Portuguese Sailors, a small fishing village and a shark liver oil factory.

History of Gansbaai

Province; Western Cape
Coordinates; 34.5805° S, 19.3518° E
Area 12.44 km2
Municipality: Overstrand

Early inhabitants of Gansbaai

There is evidence of Khoi sheepherders in this area going back over 1000 years. European settlers began arriving towards the end of the 18th century. However, Jan van Riebeek had sent an expedition in 1653 and the explorers reported meeting people from the Chainouqua tribe. People descended from the Khoi established a settlement at Gansbaai. The first white people who inhabited the area were Trekboers (Nomadic farmers) who lived in a similar way to the Khoi. Some of the original mud and stone houses built by the settlers are still standing today.

Founding of the village of Gansbaai

Gansbaai village was founded in 1881 when 18 year old Johannes Cornelis Wessels walked there from Stanford and discovered the excellent fishing opportunity in the area. He decided to settle in there and other families soon followed. They named it after the Egyptian geese that visited the freshwater fountain at the Gansbaai Harbour.

Economy of Gansbaai

The little fishing village remained small and isolated till a factory to process shark livers was opened to produce vitamin A and lubricant which was in demand during  WWll. Demand dropped radically at the end of the war and the village economy struggled until Johannes Barnard a school principal started a fisherman’s co-op. Fishing still drives the economy in Gansbaai. The town was awarded municipal status only in 1963.

Shipwrecks in Gansbaai

More than 140 ships have been wrecked at Danger point, a barely visible rock located about 2 kilometres off the coast at Gansbaai probably the most famous being the Birkenhead in 1852 which was carrying troops to fight the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape. The wrecking of the Birkenhead was famous also because of the “women and children first” protocol. No women or children perished that day. Most of the horses aboard managed to swim ashore and these were the ancestors of a feral herd which roamed here till the late 20th century.

Significance of Dyer island

Dyer Island just off the coast was originally called Ilha da Fera (Island of wild creatures) by Portuguese sailors in the 15th century. Samuel Dyer was an American Negro immigrant who arrived in 1806. He lived on the island and collected guano which he sold to the mainland farmers as fertilizer

The licence plate prefix for Gansbaai is CEM and the postal code is 7220

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Things to see and do in Gansbaai:

  • Danger point lighthouse which is open to tourists.
  • Gansbaai has the highest density of Great White Sharks in the world and from July to December
  • Klipgat cave was occupied by Neolithic people about 70 000 years ago.
  • Gansbaai is the temporary home for the Southern Right Whales, who come to our shore to mate, birth and raise their young
  • Duiwelsgat trail
  • The more rural areas of Gansbaai have nurtured and sustainably worked the fynbos and land to produce amazing wines. Fynbos flower industries flourish here with a strong conservation ethic.
  • Dyer Island has a small colony of penguins and Geyser Rock close by is home to thousands of Cape fur seals The islands are protected and not open to visitors.

Useful Numbers in Gansbaai

  • Police: 028 384 0201
  • Municipality; 028 384 8300
  • Traffic department: 028 384 8300
  • Fire: -028 312 2400
  • Water:028 384 8300
  • Electricity:028 384 8300
  • Ambulance: Overstrand Medical Response-078 699 6995
  • Post office;028 384 0242
  • Library:028 384 8300
  • Closest hospital;Gansbaai Clinic-028 384 1917
  • Pharmacy;Arrie Nel Gansbaai Pharmacy-028 384 0637
  • SPCA: BARC Animal Welfare – Gansbaai-083 742 3903
  • Schools:
  • Gansbaai Primary School laerskool-Gansbaai Primary School
  • Gansbaai Primer Blompark-Gansbaai Primer Blompark
  • Museum; Strandveld Museum– 028 384 1439
  • Tourism ; 028 384 1439                                                                                                         [/vc_column_text]

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