot. This entire interaction led to the tree’s being the first post office in South Africa, and the hermitage being the country’s first religious building. Today, there is a cross where the hermitage is believed to have stood.
Visitors can now send their loved ones letters and postcards from the Old Post Office Tree, complete with a special frank, which commemorates this spot as the first post office in South Africa. It has been declared a national monument, and is a wonderful addition to your Garden Route itinerary, as it comprises history, culture and the magnificent views of the Indian Ocean for which Mossel Bay is renowned.