The appeal of solitude
Just a short drive west of St Francis Bay along the windswept coastline you’ll find the small, isolated Oyster Bay. Dairy farms around the town stretching to Humansdorp act as a buffer against the outside world, and the picture is completed by the snow-white dunes against which the houses nestle. There are only a few dwellings, and they stand empty for most of the year – Oyster Bay has only 90 permanent residents, most of whom are retired. There is a small café and restaurant, but that’s it.
This lack of worldly comforts, along with the seclusion, results in a sense of romantic solitude. It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. You have to get into your car to find almost everything you need, and the only way to reach the shops in Humansdorp and St Francis Bay is via a 30km stretch of winding, eroded, rock-hard gravel road.
“The road damages our cars,” complains retired magistrate Jan Steenkamp, who has lived here for 17 years. “You won’t believe how many tyres I have lost over the years.”
The milk lorries that travel between the farms and Woodlands Dairy in Humansdorp every day erode the surface. “Water restrictions mean the road is seldom graded these days,” Jan says with a sigh. “The authorities have been making promises since 2001 about having the road tarred, but zilch has come of it.”
Yet people still love living here, out of the way and secluded. It’s a rugged, picture-perfect world, and the handful of residents are entwined in each other’s lives. There’s an active Kletsklub where town matters are discussed), and a church service is held in the community hall once a month.
The bumpy ride to civilisation is a headache, but everyone understands it has its advantages. >