Graafwater, Cederberg

Halfway between Clanwilliam and Lamberts Bay, and 300 km from Cape Town, lies the little town of Graafwater.

It lies in the northerly reaches of the Sandveld – a huge, sparsely populated area sandwiched between the West Coast and the Swartland, and adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.

Other than Leipoldtville, and Klawer further north, Graafwater is the only village for miles around – this is typical of the region where towns are spread far and wide, each surrounded by huge expanses of veld filled with spectacular fynbos, dense stands of indigenous vegetation, hardy bushes and reeds and, in spring, a tapestry of wild flowers.

The picture created is one antagonistic to farming. Low rainfall and poor, sandy soil means that any farms in the area breed mostly sheep and cattle. But the Sandveld also does well for bee farmers, potatoes (the area around Redelinghuys and the Verlorenvallei are regarded as the 'potato store' of the Western Cape), sunflowers and even some wheat on those farms closest to the Swartland.

Graafwater exists mainly as a link on the railway line to Bitterfontein, but the local hotel, now over 100 years old (which advertises itself as 'nothing fancy' but boasts a large dose of West Coast hospitality and neat, clean rooms) does a booming trade with the flower season as people pour into the Sandveld for the spectacle.

In particular there are numerous rosin bushes (Euryops) around Graafwater that are spectacular when in flower.

Visit the Heerenlogement (Gentlemen's Lodging), an overhanging rock that used to serve as an overnight facility for early settlers, go on a rock art tour, or boulder in Clanwilliam.

Graafwater, when translated from the Afrikaans, means 'water from a spade'.

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