DARWIN IN CAPE TOWN
After its voyage via New Zealand and Australia, the HMS Beagle sailed into Table Bay on 1 June 1836. The ship didn’t stay long as it was only in Cape Town to replenish its food and water supplies before the long journey home to England.
Darwin did get a chance to explore Table Mountain, Simon’s Town, Paarl, the Cape Flats, Franschhoek, Houwhoek Pass and Sir Lowry’s Pass. He made an important observation about the rock formations at the Sea Point beach in Cape Town. Here you can see how millions of years ago molten granite had flowed into the region’s rock formations. This helped broaden scientists’ understanding of geology.
A commemorative plaque of Darwin’s visit and geological description was mounted at Queen’s Beach, Sea Point in 1953. A second information sign, added in 2010, describes the importance of the rocks here, as well as Darwin’s visit, and includes a sketch of the HMS Beagle. If you ever visit Sea Point, see if you can find it.
Rocks like these on South Africa’s south coast helped Darwin realise how rock formations can form from lava.